The best mince pies in Britain 2019: Country Life’s ultimate taste test

Mince pies maketh Christmas, but where will you find the very best? To save you the trouble, we’ve tried them all in the great Country Life mince-pie taste off.

There were no half-measures in this test: the entire Country Life team was called upon to give their opinion on the pies. Though once the fun bit was done, everybody sidled away and left Victoria Marston and Phoebe Bath to write up the results.

THE WINNER

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies

£2 for six — www.sainsburys.co.uk

Sainsburys mince pies

What Sainsbury’s says:

Our melt-in-the-mouth, all-butter mince pies are packed with a festive blend of luscious fruit, aromatic peel and warming spices, infused with a generous nip of brandy.

The Country Life verdict:

These are prettily presented, with crisp pastry that has a good colour and isn’t too sweet. The filling is firm with a decent whack of booze and spicy overtones. An all-round crowd-pleaser, which is all anyone really wants from a mince pie.


RUNNER-UP — Konditor & Cook Mince Pies

Gift Box of 12 for £16 — www.konditor.co.uk

Konditor and Cook mince pies

What Konditor & Cook says:

Our famous mince pies are made with the finest all-butter pastry and filled with a luxuriously full-flavoured, vegetarian mincemeat.

The Country Life verdict:

Delicious, melt-in-the-mouth buttery pastry containing a mild-mannered mincemeat with a pleasant aftertaste. The only real complaint was from those who felt that this petite, shiny offering looked slightly more like a mini quiche than a mince pie.


HIGHLY COMMENDED — Betty’s Classic Mince Pies

£10.50 for 12 — www.bettys.co.uk

Betty's classic mince pies

What Betty’s says:

All-butter sweet-pastry cases filled with luxury mincemeat. Baked fresh every day.

The Country Life verdict:

Simple, rustic and organic looking, with a stylish star on top. Yummy buttery pastry, with a filling that’s moist, if a bit bland. Would make a lovely gift.


BEST OF THE REST

Waitrose & Partners No 1 All Butter Mince Pies

£2.50 for six — www.waitrose.com

Waitrose mince pies

What Waitrose says:

Individual all-butter mince pies with a rich mincemeat filling containing apricot, glacé cherries, almonds and brandy.

The Country Life verdict:

Slightly pale and too neat to be passed off as homemade, but the pastry is sweet against the satisfying sharpness of the filling. One person thought the pastry slightly ‘claggy’, another proffered: ‘I wouldn’t be offended if I were offered one with a cup of tea.’ On the whole, not at all bad.


M&S Food Collection Six Mince Pies

£2.25 for six — www.marksandspencer.com

M&S mince pies

What M&S says:

Crisp and golden all-butter shortcrust pastry, deep-filled with vine fruits, cranberries, clementine and Cognac.

The Country Life verdict:

It was generally agreed that these are well-filled with a strongly flavoured mincemeat, but the pastry is too crumbly to be practical and the abundance of icing sugar makes them ‘a drinks-party nightmare’. To be consumed only in the privacy of your own home.


Riverford Organic Mince Pies

£5.25 for six — www.riverford.co.uk

Riverford mince pies

What Riverford says:

Baked to perfection in a wood-fired oven, each rich, buttery little pie is filled to the brim with apple, plump vine fruits, festive spices, candied peel, flaked almonds and a slosh of brandy. Just wonky enough to look homemade.

The Country Life verdict:

Beautifully packaged and oozing rustic charm, these unfortunately didn’t leave much of an impression — the pastry seems to disintegrate in the mouth and the filling tastes more of spices than fruit. Underwhelming.


Lidl Deluxe Luxury Mince Pies

£1.79 for six — www.lidl.co.uk

Lidl mince pies

What Lidl says:

Crumbly, all-butter shortcrust pastry cases, generously deep-filled with lightly spiced mincemeat laced with Cognac and finished with a sprinkling of sugar.

The Country Life verdict:

Attractively decorated, if slightly anaemic-looking, some felt the pastry has a good crunch, whereas others found it tough. The mincemeat has a subtle tang, but not heaps of flavour. Quite obviously mass-produced.


Fortnum & Mason Traditional Mince Pies

£12.95 for six — www.fortnumandmason.com

Fortnum & Mason mince pies

What Fortnum & Mason says:

Spiced mincemeat encased in an all-butter, shortcrust pastry. The result is an indulgence no Christmas feast should be without.

The Country Life verdict:

Decadent in appearance and generously sized, the crumbly pastry was deemed a bit dry and too abundant in comparison with the quantity of mincemeat, which had an unusual flavour. ‘Is it vegetarian?’ queried one judge.


Tesco Finest Six All Butter Pastry Deep Filled Mince Pies with Courvoisier VS Cognac

£1.75 — www.tesco.com

What Tesco says:

Luxurious mince pies packed with juicy fruits and seasonal spices, infused with Cognac, brandy and Port for a more intense flavour. Delicious warm or cold.

The Country Life verdict:

Thin pastry case topped with a pretty snowflake and containing an ‘inoffensive’ fruity filling. ‘Pretty decent, but nothing to write home about,’ as one critic summarised.