Celebrate Christmas With Traditional Mincemeat Pies

This Christmas, make the triple-spiced mince pies that honor the gifts of the Magi — and be part of a thousand-year-old tradition.

Like plum pudding, mince pies are a traditional Christmas treat throughout the United Kingdom. Back in the day, making mincemeat was a way of preserving meat using sugar and alcohol rather than smoke or salt. Historically, mince meat pies were made primarily with mutton.

Today’s pies are generally chopped meat with dried and fresh fruits, nuts, spices, and brandy. Despite the name, they can also be completely meatless.

Mincemeat Pie | Photo by Meredith

Mincemeat Pie | Photo by Meredith

Tips for Making the Best Mincemeat Pies

  • Make your mincemeat filling when you make your fruitcakes: the longer the mixture sits, the better.
  • If you are making traditional mincemeat, store the meat mixture in the refrigerator. Stir and refresh with brandy to cover every week.
  • For fruit-based mincemeat, the mixture can remain at room temperature; stir occasionally and add more brandy, if necessary.
Mincemeat Filling

Mincemeat Filling | Photo by Meredith


See our complete collection of mincemeat pies.


Mincemeat Traditions

  • Decorate the top of the pie with a star to represent the Star of Bethlehem
  • Stir the mincemeat mixture in a clockwise direction–counterclockwise brings bad luck in the coming year
  • Make a wish on the first mince pie of the season
  • The pies were originally cradle-shaped for the Christ child
  • If you bake small pies, it’s considered lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas
Original Mini Orange Mince Pies

Original Mini Orange Mince Pies | Photo by Jason Carunchia-Strunk

Mincemeat Pie Recipes

Mincemeat Pie Filling. Diced beef combines with chopped apples, raisins, oranges, and traditional spices. Sweet pickle juice and a pineapple juice are the secret ingredients here.

Old Time Mincemeat Pie. Round steak is minced and paired up with diced apples, currants, candied fruit peels, and spices. The secret ingredient? Sour cherry preserves.

Mincemeat II. Here’s one with minced pork, plus apples, oranges, raisins, gooseberries, and sour pie cherries. Brandy and vinegar give it some snap.

Green Tomato Mincemeat. Beef suet gives this one old-school cred. It combines with minced green tomatoes, apples, raisins, candied citrus peels, and oranges, all seasoned with white vinegar, brown sugar, and spices.

Meatless Mincemeat Recipes

Meatless Mincemeat Pies. Combine prepared mincemeat pie filling with walnuts and apples, then spice things up with rum and brown sugar.

Pear Mincemeat with Apricots. Pears, apples, and oranges mix it up with raisins, dried currants, and dried apricots. Grape juice and cider vinegar replace the booze.

Mincemeat III. Gooseberries, sour pie cherries, and cranberries bathe in brandy with apples and raisins, plus white vinegar and traditional spices.

Variations on Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat Cookies

Mincemeat Cookies | Photo by Meredith

Christmas Quick Links


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