I know, I’m an actual Saint aren’t I?
Amidst all of the christmas gift guides and shopping bonanza’s and Instagram round ups and affiliate links here, there and everywhere, I bet what you really wanted from the blogosphere this year was for someone to eat their own bodyweight in mince pies on behalf of their blog and report back, RIGHT?
The question of which supermarket does the best mince pies has long been a contentious one. Remember when Holly and Phil attempted to crown a winner on This Morning and the nation was left divided? Well, this blog post will probably be nothing like that, and of course there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to listen to me (because mince pies are like wine, in that everyone’s tastes are different) but I figured, hey, why not add my humble opinion into the mix (and face the potential wrath of all who disagree)? If only for the fact that it gives me licence to eat mince pies every day in December and pass it off as ‘creating quality content’ for the blog. I know, being an online content creator is just SUCH hard work at times.
I’ve actually been wanting to create a blog post like this for a number of years, and each Dec the idea comes to me, I buy up all the mince pies and then somehow find myself on the 26th Dec, very much in a food coma and wondering what happened? *I ate all the mince pies – that’s what happened.
This year I decided to take things seriously and make it my mission to tell you all which mince pie brands to stock up on and which to avoid. When I say I ate ‘ALL’ the mince pies on the market, what I really mean is that I started eating mince pies far earlier than is really socially acceptable and was geeky enough to take notes along the way. I tried a batch from each of the main supermarket chains, all claiming to produce ‘the best’, and rated them against each other (because even I – a mince pie addict – really would struggle to eat ALL of the mince pies on the market). And when I say ‘So you don’t have to’, well I don’t really mean that either because, of course, you too have full permission to eat your body weight in mince pies this month with no judgement from me! But, if you’re someone who just wants to pick a shop and buy all of your Christmas supplies in bulk, then you might want to make sure you’re buying mince pies which won’t disappoint the relatives on Christmas Eve.
And yes, it really was a selfless act entirely on behalf of you dear readers, I got nothing out of it at all. Nope, nada. In fact, I even had to go out of my way to stock up on all of the different varieties. ‘Why are we driving an extra half hour to get home?’ , ‘Because dear husband it’s absolutely crucial that we try a mince pie from Asda despite the fact there’s not an Asda anywhere near us at all, my readers are counting on me this year and I CANNOT let them down – it’s very important work!’.
VERY important work I think you’ll agree, so let’s get started.
Oh, before I begin, this list obviously doesn’t take into consideration homemade, which we all know are far superior. I’ll be making plenty of my own too (like I said – mince pie addict over here) but I feel it’s important to know which shop bought version comes out on top don’t you?
And also, if you happen to be one of those strange people who doesn’t actually like mince pies… well I’m not really sure why you’ve read this far in the first place but, there’s probably not much more for you in this post, sorry!
Right, let’s get on with it shall we? To make things a little more comprehensive, I’ve rated a score of 1 to 10 and also crowned certain ones with a title. You’ll find my opinion, and just for a little diversity, my husband has stuck his oar in too so you can be sure this is in no way bias to one brand (side note – wouldn’t it be great if I actually did get sponsored to do this activity?).
THE BEST MINCE PIES ON THE (SUPER)MARKET
The best for ‘A Wild Card’ – Aldi specially selected Salted Caramel Mince Pies £1.25
The Lowdown – Aldi are offering a whole bunch of ‘alternative’ mince pie styles this year for those who like to live on the edge – there’s everything from salted caramel to blackforest and sloe gin flavoured. Now normally I’m a fan of the traditional when it comes to mince pies, and like so many favourite foods, I’m not always on board when people start messing with a perfectly good original recipe. BUT, I was intrigued by these I have to say, and at £1.25 for a box of six, it’s affordable enough to take the risk.
I say – actually very tasty. But very sweet too. Not sure I could devour a whole pack in one go like
I (ahem) some people might normally do. Would be best served warm with a bit of ice cream to take the edge off. But, they were a surprising hit for me (I do love salted caramel), despite the caramel taking over on the flavour front slightly and making them not at all traditional.
Husband says – Nice but not at all like a mince pie, which ultimately is what you’re buying. Needs less caramel and more mincemeat. A bit weird.
Overall – enjoyable, but don’t buy them if you’re a die hard fan of the traditional buttery mince pie as you mght be disappointed. Do buy them if you fancy something a little different, have a sweet tooth and want a conversation starter when having your less than forthcoming family members over.
The Best for ‘Being most like Homemade’ – Marks and Spencer Mince Pies £2.50
The Lowdown – there’s no ‘specially selected’ or the like when it comes to M&S, there’s simply ‘mince pies’ but they’re in a gold box, and are far more expensive than most other brands so there’s definitely the suggestion of luxury here. As if they’re trying to tell us that M&S don’t need to differentiate between standard and luxury, because ALL of their products are luxury. Anyway these are crumbly, packed full of mincemeat, shaped into stars on the top and dusted with a heavy dose of icing sugar. Oh and tasty, really tasty.
I say – expensive, but some may say worth it. These are definitely up there as one of the best mince pies I’ve tried. Generally I’m a fan of firmer crispier pastry but I make an exception with these, which are very soft in the pastry department, because it really works. Along with the icing sugar, they taste like they could be homemade and I’m here for that.
