Christmas isn’t complete without a mince pie. Fruity, sweet and delightfully boozy, they’ve been a staple of the season since Victorian times, but can be traced back centuries, to the days of the crusaders, when fillings were as meaty as the name still suggests.
Combining spices, meat and fruit – inspired by ancient cuisine in the Middle East – come Elizabethan times, the dish had evolved into a hefty offering called a “minched pie,” complete with mutton, orange peel, suet, spices, raisins, prunes and dates.
Since shrunken to a far more manageable size, and with the meat removed, they’re now a festive favourite; a rich and sturdy grown-up treat that proves Christmas isn’t all about the kids. Sorry kids.
How we tested
To help you prepare for the serious matter of shopping for the season, we’ve hunted down the most delicious mince pies on the market, looking at what’s on offer from supermarkets, bakeries and deli counters across the UK. Comparing crusts and fruity fillings in search of the best mince pie around, we’ve sampled a mega selection, looking at not just how delicious each pie was, but how it looked.
Our selection includes pies with perfect pastry and succulent mincemeat – the kind of sweet treats that will sustain you through yet another listen of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.
The best mince pies for 2021 are:
Best overall – The Proof mince pies: £9, The-proof.com
Best value mince pies – Aldi mince pies: £1.49, Aldi.com
Best for showing off – Waitrose & Partners mince pies: £2.40, Waitrose.com
Best mini mince pie – Harvey Nichols mini traditional, ginger and amaretto mince pies: £9.95, Harveynichols.com
Best looking mince pies – Panzer’s mince pies: £6.99, Panzers.co.uk
Best quirky mince pie – Paul mince pies: £2.75, Paul-uk.com
Best British brand – Melrose and Morgan, £8, Melroseandmorgan.com
Best for booziness – Asda extra indulgent mince pies: £1.95, Asda.com
The Proof mince pies
It’s all about the topping when it comes to east London-based pudding bakery The Proof’s excellent handmade mince pies. Here an exceedingly more-ish orange-spiced crumble sits upon a pleasantly alcoholic mincemeat, crunching with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s a fresh spin on the season’s much-loved treat, but they haven’t messed with the formula too much – it’s still instantly recognisable as a proper mince pie, with a gooey and moist middle full of soaked fruits and that warming, lingering spiced taste. Available for delivery from 1 December.
Buy now £9.00, The-proof.com
Aldi specially selected mince pies
Best: Value mince pies
The most intricately decorated of all the mince pies we tasted – featuring a star-shaped pastry top, complete with snowflake pattern and a generous dusting of icing sugar – Aldi’s mince pies are by far the best value of the bunch. The mincemeat is packed with cranberries, currants and raisins, as well as sultanas, all infused with a punchy dash of brandy and cognac that’ll warm you up, but is never overwhelming. The all-butter shortcrust pastry is on the lighter side too, making this a delightfully delicate option. If you’re planning on eating more than one in a session, you’ll easily plough through this packet. Available in-store now.
Buy now £1.49, Aldi.co.uk
Waitrose & Partners No.1 brown butter mince pies with Courvoisier
Best: For showing off
Trust Waitrose to absolutely nail a classy version of the classic. Waitrose No.1 brown butter mince pies with Courvoisier are a deeply indulgent take on this festive treat, with thick – but never dry – beurre noisette (that’s hazelnut butter to you and I) pastry, covered in a liberal sprinkle of sugar and a chunky mincemeat filling. Apricots and glace Amarena cherries from Italy, as well as almonds, are packed into the pud, with a powerful taste of Courvoisier cognac. Pretty much perfect for cosy evenings in with a glass of port in your hand and some Nat King Cole on the stereo.
Buy now £2.40, Waitrose.com
Harvey Nichols mini traditional, ginger and amaretto mince pies
Best: Mini mince pie
With a diminutive size that makes for a pleasing pastry-to-filling ratio – it’s also extremely possible to pop a whole one in your mouth in a single go – Harvey Nichols’s mini selection of mince pies comes in three different flavours: traditional mincemeat, ginger, and amaretto. The classic mince pie flavour is decent enough, but it’s the zingy ginger offering – which feature nuggets of crystallised ginger – and the decadent-tasting amaretto-soaked pies which make this selection really stand out.
Buy now £9.95, Harveynichols.com
Panzer's mince pies
Best: Looking mince pies
In-house mince pies from beloved St John’s Wood deli Panzer’s – the mighty Nigella Lawson is said to be a fan – are topped with a cute pastry star, making them a great choice if you’re getting stuck into some swanky table-scaping this Christmas. They taste as good as they look, too, with richly spiced mincemeat, packed with powerful citrus flavours and plump currants, encased in a thick, just-crumbly-enough pastry. Panzer’s might be a neighbourhood favourite, but they offer nationwide delivery and gorgeous gift-wrapping for presents, making these mince pies a great way to share seasonal joy with long-distance friends and family.
Buy now £6.99, Panzers.co.uk
Paul mince pies
Best: Quirky mince pie
And now for something completely different. High end high street bakery Paul has majestically merged its classic all-butter croissant with a mince pie, dusting layered butter pastry with icing sugar, and stuffing it fit to bursting with an impressively sticky mincemeat filling. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then this will appeal, as the mincemeat is definitely on the more sugary side than some of the others listed here. For an alternative to a Christmas Day breakfast of smoked salmon, this might just be your answer. Just be prepared for that mid-morning sugar rush. Available from 16 November.
Buy now £2.75, Paul-uk.com
Melrose and Morgan mince pies
Best: British brand
While most mince pies pride themselves on a rich and moist mincemeat, Melrose and Morgan are all about the pastry. These are glossy and buttery with a hint of vanilla, every bit as indulgent as the spiced filling of apples, raisins, sultanas, currants and citrus peel, offset with a glug of brandy. Not teeny tiny, but not massive either, these elegant mince pies are just a bit over bitesize, leaving you wanting more but never making you feel like you’ve stuffed yourself to bursting. Though we suppose that depends on how many you plan on putting away in a single session...
Buy now £8.00, Melroseandmorgan.com
Asda extra indulgent mince pies
Best: For booziness
With mincemeat that has been matured for three months and an all-butter orange zest pastry, Asda’s extra indulgent mince pies are all baked in-store, meaning you’ll be getting the freshest of pies for your festive spread. They come pretty heavy on the pastry, which normally would be a negative, but the citrus-spiced cases are so tasty that it’s hardly worth complaining about. There’s also plenty of filling too, matching each mouthful of crust with a rich filling that’s dripping with brandy and port. It might be an idea to keep naked flames away from these, such is their whopping alcohol content.
Buy now £1.95, Asda.com
The verdict: Mince pies
The Proof’s crumble-topped mince pies offer a neat mix of tradition and twist – they’re also extremely delicious. Aldi’s version offer not just value for money, but look and taste the part too, while Harvey Nichols’s bite-size mini mince pies bring in exciting seasonal flavours for a touch of variety around the festive table.
For discount codes on more Christmas foodie treats, try the links below:
Want to discover more festive deals and launches? Read our guide to Aldi’s Christmas hamper range