The Best Christmas Mincemeat

Christmas mincemeat recipe in a glass jar

The Spruce 

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Marinate Time: 8 hrs
Total: 10 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 24 small pies
Yields: 2 pounds
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
197 Calories
7g Fat
35g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 197
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 49mg 246%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 265mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Christmas in Britain just cannot be without mince pies. These small, sweet pies are filled with delicious homemade mincemeat, which is made from fresh and dried fruits, citrus zest, nutmeg, brandy, and suet blended together. Mincemeat is as traditional as the day itself, even though the pies are eaten from early November onwards—with some starting even earlier.

In case you are wondering, Christmas mincemeat is not, as the name suggests, made from meat, although it once was. It does contain suet, however, a saturated animal fat that's used in British baking, but there are vegetarian suet options; you can also use vegetable shortening (freeze it first). The suet melts in the oven and helps to preserve the mincemeat, and gives it lots of flavor. Make sure you have sterilized cans for preserving at the ready, as this recipe will make 2 pounds of mincemeat, and a pound of mincemeat will fill one 12-cup muffin pan for individual mince pies.

Mincemeat is remarkably easy to make, and homemade mincemeat is such a treat and so much better than shop-bought jars, so it really is worth doing. It may look fiddly with so many ingredients, but it is not. Quite the opposite, as the method is so simple; it is a case of mixing and an easy bake in the oven. Lots of cooks like to make the mincemeat ahead of time to give it time to mature, but don't worry if you are making it at the last minute. It still will taste good. How can all those delicious ingredients not be?

1:18

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Ingredients

  • 6 ounces/175 grams raisins

  • 4 ounces/110 grams dried currants

  • 4 ounces/110 grams candied mixed peel, finely chopped

  • 6 ounces/175 grams suet (shredded, beef or vegetarian)

  • 1/2 pound/225 grams dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice

  • 1 lemon, grated zest and juice

  • 1 orange, grated zest and juice

  • 1 apple (Bramley or cooking apple), cored and finely chopped

  • 4 tablespoons brandy

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for mincemeat

    The Spruce

  2. In a large baking dish, combine all the ingredients except the brandy, stirring well to make sure they're evenly distributed. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave overnight for the flavors to meld together.

    Mincemeat ingredients in a baking dish with a dish towel
    The Spruce 
  3. Heat the oven to 230 F/110 C/1/4 gas.

  4. Remove the tea towel and cover the bowl with foil and place in the warmed oven for 2 1/2 hours. Stir the mincemeat mixture well and leave to one side to cool, stirring from time to time. The stirring is essential as it helps to distribute the fruits evenly as the mixture cools.

    Mincemeat cooked and cooling in a bowl with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce

  5. Once cooled stir the mincemeat again, add the brandy and stir one more time.

    Brandy added to mincemeat recipe in a bowl with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce

  6. Fill previously sterilized jars (see below) with the cold mincemeat, cover with a wax disc, and a lid. The mincemeat will keep up to one year in a cool, dark place, though I doubt you will want to keep it that long.

    Mincemeat recipe in a decorative jar with mincemeat pies in the background

    The Spruce

Tips

Mixed spice is a common blend of baking spices used in British cooking. To approximate this combination, you can use a 1-to-1 substitution of mixed spice with either pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. Or, you can make a mix of the following:

  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


This will yield approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons of mixed spice.