This vegan mincemeat can be used to make homemade mince pies without any animal products! It’s a rich, slightly boozy mixture made up of spices, nuts and dried fruits. It lasts for a long time and is perfect to give as a festive edible gift!
I know what you’re thinking… I’m a little early…
Winter is my absolute favourite time of year to bake so I’m getting started early with my Christmas baking. First on my list of things to make this festive season was some delicious vegan mincemeat.
Contrary to popular belief, mincemeat is not actually made of meat. It’s actually very easy to veganise and you’ll find that most shop-bought versions are now vegetarian and suitable for vegans.
I used Tesco vegan mincemeat from a jar last year to make my mince pie pinwheels which was great. And Robertson’s mincemeat is vegan friendly too. Using the jarred stuff is perfect for easy 2-ingredient recipes like that one, but nothing beats the homemade version! I had never tried to make mince pies or mince pie filling from scratch before so I decided I was going to learn how to do it this year. My gran has been asking me for ages!
It looks like a lot of ingredients but it is actually such an easy recipe and takes little to no effort to make.
I do have quite a bit of mincemeat leftover so I’d like to do some more baking with it before Christmas comes. I’m thinking brownies or cake, but I’m open to suggestions. If you have any other ideas, please let me know in the comments!
Why is it called mincemeat?
There was a time in history when mincemeat was made with actual animal meat along with the fruits and spices, hence the name. Even though it’s not made with meat nowadays, it’s not always suitable for a vegan or even vegetarian diet. But this is usually because it contains lamb or beef suet (fat), not meat.
I can’t tell you how many funny looks I’ve had when I tell people outside of the UK about Christmas mince pies! I got a little bit of abuse from people (from the USA) on Facebook last year after posting a picture of homemade mince pie pinwheels, and many people asked me, “is mincemeat vegan?”.
Most people think it’s minced up beef in a pie, which is fair enough considering we do also have pies with minced beef as the filling, aka minced meat pies.
So to save confusion, just remember that Christmas mince pies are the fruity kind! They’re made with spices, dried fruits, nuts and a little bit of alcohol, but you can make them alcohol-free if you prefer.
This mincemeat then gets baked inside of shortcrust pastry (which is also pretty easy to veganise!) and the pies are mostly served in the Winter months. They’re super popular at Christmas markets and go perfectly with a glass of hot mulled wine!
More vegan Christmas desserts:
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Dried fruit. The staple of Christmas mincemeat! You can use any type of dried fruit you like but I would recommend at least using some raisins or currants for a traditional flavour. I used a mix of dried cranberries, raisins and sultanas. You can use any amount of each fruit as long as you keep the total dried fruit weight the same.
- Mixed peel. This is essentially candied orange and lemon peel. You can make your own from scratch if you like but I used Tesco mixed peel. If you can’t find this ingredient where you live, you can substitute it for 2 tablespoons of lemon and/or orange zest instead. It won’t have the exact same flavour but it’s a decent replacement if you’re in a pinch.
- Apple. Chopped, cored and finely chopped. Green apples or cooking apples are best!
- Nuts. Again, you can use any type or any mix of nuts that you like but make sure the overall quantity remains the same. I used chopped up blanched almonds. If you want nut-free mincemeat, simply omit them from the recipe.
- Brown sugar. To add the extra sweetness. I like using soft light brown sugar.
- Vegan margarine/butter. You can buy vegetarian suet such as Atora but I prefer melting the vegetable fat (margarine) in the mixture. If you want to use the suet, just follow the recipe as instructed then stir in the suet at the end.
- Spices. I used cinnamon and all spice.
- Alcohol. The reason that mincemeat keeps for so long is because the alcohol helps to preserve it. I used dark rum in my recipe but you can use sherry or brandy instead.
How to make vegan mincemeat for mince pies
This fruit mincemeat can be used for any type of dessert you wish but it’s most commonly used in mince pies. Here’s how to make it.
Measure out 330g total of a mixture of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries and glace cherries. Roughly chop them then place them into a large pan.
