Quick Mincemeat Recipe


Mincemeat is the mother-of-all holiday recipes. The holy grail to some, especially my friends across the Channel in England. But this version is much easier than any traditional recipe and you can use it very shortly after you make it. A lot of people, who upon hearing the word mincemeat…well, their first reaction is a prolonged and rather extended look of dismay.

I sometimes make mincemeat with suet, and while it in indeed the classic and tastes quite good, it also required ordering a big chunk of kidney fat in advance from the nearby butcher. What’s great about this version is that the flavors of mincemeat are all there, and can be obtained by meatless means.


Candied orange peel, raisins, spices, and liqueur are the primary flavors that mingle in mince, and this simple mixture which mimics that taste pretty closely, without the fleshy fuss. A few handfuls can be added to sliced apples or pears destined for a crisp, cobbler, or pie. I’ve also made Mincemeat Ice Cream by folding this mixture into just-churned vanilla ice cream custard, which is a great addition to a holiday dessert menu, even if doused with warm chocolate sauce.

For this batch, I used some candied orange peel leftover from when I churned up a batch of colorful Blood Orange Sorbet. But even if using store-bought peel, after a good soaking in brandy, the flavor pulled up to the plate and mixes nicely with the raisins. A few swipes of fresh orange zest livens things up, too. Do try it. I add it to apple pies and crisps – and people are always surprised when I tell them that it’s mincemeat. But no one ever stops eating.

Instant Mincemeat
Print Recipe
One cup (250g)
This quantity is enough to mix with enough apples or pears for one pie, crisp, or cobbler. (Using 8 cups of fruit per, depending on how strong you want the flavor. You can use more, or less.) Simply toss the desired amount with your sliced fruit and proceed. Since the candied oranges are slightly sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar in whatever recipe you’re using by a tablespoon or depending on how sweet your apples are, you can leave it out. Dried currants or diced prunes can also replace some of the raisins, for variety. Like regular mincemeat, this will keep for quite a long time, and can be made weeks, or even months before you plan to use it. Keep it in a jar at room temperature. The taste of the brandy will mellow nicely the longer it sits. You can find my recipe for Traditional Mincemeat here.
2/3 cup (90g) coarsely chopped raisins, dark or golden
1/2 cup (60g) chopped candied orange peel
1/4 cup (60ml) brandy, plus more, if necessary
grated zest of one orange, preferably unsprayed
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Mix everything together and pack in a jar.
2. Let stand for at least one to three days before using. If the brandy absorbs quickly and the mixture appears dry, add another pour, just enough so the mixture is thoroughly moistened.
3. Add to apple or pear-based fruit fillings prior to baking.

Note: For those avoiding alcohol, try substituting apple cider or juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in place of the brandy. If omitting the brandy, this mixture should be refrigerated and used within three or four days. Otherwise it will keep for at least two months. Candied orange peel is available in well-stocked supermarkets around the holiday season. Look for a brand with no artificial colors and no preservatives, if possible. You can also buy it online.


Related Links

Make your own Candied Citrus Peel (Simply Recipes)

Traditional Mincemeat (Delia Online)

My candied orange peel recipe can be found in Ready For Dessert.

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  • Susan
    November 25, 2008 1:54am

    I’ve never tried mincemeat for the very reason you said…the eeewww factor, suet.
    Now that I found out most don’t have the suet, I’m interested in trying it. My experiment this year is to try to make my Mother in law’s fruit soup into a pie. This mincemeat has everything but the chipped prunes. Thanks, David, this recipe gets me off to a better start, actually, because it will be chopped and ready to go!

  • November 25, 2008 2:28am

    Double eeeww to suet!!
    I add grated apple to my mincemeat to make it more instantly moist
    http://cuisinedumonde.com/xmas_tart.html I’ve also folded it through ice cream, mincemeat ice cream cakes are excellent for our warmer Summer Christmases here underneath ;-)

  • November 25, 2008 2:53am

    Awesome! Mincemeat is on the agenda for this holiday season, though I’m going to attempt to do it with suet. My father thinks I’m nuts. He buys his mincemeat already made. (“Who makes their own mincemeat?”)

