/ 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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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.

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.

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.

Reader1 says:
31 October 2015

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

I’ve always suffered from premature anticipation.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

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? =)

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.

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.

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!

MarkHH says:
18 November 2011

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

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?

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.

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.

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…

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. 🎄

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

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

Eating mince pies……….. Quickly!

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

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!

With my FINGERS!

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.

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

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.

Wisma says:
18 November 2011

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

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.