/ Food & Drink

What’s the best way to enjoy a mince pie?

While our expert panel agreed which were the Best Buy mince pies in our recent taste test, there’s plenty of disagreement about the best way to eat them. Warm or cold? With brandy butter or cream? How do you eat yours?

We can give you our verdict on the best traditional mince pie, but the jury’s out on the perfect way to enjoy them.

Our seasonal taste test of mince pies looked at traditional luxury pies and found that some supermarket own label pies scored better than luxury retailers.

Supermarket vs upmarket

Tesco Finest Deep Filled Mince Pies with Courvoisier (£2.50) and Waitrose All Butter Mince Pies (£2.49) were placed ahead of pricier pies from Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. But discount store Lidl’s Deluxe Mince Pies (£1.69) didn’t do so well.

It was a different story with the less traditional recipe luxury pies. M&S The Collection 12 Topped Mini Mince Pies (£4.99) came out on top along with Harrods Almond Topped pies (£8.95 for six large pies) and this time Lidl’s not so pricey Deluxe Mini Pies (£1.69) came third.

Our expert panel were looking for a good-textured filling which kept the shapes of the original fruit and a crisp short pastry that wasn’t over- or under-baked. They also gave scores on taste, aroma, appearance and texture. Our panel were expecting more of a spicy mince pie aroma during the tasting than they found on the day.

The panel sampled 29 different pies during our taste test but even then they simply couldn’t cover every pie from every retailer and brand. So if your favourite mince pie is missing from our line up let us know what it is, and why it’s so good.

Some like it hot

The aroma of warm freshly-baked mince pies conjures up the feeling of Christmas. But it’s easy not to go to the bother of heating up shop bought mince pies even if the pack recommends that they’re best served warm.

Members of our expert panel were quite clear that mince pies are best enjoyed warm but I’m sure plenty of people, like me, think they’re delicious straight out of the box too.

Some people scorn shop bought pies altogether, preferring to make their own and sample them before they’ve gone cold. Our panel easily spotted the home made pie, baked by expert baker Patrick Moore of the More? Artisan bakery, in the tasting, rating it very highly.

Lifting the lid on serving suggestions

Patrick shared his recipe with us, and suggested serving the More? Ultimate Mince Pie with rum butter or vanilla ice cream as a dessert. I can tell you, though, that it was delicious on its own. But our panel weren’t as keen on some of the less traditional style pies that came with a topping. Asda Extra Special Mincemeat Brandy Buttercream Tarts (£2) and Mr Kipling Mince Pies with Custard (£1.79) weren’t rated too highly by our panel.

As well as custard and brandy or rum butter, I’ve seen people top their mince pies with single cream, double cream, whipped cream from a can, Greek yoghurt or ice cream. I’ve heard that some people eat them with Stilton but I’m not convinced that’s true. Do you like cheese with your mince pies or perhaps something even more unusual on the side?

As far as I’m concerned, the perfect way to enjoy a home made mince pie is with clotted cream and I prefer to lift off the lid and put the cream inside, but you might disagree!

Which mince pies get your thumbs up? And what do you believe is absolutely the best way to eat them?

How do you like to eat mince pies?

Hot or warm (34%, 649 Votes)

With cream (double, single, whipped or clotted) (18%, 339 Votes)

Cold, straight from the box (13%, 248 Votes)

With rum or brandy butter (11%, 213 Votes)

With custard (7%, 133 Votes)

With ice cream (7%, 132 Votes)

I don't like mince pies (5%, 105 Votes)

With Stilton or other cheeses (3%, 55 Votes)

With yoghurt (1%, 27 Votes)

Other - tell us in the comments (1%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,047

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Comments
Profile photo of loones
Member

In the country I come from (New Zealand) mince pies contain beef mince. I found it rather confusing when I moved to the UK and found no meat at all in mince pies. I’ve been here 3 years now, but I still have to stop and think.

Member

We too have savoury mince pies, but normally call them minced beef pies. It’s hardly confusing. It’s more a case of being specific. No less confusing than say, asking a waiter for sauce, which could mean you getting white sauce, or brandy sauce, or tomato sauce. Just like in everyday life , you simply have to be clear about what you want and what’s on offer.

Profile photo of Chris Matthews
Member

Ian, you didn’t tell us how you like to eat your ‘no beef’ Christmas mince pies! I guess they don’t have them in New Zealand so I wondered if you had different preferences to people here who’ve been eating them since childhood.

Though I like John’s ice cream AND jelly serving suggestion, I’m going to be trying Stilton with a Best Buy mince pie this Christmas – but should they be warm or cold with cheese?

Member
James says:
22 November 2011

Hello Ian.
Technically, you are correct about the ‘mince’ in mince pies. Here in the Scotland (reputedly, the pie capital of the world) we would refer to the fruit version of a mince pie as a mincemeat pie, although there is no meat at all in the mincemeat version!
This does cause some confusion to new visitors to our shores who maybe for the first time, wish to sample the many gastronomic delights that we have to offer at Christmas.

