Mincemeat Recipe

This is close to the classic Fannie Farmer recipe from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook. The original has too high a proportion of apples in my opinion, but if you want the original recipe, double the apples. I’ve also changed the processes a little, since the original called for boiling the beef. Ground beef, cooked in a pan and drained, will work just fine for our purposes (and will retain more of the beef’s flavor). This is for a small quantity, but it can be scaled up to your heart’s content!

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. suet
1 lb. apples (Macintosh or Granny Smith)
1 quince (omit if you can’t find any, make it up with more apple)
12 ounces sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 pint cider
1 lb. raisins
12 ounces currants
2 ounces candied citron
1 cup brandy
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

The idea here is to reduce all the components to as great an extent as possible, but without turning them to paste. That said, a food processor can be used for some things but not others. The beef can be cooked, drained and cooled, then pulsed in the food processor to small pieces. Not so with the suet, which must be scraped into strings with a knife, then chopped (I’ll show you that in the tutorial). Depending on how sharp the blades are on your food processor, you might be able to pulse the raisins and the currants to chop them, but odds are you’ll have to do the job by hand as well.

With everything finely chopped, combine all but the spices and brandy in a pot big enough to hold everything. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer it for 2 hours. Allow the mixture to cool, then stir in the brandy and spices. Store in the refrigerator for a week or more, but freeze it if you plan on keeping it for several weeks or months.

11 thoughts on “Mincemeat Recipe”

  1. I am under the impression (but I know not from where) that the ingredients were ground together with a meat grinder.

    I wonder if a KA attachment might still yield a better texture with less handling than a food processor. BUT, as I said in an earlier post, as interested as I am in the process, I have no desire to do it or taste it. BAD foodie! BAD!

    1. Ha! No worries, mincemeat isn’t for everyone. I’ve never heard of grinding everything together, which is not to say people don’t do it. Thanks for th email!

  2. If you can remember, how close does this recipe come to the secret mincemeat recipe of your childhood hometown? 🙂

    1. That’s a good question. The Sycamore church recipe didn’t have meat in it, which made it quite different. This recipe is definitely “old school” in the sense that it combines sweet and savory flavors and textures. That was normal once, but unorthodox by today’s standards. Without the meat, this recipe is quite similar to most “sweet” mincemeats, and probably would be quite close to the mincemeat from those days. One other important difference is this mincemeat calls for a fair amount of alcohol. The Episcopalians didn’t add that — not that Episcopalians have anything against drinking, mind you — probably because the Pumpkin Festival was/is a family-friendly event!

  3. I have used the Fannie Farmer recipe from the published book of around 1980? It makes 20 pints/10 quarts and is pressure cooked. Instead of Beef and suet, I use 6 pounds of venison and 1/4 pound unsalted butter. I use chopped applies, dried cranberries, dried chopped apricots, dried chopped pears, currants 1/2 pound citron, fresh apple cider, a quart of good quality brandy and the other ingredients you have listed…in the appropriate quantities of course.

    The meat is not precooked, it is chopped and cooked along with the other ingredients for about 40-50 minutes, until the brown sugar and citron is melted and just until a boil. it is then placed in sterile quart jars and processed for 20 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.

    The venison (with the butter) and the apple cider makes a leaner pie and doesn’t have a gamey taste. And…the quart size makes a perfect amount for a standard pie.

    This recipe hasn’t failed me yet and the only omission I’ve made is the raisins and using venison.

    1. That’s fantastic, Jody!

      I’m going to look for that recipe!


      – Joe

  4. OK. Found you by looking for a recipe for Danish pastry dough and have now spent about 2 hours reading all over your site, and I’m in love! You cinched it with this recipe for mincemeat with MEAT in it, like my Grandma Hunter used to make. Have been looking for a recipe like this for years. THANK YOU!

    1. My pleasure, Diane! We real mincemeat lovers have to stick together. What fun in mincemeat without meat?

      Thanks for writing, and don’t read too much of me, it causes brain damage.

      Nice to have you aboard!

      – Joe

  5. BTW, Grandma Hunter did grind everything up in a hand-crank grinder. I don’t have one (I lost hers…) so am very happy to see that it can be made with ground beef. She was WCTU so I doubt she used any liquor in it.

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