/ Food & Drink

Which mince pies won our Best Buy prize?

Mince pies

Mince pies are a delicious traditional treat – and our taste test this year shows you don’t need to splash out to enjoy great ones. What do you look for in a good mince pie, and how much would you spend on them?

The priciest mince pies in our taste test cost just over £2 each, but the cheapest (at 28p each) came out on top. Aldi’s Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies (£1.69 for six) head up this year’s Best Buy list, scoring 78%. Our panel praised the lush, spicy filling and crisp, light pastry.

Lidl’s Snowy Lodge Luxury Mince Pies (£1.79 for six) merited a Best Buy too with 70%, with their fruity filling and buttery well-cooked pastry. They look festive too, with snowflake and star-shaped patterns on the top.

Looking quite different is the third Best Buy – M&S Handcrafted Ultimate All Butter Mince Pies (£4 for four). Our experts thought they could indeed pass for homemade, not that anyone would want to pretend they’d been baking when they hadn’t!

No pie is perfect

Best and worst mince pies (1)Of course, our Best Buys aren’t perfect. Our experts commented on the differing amounts of filling in pies from the same box from Aldi. They felt Lidl’s pies could have done with a bit more spice and filling, but they do taste good and are great value too.

And the pastry on M&S Handcrafted pies tended to crack when picked up. As my home-made pies have been known to fall completely to bits at a glance, I think I can live with that!

To find out how the Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose mince pies scored in our taste test, read our full review of mince pies.

You’ve told us that you prefer homemade pies, but with top-rated pies costing so little, might you be tempted to leave the baking trays in the cupboard this year?

Say no to pricey pies

So, what about that £2+ pie? Fortnum & Mason Traditional Mince Pies cost £12.95 for a box of six, but failed to impress our panel. These mince pies came last in the taste test, with our experts saying the pastry was flat tasting, soft and crumbly.

We found a similar story with our Champagne and sparkling wine taste tests this year – we found five Best Buy sparkling wines for under £10 plus a Best Buy supermarket Champagne that beat Moet & Chandon.

So while I like to push the boat out at Christmas, as far as mince pies go this year I think I’m going to go for great tasting pies costing under £2 a pack. But do you think this is being too much of Scrooge?

Comments
Guest
B.Clinch says:
21 November 2013

Bought 6 Aldi luxury mince pies as they are a ‘best buy’ I found the pastry was thick, heavy and soggy. It certainly was not crisp and light. Filling was good but there was a big air space under the lids. Have Aldi changed suppliers?

Guest

Did you have the pies warm or cold, B Clinch? Our expert panel tasted the pies warm, which does make a difference. We mention in the magazine that our experts did note that the amount of filling was a little inconsistent between different pies from the same box.

Guest
Brian Goodwin says:
14 August 2015

Hi

My mother makes mince pies and has a secret recipie which for love nor money can we obtain.

Is it possible that the food panel could review them, as they are extremely popular and impossible to replicate.

Regards

Brian

Guest

yes Ido

Guest

I spend £4.95 for a pack of 6 Riverford Organic mince pies.

They are just so so gorgeous, It’s like having Chris Colfer in a pastry form :p

Guest

I love little mince pies – and home-made and just warming down but hot enough for the brandy butter to melt is yummy. Extra apple added to the bought mincemeat and a bit of cream cheese or a piece of apricot stuck placed under the mincemeat before baking adds to the flavour.

Bought ones tend to have far too much pastry. You can still cheat by buying the mincemeat and buying ready roll pastry but it is worth customising whatever you can to get a better outcome.

Guest

cooling up? It’s too early – I’m sure you know what I mean!

Guest

greggs make lovely mince pies. i have one for breakfast instead of a breakfast biscuit

Guest

i like Greggs mince pies the best and i have one for breakfast instead of breakfas biscuits

Guest
susan macgregor says:
30 January 2014

not fond of the shortcrust mince pies so i only buy the puff pastry ones freshly baked in store. I have been doing this for a lot of years now.

Guest

I love the co-op star mince pies..they are the best . put them in the microwave for 20 seconds . delicious !!

Guest
Simon Kilner says:
11 November 2017

I’m confused by your new website; how do I log off, please?

Guest

If you look at the ribbon across the top of the page, and you have registered/logged in, you should see your name on the extreme right-hand-side. Click on your name and a drop-down menu will appear at the bottom of which is “Sign out”. Click on that if you want to, but alternatively you can remain signed in for many days or even weeks, closing down and switching off until your next visit; there is no secure information accessible within your personal site contents so little harm in staying logged-in between sessions.

Guest

But if you’re not registered in the first place, of course, you don’t have to log off. I recommend registering, for many reasons.

