My mother, proud of her British heritage, loves mincemeat pie. This spiced dessert is a tradition to make around the holidays. In fact, English families leave out a slice of mincemeat pie for Father Christmas instead of cookies and milk. It’s supposedly even good luck to eat mincemeat pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas. But many people have never heard of it or are hesitant to try it. I must confess, the name mincemeat freaked me out a bit when I was a kid.
What Is Mincemeat Pie?
Mincemeat or mince pie is a British delicacy for the holiday season that traces back to the kings and queens of the Middle Ages, or even earlier. The recipe was developed as a way to preserve meat, such as mutton or beef, without salt or smoke. The “minced” meat, or suet, was mixed with dried fruits and spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then baked into a pie.
Reader Connie Hammond of Fort Madison, Iowa, recalls helping her grandma, mom and two of her grandma’s sisters prepare it. “Mincemeat is a wonderful pie filling with cooked ground beef, chopped apples and raisins, plus spices and juices for flavor. It took all day to make,” she writes. “We ground the beef finely with a hand-crank grinder and cooked it, peeled and chopped Jonathan apples, and then mixed and simmered the stuff to perfection.”
Mincemeat has evolved to reflect changing tastes, and it’s now often meatless—simply a delicious blend of fruits and spices. After all, even the royals eat differently these days.
Easy Mincemeat Pie Recipe
Our Test Kitchen’s favorite mincemeat pie comes from Laverne Kamp of Kutztown, Pennsylvania. This recipe is a twist on a traditional mincemeat pie that includes chopped walnuts. You can save time and buy prepared mincemeat instead of making your own. My mom prefers None Such Ready-to-Use Mincemeat ($6).
- Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups prepared mincemeat
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
Step 1: Prepare the crust
Editor’s tip: My mom adds a secret ingredient to her mincemeat pie pastry. Get the tip for tender, flaky pie crust.
Step 2: Mix up the pie filling
In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Combine the sugar, flour and salt, and gradually add the dry ingredients to the eggs. Stir in prepared mincemeat, chopped walnuts and melted butter. Pour the filling mixture into your prepared crust.
Step 3: Bake the pie
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 325 and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 35-40 minutes. Allow the pie to cool completely, then store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
How to Serve Mincemeat Pie
As a tasty finishing touch, Laverne says she and her husband put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top of their mincemeat pie slices. This dessert will warm you up even when winter is frosty.
Now go turn on the Great British Baking Show (psst—here’s our favorite copycat recipes from the show), brew a pot of tea and enjoy!