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29 October 2020

Best mince pies

Our expert tasting panel have uncovered the best traditional mince pies to indulge in this Christmas.
Mince pies on a glass stand
RM
Rebecca Marcus

We’ve tested 13 traditional premium mince pies to bring you our top pie picks for the festive season.

Our mince pie taste test from the December 2019 edition of Which? magazine includes products from budget supermarkets Ald and Lidl, as well as premium offerings from Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

Best mince pies

M&S (£2.50 for 6) is our top-scoring traditional supermarket pie. It ticked all the judges’ boxes with its enticing smell, excellent pastry and great-tasting filling.

Best Buy - M&S Collection Mince pies - 87%

£2.50 for 6, 42p a pie 

These attractive-looking pies emanated a quintessentially Christmassy aroma with wafts of spice, brandy and orange notes. Our experts loved the golden, buttery pastry and the boozy, fruity mincemeat - though a little more filling wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Iceland Luxury Mince Pies - 73%

£1.89 for 6, 32p a pie 

Our panel liked how the decoration on these pies exposed some mincemeat, allowing the Christmassy aromas to come through. While the fruity filling was juicy, some judges felt they lacked spice.

Asda Extra Special All Butter Luxury Mince Pies - 73%

£1.50 for 6, 25p a pie

Asda’s pies impressed our panel on the filling front with moist, well-flavoured mincemeat containing whole fruits. However, the judges thought its pastry was too pale and a little dry.

Waitrose & Partners No.1 All Butter Mince Pies - 71%

£2.50 for 6, 42p a pie

The most expensive traditional supermarket pies we tested proved to be a little underwhelming. They looked appetising, but the mincemeat wasn’t juicy enough, with one expert describing it as ‘claggy’.

Aldi Specially Selected  Mince Pies - 68%

£1.35 for 6, 23p a pie 

At just 23p per pie, these were the cheapest supermarket pies we tested. While their attractive appearance and buttery aroma impressed our panel, they weren’t fans of its thick pastry and sour filling.

Tesco Finest Mince Pies - 68%

£1.75 for 6, 29p a pie

Our judges liked the neat appearance of these pies, but they found the pastry bland and under baked. The filling was nice and moist, although one expert noted an overpowering alcohol taste.

Sainsburys Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies - 64%

£2 for 6, 33p a pie

These pies had a nice golden colour, and contained a thick ‘Christmas pudding-like’ filling, that was a little dry. The pastry was generally liked, although one expert found it tasted slightly ‘acidic’.

Lidl Deluxe Luxury Mince Pies - 59%

£1.79 for 6, 30p a pie 

Lidl’s pies were very pale, which made them look under-baked. The panel thought the chunks of nut and fruit in the filling made it texturally interesting, but the taste was fairly bland.

Co-op Irresistible Luxury Mince Pies - 55%

£2 for 6, 33p a pie 

 A pretty design was about all there was to admire in these pies. Thick, undercooked pastry combined with a sharp-tasting, runny filling meant Co-op’s entry fell into the judges’ bottom three.

Morrisons The Best All Butter Deep Filled Mince Pies - 52%

£2 for 6, 33p a pie

 Sweetness dominated in these bland mince pies that our panel thought lacked any distinctive flavour or spicing. Its undercooked pastry, which crumbled when picked up, further added to the disappointment.

Spar Luxury All Butter Mince Pies - 48%

£2 for 6, 33p per pie

Our panel found all sorts of problems with these pies. They thought the pastry was bland and under-baked, while the overly sweet filling was far too wet and lacked spice.

Notes: Prices correct as of October 2019.

Harrods vs Fortnum & Mason

In our luxury pie test, our experts rated pies from high-end department stores Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. Both are expensive, with the Fortnum's ones costing £2.16 a pie and the Harrods ones coming in at a slightly cheaper £1.58 a pie.

The panel favoured Harrods’ pies (£9.50 for 6, 85%), praising the generous quantity of juicy, spiced mincemeat which contained distinctive fruit pieces. While the Fortnum & Mason pies (£12.95 for 6, 75%) looked appealing, they were let down by an overly thick pastry and puree-like filling.

Gluten-free mince pies

We tested six free-from mince pies this year, all of which are made without gluten. Three of them are also vegan, making them suitable for those on a dairy-free diet. 

All the pies we tested come in packs of four, with prices starting from £1.35. Our full rundown of the free-from options can be found on our guide to the best free-from mince pies.

Mince pie recipes

While our experts couldn’t agree on everything, one topic they were unanimous about was that any home baker could produce a mince pie superior to a supermarket offering with a little time and not too much skill.

See mince pie recipes from Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and Ella Woodward.

Six ways to make your mince pies taste even better

  1. Combine 30g of icing sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger or mixed spice, and sieve over warmed mince pies just before serving.
  2. Mince pies and cheese is a tasty pairing. Try grating a little frozen stilton over the top before serving.
  3. Try serving pies with a glass of mulled ginger wine for added festive flavour.
  4. Put mince pie filling in your bread and butter pudding for a fruity flavour boost.
  5. For a unique dessert, pour affogato (ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso) over a hot mince pie.
  6. Add a festive twist to vanilla ice cream by crumbling in mince pies, then refreezing and serving with hot toffee sauce.

How we tested

Our experts tasted 11 supermarket own-label mince pies and two luxury mince pies.

  • The pies were warmed in a professional fan oven before serving.
  • Each expert tried the pies in a different order. They didn’t know which pie belonged to which supermarket.
  • The judges scored the pies on taste, appearance, aroma and texture, with these scores combined to give each pie an overall score.

Our experts were:

Patrick Moore founder of More? The Artisan Bakery

Aidan Chapman executive head baker, Bread Ahead

James Adams chef, restaurant & food consultant

Rebecca Levell product development manager, Hobbs House Bakery

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