Mincemeat is a fruity, often boozy, sweet filling for mince pies, the traditional little sweet treats synonymous with Christmas, here in the UK.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Homemade Mincemeat Recipe
Like our homemade Christmas pudding, homemade mincemeat is also very easy to do. However, there is no need for an overnight soak and there is no 8-hour steaming!
This is what we’ll be doing:
- Chop the apple (and almonds, if necessary) and zest the orange.
- Place all the ingredients (apart from the brandy) in a large saucepan.
- Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Sterilise jars.
- Cool the mincemeat to room temperature and add brandy.
- Fill jars and leave to mature.
Easy as pie!
Leave your boozy mincemeat to sit for at least 2 weeks before using. This will allow the flavours to develop.
Let’s briefly take a look at some of the ingredients, most of which, are easily available.
The Dried Fruit
Just like in our Christmas pudding, the dried fruit is a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cooking apple and citrus peel. But for many years now, adding seasonal cranberries (also dried) has been popular with many people.
Your final result is a fruity mix of sweet, tangy and zingy. Over the years, I’ve made various permutations of the fruit mix, depending on how much I was making (friends and clients). More of this, less of that, it’s not really an exact science.
If you can’t get individual packets of dried fruit, you can even use a bag of mixed fruit that will contain raisins, currants, sultanas, citrus peel and sometimes, cranberries. Just be sure you have the right total weight (for all the dried fruit), as in the recipe.
As far as the apple is concerned, you want a tart, cooking apple, like a Bramley. Or just use a tart eating apple, if you fancy. Remember, not an exact science. There is no need to peel the apple, the skin adds crunch and flavour.
I have always used chopped or flaked almonds. In the images here, you may see that I was using almond slivers, as I had so much at home after a Persian cheffing gig. I just crumbled them up in my hands before adding.
You can use hazelnuts, brazil nuts or even the more expensive pecans, if you like.
What is Suet?
Suet is the saturated fat found around kidneys and other organs and is solid at room temperature. Traditionally, mincemeat and Christmas puddings were made using beef suet, and is sold in shreds, which is how you would use it.
I switched to vegetarian suet many years ago preferring its lighter aroma and after taste.
Vegetarian suet is made with palm oil, sunflower oil, wheat and/or rice flour, and is also solid at room temperature. It is also grated for use, and that’s what we’re using in our Christmas mincemeat today.
You can find gluten free vegetable suet, just read the ingredients.
So to make vegetarian mincemeat, just use vegetable suet or any solid vegetable fat (vegetable shortening) you have access to, in your part of the world.
Click here to get it from Amazon (affiliate link). Get 2 of them and make Christmas Pudding too!
Don’t do palm oil? Use butter (or vegan butter – affiliate link) instead, it works and lends a creamy flavour to mincemeat. I’ve done this on many occasion – big butter fan right here!
Alcohol in Christmas sweets is practically an institution in itself. Whether it’s Christmas pudding, mince pies or trifle, there must be alcohol!
I prefer to stick with just brandy in our homemade mincemeat recipe. However, you can also use sherry and rum. Brandy and sherry is a popular combination.
For alcohol free mincemeat, we substitute the booze with Earl Grey or Darjeeling tea, just like we do in our Alcohol Free Christmas Pudding. Their light, floral aromas are perfect for adding a little oomph to the mincemeat.
I often see fruit juice as a suggested substitute for the booze in mincemeat. Trust me on this, try the tea, and you’ll see what a big difference it makes in the flavour.
The added advantage of making mincemeat without alcohol is that you don’t need to make it in advance. Up to 3 days before is the most you need, and should make it, and it has to be kept in the fridge.
What can you do with Mincemeat besides Mince Pies?
So many things!
Before the summer of 2019 (when I had to embrace widowhood), we used to entertain a whole lot. Our annual Christmas Open Evening was the stuff of culinary legends, with countless desserts!
Over the years, I had a lot of fun coming up with different desserts to entertain my guests with. So these are just some of the other ways you can use mincemeat:
- Christmas Pudding Cheesecake – I make this with leftover Christmas pudding and/or Mincemeat.
- Panettone (Bread & Butter) Pudding – same here, Christmas Pudding or mincemeat.
- Christmas Trifle – no recipe for this. Just layer savoiardi biscuits with custard, mincemeat, booze and cream.
- serve it as it is with ice cream.
- fold it into cake or brownie batters before baking.
So there you have it, time to get those aprons on!
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More Christmas Recipes on LinsFood
Mincemeat Recipe (Traditional, Vegetarian and Alcohol Free)
- large saucepan
- measuring scales
- spoons as needed
- 3 x 400 ml jars (13.5 fluid oz)
- 1 cooking apple, like Bramley about 200g (7 oz), rough weight
- zest of 1 large orange weight of the orange – about 200g (7 oz)
- 200 g raisins
- 200 g sultanas
- 200 g currants
- 100 g mixed citrus peel (affiliate link)
- 200 g shredded vegetable suet or 180 g (6.3 oz) salted butter
- 250 g soft brown sugar
- 60 g chopped almonds
- 125 ml brandy non alcoholic – sub this with 125 ml of light Earl Grey or Darjeeling – steeped for only 2 minutes
- Chop up the cooking apple coarsely, no need to peel, and zest your orange.
Get a large saucepan and place all the dried fruit in. So that's the raisins, currants, sultanas and mixed peel.
Follow this with the suet, brown sugar, chopped nuts, chopped apple and orange peel.
Place the saucepan on medium flame and heat everything up until the sugar starts to melt. This will take about 2 minutes or so. You can stir it to help it along. No need to cover.
- Once the ingredients in the saucepan are simmering, lower the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Give it a stir to mix everything up. The suet will be melting at this point.
Take it off the heat and leave it to cool down completely. Then stir in the brandy.
Transfer to sterilised jars. Clean the rims of the jars, seal, and leave somewhere dark and cool for at least 2 weeks before using. Click here to read more on how to sterilise jars.