Food > Cakes & Desserts

Mince Pies, including recipe for home-made Mince meat and Brandy Butter.

Mince pies are handy to make and freeze in advance of Christmas. They freeze for up to 6 months and are quick to thaw given their size.

Category Cakes & Desserts
Preparation Time 40 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
Serves 12

Delicious when made with home made mince; I’ve included a favourite recipe here which can be prepared 2 weeks in advance of the making the pies. The ideal accompaniment is melt in your mouth brandy butter; – recipe also included below.

European crusaders brought the original idea of the mince pie in the form of Middle Eastern recipes from the Holy Land, containing meats, fruits and spices. The ingredients of the early mince pie were a mixture of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Served around Christmas, the savoury Christmas pie (as it became known) was associated with supposed Catholic worship and during the English Civil War was frowned on by the Puritan authorities. Nevertheless, the tradition of eating Christmas pie in December continued through to the Victorian era, although by then its recipe had become sweeter and its size reduced markedly from the large oblong shape once observed. .

Although the modern recipe is no longer the same list of 13 ingredients (meat is now mostly excluded) once used (representative of Christ and his 12 Apostles according to author Margaret Baker), and lacks the religious meaning contained therein,the mince pie remains a popular Christmas treat.


  • 225g/8oz  Plain Flour
  • 125g/4oz brown demerara Sugar
  • 100g/4oz Shamrock Ground Almonds
  • 125g/4oz Margarine (room temperature)
  • 1 Egg (beaten)
  • A little water, if necessary


  • 450g/1lb Jar Mincemeat or Home- made mincemeat( recipe below)


  • Icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Lightly grease patty/bun tins.
  2. Put flour, sugar and ground almonds into a mixing bowl and mix well together.
  3. Rub margarine through the dry ingredients. Add the egg and water, if required and mix to a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured board and gently knead.
  5. Cover with cling film and keep in fridge until ready to use. The pastry will keep for about three days.
  6. Roll pastry on a floured board and cut rounds with a cutter to fit greased bun/patty tins. Put a teaspoon of mincemeat in each and cut a ‘lid’ from remaining pastry to put on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Dust with icing sugar.

Ingredients for Home made mincemeat.

  • 75g/2½oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 200g/8oz currants
  • 200g/8ozoz raisins
  • 25g/1oz dried cranberries
  • 25g/1oz mixed peel
  • 25g/1oz chopped cherries
  • 1 orange, zest and juice only
  • 25ml/1fl oz brandy
  • 50ml/2fl port
  • few drops almond extract
  • 2 tbsp honey

Preparation method

  1. In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the port over a gentle heat.
  2. Add the juice and zet of the orang.
  3. Add the cranberries, mixed peel and cherries and stir well.
  4. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, currants, raisins.
  5. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
  6. Add the brandy, almond extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon  until the mixture forms into a paste.
  7. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and, once cool, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Brandy Butter

This recipe is so easy and quick you’ll never buy it from a shop again. The butter can be made up to 5 days in advance and keeps well in the fridge.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes


  • 4 oz/ 100g soft, unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz/ 225g icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp brandy


  • Place the butter into a large baking bowl. Beat with an electric hand whisk until light and creamy.
  • Add the icing sugar and beat again until all the sugar is incorporated.
  • Add the brandy gradually and stir well. If you add brandy too quickly the mixture may curdle. If it does, just add more icing sugar until the mixture binds back together.
  • Spoon the butter into a clean jar, cover and store in the fridge until required
  • Serve in a round bowl.


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