Try the Which Conversations User Guide written by users for users

Guest

I have just noticed, after all these years, that underneath the box where I am inserting my reply it says “You are signed in as John Ward / Sign out”.

Guest

It’s a bit superfluous because you have to click on Reply to see this. Having the option in the drop-down from your username seems adequate.

Edit – We seem to be in a Convo about mince pies.

Guest

Yes, I’ve eaten mine; it was lovely. I think we’ve finished here as well now.

Guest

Thankfully John brought this top back from the off…. 🙂
I don’t much like mince pies; most are too sweet.

Guest

I can’t stand hot ones, and, yes, most are too sweet.

I don’t understand why mince pies – a simple and basic product – have become such important items in the run-up to the festive season. Who cares whose are the best? – they are all awful and unnecessary. For some time now Aldi have held the crown in Which?’s tests for taste and value for money, but recently Iceland have been claiming theirs are the best, beating all rivals, and now M&S proclaim theirs are the finest examples. Convention dictates that we shall serve mince pies this year but they will be from Aldi again. We could not go against the Which? experts’ judgment.

And another thing . . . why is mulled wine such a Christmastime staple? It’s dreadful – a poor wine ruined. And Prosecco . . . how has that come to dominate the supermarket wine racks? It’s a parody of sophistication like the Ferrero Rocher ambassador’s choccies. It’s a testament to the power of marketing that’s for sure and brand-upmanship.

Here’s a little Christmas puzzle: we’ve all seen the Christmas menus in the pubs and restaurants. What are “all the trimmings”? Apart from the roast turkey, vegetables and other eatables on the plate, what else are we entitled to expect? Is the stuffing a “trimming”, and the cranberry sauce, or a little Yorkshire pudding? Or is it one of the pathetic accessories like the cheapest crackers that money can buy and a party popper? I wish there were a standard definition of ‘all the trimmings’, because, when I ask, no one seems to know and they quickly run out of ideas saying ” well . . . you know, all the bits and pieces . . .”. Not the giblets, surely?

I shall give humbugs this year [as usual].

Guest

As far as I know, the trimmings, in addition to the turkey, include sprouts and chestnuts, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, several stuffings, proper gravy, carrots, roast potatoes, creamed potatoes, peas, fried parsnips. Most of it goes cold before you can eat it, unless you are given relatively tiny amounts – not the British way.

Prosecco, like much Champagne, is poor quality. And I don’t have the money to spend £10 a glass on a respectable champers. But I do like fizzy white – a Loire is often a good bet.

When we had the children at home we bought cracker kits and filled them ourselves with “targeted” and useful contents, or cheapish crackers, to take full advantage of the awful jokes, with separate small presents.

A Christmas sandwich does not excite me in any way. I’m not a great fan of turkey.

Why we find the bloat of a Christmas Dinner to be a celebration I’m really not sure, but it’s a tradition and if we didn’t have turkey the family would be very displeased. I’d settle for a sirloin joint or rack of lamb.

Anyway bah to your humbug.

Guest

That’s an intriguing question, John, and which – when asked by me as a tiny child – got nothing remotely informative by way of a response. So over the years I’ve been attempting to fathom just exactly what ‘trimmings’ might constitute.

Trimmings, generally, are the bits that fall off – the unwanted bits which are part of the process of shaping something desirable for the person who can afford it. They can also be the pretty bits on a dress, but over time “the trimmings” in the sense we’re discussing have really evolved into a form of adjectival phrase with very little meaning in and of itself.

Presumably, if you went for your Xmas lunch at a restaurant and asked for “Turkey without all the trimmings, please”, you’d be presented with a gobbet of avian offcut and nothing else. If you were lucky it might actually have glimpsed the inside of an oven at some point, so you weren’t reduced to a squirming mass of vomiting humanity, shortly to be temporarily incarcerated in the intensive care unit.

Merry Xmas.

Guest

I’m a mince pie fan and I bought my first batch of mince pies yesterday – I prefer the mini ones, I think it’s the pastry to mincemeat ratio that I like with a mini mince pie. I’ll also make some puff pastry mince pies a bit nearer to the big day 🙂

I feel much the same as @malcolm-r when it comes to fizz and turkey. In fact, I really don’t like champagne and I’m not a fan of turkey either. I mask the taste of champagne on Christmas day with a splash of cranberry juice and also add some frozen raspberries. I don’t mind prosecco, it’s a little sweeter so can be more palatable. Personally, my Christmas morning drink of choice is a Bloody Mary – a tradition of the Deitz family! And when it comes to Christmas lunch – it’s anything but turkey…

(Thanks for spinning this discussion back on topic. Simon, if you still need help then send us a message by going to ‘Need help?’ along the top of the page and then ‘Get in touch’)