Traditional Mincemeat


  • 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 amount of apple in this recipe is not a typo. In fact, sometimes, I add more because this is close to what I grew up eating. I have added a scan of a typical recipe from the 17th century, and you can see that it calls for far more apple than most modern recipes. You will also note that I leave out the tongue because my family isn’t having it.
  2. Secondly, this is mincemeat. 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. )
Cleland, Elizabeth. A New and Easy Method of Cookery. Edinburgh, Scotland: W. Gordon, C. Wright, S. Willison, J. Bruce, 1755. pp 81.

This is really, really close to the recipe my grandmother used for making mincemeat except of course she used cow tongue.

Published by Stephany Riley Hoffelt

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

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