Member
Reader1 says:
31 October 2015

Scotland “the pie capital of the world”?! Hmm, Melton Mowbray may have something to say about that!

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I think Melton Mowbray is a bit of a one-trick pony, delicious though the pork pies are. Scotland has a broader range of pies.

I wonder what type was the Christmas Pie favoured by Master Horner :
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said ‘What a good boy am I!

You wouldn’t find a plum in a Christmas mince pie.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I wonder if anyone has considered the safety implications. Was Master Horner aware that inserting his thumb could be risky if said pie had recently been removed from the oven or microwave? What about they hygiene considerations? And if plums are not shown in the ingredient list, we could be looking at a case of food fraud, akin to selling horse meat as beef.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

John, perhaps you are thinking of a piebald pony – were they bred for the purpose?
I am a fan of decent pork pie – but it must have proper hot water pastry as well as a decent filling, with some jelly. A treat when I was young was hot pork pie and chips. Must try it again.

Mince pie – not a fan. Far too sweet, even though I have a sweet tooth. Same with Christmas pudding.

I am concerned that people seem to be reviving conversations about Christmas. I’ve only just got over a summer holiday and the last thing I need is my panic level being raised about what to do for the Christmas festivities. There are still 53 days to go before I need to do serious shopping.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Yes I agree with you about prematurely anticipating Christmas, Malcolm. I was lured into this by a post [from Reader1] that was languishing in the Latest Comments section on the Home page. Unless the contributors are registered their comments tend to get overlooked, if not to say by-passed and ignored altogether, so from time to time I trawl through the list and pull out any that relate to inactive Conversations for wider attention by making a pointless comment.

Melton Mowbray pork pies are my favourite lunchtime treat made exactly as you describe. I just have a little pickle with my piece. Blackberry & apple pie is the perfect accompaniment for afters. It was nice enough to have lunch in the garden today, in shirtsleeves, with a glass of port to prepare me for mowing the lawns. I expect mince pies are in the shops already but I have averted my gaze.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

I’ve always suffered from premature anticipation.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

For some time I have been feasting my eyes on Christmas puds in the shops and reminding myself that the home-made ones are nicer. No doubt the mince pies are there but have not yet registered.

Profile photo of Nikki Whiteman
Member

Hot, with cream – the only way forward. And now I *really* want a mince pie.

Incidentally, the Stilton thing? It definitely happens – my Dad does it for a start! I also have a friend who swears that, where she comes from, the *only* way to eat mince pies is to take the top off, put a slice of Cheddar inside, then put the top back on.

Profile photo of Florence Buswell
Member

I think it depends… as I’m a greedy guts, I can see two ways. If it’s a snack, then cold out of the box. But if an after-meal pudding – well then, it has to be hot!

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

Yep.. fried minced beef with curry powder and diced potatoes as filling….
deep fried or baked….absolutely delish hot or cold.

Heard of curry-puffs (?)…. hanker to this day.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

Re previous…. forgot to mention inclusion of diced onions, the whole lot
to be fried before putting in.

Profile photo of Nikki Whiteman
Member

See, that all sounds amazing (and I haven’t had any breakfast, so it’s making me really hungry!). Thing is… it’s not very Christmassy, is it? =)

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

As soon as they come into the shops I get a box and eat the lot as soon as I get them home. Later I get another box [or several] to warm up and eat one or two at a time with ice cream and jelly. By the time Christmas Day arrives I’ve nearly had enough. They all have to be consumed by Twelfth Night by which time I’m probably satisfied.
ArgonautoftheSeas – don’t you also have some brown sauce on your pies? I wish I could find some Brands A1 sauce which used to be my favourite.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

By all means, put in a souring agent like tamarind (juice) which I believe HP
and other brown sauces contain but I wouldn’t add that myself when making
curry-puffs… but would add both ground white and black pepper AND hot chillis
(birds eye) since I like things hot and spicy. Salt and sugar to taste
of course.

Best to make a large batch, freeze them, use as and when required.
Yummy.

Profile photo of blocat
Member

I eat mine warm with double cream (I have tart-ish tendencies!) :-)) I like the sound of stilton and mince pies and will deffo give it a go this Chrimbo! Cheers!

Member
MarkHH says:
18 November 2011

We prefer them with brandy poured into them after removing the lid.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

I’m not a big fan of mince pies! ‘What?!’ I hear you say. Yes, dried fruit isn’t a pleasure to munch on for me. Christmas pudding? No thanks. Christmas cake? No again.

I would prefer them if they had actual mince meat in them – in fact, that’s traditionally what they started out as – hence the name ‘mince meat’.

Does anyone really like the Christmas obsession with dried fruit, or are you all trying to be polite to tradition?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I cannot get too excited about mince pies, which are a bit sweet for my liking but I do like Christmas pud. I like the individual 454g size. 🙂

Christmas cake and other heavy fruit cake too, but forget the icing please.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Keep the icing, but scrap the marzipan and the fruit. I’d basically like an iced sponge cake…

The only Christmas pud I like was made by my auntie – less fruit and no suet (animal fat). Very light and delicious.

