The mince pie taste test

By
Jack Birch
Added
16 December, 2015

Like belting out a couple of verses of The Pogues and losing the end of the Sellotape, mince pies are an essential part of the Christmas tradition. The good news is the staggering amount of choice on offer for these favourite festive treats. At Cooked we only want the very best, so having asked Britain’s finest Christmas retailers to supply us with their gourmet mince pies, we’ve undergone extensive testing to bring you the answer to the question: Who makes the best mince pies?


Of course if you prefer making your own mince pies, try Sarah Raven’s excellent recipe here. Or try Detox Kitchen’s wheat, dairy and refined sugar free mince pies here.



Waitrose Christmas shortcrust mince pies

The best of the bunch. The Waitrose Christmas shortcrust wins Christmas 2015 for traditional mince pies and at just £1.70 for six, you'll be coming back again and again. The pastry is buttery and has a perfect consistency: fragile, ready to cave in on your first bite. The filling was sticky, saucy and plump with a delicate undercurrent of citrus and apricot. An all-round winner.


Mince pies


Christmas movie rating: It’s A Wonderful Life. Classic, classy, sweet and nostalgic. These mince pies will leave you feeling warm inside with a tear in your eye. The perfect Christmas pie for the perfect Christmas movie.



Marks and Spencer’s star mince pies

These mince pies come with a warning: the casing is the same colour as the pastry. Your first bite could taste suspiciously of paper. Don’t worry, it’s an easy mistake to make. We made it twice. These are very good-looking pies and would look wonderful sitting on party table. The taste is a little underwhelming, with the pastry having little flavour, but the mincemeat is pleasant enough with strong tones of brandy, port and blackcurrant.


Christmas movie rating: A Christmas Carol (2009). A decent mince pie with not too many surprises. A solid all-rounder that looks impressive.



Harrods mince pies

Harrods' mince pie philosophy seems to be 'go big or go home'. The size of their pies dwarf the competition: a very good thing. The almond flavoured pastry is very sweet, thick and slightly on the soggy side – despite this it has a delicious flavour. The filling is delicately spiced with zesty tones.


Christmas movie rating: Jingle All The Way. Thicker than Schwarzenegger’s biceps, these mince pies are filled with a tasty middle despite an unpromising start.



Harvey Nichols large mince pies

Despite the super chic packaging, these mince pies are a bit of a let-down. There is far too much soft pastry to get through before you can start on the cinnamon-scented filling.


Christmas movie rating: Four Christmases. Just because it has star names, doesn’t make it good.




Waitrose Christmas all-butter puff pastry mince pies

Waitrose goes from hero to zero. A mince pie so bad that it would leave jolly old St Nick grave-faced and unfestive. The puff pastry was like fighting your way through tissue paper and the filling was flavourless and boggy. The less said the better.


Mince pies


Christmas movie rating: Christmas with the Kranks. Despite everyone involved having previously done excellent work, this is an utter stinker which makes you question the very spirit of Christmas.



Marks and Spencer’s mini mince pie selection

Marks and Spark’s are the kings of innovation and this mini mince pie selection is no exception. On offer, alongside the traditional mincemeat, is a caramelised orange, fig and hazelnut, and a frangipane and almond flavoured pie. They have a hand-baked quality as well as inventive designed toppings, making these the best looking mince pies of the lot.  The pastry is crisp and crumbly on each and the fillings were surprising and joyous. The fig and hazelnut pie is the clear stand-out. The question remains: are these technically mince pies? Who cares? They’re utterly delicious.


Mince pies


Christmas movie rating: Die Hard. Are these mince pies what they say they are? Can Die Hard be considered a true Christmas film? Before you have a chance to work out the answer, you’re swept away on a thrilling adventure.



Harvey Nichols mini mince pies

Harvey Nichols’ mini mince pie selection consists of three distinct flavours; amaretto, ginger and traditional. The pastry is crisp and well-flavoured; the amaretto a particular highlight. It’s hard to get the filling to pastry ratio correct in the miniature form, and the paucity of the mincemeat is evident in these pies, which was actually good news for the oddly-flavoured ginger, which is pretty fiery. The traditional was fine, but slightly lacked excitement.


Mince pies


Christmas movie rating: Love Actually. Good in places, not in others. A mixed bag, but with an overall irrepressible charm.


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