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With the arrival of December, Christmas 2022 fever has well and truly arrived.
The festive TV adverts are now on a regular rotation, all of the hit Christmas songs are blaring out of the radio, and the customary battle for supermarket delivery slots has commenced.
Food and drink are particularly important components for the upcoming bank holiday, and - with the cost of living dominating the agenda - retailers have started to offer Christmas dinner deals. NationalWorld has also produced its own rundown of the cheapest turkey and trimmings on the market.
But there are some Christmas treats that people are unlikely to scrimp on - one of which is the mince pie. Each year, the UK’s biggest retailers market several ranges, from basic to premium and everything else in between.
So, NationalWorld has decided to find out which supermarket has delivered the best premium-tier mince pie this year. Here’s what we found.
How did NationalWorld choose its favourite mince pies?
NationalWorld’s rigorous judging process saw your author gobble his way through 16 mince pies in just two days. By having two of each product, I felt truly able to give a verdict on the quality of the sweet treat.
I also decided that I didn’t want to eat another mince pie for at least 12 months - a resolution that held for just under 24 hours.
In recent years, the mince pie market has become flooded with variations on the theme. Call me the Grinch but I just want the straight up classic, not the silly chocolate-laced, latticed nonsense you tend to find in retailers these days (I’m looking at you Waitrose, with your Heston’s cheese pastry lab experiment).
What I wanted to find was the best-of-the-best, premium mince pie. The crème de la crème of the classic that nailed the brief. The criteria NationalWorld looked for included:
- Buttery pastry
- Sweet (but not too sweet) and boozy mincemeat
- A slight firmness to the pastry, and texture in the mincemeat
- Packaging that screams ‘eat me!’
The blurb says: “rich, crumbly all butter pastry packed with a delicious mix of plump vine fruits and glace cherries. Infused with French brandy and ruby port, with a refreshing twist of lemon zest, tangerine oil and festive spices. Finished with a gentle dusting of sugar”
- Superb mincemeat that’s full of flavour. You can taste the orange.
- Generous filling and a good mouth-feel.
- Decadent, buttery pastry that isn't too crumbly.
- Lacking a boozy note - it’s Christmas, give us more brandy.
- The packaging is a bit too busy for my liking.
Blurb: “Filled with brandy infused mincemeat. Our melt in the mouth all butter pastry mince pies are packed with a festive blend of luscious fruit, aromatic peel and warming spices, infused with a generous nip of brandy. Baked to perfection at a family owned bakery with four generations of baking expertise, that’s why you can taste the difference.”
- Tasteful packaging that doesn’t overcrowd your vision with Christmas.
- Nicely constructed pastry that has a good level of butteryness that works well with the mincemeat.
- The mincemeat has a good texture and tastes grown up - there is a slight hit of booze that tells you December has arrived.
- It is slightly too lean on the mincemeat for my liking.
The blurb reads: “With vine fruits, Valencian orange oil, spices, rich ruby port and cognac, in shortcrust pastry. All-butter pastry made with a splash of cognac.”
- The pastry has good consistency, albeit with a lack of buttery heft.
- Packaging stays on the right side of tasteful, and even has a bit of sparkle.
- The overall taste is pretty bland.
- The mincemeat leans too heavily into the orange oil, and I got next to no boozyness.
Blurb: “Infused with brandy, dry cider and ruby port for a rich deep flavour.”
- I really liked the texture of the pastry, although the butteryness doesn’t come through as much as I’d hoped.
- There’s a healthy wodge of mincemeat awaiting you inside the mince pie.
- You can taste the cider, but the other flavours are missing in action.
- All of the basics are covered, but this is meant to b the premium tier - all the stops need pulling out.
I had to go for the mini variety because the regular-sized mince pies were not available at my local store. I have made the assumption that - apart from their size - the mince pies are like-for-like
Blurb: “Filled with our luxuriously rich and fruity brandy-infused mincemeat. The Best Mini Mince Pies are part of our Premium Christmas collection.”
- A low calorie count (127kcal), even when you double them up to regular size.
- The pies were not brimming to the rafters with mincemeat - the three I had were half full at best.
- Only a tiny, tiny hint of booziness and zero luxuriousness in the mincemeat.
- The pastry was almost sandy in texture and not buttery at all - a real shame.
- If you put ‘The Best’ on your packaging, the product better live up to the title - this one doesn't.
The blurb says: “Crumbly, all butter shortcrust pastry cases, generously deep filled with lightly spiced mincemeat laced with brandy and finished with a sweet dusting.”
- The snowflakes on the top are pretty.
- Anaemic in just about every department.
- The pastry may as well have not been there. It was way too crumbly and disintegrated in my hands, creating an almighty mess.
- Little flavour in the mincemeat.
The blurb reads: “Rich and buttery beurre noisette pastry, filled with rich mincemeat made with apricots, glace Amarena cherries and almonds, laced with cognac.”
- Waitrose hits all the verbal cues with its blurb. French pastry phrases? Tick. Luxurious sounding ingredients? Tick. It’s ‘laced with’ booze? Tick.
- The gold, minimalist packaging is also a win - it looks delicious.
- You get a lot of booze - almost too much at some points during the mouthful. But it gives the mincemeat a smooth note and a depth of flavour that develops as you munch.
- A generous filling, with mincemeat that sits on the right side of chunky.
- Weighs in at a hefty 275kcal a pop - it is Christmas but it might be a con if you’re minded by such things.
- The pastry is slightly on the sandy side, although the texture provided by the dusting of sugar on top saves things somewhat.
- The pastry could go further with its butteryness.
- The packaging slightly oversells the mince pies, which - although good - are not quite stellar (especially for £3.50).
Blurb: “Melt in the mouth all butter shortcrust pastry, deep filled with vine fruits, cranberries, clementine and cognac. Delicious served warm.”
- The packaging is a work of art.
- Pastry has good butteryness and is really well-delivered, becoming almost savoury at times in a way that provides you with an almost complete sensory experience.
- Mincemeat is full of flavour. It’s slightly on the sweet side but also offers up a good hit of cider - you also get the orange and the cherry.
- The texture of the mince pie is luxurious. It warms the throat too.
- Plenty of mincemeat filling.
- Only a very minor criticism, but the butteryness could have been dialled up ever-so-slightly.