  • November 25, 2008 4:17am

    Great, I always wanted to be able to make my own mincemeat! Just to be sure, how would you translate candied orange peel in French?
    Thank you,

  • November 25, 2008 4:46am

    This is wonderful to make mid-year David & then stored in a big glass lidded bell jar in a dark pantry to develop fully. Being an Aussie I always add a good slurp of dark Bundaberg rum as well as the brandy – makes all the difference! Then on Christmas Eve, I bake a batch of bite-size very short sweet vanilla pastry shells, spoon the mincemeat into each tartlet & heat in the oven for a further few minutes. Topped with a little fraiche de crème – the perfect way to welcome in the Festivities.

  • November 25, 2008 4:46am


    Me again, in Afrikaans cooking there is something similar to this and it has been in our family since the the late 1700’s. It’s called “Kersfees skil” but I have always been warned that it can, under no circumstances, be used for mince pies.

    1) Can I?
    2) Do I understand you correctly when you say it can be used with chocolate?

    Please please put me out of my misery and help!!!

  • Hazel
    November 25, 2008 5:31am

    As a Brit, I have eaten mincemeat every year at Christmas time for as long as I can remember. It has never been non-vegetarian in my household – veggie suet is pretty easy to get hold of in this country, and is less fattening than the meat version in any case.
    I made mine about 2 weeks ago and it’s sitting on top of a cupboard in jars for another 2 weeks until it has matured enough to be made into pies and eaten with Brandy Butter…yum.

  • November 25, 2008 5:44am

    I’ve never been a fan of mincemeat, because it is too sweet, and I don’t fancy using suet indeed.. This one seems easy enough, and I can skip lots of sugar!
    It seems much light too! :)

  • November 25, 2008 6:21am

    This is great, David, especially for ice cream, and adding to apples etc. But I’m English enough to think that it wouldn’t work well in a mince pie … the new lighter way with mince this side of the channel is to use grated apple instead of suet.

    I’m definitely going to make this, and use it to make a mincemeat cake, that Xmas Eve cheat’s standby!


  • November 25, 2008 6:52am

    Great ! I love mincemeat at Christmas but it’s not easy to find.

  • Lindsey
    November 25, 2008 6:57am

    this sound like it will be fabulous in an apple pie. Since we have to have our dinner this year at my parents new retirement home, where the food will be bland, I am eager to make our own turkey and sides with many flavors over the weekend! Dessert will be this with my pumpkin pie with a ginger streusel topping along with some homemade vanilla ice cream! yum! thanks….

  • Murasaki Shikibu
    November 25, 2008 8:14am

    “I used to joke that I didn’t like to go in there and get it because, “…that place is a meat market!”

  • Emma
    November 25, 2008 9:33am

    Of course, most of us (if not pretty much all of us) Brits who home-make our mincemeat just use suet out of a packet. There’s no grinding the fat up involved in that. The packet stuff doesn’t even resemble meat so I’ve never really thought of it as something that would make people go “ewww” but then I’ve grown up with the stuff, and for me it wouldn’t be the same without those little white flecks (though I’m more than happy to use veggie suet which is just as easy to get hold of). I’m looking forward to cracking my jar of homemade mincemeat open on the 1st and start cracking on the mince-pie-athon that is December.

  • November 25, 2008 9:39am

    Bibil: You’d say “zeste d’orange confit”; the word confit refers to preserving something, usually by immersion. (Like duck confit, cooked in it’s own fat.)

    Joanna: Yes, there are ways to make it with freshly-grated apples, but since this is intended to be mixed with apples (or pear), I make it without. Give this one a try, and good luck with your traditional version, I’m sure it’ll be great!

    Christelle: You can use any alternative sweetener here, such as honey or agave, or even cut or omit the sugar. It does give it a nice balance, though.

    Emma & Hazel: Thanks for the heads-up about the vegetarian suet. I doubt they have that in France, though. But then again, I haven’t looked ; )

  • mike quear
    November 25, 2008 10:07am

    mincemeat pie always means thanxgiving and christmas in indiana. My grandmother canned mincemeat at the fall butchering season. She never used suet but always a good healthy dose of whiskey. I knew it was mince meat season when the back porch had five galvanized buckets neatly covered with a clean sheet — neatly enesconced in each bucket — was a pigs head. :) She also made a sausage cake (dessert), but that is anoher issue.

