The Best Mince Pies

Mince pies are a traditional British Christmas dessert. Featuring buttery, crumbly pastry and a uniquely spiced filling, they’re pretty hard to resist. 

You’ll find they date way back to medieval times. Though the recipes have been modified over the years. 

That said, the spiced fruity filling has mostly stayed the same - minus the meat, of course. 

Homemade Mince Pies

What Is Mincemeat?

Let’s start off here because I know mincemeat can be divisive. 

In the U.K., mince is ground meat. That means beef, pork, lamb - whatever. 

But mincemeat is a sweet filling made with raisins, dried fruit, some apples, and…beef suet. Feel free to use shortening!

Basically, mincemeat is synonymous with Christmas. It’s the star of everyone’s favorite holiday treat, and if you make your own, you’ll never buy it in a jar again!

As mentioned, mincemeat is a blend of dried fruits, spices, and nuts such as ground almonds, sweeteners, and fats. 

It dates way back to the Middle East and was likely introduced to England by returning Crusaders.

And while it’s sweet now, it did actually include meat once upon a time (usually lamb).

Nowadays, most recipes - especially for homemade mince pies - go with vegetarian suet. But if that’s not an issue for you, I highly recommend trying the OG recipe!

Homemade Mince Pie

Mincemeat Ingredients

This recipe makes about 3.5kg/7lb. It’s a lot, I know. But I make a ton of mince pies for the holiday, plus a few fun mincemeat recipes (which I’ll be sharing here, too).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 500 grams currants (3 1/4 cups)
  • 500 grams Californian raisins (3 1/4 cups)
  • 500 grams sultanas (3 1/4 cups)
  • 500 grams tart apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced (3 1/4 cups)
  • 500 grams shredded beef suet or shortening (2 1/2 cups)
  • 100 grams whole blanched almond, coarsely chopped (3/4 cups)
  • 350 grams demerara sugar or raw cane sugar (1 3/4 cups)
  • 100 grams dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large lemon or orange
  • 250 grams whole mixed peel, finely diced (3 1/4 cups)
  • 125 ml dark rum (1/2 cup)
  • 125 ml Disaronno Originale liqueur (1/2 cup)
  • 175 ml brandy (3/4 cup)

Preparing Mincemeat

The ingredients list might be long, but making this festive filling couldn’t be easier!

  1. Rinse Dried Fruit: Thoroughly wash the dried fruit under cold running water. If necessary, do this in batches. Once washed, transfer the fruit onto clean tea towels and pat dry.
  2. Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the dried fruit with the chopped apples, suet, ground almonds, both types of sugar, and all the spices. Zest the citrus fruit and add that to the mix. Then cut it in half and squeeze in the juice. 
  3. Add the Booze and Mix: Add the alcohol and mix everything well. This is best done with your hands. 
  4. Rest the Mix: Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let the mix stand for about 24 hours. 
  5. Jar and Store: Spoon the mincemeat into sterilized jars, pressing down to pack it in. Place a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the mincemeat in each jar before sealing. Store the jars in a cool, dry place. 

Storing Mincemeat

Mincemeat’s longevity is due to its high sugar and alcohol content. That means you can store this at room temp for a few months without worry. 

Once opened, keep it in the fridge to preserve the fresh flavors. 

Plate of Mince Pies

How to Make Mince Pies

So we have our filling. But what about the pies?

Well, all you need is some shortcrust pastry! I have a terrific recipe for vegan shortcrust pastry, which would work well if you go with shortening instead of suet.

Or, you’ll need the following to make a basic pastry recipe:

  • Cold Butter - it has to be cold, or the pastry will be sad. 
  • Plain Flour - all-purpose works too. Just don’t use cake, self-raising, or bread flour.
  • Icing Sugar - to add sweetness to the pastry and for dusting the finished pies. 
  • Orange Zest - this is optional, but I love the fragrance it brings. 
  • Egg - for the egg wash. This will keep the top in place and add a nice golden color.
  • Mincemeat - it’s not a mince pie without it!


I recommend starting these early so the pastry has time to chill. 

  1. Rub the butter into the flour between your fingers. 
  2. When it looks like breadcrumbs, add the sugar and orange zest and rub that through.
  3. Add the beaten egg and gently stir.
  4. When the dough starts to come together, gently press it into a disc, then wrap and chill it for at least 1 hour. 
  5. Roll the chilled pastry between sheets of parchment until about 2mm thick.
  6. Cut out the cases using round 8cm/3inch cutters and carefully press them into a muffin tin. Cut stars out with the remaining dough.
  7. Add a spoonful of filling and top with a star each, then bake at 180°C/350°F for 12-15 minutes.
  8. Let the pies cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Shortcrust pastry stars

Recipe Variations

Mince pies are traditional - but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them!

Here are a few cheeky recipe variations to make these mince pies your own:

  • Change up the fruit - try dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries for something a little different.
  • Add marzipan - grate cold marzipan over the mincemeat before adding the top and baking.
  • Try frangipane - add a layer of frangipane over the mincemeat for a Bakewell Tart fusion.
  • Add Cointreau instead of brandy - it’ll bring a wallop of citrus flavor.
  • Mix in some crystallized ginger - it’s sweet like candied fruit, but you’ll love the added warmth.

The Best Mince Pies

Prep time:
70 min
Cook time:
15 min
250 kcal
Mince pies are a traditional British Christmas dessert. Featuring buttery, crumbly pastry and a uniquely spiced filling, they’re pretty hard to resist. 


  • 175 grams plain flour (6 ounces)
  • 75 grams cold butter, cubed (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 25 grams icing sugar (1 ounce, plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 large orange, zest only
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 300-350 grams mincemeat (about 1 cup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and place a baking sheet on the middle rack to warm up.
  2. Combine the flour and butter in a food processor or with fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Stir in the powdered sugar and orange zest, then gently mix in the beaten egg.
  4. Press the dough into a disk, then wrap and chill it for 60 minutes.
  5. Roll the chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until it’s 2mm thick.
  6. Cut out 8cm rounds and carefully press them into a muffin tin. Dock the bottoms with a fork.
  7. Divide the mincemeat between each case. It should reach the top but not sit above the top of the tin.
  8. Cut stars out of the remaining pastry and place them on top of each mince pie.
  9. Put the muffin tin onto the hot baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  10. Let them cool, then dust with icing sugar and enjoy!

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