Traditional Mincemeat

A green spoon that says "jingle all the way" stirring a batch of mincemeat.

This recipe is very loosely based on a receipt shared by Elizbeth Cleland in 1755, as it’s as close to my family recipe as I have ever found. My grandmother used cow tongue instead of Ox Tongue, of course. I have tried hiding various amounts of beef tongue in my mincemeat over the years, but the family always objects to this practice.

Cleland, Elizabeth. A New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, Scotland: W. Gordon, C. Wright, S. Willison, J. Bruce, 1755. pp 81.


8 ounces currants – minced (chopped quite fine)
8 ounces raisins – minced
8 ounces sultanas or golden raisins – minced
12 ounces shredded granny smith apples
8 ounces shredded beef suet
2-4 ounces mixed peel minced
1 cup brown sugar
juice of one lemon or one orange
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1tsp vanilla or homemade bitters
2-4 ounces brandy


  1. The number of apples in this recipe is not a typo. In fact, sometimes, I add more because this is close to what I grew up eating.
  2. Secondly, this is mincemeat. If you want a nice-tasting mince pie, it’s quite important to chop everything very finely. I grate the apples when I grate the suet and I give the apples, suet, and dried fruit a whirl in the food processor before I put in on the heat. You may chop yours as much (or as little) as you like, but if you have never made this before I suggest mincing things not just chopping them.
  3. After chopping, put all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat them over medium heat until the suet melts and the mixture takes on a glossy sheen. As an aside, all the spices are optional. I like a good deal of spice in mine.
  4. Let the mixture cool completely and then add the brandy.
  5. Put this in a container with an airtight lid and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a week. The longer it sits the more the flavor matures. In my family we still observed the whole stir-up Sunday tradition and so we start it then. (Yes, I swear I am American. )

You can see above that it was once served as one large pie but today often we tuck the mixture into little bite-size pastries made with shortcrust.

Published by Stephany Riley Hoffelt

If you want to read more about me, it's on the website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: