Weight Watchers Recipes

BEST Traditional Mincemeat

If you’ve never cared for the store-bought stuff or even most homemade versions, you’re not alone.  But just wait until you’ve tried this ultimate homemade mincemeat recipe – it’s a total game-changer!  Whether you’ve never liked mincemeat or you’ve always loved it, prepare to either be converted or to fall more deeply in love!

Few people today know the taste of true, authentic mincemeat, a dish dating back to the 11th century.  And that explains why very few people I know actually truly enjoy mincemeat versus simply eating it out of tradition (or being forced to so as not to offend Grandma!).  Sadly the authentic way of making mincemeat has been largely lost in the last century.

Whatever Happened to Traditional Mincemeat?

And I say lost, not because it’s been erased completely, rather because mincemeat has changed so much, some of its most important elements having been left out, that it just barely resembles its original ancestor.  Of the many traditional British dishes that have undergone some form of alteration over the years, mincemeat has probably changed the most.  That is largely due to the common omission of mincemeat’s two key ingredients:  Meat (traditionally beef or lamb) and suet.

The Essential Ingredients in Authentic, Old Fashioned Mincemeat

Many generations ago people would experience mincemeat as a robust and sweet-savory meat-based mixture that conjured up what seemed like a thousand flavor sensations.  Pair that with the incomparable texture that suet contributes to pie crust as it’s baked with the mincemeat and it’s no wonder that mincemeat pie was a heralded favorite for many centuries in the United Kingdom and then made its way to become a tradition in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Northern Europe, South Africa, and the New England region of the U.S..

Mince pies are still considered an essential accompaniment to holiday dinners today.  But to be truly “traditional”, mincemeat requires meat and suet.

A note about SUGAR:  Centuries ago mincemeat was far less sweet than it is today.  Though it was made with fruits to add sweetness and to help preserve it (the fructose content), no sugar was added.  Feel free to cut back on the brown sugar if you prefer.

A note about MEAT:  If you’re put off at the thought of adding meat to mincemeat like our ancestors did for centuries, think of it this way:  Imagine a Moroccan tagine – a dish of beef or lamb that is slow cooked with dried fruit, nuts and a myriad of aromatic spices.  It’s downright amazing.  Mincemeat, which not surprisingly originates from the Crusaders bringing the spices and method back with them from the Middle East, is a very similar concept:  Beef that is simmered with dried fruits, nuts and a wonderful host of spices.  That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  The mincemeat is stored for a while (under a layer of fat, a centuries-old method of preservation) so the flavors can deepen, and then it’s baked in a flaky pie.  Heaven.


  • 1 pound (450 grams) finely chopped beef steak , (optional but HIGHLY recommended, otherwise use an extra 1 1/2 cups raisins or currants) **Use a well-marbled cut so it will be tender after the long cooking time; if the cut is lean it will become over-cooked and tough
  • Note: Traditionally made with beef or lamb and can also be made with wild game
  • 1 1/4 cups (190 grams) raisins
  • 1 1/4 cups (190 grams) currants
  • 1/2 cup (80 grams) golden raisins
  • 2 cups finely chopped tart apple
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) shredded beef suet (you can also ask your local butcher for fresh beef suet ground through a fine meat grinder)
  • 2 cups (450 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons candied lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons candied orange peel
  • STRONGLY recommend using Homemade Candied Citrus Peel (click link for recipe)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (25 grams) finely chopped blanched almonds
  • 1 lemon, its zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum


  • Combine all ingredients except for the brandy and rum in a medium-sized pot and slowly bring to a simmer to prevent scorching.  Reduce the heat to LOW and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, more towards the end to prevent burning.  (If the liquid reduces too soon and the mincemeat starts to stick/scorch on the bottom, add a little bit of apple juice or water.) Stir in the brandy and rum.  (Note: If you prefer to have the alcohol cooked out, add them at the same time as the other ingredients.)  
  • Spoon the hot mincemeat into sterilized jars (spooning it in the jar while hot will ensure the suet rises to the top to create a layer of fat).  As the mixture cools the suet will harden, creating a seal to help preserve the mincemeat.  *If you’re including the beef be sure to refrigerate the mincemeat. If you’re storing it for more than a couple of weeks follow the directions in the blog post for pressure canning the mincemeat for longer-term storage.See blog post for additional ways of storing your mincemeat.
  • Makes about 1 quart.  Feel free to double, triple, etc, as needed.
  • Use this mincemeat to make Homemade Mince Pies!
  • Note:  Mincemeat is traditionally stored for several months before using to allow time for the flavors to deepen, however this mincemeat is also delicious eaten within just a few days.


Note:  Another way to make mincemeat is to skip the cooking process and to pack the raw mixture directly into sterilized jars and store in the fridge for at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks (be sure to use the freshest meat) and then to cook the mixture directly into the pies.  If you’re planning on storing the mincemeat for a longer period of time, follow the instructions for cooking it.  My preference is to cook the mixture either way because it brings out the flavors of the ingredients, releasing the oils of the spices and melding the flavor together.

What To Do With the Top Layer of Hardened Suet:  When you use the mincemeat you can mix a little of that top layer of suet into the mincemeat – if I use any it’s only a little bit as the mincemeat already has suet mixed throughout it.  You can also reserve and use the suet for other purposes (use this wonderfully flavored suet in other pastries in place of butter or plain suet), or just discard it.   Note: If you’re going to use your mincemeat soon after making it instead of storing it long-term, you still need to use the suet when making this recipe. The purpose of the suet is not only to preserve the mincemeat for long-term storage.  Not all of the suet rises to the top, much of it remains mixed in with the mincemeat and adds flavor, acts as a binder, and contributes an important texture element to the pies you’ll be making with the mincemeat.

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