Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (2024)

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Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (1)

Up until just recently, I had always thought the idea of mincemeat pie sounded pretty unappetizing. I had never actually tried it untilthis year, but it just didn’t sound like something I would ever want to eat. I thinkpart of my aversion to it was the fact that I had no idea what was actually in it. And those jars of processed mystery mincemeat filling that appear on the grocery store shelves around the holiday season havealways looked prettyscary to me!

I had always wondered, though, what exactly was in mincemeat pie filling and if there was actually any real meat in an old-fashioned mincemeat pie recipe. Well, I found my answer by looking through old cookbooks – a great source for any questions about what people used to eat and how they prepared their food. I found out that mincemeat pie really did have meat in it along with fruit and spices.

After seeing old-fashioned mincemeat pie recipes, I was curious to see what they would taste like, so I decided to go ahead and make one myself.

This is the original recipe that I found in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, which was the first American cookbook. (The edition of the cookbook I looked at when I was searching for this recipe was the 1798 edition, but you can find the same recipe in the reprinted version of the 1796 edition, too.)

“Four pound boiled beef, chopped fine, and salted; six pound of raw apple chopped also, one pound beef suet, one quart of wine or rich sweet cider, one ounce mace, and cinnamon, a nutmeg, two pounds raisins, bake in paste No. 3 three-fourths of an hour.”

American Cookery by Amelia Simmons

This recipe makes a massive amount of mincemeat filling, so I reduced it quite a bit.

A side-note to the recipe says “As people differ in their tastes, they may alter to their wishes.” I decided to take this suggestion and make a couple alterations. Since I had seen other mincemeat pie recipes that used both raisins and currants, and since I had some currants left over from Christmas baking, I used a mix of currants and raisins. Currants and raisins have a similar taste, so it won’t change the recipevery much if you use one or the other.

I also added some candied citron because I wanted to use it up and I had seen some old mincemeat recipes that included it. The citron isn’t necessary, but I think it adds a nice lemony flavor that goes well with the fruit and the spices. I made my own candied citron, just like I did for my traditional 19th century fruitcake recipe. One thing that’s very common with 19th century holiday and special occasion recipes is the use of candied citron or other citrus peels along with raisins and/or currants and lots of spices. If you look through any old cookbooks you’ll see those ingredients mentioned a lot! There is a very similar flavor profile in old-fashioned plum pudding, too.

This is the version of the recipe that I used for my mincemeat pie:

(Update 9/27/16) I just made this recipe again so I could take some new pictures of it in better lighting, and I made a couple of slight adaptations to the recipe. First, I added in a little bit of nutmeg because I had forgotten to mention that back when I first posted this recipe, and I also changed the amount of cider to 3/4 cup. 1 full cup seemed like a bit too much liquid, so reducing it down a little was just about right. I also decided to try using coconut oil as a substitute for suet, and that seemed to work well. I have more information on substitutes for suet in the notes below.)

For those of you who like using recipe cards, I’ve copied this recipe into a recipe card at the end of the post, so if you prefer that version you can scroll to the bottom for that.

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb beef (I used ground beef from grass-fed cows) *
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I like usingReal Salt)
  • 1 1/2 lbs apple, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup suet or tallow or coconut oil, or butter or coconut oil *
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 Tbsground mace(or 1/2 Tbs nutmeg if you don’t have mace)
  • 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 8 Tbs (1/2) cup raisins (or 1 full cup if not using currants too) I like to useorganic raisinswhen possible
  • 8 Tbs (1/2 cup) dried currants (or substitute raisins if you choose)
  • 3 Tbs chopped candied citron pieces (optional)

* Originally minced meat pies were made by taking pieces of boiled meat and chopping it finely, as the original recipe suggests. You can certainly do that for the most authentic minced meat pie. Or, if you want a faster and simpler version, you can use ground beef instead.

* The original recipe calls for suet, but good quality suet that is appropriate for use in baking is hard to find these days. If you have a good source of suet, then feel free to substitute that to be more authentic, but if not, then tallow, coconut oil, and butter are good substitutes – preferably in that order. Tallow is rendered suet, so it would be the closest thing (although there is a difference between kidney fat suet and regular suet, but for this pie I don’t think it would make as big of a difference as it would for puddings), and if you can’t find that then coconut oil would probably be the next closest substitute as far as consistency when baking even though it’s not the most historically-accurate ingredient (If you decided to use coconut oil, I recommend using an expeller-pressed refined coconut oil if you want a more neutral flavor rather than a coconut flavor in your pie) If the beef you are using has a higher fat content, you can also adjust the amount of butter or coconut oil that you use. I was using an 85% ground beef, so 1/3 cup was about the right amount for me, but if you have a leaner beef, then you might want to increase the amount of butter or coconut oil by a little.