  • sam
    November 25, 2008 10:26am

    funnily enough I was looking up mincemeat recipes yesterday, but that was before you published your post. I checked out Delia but she was putting cranberries in hers and that just didn’t seem right to me.

    I am rather fond, myself, of handling suet, but I will probably be lazy this year and buy some of June Taylor’s mincemeat. I don’t even like it but I need it to make for my friends.

    bisous x

  • November 25, 2008 10:38am

    hi sam: I’ve gotten a spate of inquiries about using other dried fruit, and since I was already dangerously straying from “tradition”, I thought I’d keep the flavors as close to the “real” version as possible. (Whatever that is…I’ll leave that for the food historians.)

    But I do believe that food changes and evolves, even the classics, and in times past, since mincemeat was likely a way to preserve and celebrate the bounty, if cranberries were available way-back-when, they likely would have found their way into mincemeat.

    Next time I come, we’ll mix up a batch of the real thing. My traditional recipe makes about 8-pounds, so I’ll put you in charge of grinding up all that suet! x o

  • November 25, 2008 10:53am

    David I love you for posting this recipe! I am a huge mincemeat fan (My Dad is British, so I really don’t have much choice!), and a vegetarian. I’ve tried it successfully with grated apples, but will definitely try yours! I was going to start some holiday baking today, now I’m extra motivated!

  • sam
    November 25, 2008 11:01am

    David. I’ll be your suet grinder any day. I love handling icky raw meat bits ;)

    And your lateral thinking has just given me an idea. The reason I don’t like mincemeat myself is because I have a untamable version to raisins/saltana/currants. What if I made a batch with *only* cranberries (which I love?) Now we’re talking. Maybe I will give it a try after all.

  • sam
    November 25, 2008 11:02am

    untamable Aversion is what I meant to say

  • November 25, 2008 11:22am

    Oh thank you for this recipe. I don’t like when they use suet.
    I am going make this.

  • November 25, 2008 11:51am

    David, your blog is always a cornucopia of amazing foodie goodness; it’s just a bonus that you’re so funny. Mincement is on the menu now, thanks to you. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • David Morton
    November 25, 2008 2:09pm

    I have bought vegetarian suet at several of the “British Shops” here in California.
    It is called ‘Atora’ light, shredded vegetable suet.
    Ingredients: Hydrogenated vegetable oil (47%); wheat flour; sunflower oil (16%); stabiliser pectin: sugar.

    As an, almost, lifelong vegetarian my old Mum was good enough to make mincemeat and Christmas pudding using this stuff (yes it’s been around since Dickens, I think)

    Anyway mince tarts are traditional with Christmas pud and custard as ‘afters’ at Christmas lunch.
    Can also make the other rib sticking puddings with it, such as ‘Spotted Dick’

    Take care,

    David M.

  • Gwen K.
    November 25, 2008 4:04pm

    I didn’t even know what suet WAS before reading this. Then I looked at the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suet) and I think that first picture told me all I need to know. (I.e…. Eeeeeeeeeeewwwww!)

  • Joanna
    November 25, 2008 5:28pm

    I never realized how fantastic mincemeat was until I unwittingly ate a mincemeat chocolate from See’s (gotta love the See’s!) a couple of years ago. And See’s is the real thing – suet and allt! Unfortunately, they’re not offering it this year, due, according to the company’s website, “to the unavailability of key ingredients”.
    So… your “less barbaric version” has come at a good time, right when this mincemeat-lover come-lately is feeling the seasonal hankering for canidied suet. (I’m guessing there’s probably some sort of kashrut-related reason that mincemeat doesn’t show up much in Jewish holiday cooking!)

  • November 25, 2008 8:49pm

    Thank you for this recipe, just today I was thinking of making my own mince pies and hey presto I have a recipe which is vegetarian friendly :)

    I only recently started eating mince pies ( I did not know you could get vegetarian versions) and enjoy them, so I will give these a go and let you know how they turn out.

    Thanks once again.

  • Michelle in NZ
    November 25, 2008 8:51pm

    My mother used to include suet in her mincemeat – and grated apple plus a very generous splosh or three of whiskey. It kept for months!

