The Great Mince Pie Taste Off 2018!

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The Great mince pie taste off 2018

 

There’s no such thing as a standard mince pie anymore, it seems. Every year we’re faced with more and more choice when it comes to this traditional festive treat (which, when first created, contained shredded meat in addition to dried fruit), and manufacturers and retailers are getting ever more creative.

You’ve got your standard pastry-topped affair, of course, with its traditional boozy, fruity filling. But if you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll find crumble-topped options, those with a swirl of brandy buttercream replacing the pastry lid, others with a layer of salted caramel nestled on top of the mincemeat…the choice is bewildering.

Every year it’s the same – but with different options to whet the appetite. And every year we joke that we should do a mince pie taste off to try and single out the best – but we never get round to it.

This year is different. We’re doing it – we’re actually doing it! Selflessly forcing ourselves to eat a ridiculous number of mince pies in order to rate them and find the best.

But “the best” is a tough decision to make. And that’s why we have two sets of rankings: one for the regular mince pies, one for those that offer something a little different. You probably won’t be reading the finished list – we’re going to keep adding to it as we try more. And if you’ve found any that you really rate that aren’t on our list, leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to hunt them down and try them…

Each mince pie has been rated out of five for appearance, pastry, amount of filling and flavour of filling, giving an overall score out of 20. We’ve ranked both the regular mince pie list and the “something different” list from the highest scoring to the lowest – and where possible, we’ve linked to the mince pies on the manufacturer’s/retailer’s website. Enjoy!

Regular mince pies

Iceland luxury mince pies

Price: £1.89 for 6
Appearance: 4.5 – concentric pastry stars, very pretty.
Pastry: 3.5 – nice and buttery, good thickness.
Amount of filling: 4.5
Flavour of filling: 4 – great texture, nice and boozy.

16.5/20

Lidl luxury mince pies

Price: £1.35 for 6
Appearance: 4.5 – pretty star shape on top, nice crimping, and a dusting of crunchy sugar.
Pastry: 4 – nice and buttery, good thickness. Quite sweet.
Amount of filling: 3 – very variable! Some really full, one in the box was only half full…
Flavour of filling: 4 – plenty of texture, lots of booze. Good amount of spicing – mainly cinnamon.

15.5/20

Aldi classic mince pies

Price: £1.30 for 6
Appearance: 4 – snowflake-topped star pattern, but pastry on top looks very thick.
Pastry: 3 – very buttery, far too thick. Very sweet.
Amount of filling: 4
Flavour of filling: 3.5 – too much booze, too much citrus. Lovely texture though.

14.5/20

M&S all butter mince pies

Price: £1.80 for 6
Appearance: 3 – pretty cut out star in middle but very regular, machine-made crimped edges.
Pastry: 3 – a bit buttery, too thick.
Amount of filling: 4
Flavour of filling: 4 – good amount of booze, decent textured fruit.

14/20

Asda Extra Special baked in store deep-filled mince pies

Price: £1.65 for 4
Appearance: 2.5 – crimped edges, lots of icing sugar. Nothing special.
Pastry: 2.5 – Quite thick, a little underbaked in places. Good for those with a sweet tooth – VERY sugary. Plenty of butter.
Amount of filling: 4
Flavour of filling: 4 – lovely amount of port and brandy, nice level of spicing, great texture.

13/20

Sainsbury’s deep-filled mince pies

Price: £1.00 for 6
Appearance: 3.5 – holly leaves, crimped edges, classic but quite rough.
Pastry: 1 – a bit cardboardy, dry, crumbly. Not very buttery.
Amount of filling: 5 – packed to the brim.
Flavour of filling: 2.5 – quite gloopy, good booze flavour, not as much texture as some of the others.

12/20

Tesco mince pies

Price: £1.00 for 6
Appearance: 3 – pretty design with a star in the middle but very rough.
Pastry: 3.5 – good texture, not too sweet. Packaging promised buttery, in reality there’s not that much butter…
Amount of filling: 3
Flavour of filling: 2.5 – too liquid, generic flavour, nothing distinctive or really Christmassy.

12/20

 

Something different…

Aldi Specially Selected sloe gin mince tarts

(infused with sloe gin and topped with flaked almonds)

Price: £2.49 for 6
Appearance: 4.5 – nice pastry lattice on top, good glaze. Pastry looks quite thick.
Pastry: 4 – different to most of the others: crunchier. Very buttery – and thankfully not as thick as it looks.
Amount of filling: 4 – designed to be shallow tarts but pretty well filled.
Flavour of filling: 4 – can taste the sloe gin – not the booziness, but the flavour. Texture a little softer and less defined than some of the others.

16.5/20

Asda Extra Special all butter brandy buttercream mince pies

(mince pies with a swirl of brandy buttercream rather than pastry on top)

Price: £2 for 6
Appearance: 3.5 – swirl of buttercream instead of pastry on top.
Pastry: 2.5 – a little buttery, quite thin.
Amount of filling: 4
Flavour of filling: 3.5 – can taste the booze. Dried fruit has a good flavour. Buttercream includes a decent amount of brandy – maybe a bit TOO much, as it overpowers the mincemeat.

13.5/20

Lidl luxury all butter chocolate orange mince pies

(spiced orange mincemeat topped with a layer of rich chocolate filling)

Price: £1.79 for 6
Appearance: 2.5 – attractive holly leaf and berries, but the pastry looks anaemic and stodgy.
Pastry: 3 – better than it looks, but fairly bland and on the soft side.
Amount of filling: 2.5 – only half full.
Flavour of filling: 5 – the flavours work surprisingly well together! Plenty of orange in the mincemeat, which has great texture and spicing. Thick, dark and rich chocolate ganache which isn’t overpoweringly sweet…

13/20

M&S frangipane mince pies

(mince pies topped with frangipane and flaked almonds instead of pastry)

Price: £2.50 for 6
Appearance: 2 – don’t look particularly appealing.
Pastry: 3 – tastes lovely and buttery, but incredibly soft, crumbles straight away.
Amount of filling: 4 – nice and full but more frangipane than mincemeat.
Flavour of filling: 3.5 – frangipane has a lovely, sweet marzipan-like flavour, soft and spongy. Mincemeat has plenty of texture but its flavour is overpowered as there’s so little.

12.5/20

Aldi Salted Caramel Mince Pies

(mince pies with a layer of salted caramel on top of the mincemeat)

Price: £1.99 for 6
Appearance: 3.5 – two pretty concentric stars, crimping not very well defined.
Pastry: 3 – a bit bland. Slightly buttery. VERY crumbly.
Amount of filling: 2 – they’re deep pies, but half air when the lid comes off
Quality of filling: 2.5 – you get the salted caramel first, then the mincemeat. The caramel could do with being saltier, the mincemeat is nice and rich. But the two just don’t go together…

11/20

Asda iced mince pies

(mince pies with icing rather than pastry on top)

Price: £1 for 6
Appearance: 2 – just plain icing, not very inspiring.
Pastry: 1.5 – tastes pretty cheap, crumbly, quite sweet. A bit bland.
Amount of filling: 4
Quality of filling: 2 – very sweet. Good textures, not much spice. Quite tart. Icing very thick, a bit overpowering.

9.5/20

 

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