Directions:

Note: If you want to be really authentic, you can boil some beef in hot water and then chop the meat up into small pieces so it is truly a “minced” meat, hence the name of the pie.

  1. If using ground beef, brown the meat in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the salt in with the meat. If using other cuts of beef, boil the meat and then chop it finely into small pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chopped apples, chopped suet (or your suet substitute), cider, spices, and fruit. Add the beef and apple cider and mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  3. Line a 9″ pie plate with your favorite pie pastry recipe (If you don’t have a favorite pastry recipe I recommend this pie crust recipe).
  4. Pour the mincemeat filling inside, spreading it evenly, and then put on the topcrust. Seal the crust around the edge with a fork and cut little slivers in the middle to let out steam.
  5. Then bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the crust looks golden brown.

Recipe Analysis:

I was pleasantly surprised by how goodthispiewas!I never would have thought that meat could work in a dessert-type pie, but it blends right in with the other ingredients, and you hardly even notice it’s there. The first flavors you taste when you take a bite are the fruit and the spices, and the meat just gives the pie a nice rich flavor. The only sweetener in this pie is the fruit and the apple cider, so the sweet flavor is mild, not sickenly-sweet at all.

It’s not quite as sweet as most desserts are, so if you were to serve it as a dessert for guests that have a real sweet tooth, you could always add a couple teaspoons of sugar or molasses. I thought the flavor was quite nice without any extra sugar, though.

This pie is a unique combination of savory and sweet, and even though it might not be as popular as it once was, mincemeat pie is a true, old-fashioned taste of history.

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (2)

This traditional, old-fashioned dessert is a unique blend of savory and sweet made with real meat, apples and dried fruits, and plenty of spice. This recipe was adapted from American Cookery from 1798.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. beef (see notes below)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 lbs. (about 3 cups) of apples that have been peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup suet chopped into small pieces (or tallow, or coconut oil, or butter, depending on what you have available) See notes below.
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 Tbs ground mace (or you can substitute nutmeg if you don't have mace)
  • 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 dried currents (or you can substitute an additional 1/2 cup of raisins if you don't have currents)
  • 3 Tbs. chopped candied citron pieces (optional)
  • Pie pastry for top and bottom crust to fit a 9inch pie plate (See notes below)

Instructions

    1. If using ground beef, brown the meat in a saucepan over medium heat. If you are using other cuts of raw beef, boil the beef until it is cooked and then chop it into small pieces. Or, if you are using left over beef that has already been cooked, you can chop the meat into small pieces. After chopping the beef, add the salt to the meat.
    2. In a large bowl, combine chopped apples, chopped suet (or your suet substitute) cider, spices, and fruit.Add thebeef and apple cider and mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. (If you want to be more authentic, you can chop up all of the ingredients together at this point to mince them finely.)
    3. Line a 9 inch pie plate with pastry and then pour in the mincemeat.
    4. Add the top crust, sealing the edges with a fork and cutting slivers in the top to let out steam. If you want an extra golden brown crust you can brush the top of the pie with some egg.
    5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes until the crust looks golden brown.

Notes

Traditionally, this pie would typically have been with beef that had been finely chopped (or minced), but if you want a faster, more modern version of this recipe you can simply use ground beef.

The original recipe calls for suet, but good quality suet that is appropriate for use in baking is hard to find these days. If you have a good source of suet, then feel free to substitute that to be more authentic, but if not, then tallow, coconut oil, or butter can be substitutes. (If you decided to use coconut oil, I recommend using an expeller-pressed refined coconut oil if you want a more neutral flavor rather than a coconut flavor in your pie) If the beef you are using has a higher fat content, you can also adjust the amount of butter or coconut oil that you use. I was using an 85% ground beef, so 1/3 cup was about the right amount for me, but if you have a leaner beef, then you might want to increase the amount of butter or coconut oil by a little.

You can use whichever pie pastry recipe you like best, or if you don't have a favorite recipe, you can use this recipe that I recommend.

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (3)
Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (4)
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Old-Fashioned Mincemeat Pie Recipe from 1798 (2024)

FAQs

What was the original mincemeat pie made of? ›

The reason mincemeat is called meat is because that's exactly what it used to be: most often mutton, but also beef, rabbit, pork or game. Mince pies were first served in the early middle ages, and the pies were quite sizeable, filled with a mixture of finely minced meat, chopped up fruit and a preserving liquid.

