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This easy homemade Christmas mincemeat recipe is richly spiced, full of fruit, laced with brandy, and made without meat. It’s the perfect vegetarian mincemeat filling for making into festive Christmas mince pies and tarts.

glass jar with mincemeat filling

My grandmother on my mom’s side made mince pie every year at Christmas.

As a kid who was more familiar with apple, cherry, coconut cream, and even lemon meringue pies, I was curious. One year when I was old enough to remember, I inhaled the heavily-spiced interior that looked like no other pie filling I’d ever seen. A ton of burning questions swirled through my head.

Why is it called mincemeat? Is there meat in mincemeat pie? And maybe, most importantly – what does mincemeat taste like?!

This dessert has quite the history. It used to contain meat!

In the 13th century, European Crusaders brought Middle Eastern spices and cooking methods back with them. The Christmastime dessert known as mincemeat initially contained meat as a way to preserve it, in addition to fruit and spices. However, since the early 20th century, meat has been commonly omitted from this dish.

Interestingly, in the past mincemeat filling for Christmas was frequently made the year before! The layer of suet (fat) on top acted as a seal to help preserve it. Additionally, the flavor improved over time.

You can read more about mincemeat on Wikipedia.

Modern-day versions of mincemeat (without meat) remind me of fruitcake, but in pie filling form. It tastes like a richly spiced sweet fruit preserve that’s laced with the flavors of brandy and citrus.

mincemeat tart with bite to show filling

What is Mincemeat Made Of?

Mincemeat is the filling used to make mince pie, a classic English dish.

It typically contains fruit, warm spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves), distilled spirits (such as brandy), and suet (which is the kidney fat from beef or lamb).

mincemeat classic christmas treat

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy. It’s just a matter of peeling and chopping apples, juicing an orange and a lemon, and measuring out the other ingredients.
  • Quick! This Christmas mincemeat recipe takes just 1 hour to make from start-to-finish. Of course you can leave it in the fridge for a few days to let the flavors blend, but that’s your call.
  • Flavorful. With this recipe you’ll get the same lovely festive blend of flavor blend that you’d get in a classic mincemeat.

Easy Homemade Mincemeat Recipe

If you’re looking for a homemade mincemeat recipe without meat, you’re in the right place! This recipe is easy for beginner cooks, so it’s a good one to make with your kids. And it whips up in just 1 hour from start-to-finish!

Ingredients

mincemeat ingredients

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

  • Granny Smith apples – or another type of tart cooking apple
  • Sweet red apple – such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Northern Spy
  • Raisins and golden raisins (sultanas) – as they cook, these plump up and take on the flavor of the spices and other components
  • Dried cranberries (or dried currants if you can find them) – these also rehydrate as the mincemeat cooks, and they add a pleasant sweet/tart flavor
  • Fresh orange and lemon juice – adds a citrusy tang
  • Apple cider – this is the liquid that our filling cooks in; you can substitute with apple juice
  • Dark brown sugar – for sweetness; also adds rich notes of caramel-like molasses
  • Slivered almonds – adds a hint of nutty crunch; be sure to finely chop them
  • Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves – these warm spices marry together and infuse the filling with Christmasy flavor
  • Salt – enhances the flavor of everything else
  • Butter – for this vegetarian mincemeat, we use butter as the fat instead of suet (which is beef or lamb kidney fat)
  • Orange and lemon zest – to bump up the citrusy flavor and aroma
  • Brandy – a classic component of mincemeat; you can substitute with rum if you like, or omit it

How to Make This Easy Mincemeat Recipe

how to make mincemeat
  1. Peel, core, and chop the apples small.
  2. Add the chopped apple, raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, orange juice, lemon juice, apple cider, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, salt, and butter to a medium-large pot over medium heat.
  3. Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After that, remove the lid and continue cooking uncovered until the mixture has turned dark and is thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, and brandy. You can eat it now, but it’s even better after the flavors have blended for a couple days!
cooked mincemeat in pot

Pro Tip: How Many Pies Can I Make From This Filling?

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This recipe makes about 1 quart (4 cups) of mincemeat filling, which is enough for 1 (9-inch) mince pie or 16 mince tarts made in a regular-sized muffin pan.

How to Store Mincemeat

In the fridge: Once it’s made, cool to room temperature and then store covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

In the freezer: Once it’s made, cool to room temperature and then transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Variations on This Mincemeat Recipe

  • Alcohol: You can omit the brandy (or go the other way, and add up to 1/2 cup). Or you can use dark rum or spiced rum instead.
  • Vegan: Use coconut oil instead of butter.
homemade mincemeat filling

What is Mincemeat Used For?

