Making your own pies this year? Here’s how to get the perfect result

If you’re among the die-hard Christmas foodies who love a homemade mince pie, you’ll already have an opinion on lattice-topped over enclosed, puff over shortcrust, warm over cold and cream over brandy sauce. But whatever your preference, there are some tricks to ensure you get a perfect result.

Do I need to make my own mincemeat?

Some people swear by homemade mincemeat – and there are lots of different recipes, including those that are suitable for vegetarians and those that include suet, a meat-based fat. Making mincemeat ahead of time gives it an opportunity to mature and for the flavour to deepen. It can be made up to six months in advance if stored in jars in a cool, dark place. Don’t worry if you’re making it last minute, though – it’s perfectly enjoyable straightaway. If you're keeping it simple, there are plenty of good ready-made mincemeats available too.

What alcohol should I use?

Brandy, rum, whisky, cointreau, sloe gin, port – all the seasonal liqueurs complement dried fruits, so go with whichever you like the most. Bear in mind what you’ll be serving the mince pies with, if anything. Rum sauce or brandy butter might not be a great match for sloe gin, for example. If you’re serving them with cream or custard, it won’t matter. If you’re making your own mincemeat and using a recipe that requires the fruit to be cooked, add the alcohol afterwards.

Do I need to make my own pastry too?

Not everyone wants to go to the bother of making pastry from scratch but, if you do, you might want to choose a sweet pastry recipe. Good news, though: it’s perfectly acceptable to use ready-made pastry: the results are just as good and it saves a lot of time. 

Boozy mince pies

This buttery homemade mince pie recipe is a classic – and a touch of whisky gives it a festive kick.

 

Mince pie puff

Want to try something a bit different? Make one giant mince pie and slice it up – and yes, you can cut an extra big slice for yourself.

 

Luxury mince pies with cranberries

These might look like standard mince pies, but they contain both cranberries and chocolate chips. What are you waiting for?