What were Victorian mince pies made from? ›

Ingredients included dried fruits like raisins prunes and figs, lamb or mutton (representing the shepherds) and spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (for the Wise Men). By late Victorian England, mince pies ceased to contain meat and had all fruit fillings (with suet).

What odd ingredient did mince pies once contain? ›

Markham's recipe called for an entire leg of mutton and three pounds of suet which were mixed with salt, cloves, mace, currants, raisins, prunes, dates, and orange peel, a list of ingredients that, save for the meat, which is remarkably like that used today.

Did true or false mince pies used to have meat in them? ›

The early mince pie was known by several names, including "mutton pie", "shrid pie" and "Christmas pie". Typically, its ingredients were a mixture of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Why is there no meat in mincemeat pie? ›

The mince pie was originally filled with meat but it's believed that it wasn't until the late Victorian period and the early 20th century that mince pies shifted to a pie made from fruit fillings. Is it still illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas day?

What is the difference between mince pie and mincemeat pie? ›

Mince is ground or finely chopped meat. Mincemeat, if referring to the mincemeat in pies, is a mixture of finely chopped dried fruit, nuts, sugar, spices and alcohol, sometimes containing minced meat, sometimes not.

What were pies filled with in medieval England? ›

In medieval England, they were called pyes, and instead of being predominantly sweet, they were most often filled with meat — beef, lamb, wild duck, magpie pigeon — spiced with pepper, currants or dates.

What shape were mince pies baked in originally? ›

They would have been served on important feast days such as Easter or Christmas (which were both preceded by lengthy fasts). As the pies were often baked in a rectangular shape, people began to associate them with the manger Jesus had laid in.

What did the rich Victorians eat for breakfast? ›

Many Victorian meals were served at home as a family, prepared by cooks and servants who had studied French and Italian cookbooks. Middle and upper class breakfasts typically consisted of porridge, eggs, fish and bacon. They were eaten together as a family. Sunday lunches included meat, potatoes, vegetables and gravy.

When did they stop putting meat in mince pies? ›

By the 18th century it was more likely to be tongue or even tripe, and in the 19th century it was minced beef. It was not until the late Victorian period and early 20th Century that mince pies dropped the meat and had all fruit fillings (albeit with suet). Even today there are traditions associated with mince pies.

Why is mincemeat pie filling so expensive? ›

Mincemeat isn't difficult to make, but it has a lot of ingredients, which can make it expensive to produce in small batches, and it requires at least a day's advance planning to let the ingredients sit.

What did mince pies used to be called? ›

Mince pies were always a festive pie and eaten around Christmas time. Other names for mince pies include 'mutton pie', 'shrid pie' and 'Christmas pie. ' What has changed dramatically is the mince pie recipe, having begun as savoury pies filled with minced meat, suet, dried fruits, spices cloves and nutmeg.

Did mincemeat ever contain meat? ›

Mincemeat is a combination of chopped dried fruits, spices, sugar, nuts, distilled spirits, a fat of some type and sometimes meat. The name is a carryover from 15th century England when mincemeat did indeed have meat in the mix; in fact, the whole point of mincemeat was to preserve meat with sugar and alcohol.

When did mince pies become sweet? ›

Perhaps a more important change in mince pies has been the transition from meat to sweet, which it appears was already underway by the time Hannah Glasse wrote her Art of Cookery in 1747.

Does mincemeat pie actually have meat in it? ›

Nowadays, it's easy to find mincemeat pies still made with beef suet and a small amount of minced meats (usually beef). All-vegetarian mincemeat pies are readily available as well, especially if you purchase a premade jar of mincemeat filling.

Did mince pies used to be coffin shaped? ›

TAKE ONE COFFIN…

Our mince pies undoubtedly have medieval origins, although we would not immediately recognise them. Pie crusts were known as coffins, and used as a vessel to cook delicate foods or house pre-boiled meat fillings. Pastry was little more than flour mixed with water to form a mouldable dough.

Why was Christmas Pie renamed mince pie? ›

It was a way to have dessert on Christmas without having a traditional dessert. Originally mincemeat simply meant, “minced meat,” but the meaning changed around the 16th century. In the Middle Ages up until the mid-19th century, they were called Christmas, shred, or minced pyes.

What were mince pies originally made to symbolize? ›

The original mince pies were oblong crib shapes decorated with a baby Jesus on top. The contents represent the gifts of the Magi to the Christ child, spices and plump middle eastern fruits. In the 1640's in England, Scotland and Ireland, the Puritans banned Christmas and everything related to the holiday.

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