  • November 25, 2008 9:11pm

    May I be the nit-picker of the day :) ?

    Actually confit doesn’t mean “preserved by immersion”, but refers to a way to reduce the water quantity of some ingredient by replacing this water inside it (via the osmotic process) by another product that lasts longer. for the confit de canard (duck confit), some water is replaced by the own fat of the duck, les écorces d’orange confites have some of their inner water replaced by sugar. Dry tomatoes are also called tomates confites, they lost most of their water in the air and it has been replaced partially by salt.
    That’s why confit somewhat means concentrated, more than it refers to the immersion technique.

  • Amy B
    November 25, 2008 9:19pm

    I think your comment about meat market is funny but that could be a vodka/tonic talking. I am not overly fond of mincemeat of any kind but am happy to make this (and smell those frangrant ingredients) as a gift for the mincemeat lovers in my life – without commiting to a whole dessert. I’ll attach your suggestion of serving it over ice cream. It’s a great start to the holiday weekend to read your post and relax. Thanks!

    By the way, a little California news coming your way: NPR just reported that Santa Monica has had to enforce a law preventing the public from using grass medians. People have been using the grass medians to do calisthetics. Those of us in Berkeley just eat pizza on our medians.

  • November 26, 2008 12:10am

    Yes, I think I’ll go for the veggie version of the mincemeat after reading your gruesome description of the suet! After perusing this post I consulted my trusty “Good Things in England” by Florence White…a terribly old-fashioned cookbook with all sorts of bizarre and interesting recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries, for versions of mincemeat and found the following riveting comment….’Do not let flour of any kind touch the suet, or the mincemeat will ferment’…so not only do the suet proponents have to deal with the eewwwwww nature of said article but also the possiblity of fermenting mincemeat…oh yum!!!

  • November 26, 2008 2:16am

    Patricia: Actually, I believe there are old recipes for mincemeat, that actually contain pieces of meat.

    But speaking of flour, if folks are using the vegetarian suet, as David pointed out, check to see if it contains wheat flour. If you use it, make sure none of your guests are gluten-intolerant.

    Amy B: Actually, you stir in the mixture into the ice cream, for best results. If using store-bought ice cream, let it sit at room temperature until it’s slightly soft, then beat it in and re-freeze.

    And yes, I heard people in Berkeley are eating pizza on the Shattuck Avenue median. Yuck! I don’t know if I’d be all that happy & relaxed having lunch on a narrow strip of grass while 4 lanes of traffic (mostly Priuses?) whizzed by : )

  • ygardin
    November 26, 2008 3:29am

    Although I didn’t like mincemeat when I first looked at it, after trying it (from Marks and Spencer’s), I liked it. Did you say chocolate? Well, this most definitely calls for chocolate. Merci.

  • November 26, 2008 9:51am

    David: In Montana we have a similar recipe that calls for MOOSE meat – yes, its mincedmoosemeat – try saying that four times fast. As someone who doesn’t really enjoy meat in dessert, I loved the recipe. A little layer at the bottom of an apple tart that I served with caramel brandy sauce was delicious!

    Thanks for your witty and charming blog – it keeps my a little less “home”sick for Paris during the long cold days of winter.

  • November 26, 2008 7:27pm

    Hi David…yes indeed, it seems like the original mincemeat did have meat in it…I just looked in a book called “Christmas Feasts from History” and there are two recipes in there for mincemeat with meat…one with mutton (oh yum) and the other with beef. The mutton one from the 17th century also tells of how pie crusts were then called ‘coffins’ …curiouser and curiouser!
    Thanks for your excellent blog…witty and wise!

  • maggie
    November 29, 2008 1:15pm

    I made a batch of this mincemeat recipe the day it was posted — wanted to sprinkle a few spoonfuls among the apples in a galette I was bringing to T’giving dinner.

    Man-oh-MAN! It was superb! Raves all around for galette.

    So good was it, in fact, that I made a double batch yesterday to have around for Christmas baking. Didn’t have enough candied orange peel on hand for the total, so I used half orange peel and half candied ginger. Didn’t have any more brandy, so used dark Barbancourt rum.

