It’s that time of year again. Mince pies are filling the shelves and we want to eat them ALL. So we did. Our quest to find the best mince pies had us asking if budget has to mean bland, and if pricier always means tastier…?
We decided to put it to the test here at MyFamilyClub HQ. Mince pies from Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Morrisons and Aldi were all included in the mix, and we tasted both their ‘posh nosh’ mince pies and some of their budget ranges.
For fairness, our mince pie test was conducted ‘blind’. In other words, none of our tasters were told which shop each mince pie was from, or how much they cost.
It was a tough call to crown a winner, and resulted in a tense and mildly unbearable tiebreak between two rather different mincey treats.
Here are the results of our unscientific but thoroughly enjoyable blind taste test:
Heston for Waitrose spiced shortcrust mince pies (£3.50 for x6) – Best taste
This little gem won the majority of the vote, and what a tantalising taste sensation they were.
The (slightly pricier than average) pastry treat came out on top with the majority of our ever-so-professional tasters.
Overall it was a pleasantly wholesome little bundle of yum, with a rich and very different appearance and texture than the traditional mince pie (the pastry is a bit like gingerbread). But if you like cinnamon, these mince pies should be at the top of your shopping list.
It includes plenty of spices and was topped with a tangerine flavoured sugar – “Oh Heston you’re spoiling us!” The best mince pies for 2013, in our humble opinion.
Unfortunately it’s not the cheapest – however it’s worth the money for a treat this Christmas. Plus there are some other delicious (but cheaper) treats below.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter Mince Pies (£2.50 for x6, or get 2 packs of x6 for £4)
Joint first place came from Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ range (though their normal mince pies also tested well).
If you like a bit of a boozy mince pie, this one’s for you. The brandy rich mince pie was described in the blind taste test as “moreish and moist, with a nice crumbly pastry.” Overall a highly rated pie, and a thumbs up from us for value for money (especially as Sainsbury’s are currently running a 2 for £4 promotion).
Aldi Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies (£1.69 for x6) – Best buy
Recent winners of the Which? taste test, this bargain supermarket buy surpassed the posh Fortnum and Mason mince pies. Our taste testers also rated them highly, coming a close third to Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. The ‘sweet mince with a touch of alcohol’ tickled the fancy of the majority of us, and the only criticism was that the pastry could be improved slightly. But at £1.69 for 6, they’re an absolute bargain – and so win our Best Buy award.
Sainsbury’s Deep Mince Pies (£1.30 for x6, or 2 packs for £2)
Last year’s winners of our taste test – these beauts still came up high in 2013. Tasty and well-balanced, they are pleasingly good value for money. Rave reviews all round for their satisfying texture and nicely spiced mince.
Tesco Finest All Butter Pastry Mince Pies (£2.20 for x6)
These little fellas divided the team. Some fell in love with the crisp pastry and buttery after taste, while others felt they were just ‘ok’ – and that the mince didn’t have a flavoursome enough taste.
Tesco Christmas Mince Pies (£1 for x6)
Cheap and cheerful – but were these pies so perfect? Well the pastry wasn’t a favourite with our tastebuds, however there was plenty of praise for the appearance and flavour of the mincemeat.
Asda Extra Special Rich Fruit All Butter Mince Pies (£2 for x6)
Still a contender, these extra spesh mince pies were pretty boozy – great if you like a Christmas brandy or sherry. High marks for the pastry and mincemeat overall. The price gets out vote too!
Morrisons Signature All Butter Deep Filled Mince Pies (£2 for x6)
It’s a shame these deep filled minced treats didn’t perform as we’d hoped – with some describing the sad sweets as having doughy pastry and a bland and dry taste, it was a little disappointing all round.
M&S Handcrafted Ultimate All Butter Mince Pies (£2.99 for x4)
These mysterious mincey wonders look as good as your Nan’s finest. But unfortunately the taste test didn’t match up. Nobody guessed these were the more expensive of the bunch, and slammed them in the scores – commenting on their thick pastry and overpoweringly sweet taste. Sorry Marks and Sparks, but you certainly weren’t the ‘ultimate’ at MyFamilyClub HQ.
Tesco Everyday Value Mince Pies (65p for x6)
Slated last year by some for having a soggy bottom, this year it was at the bottom of the pile and tainted again with ‘sub-par’ pastry.
It does have more of a “marmalade taste” – but it didn’t quite cut the mustard this time.
So there you have it: the MyFamilyClub Taste Factor’s verdict on the best mince pies. It just goes to show that the more expensive option isn’t always the best.
Disclaimer: This article is based on the opinions of our hungry team at the end of a long day. We cannot guarantee your Aunty Joan and Great Uncle Phil will definitely feel the same this Christmas. But they might.