You can use mincemeat filling to make mince tarts or pies, but it goes way beyond that! Here are a few more ideas for ways to eat mincemeat:

  • Oatmeal topping
  • Pancake, waffle, or French toast topping
  • Crepe filling
  • Cinnamon roll filling instead of the cinnamon mixture
  • Layer cake filling
  • Spread on toast or bread instead of jam
  • Made into muffins (I use this cranberry muffins recipe and substitute mincemeat filling for the cranberry sauce)
  • On a cheese board or charcuterie board instead of jam or preserves

More Show-Stopping Christmas Desserts to Make

  • Gingerbread Cake Roll – with brown sugar and rich spices, and a creamy maple cinnamon frosting
  • Cranberry Cake – a gorgeous 4-layer cake with fluffy vanilla butter cake, cranberry sauce, and vanilla buttercream
  • Pie Crust Cookies – flaky and rich with butter and cinnamon sugar
mincemeat recipe to make tarts

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Easy Mincemeat Recipe

4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Yields: 16 servings
This easy homemade Christmas mincemeat recipe is richly spiced, full of fruit, laced with brandy, and made without meat. It’s the perfect vegetarian mincemeat filling for making into festive Christmas mince pies and tarts.

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Ingredients
 

  • 3 medium-sized Granny Smith apples peeled and chopped small (or another type of tart apple)
  • 1 medium-sized sweet red apple peeled and chopped (such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, or Northern Spy)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins sultanas
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried currants
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice from 1 large orange
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons brandy optional (or add up to 1/2 cup)

Instructions
 

  • Add the chopped apple, raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, orange juice, lemon juice, apple cider, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, salt, and butter to a medium-large pot over medium heat.
  • Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After that, remove the lid and continue cooking uncovered until the mixture has turned dark and is thickened, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, and brandy.
  • You can eat it now, but it’s even better after the flavors have blended for a couple days!

Notes

  • Candied Citrus Peel: If desired, add up to 1/4 cup finely chopped candied citrus peel (orange or lemon, or a mixture of both), and omit the fresh zest.
  • Recipe Yield: This recipe makes about 1 quart (4 cups) of mincemeat filling, which is enough for 1 (9-inch) mince pie or 16 mince tarts made in a regular-sized muffin pan.
  • Nutrition Information: If you’re eating the mincemeat on its own (and not making it into pie), 1/4 cup is the serving size.

How to Store Mincemeat

  • In the fridge: Once it’s made, cool to room temperature and then store covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • In the freezer: Once it’s made, cool to room temperature and then transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 212IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Christmas Mincemeat, Easy Mincemeat Recipe, Homemade Mincemeat, Mincemeat Filling, Mincemeat Recipe, Mincemeat Without Meat, Vegetarian Mincemeat

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    This is a wonderful recipe and I love the flavour. However, it took much longer to cook than what the recipe indicated. The first 1/2 hour of cooking was fine but it took another 45 min for it to darken and thicken up. I ended up having to turn up the heat in order to reach the desired consistency.

  2. Thank you for this glorious recipe! I couldn’t find commercially made Mince filling for Christmas pies. Mince is my husband’s father’s favorite pie & we just had to make it for him. I had to sub pears for 4 of the 5 apples (family ate up my apples for a snack!!), lime juice for lemon juice (all out) and chopped pecans for almonds (didn’t have any). I will be making this again. It literally tastes like Christmas to me. My MIL was super impressed & said she will now be making this instead of buying the jarred stuff.

  3. Elisa M Smith says:

    5 stars
    Can’t find mincemeat in the grocery stores, and my husband loves mincemeat. Found your recipe made it and it’s delicious. We will have a mince meat pie for Christmas! Oh yeah my husband said it was better than store bought

  4. Rochelle Wright says:

    5 stars
    Thank goodness for this recipe. I have hunted for weeks for a jarred mincemeat and none of the local stores or online have it. Finally a grocer said it doesn’t sell any more, so they are not ordering any.

    Mincemeat is a family tradition for over 100 years, I know. Thank you for saving our Christmas!

  5. 5 stars
    Couldn’t find mincemeat in the stores so thought I’ll make my own. I left out the lemon juice, added orange extract, left out the almonds (family allergies), added a few chopped dates, and upped the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons and doubled the cloves a s well. DELICIOUS! I’ll never buy again!!

  6. Mary Lynch says:

    5 stars
    This is delicious – a great alternative to the commercial versions of mincemeat. I plan to use this as a filling for hand pies to serve during the holidays. I was so glad to find this recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    Mincemeat is a big part of my Christmas past, so I am especially grateful for an easy way to be able to make it when I am so busy! And as usual, your photography is nothing short of exquisite!

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