The Taste Test: Mince Pies

Not going to lie, this was the best morning. I had mince pies for breakfast. Outside there was a carpet of perfect snow. It was still falling past the windows in a picturesque manner. Mince pies smell amazing. Especially six of them.

Now, the observant among you may notice that three of the mince pie samples are from Waitrose. Normally I try to spread the purchasing of Taste Test food out in a more effective way. But what can I say? I walked into Waitrose, I must have blacked out, and when I left I was clutching three different boxes of mince pies. And some other stuff. It happens fairly often, to be honest. I thought about leaving one of them out, but they were different. I wanted to try them all. Look, I don’t have to justify this madness, okay? This is my crazy series of random experiments.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of mince pies or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which who had made product A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Mince Pies


Mince Pies
£ – per pie
Waitrose -All Butter Mince Pies
2.50 pack, 42p per pie
Aldi – Cognac Steeped Mince Pies
1.49 pack, 25p per pie
Tesco – All Butter Mince Pies with Cognac
2.00 pack, 33p per pie
Essential Waitrose Shortcrust Mince Pies
1.00 per pack, 17p per pie
Heston from Waitrose Spiced Shortcrust Mince Pies with Lemon Twist
3.00 per pack, 75p per pie
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies infused with Brandy
1.50 per pack, 25p per pie

A – Sainsbury’s – 7/10

  • The only one with an incomplete lid – a star-shaped piece of pastry. Very crumbly when you cut through the pie, doesn’t hold together fantastically. Lovely smell, definitely get the booze. Nice pastry, with good crispness and sugar on top. The mince meat has good texture, with chunks of fruit. A good mince pie, but not exceptional. Solid option.

B – Waitrose – 6/10

  • One of the plainest in appearance. Not quite as well filled as A – significant gap between the filling and top of the pie. Holds together well when cut though, doesn’t crumble apart. A smoother mince meat than A, with less interesting texture, and a less buttery and flavoursome pastry. Not bad, not great.

C – Aldi – 7/10

  • Pretty snowflake pattern on top. Crumbles when cut through, doesn’t hold shape. Pastry not hugely buttery. Nice filling, with a good flavour, and a hit of booze. Definitely enjoyed eating it.

D – Waitrose Essential – 3/10

  • Plainest in appearance. Cuts well, doesn’t fall apart. Mince meat is very smooth, like a paste, and doesn’t taste as nice as the others – quite sharp. Pastry is very powdery, tastes cheap, disappears in the mouth. Didn’t like it.

E – Tesco – 8/10

  • A lovely crispy sugary top. Pies holds together well when cut. Tasty pastry. Mince meat is good – plainly visible different fruits and textures, with a good balance between sharpness and sweetness, and noticeable alcohol.

F – Heston – 9/10

  • This is advertised as a mince pie but looks almost like a tart. It has a crumble sort of topping rather than a normal pastry topping, and is larger and shallower than the others. It almost seems unfair to judge it alongside the other samples as it’s incredibly different. The thin layer of mince meat balances well with the top and has a great citrus flavour. It’s also finished with icing sugar. It’s really tasty, but not a traditional mince pie.


God, mince pies are great, aren’t they?

A bit of an odd one this week, which is my own fault for getting a weird Heston product. But I couldn’t help it – I was intrigued. So it’s messed up my results. My favourite thing to eat from all the samples was the Heston Spiced Mince Pie with a Lemon Twist, which was unusual and really tasty. But if we’re being strict about the mince pie criteria, my winner was the Tesco Finest All Butter Pastry Deep Filled Mince Pie with Cognac. That would be my pick if you’re looking for a more traditional offering.

The only one I actively didn’t like was the Waitrose Essential sample – although it’s worth noting those were 17p per pie, while the Heston ones are a whopping 75p per pie. So I guess you get what you pay for here. The Sainsburys and Aldi pies were also completely acceptable.

Yes, I know, there are loads more types of mince pies, but I simply cannot try everything! If you want to buy stuff for me to taste then I am cool with that. Just saying.