Husband says – A good traditional mince pie. The only annoying thing is that they’re so crumbly I can’t get them out of the case without them breaking. Oh and prepare for an icing sugar shower – it goes everywhere!
Overall – we were fans of these, but of course the price means you might only want to buy these as a bit of a treat.
The best for ‘Luxury’ – Tesco finest All butter mince pies laced with cognac – £2
The Lowdown – Again on the pricier end of the mince pie market, Tesco are offering a ‘finest’ version of their mince pies with a touch of the ol’ alcohol thrown into the title to entice us all for the holiday season.
I say – I really loved these mince pies. I’m a fan of a crisp, firm pastry and these delivered. They held their shape, had a good mincemeat to pastry ratio, a sprinkling of sugar on top and of course that cognac taste which made them somehow taste more luxurious. If you’re into heating up your mince pies and eating them as a pudding with a dollop of ice cream (I am) then these are the ones to do it with – so so good.
Husband says – Good pastry, good filling, good all rounder.
Overall – definitely one of our top choices and a traditional taste while offering a bit of luxury.
The best for ‘Value’ – Aldi specially selected classic mince pies – £1.25
The Lowdown – It seemed rude to only try a salted caramel from Aldi, so I gave their classic version a whirl too. It’s still in the specially selected family so eludes to a bit of luxury, and the price is very good too.
I say – At the cheaper end of the market (i.e. under £2), these were definitely the best. If you love the M&S ones but need a cheaper alternative which is similar, then opt for these. They offer the same crumbly pastry and icing sugar top, and although the mincemeat is not as rich, the price makes up for that.
Husband says – For the price, these are really really good.
Overall – probably in our top three. A good affordable alternative to the M&S variety and a price that means you could buy a few packs.
The best ‘All rounder’ – Morrisons All Butter Mince Pies – £1
The Lowdown – Again Morrisons didn’t appear to offer a ‘luxury’ option but they’re classic version was a great price and to be honest, pretty darn good for that price.
I say – I was really impressed with these considering they were the only supermarket where we tried a non ‘luxury’ branded version. Similar to the Tesco finest range in that they have a firm pastry but these ones definitely delivered on the amount of mincemeat- they were packed to the brim with the stuff. If you’re not a fan of an alcohol taste, these might be better for you as they omit that brandy/liqueur after taste.
Husband says – good pastry, good filling, good price. I like the design on the top. Um… what else can I say? They’re all starting to blend into each other to be honest! How many more mince pies to we have to try?
Overall – impressive for the price. A good classic style, plenty of mincemeat and a good price. The best value alternative to the Tesco version.
The ones we didn’t rate…
Asda special mince pies – £1.30
The Lowdown – It’s not that we didn’t like these ones, it’s just that for that price bracket there were others that were much MUCH better. If you’re buying a lot of mince pies and don’t want to spend a lot then opt for the Morrisons or Aldi version over these.
I say – Considering they’re described as a ‘special’ version – I didn’t think they were that special. There definitely wasn’t enough mincement and the pastry was too soft and verging on the soggy side (my pet hate). A good price, but I’d choose the Morrisons version (at 30p less) over these every time.
Husband says – not enough mincemeat, much prefer the Morrisons version.
Overall – a decent value option, but honestly not the best value option. Morrisons and Aldi taste far more luxury than these.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies (laced with brandy) – were £2, reduced to £1.75
The Lowdown – These are Sainsbury’s luxury offering, posh box, more expensive than the standard style, the ones they sell in the supermarket cafe for 70p a pop. And well… sorry Sainsbury’s but they’re not all that good.
I say – I thought these were really really poor. They were the first batch we tried so I aimed to give them the benefit of the doubt but as soon as we’d tasted another style, I knew these were going to be bottom of the pile. The pastry was soggy and soft, there wasn’t much taste to the mincemeat, I couldn’t taste the brandy at all and for the price? Just not worth it in my opinion. I wouldn’t buy them again.
Husband says – pastry not good – far too soft, tastes like it has a soggy bottom. Not brilliant for the price.
Overall – disappointing. Sorry Sainsbury’s – we can taste the difference, but not in a good way.
The Overall Results
And the supermarket that takes home the prize for best mince pie of 2018 is….
First Place – Marks and Spencer
I know, I know, it kind of pains me to say it because they are the most expensive of the bunch BUT they were the best, we couldn’t deny it. Even though I prefer a firmer pastry normally, I still crowned these the best. I don’t know how they do it, but they’ve got the monopoly on that luxury market haven’t they?
A close second place – Tesco Finest
It was very close I have to say, we also really rated the Tesco finest versions. If you’re more of a fan of a firm pastry then opt for these. Quite a strong alcohol taste but taste GREAT heated up with some ice cream (and my husband preferred not getting dowsed in icing sugar every time he ate one).
Third Place – Aldi Specially Selected (the classic version)
It had to be Aldi for the value option, although Morrisons almost swayed us. If you want a luxury style for a non luxury price then buy these.
So that’s it, our rundown of the best Mince Pies on the market. Now let the debate begin – which are YOUR favourite?