    Just tasted the new batch and y’know, I think it’s even better than the first.

    Bingo, David — very winning recipe.

  • Dawn in CA
    November 30, 2008 5:24pm

    Am I the only silly American giggling that there is a dessert named “Spotted Dick?” Yes? Well, at least I can amuse myself. ;)

  • Carolina
    December 19, 2008 7:29pm

    I’m sure Dawn in CA will probably never see this, but I hope nobody ever tells her about one of the longest-running BBC television programmes in the UK: ‘Blue Peter’.

  • Karen Schaffer
    December 24, 2008 2:16pm

    The instant mix is delicious by itself, but mixed with 8 c of apples, the result seemed pretty anemic, like apple pie with a bit of spice. I ended up adding a container of green tomato mincemeat that I had in the freezer to get a more intense mincemeat flavor. (Best use ever for green tomatoes!)

  • January 1, 2009 2:49pm

    David, Thank you for this easy and delicious recipe. I gave it whirl over the Christmas holidays while back home in Florida visiting my parents. I was a little skeptical about making my own candied orange peel, but that ended up being a fun adventure of its own. I was not able to find a decent candied peel in the local supermarket, so I grabbed half a dozen not-quite-ripe blood oranges off the tree in the back yard. These have a rather thin skin, so I worried that it might not work, but the candied peel came out beautifully– a gorgeous, intense flavor and color. The mince itself was bright and clean-tasting (not overly sweet and gloggy like the jarred stuff) and everyone thought the mince tartlettes were the tastiest and most “christmas-y” of all the Christmas desserts. We served them along with aged gouda and port at the end of the meal. Simply perfect.

  • lrm
    November 28, 2009 12:25pm

    my mom always made MM pie (and my great-aunt did turnovers) with just walnuts,raisins and said spices,w/lemon juice. Fantastic. And frankly,the raisins and walnuts give enough texture to make up for no meat. I don’t recall them using apples at all-b/c they always made separate apple pies/turnovers.
    I do think my mom added some mace to her pie-perhaps her secret ingredient. Anyone heard of this before?

  • November 29, 2010 11:57am

    Hi “My mother used to include suet in her mincemeat – and grated apple plus a very generous splosh or three of whiskey. It kept for months!” thanks.

  • December 12, 2010 2:34pm

    I soaked fruit for my Xmas cake almost like this, with some crystallized ginger and orange peel made from your recipe. It had gotten a bit brittle so in it went too. My fruit is still soaking, and I’ve added some garam masala to it, something my mother has done for years. It adds a deep warm flavour.So happy to know what I made is counted as mincemeat.

  • December 21, 2010 2:57pm

    I have a question, David. I made this just now, but i do not have any jars! Is it OK if I allow it to sit at room temp until I use it on Thursday?

  • December 21, 2010 3:12pm
    David Lebovitz

    Sommer J: Yes, you can leave it at room temperature for a few days.

  • Chez Lard
    December 26, 2010 8:15pm

    Guys, if you run into one of these weak women who go “ewww” over simple Suet, drop them like a hot potato and run the other direction. First of all, all food comes from various bits of living things, and if you mentally filter out some parts are better or worse than others, you’re simply immature.

    Next, Suet (Beef Fat) is what makes steaks and roasts delicious. The fat holds much of the flavor and a lot of the great texture. Unless you want to eat oatmeal and bean sprouts all your life (not that I don’t enjoy those as well), then you eat suet (ewwww! Not!) all the time!

    Squeamishness over food is just silly and a waste of time/life. Grow up and try all foods.

  • bilbo
    January 26, 2011 9:13am

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but a jar of mincemeat has become very hard to find in grocery stores. My dad had been looking for it for awhile to cure his hunger pangs for a mincemeat pie but wasn’t available anymore except for one obscure store and the price was $3.98 for 8 oz. I used to work in grocery stores and it was always a common item on the shelf. Times change, traditions are lost.

  • bilbo
    January 26, 2011 9:16am

    Chez, I agree with you 100%. I think it’s the words “pie” and “meat” in the same sentence that has such a psychological impact on people even though they’ve probably all eaten quiche or a chicken pot PIE at one time or another. HA!