Homemade All-Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)

mince tarts 3

I made mincemeat from scratch last night. And again this morning. What took me so long? I mean to do it every year, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t managed to for at least a decade. (I’d remember. And I won’t make that mistake again.) I adore mincemeat, applied liberally by spoon or by tart. And yes, it likely has a lot to do with the season during which they’re eaten – I can’t think of another food so exclusive to Christmas as the mince tart – but what’s not to love about a dark jammy mix of dried fruit, citrus, apples and spices? And of course most things are their best selves when they’ve been homemade vs. mass-produced.

mincemeat 1
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I started with grated apples and chopped pears, along with raisins (two kinds) and currants, the zest and juice of a lemon and orange, some brown sugar and spices. Nevermind the suet – I used a bit of butter instead, which when you think about it has the best flavour of any solid fat out there. There isn’t much to the method – all that needs doing is some chopping and grating and tossing in a pot – and it could all be streamlined by a few pulses in the food processor. But even by hand I started making it at 3, wanting to beat sundown (photos and all), and it was ready and bubbling on the stove when the boys got home from school at 3:40. So not a big deal.

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I looked to Delia for advice, being the matriarch of British cooking and all, but her formula required fresh apples and dried fruit to marinate of their own free will, with no heat to help things along. Others called for cranberries, which I love, but feared would take over the mincemeat. I have a particular idea of what mincemeat and mince tarts should taste like, and thus a very clear finish line. And I’m not sure I want my mince tarts tasting of cranberry sauce. I also don’t have 2-3 weeks to wait for my fruit to transform into mincemeat. Heat coaxes the juices out of the fruit and helps the raisins absorb it, and transforms the lot into a thick, sweet mass in about 15 minutes. (You could pop it into a pressure cooker instead, and let it go for 5 minutes or so.)

mincemeat bowl

It has a better texture than the jarred stuff, I think – cooked down but still chunky, not mushy. The raisins and currants are soft but distinct. If you want a finer texture, you could roughly chop it all up first, or blitz it in a food processor – some mincemeat is almost pasty – or smoosh it with the back of your spoon as it simmers. Once cooled, it will keep in the fridge for weeks or months, if you can keep from eating it. (Apologies for the pre-dawn photos by kitchen light – I made this batch of tarts to bring in to CBC this morning. My car smelled great.)

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My only motivation to stop eating it at the stove, with a spoon, is the promise of mince tarts. Made with butter pastry and small cut-outs set on top as partial lids – a small star cutter works great here, but I didn’t have the gumption to go down the basement and look for it at 6 am.

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Mince tarts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and elevenses – yes?

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If you like boozy mincemeat, add about 1/4 cup brandy, bourbon or rum after you remove the pot from the heat. This would make a fab hostess gift, packed in little jars for sharing.

All-Fruit Mincemeat

2 apples, coarsely grated
1-2 pears, finely chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
1/2 cup candied citron or peel
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or some cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg)
pinch salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the walnuts or pecans (if you’re using them). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 20-30 minutes, until dark golden and thick. Remove from the heat and let cool; stir in the nuts, if you’re using them.

Store in a sealed container or jars in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for 6 months.

Makes about 4 cups.

Mince Tarts


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
¼ cup ice-cold water

2-3 cups mincemeat

milk or cream and sugar, for brushing/sprinkling (optional)

In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and use a fork, pastry blender, wire whisk or the “pulse” motion of the food processor to blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with lumps of fat no bigger than a pea.

Drizzle the water over the mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding a little more a bit at a time if you need it. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and let rest 20-30 minutes.

To bake the tarts, preheat the oven to 375?F and roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to about ¼-inch thick. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or glass rim and press into ungreased muffin tins – regular or mini. Reroll the scraps once and cut out small rounds, stars or other shapes if you want your tarts lidded.

Fill each pastry cup with mincemeat and either leave open or lay a cut-out piece of pastry on top. If you like, brush with a little milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool until warm, then run a thin knife around the edge to remove them from the pan. Makes about 1 dozen tarts.

