Mince pies can make or break Christmas. They’re the last and (some would say) most important piece of the festive puzzle. But claggy pastry, over-sweetened mincemeat and even ‘creative’ twists all have the potential to take the merriment out of your day in just one crumbly bite.
We fully understand the importance of getting it right, which is why we (the olive editorial team) took it upon ourselves to personally taste test over 25 different luxury* mince pies to find the best of the best.
From independent bakeries to everyday supermarket brands, we’ve searched high and low for the most luxurious mince pies on the block. It was no easy task, but someone had to do it!
In reverse order, from bottom to top, here’s our shortlist of the top eight best luxury mince pies for 2016. You might be surprised about what we found…
8) Aldi Specially Selected Exquisite Mince Pies
Light and buttery, Aldi’s mince pie pastry had just the right amount of crumble to it. The marzipan topping, on the other hand, divided the tasting team – some were rather taken with it, while others thought that the almond notes distracted from the Christmassy spices.
Six for £2.99
7) Iceland luxury mince pies
With their sugar-dusted star-shaped tops, these all butter shortcrust pastry pies with brandy-laced fruity mincemeat certainly look the part; but there was something about the pastry that made them feel almost too buttery.
It was the filling (and fact that they’re only 25p a pie!) that ensured Iceland’s spot in the top seven – satisfyingly plump and boozy, the mincemeat had just the right level of sweetness.
Six for £1.50
6) Morrisons The Best deep filled mince pies
Despite hailing from the lower end of the price bracket, Morrisons’ mince pies managed to hold their own against many of the high-end brands in our taste test. Scoring a three out of five on the pastry, the crisp cases were just the right amount of thickness. Juicy sultanas populate the traditional brandy infused mincemeat and the tasting team couldn’t help but notice that they ‘would go perfectly with nice cup of tea.’
Six for £1.70
5) Asda Extra Special all butter pastry mince pies
The soft and buttery pastry with a rich, succulent filling tasted exactly like Christmas should. The only thing missing was a little bit of citrusy zing… and maybe some thick brandy cream.
Six for £1.50
4) Marks and Spencer’s miniature mince pies
Perhaps it had something to do with the sparkly gold lustre or the fact that these are quite clearly handcrafted… either way we really rated M&S’s miniature all-butter mini mince pies. Those topped with hazelnuts and pecans were satisfyingly crunchy and, as one taste-tester noted, ‘these wouldn’t go amiss at a classy Christmas party’.
12 for £4
3) Hobbs House Bakery luxury mince pies
Hobbs House’s mince pie filling erred on the side of slightly too sweet but the crisp, orange-infused shortcrust pastry and the homemade feel of them was what won us over.
Six for £4.95
2) Marks and Spencer’s star mince pies
A prime example of what a great mince pie should taste and look like. These Christmas pies from M&S had a pleasing amount of spiced, nutty filling and crisp shortcrust pastry.
Six for £2.50
1) Riverford’s organic mince pies
The soul-warming scent of spiced apple clings to these endearingly wonky mince pies. There’s a great balance of sweet and sour in the filling (with a zingy grapefruit twist) and the shortcrust pastry is really buttery and sweet. A satisfying festive bite that came out on top in our best luxury mince pie taste test for 2016.
Six for £4.95
*So what makes a mince pie luxury?
With such a traditional product, it’s hard to pin down what exactly makes a luxury mince pie. It’s not just about having a big name on the packaging. They should be richer, plumper and boozier than your average pie, and have really buttery, indulgent pastry.
Written by Jordan Kelly-Linden, November 2016