What are Mincemeat Pies?
Mincemeat pies have been a traditional dish in European countries for centuries, going back to at least medieval times. Today most people think of the canned pie filling made with apples, raisins, and spices…and that is pretty tasty in a pie too.
‘Old fashioned’ mincemeat pies are made with finely chopped beef, mutton, or venison mixed with suet or fat (goose fat was common in old English recipes). Dried fruits were a luxury and usually only added to mince pies made for the wealthy. Sometimes hard alcohol was added to the filling as a preservative. These ingredients were combined in a pot, simmered over a fire, then baked into a pastry. For ages, these pies were served as a main dish in autumn and winter to celebrate the harvest and holiday season.
You may read a lot more about the history of mincemeat in this article…including the changes to ingredients, religious significance, and even the banning of mince pies for Christmas!
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Make Your Own Mincemeat Pie!
My Gram made mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas each year and I enjoyed this special treat.
I’m sharing recipes for both a traditional pie made with meat and a version without meat.
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Here is the recipe for a small batch of traditional mincemeat that is enough for one 8-9″ pie.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup suet ground
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2/3 cup dried currants
- 3 cups apples peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1 1/2 cups apple juice or apple cider
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 oz citron
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/22 tsp salt
- 1 orange finely grated peel, and pulp
- 1/2 lemon finely grated peel
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Brown the ground beef and suet in a very large saucepan.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 hours.
- Freeze leftover mincemeat and use within 3 months for best results.
Make Mincemeat Without Meat
Of course, not everyone will enjoy the traditional mincemeat recipe as much as I do. If you prefer the meatless version made with apples, raisins, and citron, I’ve got you covered!
Here’s how to make a modern mincemeat filling for a delicious alternative to the old-fashioned version.
Apple Raisin Mincemeat Filling
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 1/3 cup apple juice concentrate
- 2 apples, diced tart
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup candied citron
- 1/2 cup candied cherries
- zest and juice of 1 orange medium
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp molasses dark
- 1/3 cup brandy or rum
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- salt pinch
- Add all ingredients to a large, stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn heat down to medium low and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, about one half hour.
- Makes about 4 cups of pie filling. Store in the refrigerator overnight for flavors to blend. You may keep refrigerated for up to one month. Sprinkle with brandy or rum if the filling dries out.
Make a Traditional Holiday Pie!
This holiday dessert is a classic and my Dad and Grandma M always wanted a piece for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I love making our food from scratch with whole food ingredients, especially at this time of the year.
This reminds me that I really need to share my pie crust recipe. I use butter in place of shortening unless I have natural lard on hand. Use your favorite pie crust recipe or use the easy, no-roll pie crust recipe I shared in How to Make a Quiche with a Super Easy Crust. This makes a crust for a 9 x 13″ cake pan or casserole dish for an open-top pie that feeds a good-sized crew. Or follow the directions for making a double-crust fruit pie and use mincemeat in its place.
Like many recipes, you may switch the ingredients up a bit to suit your own tastes. Try using ground turkey or chicken for a lighter version of the traditional mincemeat pie. Use homemade butter or meat and suet from your own home-raised livestock if you have it. Homegrown apples and dried fruits are self-sufficient ingredients that reduce your holiday waste, too. Not a fan of the alcohol in your mince pies? Leave the brandy or rum out and add a half teaspoon of lemon or orange extract to give your mince filling a bit of extra flavor.
Do you like mincemeat pie? What is your favorite, traditional or meatless? Leave a comment and share your memories of traditional holiday dishes!