Usually reserved for the football terraces on Boxing Day, this year the chant ‘who ate all the pies’ very much applied, instead, to my wife and me.
Most brands are selling both a classic pie and another offering with some kind of creative (or regrettable) twist. What were we looking for in a good mince pie? Buttery, crumbly pastry with a generous filling of sweet mincemeat.
All pies were tested at room temperature with a dash of cream, though they can be served warm with a glass of something stronger of course. Let’s take a look at the results.
Topped with a rum-infused frangipane, these mince pies with a twist have a spaced caramel filling and are topped with a little pastry star.
Quite frankly, the flavours don’t marry together. The first impression is sickly and although they would likely be better eaten warm, these are an alternative option only for those with the sweetest tooth.
Do they look like mince pies? No. Do they taste like mince pies? Not really. As an experiment on what festive spiced pastry treat could be, do they work? Yes, in a way, they do.
These all butter crumble pastry pies have both a layer of fruity mincemeat and a layer of salted caramel sauce. If you want to try something a bit different, don’t rule these out.
These citrusy and nutty sweet treats aren’t really mince pies at all but as far as supermarket twists on a true Christmas classic go, this is a success.
They’re attractive (pop them on the plate next to some classics and your neighbours will no doubt be impressed), light and delicious.
If a stuffed, overflowing stocking is a wee child’s dream on Christmas morning, then a jam-packed mince pie has to be an adult’s equivalent, right?
Well this year Sainsbury’s have gone all out with their classic pie.
None of those we taste tested came close to the sheer quantity of filling on offer here. The mincemeat is classic, punchy in flavour with that brandy infusion.
It’s in the name, and if this mammoth taste test mission has taught us anything, it’s that there needs to be a really good reason to mess with a classic.
The M&S pie is perfect - subtle in flavour, buttery in its pastry. There is nothing to fault here whatsoever, no cheap tricks to distract you from a pure taste of winter. You will not be disappointed.
The flavour description on the back of this golden packet mentions the vine fruit mincemeat, the taste of Valencian orange oil, a cranberry puree, a sugar topping and that all important (apparently) butter crumble. It’s too much.
The pie’s taste is too much. Quite honestly, it’s unpleasant.
What little mincemeat there is does not cut through the overpowering taste of the orange oil.
The only pies we tested with a message on the top - Merry Christmas, of course - the Tesco take on a classic is topped with muscovado sugar and boasts a butter pastry flavoured with treacle.
It looks great, and stacked on the plate with the others, would be an easy choice.
But it is too sweet. Far too sweet, almost to the point of tasting like a jam tart. It’s not unpleasant, it’s just not a mince pie.
Waitrose have gone all out with the ingredients here: the mincemeat is a combination of apricots, glace cherries and almonds and the whole pie has a cognac twist.
It looks and tastes rich, with a boozy depth of flavour that trumps almost all the others. The pastry is thinner than most but that’s not a failing. These taste the most expensive because they are.
Slap bang in the middle of the rankings is the Lidl version. They’ve not tried to change up the recipe, not been tempted to throw in a fashionable fad ingredient.
The pies are solid in taste and texture. The pastry is butter and crumbly but overall it’s a little lighter on filling. Good if unremarkable.