Homemade Ingredients

How To Make a Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

4.73 from 37 votes
Craft my timeless Traditional Mincemeat Recipe to elevate your Christmas staple Mince Pies with rich Irish flavors and festive charm.
A jar of mincemeat with a spoon in it.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE: This Traditional Mince Meat Recipe promises you a joyous endeavor resulting in a unique and delightful holiday celebration that goes beyond the ordinary, creating lasting memories with each delectable bite.

  • The preparation of this Traditional Mincemeat Recipe fills your kitchen with an irresistible aromatic medley of seasonal spices.
  • Adjusting the sweetness, experimenting with the spice levels, and selecting your favorite combination of dried fruits and butter or suet allows you to tailor the flavors to perfection.
  • Making the Traditional Mincemeat from scratch not only connects you to the roots of this classic recipe but also allows you to pass it down as a piece of culinary heritage.
  • Beyond filling the iconic Mince Pies, mincemeat adds a touch of festive flair to various dishes on your holiday menu.

Mince Pies hold an irreplaceable place in my cherished holiday food traditions. Growing up in Ireland, it was a staple at any dinner or gathering around Christmas! Everything about it screams the holidays for me. Yet, the essence of Traditional Mince Pies or Mum’s Mince Pies with Coconut Topping is incomplete without the aromatic touch of Mincemeat! It reminds me of home in Ireland and is part of my Bold Baking Holidays Worldwide series — where I’m sharing lovely holiday recipes from around the world. Check my Holiday Baking Headquarters for the full list!

I’m proud to say there’s a connection to the much-loved O’Driscolls Irish Whiskey used in this recipe. My cousin, Michael J Stafford is the managing director of Stafford Bonded in my hometown of Wexford, Ireland. Michael carried on the family business created by our grandfather (James Stafford) and also our fathers (George Stafford Snr and Michael Stafford Snr). Michael has chronicled the history of the Stafford family in Wexford beautifully on the Stafford Bonded website,  O’Driscolls Irish Whiskey is inspired by Diarmuid O’Driscoll, Michael’s other grandfather, a true inspiration and a great storyteller who recently passed away at 104. You will understand the inspiration when you hear Diarmuid talk of the O’Driscoll family.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/29/2023, to include explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and more Pro Chef Tips.

Table of Contents

A closeup of my traditional mincemeat recipe with spiced raisins, currants, sultanas, and candied peels. They're plumped up and infused with Whiskey.

What is a Traditional Mincemeat Recipe?

English recipes from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries describe mincemeat as a fermented mixture of meat and fruit used as a pie filling.

  • These early recipes included vinegar and wine, but by the 18th century, distilled spirits, frequently brandy or whiskey, were being used instead.
  • The use of spices like clove, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon was common in late medieval and Renaissance meat dishes.
  • The increase in sweetness from added sugar made mincemeat less of a savory dinner course and more of a dessert.

Tools for a Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

Although there are many ingredients in this recipe, very little equipment is needed to make Traditional Mincemeat.

Key Ingredients for a Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

  • Cooking apple

    • Use peeled and cored Granny Smith apples for the best flavor and texture.
    • Bramley apple will be your go-to cooking apple in Ireland or the UK. They are very sour to eat raw but are one of the best apples working beautifully in baking, such as in an  Apple Crumble or Apple Strudel.
  • Raisins, currants, and sultanas

    • Raisins are from different types of grapes dried for around 3 weeks in a dark brownish color.
    • Currants are dried from a variety of small, seedless grapes called “Black Corinth” and “Carina.”
    • Sultanas/golden raisins are dried from green seedless grapes and are typically coated in an oil-based solution before drying to speed up the process to have a lighter golden color.
  • Candied mixed citrus peel

    • Candied peels add sweetness, a unique citrus flavor, and a delightful, chewy, and slightly firm texture to mincemeat.
  • Mixed spice

    • Mixed spice in mincemeat adds warmth, balancing the sweetness of mincemeat.
    • It also adds aromatic complexity, depth, and a traditional holiday flavor.
  • Citrus zest and juice

    • Lemon zest and lemon juice with orange zest and orange juice, bring vibrant and refreshing elements to mincemeat, enhancing both the flavor and aroma.
    • They also complement the other ingredients in this classic holiday mixture.
  • Muscovado sugar

    • Muscovado sugar adds moisture and can enhance the overall richness and complexity of mincemeat.
    • You can also use dark brown sugar instead.
  • O’Driscolls Irish Whiskey

    • I love using Irish whiskey for the most authentic flavor.
    • Brandy or rum will also work.
  • Butter

    • Butter’s savory and creamy profile complements the sweetness of sugars and dried fruit.
    • As a source of fat, butter contributes to moisture and tenderness.
    • Butter melts during baking, coating the other ingredients thus resulting in a more cohesive filling.

