Suet Free Mincemeat

For anyone not familiar with mincemeat, let me explain.  It has nothing to do with minced or ground beef, it´s made with fruit. Well…initially it was made of meat, flavoured with sugar, fruit and spices.  This, historically, was probably to mask the strong flavours of meat which needed to be preserved without the benefit of refrigeration.

Over time the mixture became sweeter and all that now remains of its meaty ancestor, is an ingredient called suet, which is usually beef or mutton fat. This melts down into the mix to preserve it.  Vegetarian suet it now also available.

When I spent my first Christmas in Spain 6 years ago, it was impossible for me to track down ready made mincemeat for my Christmas Mince Pies, let alone suet to make my own.  Things have changed now over the years, but I still use a recipe I came across (and I don´t know where, so apologies to whoever it “belongs” to) which is a suet free version of mincemeat.

The flavours develop and improve over time, although it´s excellent even freshly made.  If you make a large batch, it will be wonderful next Christmas!


  • 250g brown sugar
  • 250ml cider (sweet or dry) or apple juice
  • 1kg of peeled and chopped cooking apples
  • ½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 250g each of currants, raisins, cranberries
  • 75g glace cherries
  • 75g blanched almonds
  • Rind & juice of ½ lemon plus rind of 1 orange
  • 6 tablespoons of brandy or rum (optional)

(Feel free to vary the ingredients according to your taste)

Dissolve the sugar in the cider over a gentle heat, add all the other ingredients except the alcohol and cook until soft and pulpy.  Cool slightly, stir in alcohol and put into sterilised jars.


53 thoughts on “Suet Free Mincemeat

  1. Not being big on sweet things, I often buy mincemeat (though never pastry). I was looking this week, in the supermarkets and none have mincemeat with suet, which has made me think I should make some. I also noticed that there’s no alcohol in the bought stuff either. What’s the world coming to? Perhaps I’ll try your recipe (which sounds lovely) and add a little suet. Otherwise, I’ll have to ask at the St. John 😉
    I love your snow!

  2. I am making a fruit mix, well it has been sitting in brandy making itself for a while, because out here I cannot find the fruit either, and I have never seen a minced pie or even a christmas cake for that matter! And Mad Dog is a very cool fella, just like you said!! c

    1. Anything that sits in Brandy (including us) is bound to be good! Glad you contacted Mad Dog – I´m sure he´s been very helpful. Hope you find time for some celebrating 🙂

  3. I could never get past the notion of pig fat in my pie, so I never tried! Now you’re talking something I can get my head (and mouth) around! It looks pretty scrumptious and I think I’ve got to give it a go! Thanks for making it possible! : )

  4. Great post, I’ll have to try you recipe. I do, however, make my own mincemeat and forage or grow most of the ingredients. Sorry, I use venison in mine. It’s an old recipe passed down from a couple generations. Pressure-cooked gelatinized venison scraps, usually from tough neck meat do wonders for the texture of my mincemeat pie, but I’m always open to new things.

  5. I made some today and didn’t bother with the suet. Brandy and sugar does plenty to preserve it. It tastes amazing. Now have to wait 3 days for it to mature :D. Yours sounds deeeelish.

  6. I’ll be honest, i did not know what mincemeat was nor did I ever want to know…until now! You gave a great explanation, so much so I’d love to try this out! At your house!!

  7. Make mincemeat now for next Christmas? I’d probably forget where I put it. I think I’ll stick with jams & ketchup. You know, things where the gratification isn’t delayed. Thanks, nevertheless, for the mincemeat lesson. I really had no idea.

    1. I think you´re wise. I´m feeling all “canned out” now for the year. And if you tuck it away you might make that same mistake I did which I mentioned in a post of putting plum compote in my pasta sauce in error thinking it was tomato 😦 Duh!

  8. You are a star! I have been looking for this recipe which you gave to me last year. I must have put it some where safe!! TFS.
    Regards Florence x

  9. Hola Tanya!
    Es curioso, justamente esta semana estaba viendo una receta para hacer mincemeat pie y estaba súper confusa porque creí que uno de los ingredientes era carne… No me convenció mucho así que lo abandoné. Muchas gracias por aclararme las cosas, esta receta sí que me apetece probarla 😉

  10. when we still had the kids over for Christmas I would make my own fruit mince! Now we have a child free Christmas and I do non traditional desserts 🙂

    1. I do both – I think I´m leaning towards the slightly more traditional this year because my parents are coming to spend Christmas with us in Spain for the first time 🙂 Whatever you do…bet it tastes great!

  11. I tried a mincemeat pie and I wasn’t so sure about it. Since you know I can’t cook, can you suggest a place or brand I should try. I’m not sure the one I got was the “best available.” I see advertisements for them everywhere in London and I would love to get on the bandwagon but I need help!

    1. Ok, I think you need to go to either Waitrose, M&S or Sainsbury´s (try their Taste the Difference range). Maybe go for some mini mince pies if you´re not sure you´re going to like them and look for ones (if possible) with luxury mincemeat. They are much nicer served warm and a dollop of double cream on the top always goes down well! Let me know how you get on.

      1. Cool! There is an M&S right down the street. I’ll have to try it again. And cream sounds delicious. I’ll keep you informed! Thanks!

      2. TBM – if you go to M&S, buy some Cornish Clotted Cream to go with your mince pies (and warm them up a bit in the oven before you eat them) 😉

  12. The Washer Up has been nagging me for a week to make mince pies. I love that you put apples in your mincemeat will have to try that this year. I put chopped almonds and amaretto in mine! I bought an alapca mushroom thing today as well as a Xmas tree, very excited, thanks for the idea!!

  13. I remember mum marching down to the butchers for her Christmas suet order. It was our job as kids to grate the stuff. Mum learned pretty quickly that putting us on almond skinning duty was going to be expensive…same went for cutting the glace cherries and other dried fruit for the Christmas cake so after the first (disastrous and heinously expensive) year we got put on suet grating duty. Funny enough…she NEVER had to go back to the butchers for more suet! 😉

      1. Didn’t take us long to become wise children either after scoffing almonds and glace cherries, a fist full of suet plays a terrible second best 😉

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