In the UK, we eat almost 800 million of them each festive season – thankfully not in one sitting. So it seems mince pies are a national favourite and something we take very seriously.
In an effort to find out which one represents best all-round value and taste this year, the food and drink team got to work on testing the offerings currently available in supermarkets. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
From Marks & Spencer to Aldi, no mince pie was left unturned in our quest to taste the best. If you don’t believe us, you can watch us eat them in our weekly vodcast.
And for those who want to see it in writing, here’s our verdicts and individual scorings…
Tesco 6 Mince Pies
Price/value: At 87p (just 14p each) these are keenly priced, but they’re a little on the small side. Overall, they represent good value.
Pastry: If this pie was being judged on pastry alone it would be my winner. It’s extra buttery and has a lovely shortbread-like quality to it – firm but not crumbly.
Filling: It’s hard to go far wrong with mincemeat, but it’s certainly not the star of the show here, and I’d have liked a bit more of it.
Appearance: Despite the charming little pastry star on the top of the pies, the appearance on most was a bit disappointing. Their tops had lifted during baking causing a minor overspill of the filling, with bulging pastry lids in some cases.
Score: 7/10 [Clare]
Spar Mince Pies – our winner!
Price/value: At £1 for six, we thought these were excellent value working out at 16.5p a pie which didn’t disappoint.
Pastry: The pastry was buttery and crumbly and worked well with the mincemeat inside.
Filling: There was a decent amount of filling which was really moist. Biggest compliment we could pay it was that it “tasted of Christmas”.
Appearance: They have a lovely holly pastry motif and the pies were sturdy. If there is a downside, the packaging is a little bland and doesn’t shout Christmas at you.
Score: 8/10 [Brian]
Co-op Mince Pies
Price/value: Again £1 for six was good value, also working out at 16.5p per pie.
Pastry: The pastry disappointed and was a little too thick for us. We agreed that it was a little too much like a piece of shortbread for our liking and was a bit dry, easily crumbling.
Filling: The filling was fine, but it was lacking a wee bit of spice. There was something just not there and we weren’t tempted to eat another.
Appearance: We thought the pies were a little “wonky”, although the star was a nice touch.
Score: 6/10 [Brian]
M&S Food Collection Mince Pies
Value: At £2.50, this pack of mince pies was a little pricier than the others. There was a cheaper alternative but it had sold out both times we tried to get it. There were six in the pack and they were of a good size so our reviewer was happy to pay the price as she felt she got a good amount for her money.
Pastry score: The pasty was really soft, but it does fall apart in your hands so is probably best enjoyed with a plate. It was extremely buttery and very moreish, too!
Filling: There was quite a lot of filling in this one, and it was definitely full. There was a strong brandy taste to it which lingered, even after polishing it off. There was lots of fruit in it and it wasn’t immediately sweet which was nice, the sweetness carries through as you chew your way through the pie and filling. The fruit seemed of higher quality to the other our reviewer had tried – there was vine fruits including clementine and cranberries throughout.
Appearance: It had a lovely star design on top, which could have easily been a snowflake too – both very fitting for this time of year. The star had been created with different layers of pasty, meaning there was definitely time and effort put into this design, and making the actual mince pie itself.
Score: 7/10 [Julia]
Aldi Millionaire Mince Pies
Value: £1.99 seemed a fair price at around 33p per mince pie. They seem a little smaller than usual, mainly because it has a flat top.
Pastry score: Our reviewer thought the pastry was quite dry, there was a lot of it, too, in comparison to the filling, and it crumbled quite a bit in your hands/mouth. It was covered in icing sugar which added a nice sweetness to it. It was very crumbly actually.
Filling: There was a lot of filling, but there wasn’t as much mincemeat filling. The main filling primarily seemed to be a chocolate ganache which was very sticky in your mouth. The salted caramel was hidden throughout the mix and I think this also added to the stickiness. More focus on the mince pie filling itself would have been nice. It was quite sweet, so anyone with a sweet tooth will love it.
Appearance: It looked more like a shortbread top and it was very basic. There was no fancy design on it at all but it was dusted with lots of icing sugar.
Score: 6/10 [Julia]
Sainsbury’s Mince Pies
Value: £1.00 for four, so slightly more than average at 25p per pie.
Pastry: It was good with a slight crunch and evenly baked. A classic crumbly pastry.
Filling: There was a generous helping of mincemeat, with notable sultanas and lovely, juicy raisins.
Appearance: The pies have a pastry Christmas tree on top and were larger and deeper than Asda’s version, allowing for more filling. More the type you’d serve to your fancy granny.
Score: 7/10 [Rebecca]
Asda Mince Pies
Value: At 87p for six there is no arguing with the value.
Pastry: Softer and smoother than Sainsbury’s, with some slight imperfections which gave the sense of being home-baked.
Filling: It has less filling, not as deep, but sweeter, with more currants.
Appearance: The pies have a nice star pattern on top and had more of a home-baked look about them as not all the lids were on properly, with some at an angle. On a positive note, that’s something you could pass off as having made yourself.
Score: 7 /10
Also featured on the Table Talk taste test…
Lidl’s Deluxe 6 Speculoos Almond Mince Tarts
With their German origins, the discount supermarkets usually have some innovative European offerings. This year, Lidl brings us these charming ‘speculoos’ tarts for an interesting take on the mince pie.
Value: At £2.49 for six (41p each), these are at the pricier end of our mince pie round-up, but they do come with a luxurious twist.
Pastry: The speculoos pastry tastes like spiced Biscoff and smelled heavenly when I was warming the tarts in the oven.
Filling: The mincemeat filling went a little bigger on the cinnamon and cloves for a lovely, decadent flavour.
Appearance: With a glazed lattice top sprinkled with almonds, these little tarts look delectable.
Score: 8/10, but as they’re not quite a mince pie they don’t count in our competition [Clare]
Tesco Free-From 4 Deep Filled Mince Pies
Price/Value: Just as with all things ‘free from’ you end up paying a bit more. In my son’s case, it costs to be coeliac. At £1.50 for four (38p each) these pies are typically pricey, although they are larger than the ‘regular’ pack of six.
Pastry: Being milk and gluten-free the pastry has ended up being a little bland and the consistency is a little soft for my liking.
Filling: Lots of mincemeat that is big on fruitiness and spice means the filling is the best part of these pies.
Appearance: There’s nothing fancy about the look of these pies, but they’re generously sized, have lovely pressed pastry trims and are an inviting golden colour.
Score: 7/10 [Clare]
Sainsbury’s Free-From Mince Pies
Value: At £1.50 for four they come in at the same price as the Tesco offering.
Pastry: The pastry top came off as soon when our reviewer was trying to lift the mince pie out of the pastry case, and the whole thing collapsed. The pastry itself was quite dry. It wasn’t just gluten-free, it was also milk-free, so this may have had an impact on it.
Filling: Very spicy, and quite rich – which our taste tester couldn’t finish.
Appearance: Quite boring and plain-looking. Nothing Christmassy about it. Looked exactly the same as the Asda ones.
Score: 4/10 [Rebecca]
Asda Free From Mince Pies
Price: At £1.55 for four these are even pricier than the rival offerings.
Pastry: Held together well when lifting out of the case – the lid stayed on and it didn’t collapse straight away like the Sainsbury’s one.
Filling: Less spicy than Sainsbury’s, our tester could eat it quite easily.
Appearance: The pies had a more generous helping of sugar sprinkled on top, but everything else looked the same as Sainsbury’s.
Score: 6/10 [Rebecca]