Crispy, buttery pastry and an incredibly juicy, flavour-packed spiced fruit filling make these mince pies the ultimate Christmas treat. They’re DELICIOUS, easier than you’d think and the best way to usher in Christmas. Plus, they make wonderful gifts over the festive season.
I’m not sure there’s a bigger sign that Christmas is coming than a beautiful batch of homemade Christmas mince pies. Plus, the smell that will come from your kitchen when you’re making them is truly glorious and will really get you in a Christmassy mood.
I was never actually a fan of mince pies growing up, but over the past 5 or so years, I’ve realised how seriously delicious and Christmassy they really are. This recipe is based on the one my grandmother has made every year for as long as I remember, and I’ve made a couple of tweaks over the years as I’ve made them over and over again.
These pies also make wonderful gifts. I love making a big batch (this recipe makes enough fruit mince for A LOT of pies), popping them into little gift boxes or wrapping them in cellophane for family and friends to enjoy over the festive season.
I’m breaking down the whole process here, with all my tips and tricks along the way. We’ll make the fruit mince, make the pastry and then make the pies themselves. They’re definitely a labour of love, but they’re the perfect December weekend baking activity. Pop on a Christmas playlist and just enjoy the process!
In this point – everything you need for making Christmas mince pies
There are a lot of ingredients that go into the pies – but the beauty of them is you really can make them your own based on what you like best.
For the fruit mince –
- Apples. Use a sweet baking apple – this is a great recipe to use up any slightly past their best, bruised apples you might have lying around.
- Dried fruit. The recipe uses a mix of currants, sultanas, apricots and glacé cherries (candied cherries) but you can play around with the fruit. You could use raisins, cranberries or even mango. Just keep the volume of the dried fruit the same if you are going to make some swaps. You can also use packets of mixed dried fruit for ease.
- Almonds. I love adding nuts in for texture. You could use pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts or pistachios too – just make sure they’re unsalted.
- Desiccated coconut. This also brings a lovely texture and different flavour to the mince, but you can leave it out if you like.
- Fruit peel. Some people don’t like the taste of this, so you can leave it out if you’re one of them! Just replace it with more dried fruit.
- Spices. I’m using ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cardamom. Cardamom is the only one that might be tricky to find so if you struggle, just use more cinnamon in its place.
- Vegetarian suet. Traditional mince pies are made with beef suet, but I like swapping it for vegetarian. It’s essentially vegetable oil. This can be hard to find outside of the UK, so you could also use butter (unsalted ideally) or coconut oil.
- Brandy. This is going to help the mince develop loads of delicious flavour, and really makes them taste properly Christmassy. You could also use whiskey, rum or spiced rum or for an alcohol-free version, use apple juice.
- Caster sugar. Use regular granulated sugar if you can’t find it.
For the pastry
- Plain flour. Regular white flour is fine – you could also use self-raising flour, just leave out the baking powder.
- Butter. It needs to be fridge-cold when you add it.
- Icing sugar. I prefer using icing sugar in the pastry because it properly disappears into the pastry texture-wise, but you could also use plain granulated or caster sugar.
You’ll also need a mini-muffin tin (or use a regular muffin tin for larger pies), a small round cookie cutter and (if you’re going to top them with pastry stars) a little star-shaped cutter. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, you can cut circles out with a knife or trace around the rim of a small glass or coffee cup.
How to make Christmas fruit mince
Peel and core your apples, then chop them into rough chunks. Add them to the bowl of a food processor, then blitz until they break down into a chunky paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Working in stages, blitz the dried fruit, peel, almonds and suet in the same bowl (no need to clean it in between). Transfer everything to the bowl, then pour in the brandy. Give everything a really good mix with a large wooden spoon, then cover it tightly with aluminium foil or plastic wrap and sit on the bench. Let it sit to let the fruit macerate and develop flavour for 3 days on the bench, stirring it once a day.
If you don’t have a food processor: Chop the apples as finely as you can, or grate them with a box grater. Chop the dried fruit and nuts roughly, then add them to your mixing bowl with the suet, sugar, spices, coconut, salt and brandy.
PRO TIP: You don’t have to let the fruit mince mature over 3 days – you can use it right away if you like. The longer you let it sit – the better the flavour is (but it’ll still be delicious!)
How to make the pastry
When you’re ready to have your Christmassy afternoon and make the pies, get the flour, baking powder, salt and icing sugar in to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix together. Add the chopped cold butter, and pulse again until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, pour in the whisked egg and milk and keep the motor running until the pastry comes together – it’ll look like little beads. At this point, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form a rough circle. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
How to make the pies
Grease your mini muffin tin (or regular muffin tin) with butter or oil. The easiest way I find to roll out pastry is to sandwich it between two sheets of baking paper. This just reduces any possibility of it sticking to your surface or your rolling pin. I normally cut the pastry in half (put the other half back in the fridge). Roll it out thinly (about 3mm), then using a cutter just larger than your muffin tins, cut out circles of pastry. Carefully peel the circles out of the pastry and press into the greased tin. Don’t worry if the pastry tears as you do this – just patch it up with more pastry. Ball up the scraps and reroll the pastry, continuing until you’ve used it all.
PRO TIP: If you’re finding the pastry at all sticky and tricky to work with, pop it back into the fridge for 10 minutes to cool down. Once the butter starts melting pastry becomes harder to work with (and it also means you won’t get as crispy a result in the oven).
Spoon a heaped teaspoon of the fruit mince into the pastry cases, pressing the filling down into the pastry with the back of your spoon. You can fill it right to the top of your case. Roll out the remaining pastry and use a cutter to cut out little pastry stars. Top the pies with the stars, then pop into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until golden. You might find the pies around the edges of the tins cook faster than the ones in the middle – make sure you check and see how they’re going. Once they”re golden brown, they’re ready.
Let the pies sit in the tins for about 10 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool fully. Dust with icing sugar (use a sieve) and devour.
PRO TIP: Don’t skip letting them cool slightly in the tins – if you try to get them out right away you’ll find they may crumble and break.
Watch how to make them
Got a question?
They’ll keep well for at least 1 week, stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The pastry might soften a little over time, but they’ll still taste lovely.
Store the mince in large sterilised glass jars for months at room temperature – the sugar and alcohol act as a preserver and the flavour will get even better with time! Here’s how to sterilise jars if you’re unsure.
You can use butter or coconut oil – they both work really well.
Yes! The beauty of this recipe is that you can really switch around the dried fruit, nuts and spices in the mince. Just keep the overall volume the same and you’ll be fine. Cranberries, raisins, and mango are great or swap the almonds for pecans, pistachios, cashews, walnuts or hazelnuts. You could also leave the nuts out – just use more of the dried fruit.
You don’t! For an alcohol-free version, use apple juice in place of the brandy and it’ll be absolutely fine.
Make more pies! I love making big batches of pies and popping them into gift boxes or wrapping them in cellophane to give as gifts. You can also use them to make the most delicious Christmassy cinnamon rolls (swap the cinnamon sugar in my cinnamon rolls recipe for the fruit mince), or make swap the cheese and herbs for fruit mince in my super easy scones recipe.
You can also give the mincemeat itself as a gift – just spoon it into sterilised jars first (here’s how to sterilise glass jars – it’s easy).
Like this recipe? Here are more festive ideas you might enjoy
If you make these mince pies, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print