11 best mince pies to indulge in over Christmas
Grab a glass of mulled wine and settle into this festive staple
Christmas is a time full of foodie traditions, whether that’s serving turkey and brussels sprouts on the big day itself, or a boozy Christmas cake for pudding, there are just certain things that are non-negotiable.
Mince pies are one such tradition and something the nation takes very seriously throughout the month of December. We’ve spoken to hundreds of festive feasters to get an understanding of what makes the perfect pie.
From our findings, we have concluded that the perfect mince pie should have a rich buttery pastry which although light, doesn’t crumble into nothing upon the first bite.
It doesn’t matter if the pastry topping is a full cover or partly covered with a festive shape (stars are a favourite) but the filling must be plentiful, well spiced, with a touch of booze, although any alcohol shouldn’t be overpowering.
Some were happy to see flavour experimentation – rum, pineapple and coconut anyone? While others insist it must follow a traditional recipe for it to count.
The vast majority were keen on an icing sugar dusting, whilst others went off piste insisting marzipan or pecans made for the perfect pie.
We munched our way through nearly 150 mince pies to bring you this definitive list, trying everything from supermarket bargains to high-end luxury food hall offerings and everything in-between.
Although we tasted all of our pies straight out of the packet for consistency, most can also be warmed in the oven and all taste better with a cup of tea and a spoonful of brandy butter.
Read on, for this year’s definitive list of 2019’s best mince pies.
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GAIL’s mince pie: £1.70 each
We try these pies every year thinking maybe, just maybe, someone will take its crown. However this London-based bakery has done it again with its handmade creations. What is it that makes them so darn good we hear you cry? The pastry is the perfect pantone shade of golden, encasing a really fruity deep filling consisting of plump sticky dried fruits spiked with a glug of brandy. They’re then finished with a good sprinkling of crunchy demerara sugar and they’re a pretty generous size too. Everyone that tried one immediately declared these their favourite. Perfection.
Konditor mince pie gift xox, 6 pack: £10, Konditor
Unlike the majority of pies we tried, Konditor do away with the icing sugar dusting and produce a golden, glazed top instead. The pastry is extremely buttery and the filling, while not hugely deep, is well spiced, sticky and deliciously sweet. You’ll definitely polish off at least two in one sitting – no bad thing in our eyes. There’s also a fabulous vegan version which although is not quite as richly buttery, is still exceptional. In fact we reckon you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Asda extra special luxury mince pies, 6 pack: £1.39, Asda
Thick, buttery soft pastry, reminiscent of shortbread biscuit, encases a dense, sticky moist filling. Lightly dusted with icing sugar and topped with a large festive pastry star, we detected a good hit of brandy in the soaked jammy fruit. A great mince pie, especially given the bargain price.
Lottie Shaw’s Christmas iced rum deep filled mince pies, 4 pack: £5.50, Ocado
We’ll let you into a little secret – we like our mince pies boozy. Very boozy. So we were pretty smitten to discover Lottie Shaw’s rum soaked mince pies. Instead of the standard pastry top, these are finished with a layer of super sweet white icing which although not particularly festive, we enjoyed for a change. The deep filling consists of sultanas, raisins, currants, apple and candied fruit peel which have been soaked in Harrogate rum from the Smokehouse Distillery. Although there are just four in a pack, they are large, rich and utterly decadent and they also happen to be vegan too.
Tesco Finest all butter crumble topped mince pies, 6 pack: £2, Tesco
One of the booziest pies we had the pleasure of tasting, Tesco has spiked its mincemeat with what tastes like a serious measure of Courvoisier cognac. Some will find the alcohol overwhelming (these are definitely not ones to share with the kids!) but we were keen. The pastry was slightly dryer then some we’d found and extremely crumbly (the clue is in the name there) but the filling was so deliciously spicy and boozy that we still felt they deserved a place on this list.
Heston from Waitrose chocolate and cherry mince pies, 6 pack: £3, Waitrose
Die hard mince pie fans – look away now. This might not follow a traditional recipe, however if we’re going to trust anyone to muck around with new flavours, that man is Heston. There are a few variations under his name including a spiced mince pie with a good thwack of lemon but we’re still a big fan of this decadent chocolate and cherry version. It’s a classic flavour pairing, reminiscent of a comforting black forest gateau. The chocolate pastry cup contains sour cherry mincemeat, combined with Heston’s cherry bakewell vodka (which we’d also recommend drinking on the side). Finished with crunchy chocolate crumble and icing sugar, this is a mince pie for those that don’t like mince pies.
Paul mince pie croissant: £2.55, Paul
Stupidly sweet, this would only constitute a suitable breakfast in the run up to Christmas, but until our New Year’s resolutions kick in we’ll be eating with glee. Paul’s classic buttery croissant is stuffed with sticky mincemeat and dusted with icing sugar, and whilst we’d normally enjoy a mince pie with a cup of tea, this is a perfect accompaniment to a strong black coffee.
Melrose & Morgan mince pies, 8 pack: £10, Melrose & Morgan
A posh pie with a great reputation, well loved by those in the know, Melrose & Morgan has picked up a Great Taste award for its beloved baked goods. The buttery pastry is flavoured with sweet vanilla and the homemade mincemeat is perfectly spiced. A little on the pricey side, there’s eight in a pack and the handsome packaging would make this the perfect gift for the gourmand in your life. We’d highly recommend serving with a generous spoonful of the brand’s light as air, whipped brandy butter made with Somerset cider
Selfridges Selection traditional festive mince pies, 6 pack: £9.99, Selfridges
In contrast to the super sleek packaging, inside we found the pies looked pleasingly homemade, with ever so slightly different variations of a golden top. Encased by rich buttery pastry, the mincemeat was quite soft, sticky and jammy with a tell-tale hint of brandy. Again, our testers liked this consistency, enjoying the fragrant spices and candied peel, but don’t expect big plump juicy fruit. Completely free from palm oil, each pie is finished with a light dusting of sugar.
Riverford mince pies, 6 pack: £5.25, Riverford
You’ve got to love the team at Riverford, a company completely dedicated to organic produce. Made for them by the family-run Authentic Bread Company, we must warn you, these buttery mince pies are extremely crumbly. However the quality of the mincemeat is second to none, with plump juicy fruit, spiced to perfection (the cinnamon being particularly punchy). We loved the addition of flaked almonds too and felt the overall size of the pies was quite generous.
Sainsburys Taste the Difference 12 pies of Christmas: £3, Sainsburys
Why choose one flavour of pie, when you can have four in one pack. And because they’re only minis, you can happily try all four, without getting too full, and declaring your favourite. There’s the classic buttery mince pie for the traditionalists, a frangipane for those bakewell tart fans, apple and salted caramel for those open to experimenting and lastly a subtly flavoured, festive gingerbread version. Great at any time of day, they’d make quite a good dessert too.
The verdict: Mince pies
GAIL’s mince pie has done it again and officially topped our charts. However in terms of the supermarket offerings, we were pleasantly surprised by Asda’s Extra Special luxury mince pies which were excellent value for money.
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