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December 10 2013 04:37 pm | dessert and pie and preserves

20 Responses to “Homemade All-Fruit Mincemeat (and Tarts)”

  1. Corinne on 10 Dec 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Julie these tarts look scrumptious. I too love homemade mincemeat.
    We wish you a joyous season and a Merry Christmas.
    Our warmest wishes.
    D & C

  2. Chris on 10 Dec 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Julie, this looks yummy! I can’t wait to have the scent wafting through the house. One problem though, where do you find candied citron? I looked at the grocery today and only found candied peel. Is it the same? Thanks!

  3. Fiona on 10 Dec 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Those look just like my mum’s tarts! We eat them for breakfast the whole holiday season. I’m going to make some this week.

  4. Yokel on 11 Dec 2013 at 4:28 am #

    Hi Julie, came over here from a post on CBC (8 retro recipes!), and straightaway saw the post on mince pies. I’ve been dreaming of these for a long time and debating making some. Thanks for the recipe.
    (Only thing missing in my mind is the suet. I can’t stand the idea of suet normally but it was always in my Gran’s mince pies, and really made them special).

  5. Louise on 11 Dec 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Where did you buy your candid citron Julie?

  6. Bridget Oland on 11 Dec 2013 at 9:48 am #

    I love mincemeat but have never got around to making my own. Your recipe makes it seem super easy, so perhaps this year…

  7. Laurie from Richmond on 11 Dec 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I love mince tarts :)
    They’re a Christmas favourite, but not eaten at any other time

  8. Joanne on 11 Dec 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    Every year I make mince tarts for my girlfriend and she makes peanut butter balls for me. I like to sprinkle icing sugar over the tarts so they look snowy!

  9. Amanda - Small Home Big Start on 11 Dec 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    We were at Black Creek Pioneer Village this weekend and they had homemade mincemeat tarts they make there. I left saying that I was determined to learn how to make it for Christmas this year – and now here you are laying it all down. It’s like you read my mind. Thank you!

  10. margo on 12 Dec 2013 at 10:39 am #

    Love making homemade mince; my recipe (from The Joy of Cooking Pies) is very similar to yours’ with the addition of brandy. It is fantastic. I never liked mince pie as a kid, but when you find a good recipe to make at home, it’s so uniquely delicious. I fear I might not get mine made this year… I hope I do!! It’s so Christmassy!

  11. Julie on 12 Dec 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Yes Chris and Louise – candied citron and peel are the same thing! You can find it alongside the glace mix and candied cherries in the baking section of the grocery store.

  12. rose on 12 Dec 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Love mincemeat. Now it’s not as daunting with your easy recipe! Will make it too! Thank you so much.

  13. 12 Days of Recipes: Chelsea Buns » Dinner With Julie on 13 Dec 2013 at 10:31 am #

    […] another idea, it being December and all: spread the rolled-out dough with mincemeat (have you made your own yet?) before rolling it up and cutting-rising-baking – and to go […]

  14. Cheddar-Olive Shortbread Balls » Dinner With Julie on 15 Dec 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    […] of nibbling party food leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if you haven’t had warmed mince tarts for breakfast yet, I highly recommend it) straight through until Boxing […]

  15. Stephanie on 16 Dec 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Hi Julie,
    Love mincemeat and grateful for this recipe. I doubled the recipe … made tarts … a little pie … and have frozen the rest … delicious!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks so much.

  16. Jo-Anna on 19 Dec 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    I can’t believe you made your own mincemeat…and that it doesn’t look too hard to make! My husband would be over the moon if I made homemade mincemeat…love your recipe!!

  17. Sarah on 07 May 2014 at 8:16 am #

    When you say, cinnamon sticks, do you grind them, just put them in the mixture whole or can you use regular cinnamon. Thanks

  18. jack Bedard on 23 Jan 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Why is it called mincemeat since there is no meat in it.

  19. Julie on 26 Jan 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Jack – traditionally mincemeat does have meat in it – most commonly beef suet (fat) along with the fruit and spices, but nowadays all-fruit mincemeat is far more common.

  20. Barbara on 22 Nov 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    would not pay $8.00 for a jar of mincemeat am going to try your recipe

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