Peel and core 1 small cooking (Bramley) apple. Chop it up finely then place it into the pan with the dried fruit.
Place the rest of the ingredients into the pan: 50g vegan margarine, 50g of mixed peel, 50g of chopped almonds, 100g soft brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of all spice, the juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon, 150ml of dark rum. You can substitute the rum with fruit juice if you’re making alcohol-free mincemeat.
I recommend using a spreadable type of margarine for best results. This acts as an alternative to vegetarian suet for this recipe.
Note: If you plan to store the mincemeat for an extended period of time, leave the rum out until the very end once the mixture has cooled.
Put the pan over low heat and allow the margarine to melt. Once the margarine has melted, cover the pan with a lid and very gently simmer for around 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to cool completely.
When the mixture has cooled, stir in the alcohol if you haven’t done so already. (See note in step 2)
If you’re using this as a mince pie filling, let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours first. This will give the liquid time to get sticky and syrupy.
Store your vegan mincemeat in jars or airtight containers in the fridge for up to 1 month.
If you stir in the alcohol at the end, the mincemeat can be stored for 2-3 years in sterilised jars, but it’s best if eaten within 1 year. Store in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cupboard. Once you’ve opened it, store it in the fridge as above for up to 1 month.
Sterilising your jars helps to keep out any bacteria that may cause the mincemeat to go bad. To do this, wash empty jam jars with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Dry with a clean cloth, put them on a baking tray then place them in the oven for 5 minutes at 180°C/350°F. Fill the jars with your homemade mincemeat while the jars are still warm.
Use equal amounts of brandy or sherry. If you want to make mincemeat with no alcohol, you can use equal amounts of alcohol-free cider, apple juice, pineapple juice or orange juice. It obviously won’t have that classic boozy flavour but those are some good alternatives if you don’t like alcohol. Just make sure that whatever you use is suitable for vegans!
Yes. Once cooled, this can be frozen in jars or airtight containers for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to use it, let it sit at room temperature for a few hours until completely thawed. Then store any leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 1 month. Do not refreeze.
The most obvious thing would be using your mincemeat for mince pie filling, but you can use it to add a festive twist to any other sweet food that you like. You can use it as a porridge topping, in brownies and cookies, in sponge puddings or in puff pastry pinwheels. Let me know if you have any other ideas!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please let me know if you make it at home by leaving a rating and/or comment below- I love to hear from you! xo
Fruity mincemeat for mince pies, made with a vegetarian alternative to suet!
- 50 g (3 tablespoons) Vegan margarine or butter
- 330 g (2+⅓ cups) Dried fruit, roughly chopped (I used a mixture of raisins, dried cranberries, sultanas and glace cherries)
- 50 g (3 tablespoons) Mixed peel
- 1 Small Bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (sub for any other green apple)
- 50 g (⅓ cup) Finely chopped blanched almonds
- 100 g (½ cup) Light brown sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
- ½ Teaspoon All spice (I used this one)
- Zest and juice ½ Lemon
- 150 ml (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) Dark rum, sherry or brandy (sub for fruit juice for alcohol-free)
Add all of the ingredients to a large pan.
Place the pan over low heat and stir occasionally until the margarine has melted.
Cover the pan with a lid and very gently simmer for around 10 minutes, stirring every so often.
Remove from the heat and allow it to cool before storing. If using for mince pies, it's best if stored in the fridge 24-48 hours before using.
- Store in airtight containers, zip lock bags or jars in the fridge for up to 1 month.
- If you stir in the alcohol at the end, once the mixture has cooled, you can store mincemeat in sterilised jars for up to 2 years in a cool, dry place.
- This recipe makes around 750g of vegan mincemeat or 3 packed cups. It’s enough to fill 12-24 mince pies, depending on how deep they are. Multiply or divide the recipe as needed.
- The liquid part of the mixture will seem quite runny at first but will become thicker and stickier after 24 hours in the fridge.
- Recipe is adapted from Mary Berry’s special mincemeat.