Profile photo of Ian
Member

Never liked the Pud (who manages to eat that after the normally highly excessive Xmas lunch?) but my SIL makes our cake, which I then marzipan, ice and decorate. I enjoy doing that and her cakes are incredibly moist and sweet, so they’re rather nice…

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I manage, though I go easy on the first course and allow a respectful break before indulging in the Christmas pud (and seconds). Gluttony comes but once a year. 🎄

Member
John Symons says:
18 November 2011

Heat, open lid, pop in brandy butter, close lid. Pour on pourable cream and attack with spoon and gusto

Member
harryp says:
18 November 2011

Advocaat is good on mince pies and absolutely wonderful on hot christmas pud. A real luxury!!

Profile photo of Patriciaj
Member

Eating mince pies……….. Quickly!

Member
SH Nichosh says:
18 November 2011

The only way to eat mince pies is:
1. prize off the top cleanly
2. remove just sufficient of the filling to allow step 3
3. Add firstly sufficient quality brandy to fill the void
4. add brandy butter and Devonshire Clotted cream to raise the level
5. replace top
6. Eat – one needs to pop the whole into the mouth without spilling any contents!
7. satisfaction is guaranteed

Member
Derek Saxty says:
18 November 2011

I like mine hot, nothing added, but I find a glass of whisky goes nicely with them. Mind you I find that a glass of whisky goes nicely with most things!

Member

With my FINGERS!

Profile photo of oliboop
Member

Mince pies should be home-made – never, never bought! Eaten warm on their own – unadulterated – just enjoy a good filling of traditional fruit moistened with a little of your favourite tipple.

Member

Mince pies with minced meat or sweetmeat, drunk is best!

Member
Mark from W-s-M says:
18 November 2011

I like my mince pies (either Mr. Kiplings or Tesco Finest Deep Filled Mince Pies with Courvoisier) warmed slightly in the microwave and then pore Tesco Finest Brandy Sauce over the top. And then once I have eaten one I have another one as it tastes sooooooooo nice.

Member
Wisma says:
18 November 2011

Mince pies are heaven eaten warm with crumbly Wensleydale cheese (Stilton’s too salty), and a glass of whisky.

Member
jabone says:
19 November 2011

Have just received December issue. Disappointed not to find Riverford Organic mince pies mentioned. We think they are far better than any other – expensive at £4.95 for 6 but worth it.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Before I forget, I hope you mince pie lovers are looking forward to Tesco’s Christmas themed crisps – one of which will be mince pie flavoured! The others are just as eyebrow raising… http://www.metro.co.uk/news/881822-tesco-launches-new-festive-collection-of-christmas-inspired-crisps

Member
Lesley says:
22 November 2011

I love homemade Mrs Hanrahan’s Sauce on mince pies and other desserts. The base keeps in the fridge for ages, ready to add to whipped cream.

Profile photo of charlottetygwyn@gmail.com
Member

warmed in oven,NOT microwave. lift lid, add brandy or rum serve with whipped cream

Member
Jacqueline Pye says:
24 November 2011

Warm vegetarian-friendly mince pies, please. Perhaps just a couple. Oh, go on then, three! I like to make ours, and slip a little triple sec in before baking, for those pies not destined for children.

Member
peter hodgson says:
10 December 2011

I’m going to see how Waitrose champagne compares with the lanson black label that I always buy but as lanson suits me I don’t think I’ll be changing.

I always eat my mince pies with Stilton at Xmas and with a glass of Lanson and I find that is the taste of Xmas for me but probably disgusting to everyone else! Do try it though.

Member
peter hodgson says:
10 December 2011

The best mince pies I have found and everyone who has tried them agrees are the Brandy rich ones from sainsbury, I tried all the Waitrose range this week and found they had far too much pastry, very little taste and were very disappointing, especially Heston Blumenthal ones.

Lastly, why is Stilton from Supermarkets getting crumblier and less creamy as time goes on?

Member

I warm my homemade ones up in the microwave for a few seconds, lift the lid off and add a nice cold piece of Wensleydale Cheese. Sadly I now live in Australia and we cant get Wensleydale so I am trying to introduce my aussie friends to this custom using cheshire cheese.

I think the cheese thing is a Yorkshire thing??

Member
Small ears says:
12 December 2012

Sweet mince pies with gravy is the way forward lads

Member
Tim bates says:
23 December 2014

Has anyone added another alcohol to their pie? A splash of vodka, whisky, or something?

Member
Tim bates says:
23 December 2014

I have got my pies but although I am not drinking alcohol I think adding it to a pie either on or under the pastry is an acceptable option this year. But which miniature(s) do I get? Brandy seems to be one option according to a post above.

Member
Mark C. says:
26 January 2016

I usually add brandy to mince pies, either after or before heating in microwave for about 30 seconds. About a capful for 2, or a little more if you love brandy! Its a good sound hearing the crackling fruit after the brandy is added!