A top-down view of my homemade mincemeat in mini pies in a muffin tin.

How to Make Traditional Mincemeat

Seriously, there are only three steps. Could it get any easier? I don’t think so! Here’s how to do it (and don’t forget to get the full recipe with measurements, on the page down below):

  • Prepare ingredients: In a large bowl add all of the above ingredients. Cover and allow to soak and hydrate overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • Cook ingredients: The next day add the contents of the bowl to a medium-sized saucepan. Simmer uncovered over medium/low heat for roughly 10-15 minutes until the liquid reduces and thickens slightly. This is a saucy recipe, don’t cook off all of the liquid (see video for consistency).
  • Enjoy: Stir well before use.

How to Store Traditional Mincemeat and How Long Does Traditional Mincemeat Last?

Store the mincemeat in sterilized jars in a cupboard for up to 1 year. You can sterilize jars in the microwave with a little water in them or you can steam them. So you can make a Traditional Mincemeat recipe in advance and use it in my Homemade Mince Pies recipe.

Is There Ever Meat in Mincemeat?

Nowadays, no, not technically, however, some bakers still use suet which is what was used traditionally as the fat. Make sure to read the label in case you are vegan/vegetarian. Suet is the hard fat that encases the pig’s kidney fat.

I use melted butter in my recipe instead of suet so everyone can enjoy it! You can use vegetable shortening too, choose a hard baking type.

FAQs

Can I freeze traditional mincemeat?

Yes, traditional mincemeat can be frozen in airtight containers for extended storage. Thaw and bring to room temperature before using.

Can I omit alcohol in traditional mincemeat?

Yes, you can omit alcohol, but it adds depth of flavor. Consider using apple juice, orange juice, or other fruit juice or tea as a non-alcoholic alternative.

How do I use traditional mincemeat in recipes?

Traditional mincemeat is commonly used as a filling for mince pies, and tarts, or even as a topping for desserts like ice cream.

Can I use different types of dried fruits in traditional mincemeat?

Yes, you can customize the dried fruits. Common choices include dried cranberries, raisins, currants, sultanas, dried apricots, or dried blueberries.

Can I substitute fresh fruit for dried fruit in traditional mincemeat?

It’s not recommended as the dried fruits contribute sweetness, texture, and a concentrated flavor essential to traditional mincemeat.

Can I make a vegan version of traditional mincemeat?

Yes, you can use vegetable-based suet or vegan butter as a substitute for traditional suet, and ensure other ingredients are plant-based.

Homemade mince pies with my mincemeat recipe, dusted with powdered sugar.

Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips

  • Mincemeat doesn’t have to be made months in advance like you think. I make this about 2 weeks before Christmas and it has great flavor and texture.
  • When it comes to sterilizing the jar, just put some water in the bottom of the jar and microwave it for 2 minutes until the water bubbles and steams. Pour out and fill while hot. Not too fussy at all.
  • If you don’t have Mixed Spice you can make my Mixed Spice recipe or you can use Pumpkin Pie Spice which is made up of similar spices.
  • Can’t find Candied Peel? Make your own Candied Mixed Peel.  It’s easy and inexpensive.
  • Muscovado sugar: This gives the mincemeat a dark, rich, treacle kind of flavor. If you don’t have any you can substitute dark brown sugar. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Brown Sugars to see the differences and how to use them.
  • This is a saucy recipe, don’t cook off all of the liquid (see video for consistency).
  • I do have another Homemade Mincemeat recipe, and if that’s your favorite, feel free to still give it a go!

More Irish Christmas Recipes

IMPORTANT NOTE: This recipe was improved and updated on 11/29/2023, to include explanations of key ingredients, answers to the most frequently asked questions, and more Pro Chef Tips.

And don’t forget to buy my Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook!

Watch The Recipe Video!

Traditional Mincemeat Recipe

4.73 from 37 votes
Craft my timeless Traditional Mincemeat Recipe to elevate your Christmas staple Mince Pies with rich Irish flavors and festive charm.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3 cups (900g)
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Soak 12 hours
Craft my timeless Traditional Mincemeat Recipe to elevate your Christmas staple Mince Pies with rich Irish flavors and festive charm.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 3 cups (900g)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 ½ cups (7 ½oz/213g) raisins
  • 1 ½ cups (7 ½oz/213g) currants
  • 1 ½ cups (7 ½oz/213g) sultanas
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) candied mixed peel
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice*
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium lemon zest and juice
  • 1 medium orange zest and juice
  • 1 cup (6oz/170g) muscovado sugar* (or dark brown sugar)
  • cup (5oz/158ml) O'Driscolls Irish Whiskey (brandy or rum)
  • 1 stick (4oz/115g) butter

Instructions

  • In a large bowl add all of the above ingredients. Cover and allow to soak and hydrate overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours.
  • The next day add the contents of the bowl to a medium-sized saucepan. Simmer uncovered over medium/low heat for roughly 10-15 minutes until the liquid reduces and thickens slightly. This is a saucy recipe, don't cook off all of the liquid (see video for consistency).
  • Store the mincemeat in sterilized jars in a cupboard for up to 1 year. Use in my Homemade Mince pies recipe. Stir well before use.

Recipe Notes

*Mixed spice: If you don't have mixed spice you can make your own or you can use pumpkin pie spice which is made up of similar spices. 
*Muscovado sugar: This gives the mincemeat a dark, rich treacle kind of flavor. If you don't have any you can substitute dark brown sugar.
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Smita Shore
Smita Shore
3 years ago

Thank you, Gemma, for this recipe! I love traditional Christmas pudding but never made it because we don’t get mincemeat in our country. But thanks to your recipe that gave very clear instructions, I managed to make quite a bit of mincemeat yesterday. I followed your recipe for candied citrus peels and successfully managed to add that in. I didn’t get currants but I substituted those with black raisins and also mixed in some dried kiwis and cranberries to add some color. I’m going to let it rest for a week in the refrigerator before using them in your Christmas… Read more »

Lara
Lara
3 years ago

My grandmother always made mincemeat with venison. All the fruit too and it was a desert but included the meat. Unfortunately I have never had mincemeat because of my violent allergy to oranges. Someday I’m hoping someone will create a recipe that doesn’t include oranges. (If that’s possible.) In the meantime, someone enjoy it for me!

Ayzah
Ayzah
3 years ago

Hi Gemma yesterday I made dinner for my whole family and loved the minced meat ! Me and my family aren’t allowed to have alcohol so I used orange juice and it tasted amazing thank you so much I will be turning 11 and this is a great thing thank you!

Janet Foo
Janet Foo
2 years ago

Hi Gemma what can I use to substitute the candied peel? How about the cherries that you put in Fruitcake?

Danielle
Danielle
3 years ago

My grandmother always served this with “hard sauce.” It was a little too much flavor for me, as a kid. Think I’ll try again this year.

Patricia Babbitt
Patricia Babbitt
3 years ago

I began making mince mini pies this past Christmas. I have craved mince meat for so long and have no idea why I didn’t think to make it. Probably because it was what my grandmother made during the holidays. So glad I made the little minis!! It was fun, delicious, and tasted like Christmas.

Jeanie Griffin Sibley
3 years ago

Outstanding recipe! So easy to make, a real treat from the aroma to the finished product. I will be making this again in a few weeks!!

Cloighi Doyle
3 years ago

I just finished making this and it is amazing!!! I have never made anything like this before and this recipe is so easy! I didn’t have sultanas, but I did use another variety of grapes. I even made the candied mixed peel! Sterilizing jars is new, but I am going to try it now too!!

Donna
Donna
4 months ago

Hi Gemma,
Thank you sooo much for sharing this recipe. I am excited to make it for my Joseph. He loves mince pie. I have made your pie filling and it looks wonderful. I still have to do the cooking of it. My family don’t use or drink alcohol so I used apple juice for my liquid. How long will my mince pie filling keep in the refrigerator?

Naomi
Naomi
5 months ago

Hi Gemma,
Was wondering if I could skip the sugar? If not, can I also use normal brown sugar?

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About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, a cookbook author, and the creator of Bigger Bolder Baking. I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere with my trusted and tested recipes and baking tips. You may have seen one of my 500+ videos on YouTube & TikTok or as a guest judge on Nailed It! on Netflix or the Best Baker in America on Food Network. No matter your skills, my Bold Baking Team & I want to be your #1 go-to baking authority.

 

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