Mincemeat Pie Recipe

Plum pudding and Mincemeat made at Hillside Homestead

Plum pudding on the left and several large jars of mincemeat on the right.

Mincemeat – The ratio based recipe


This recipe is based on the recipes in The Kentucky Housewife, published in 1839.  Over the years I have tweaked this recipe and developed a ratio for the ingredients based on about one pound of prepared tongue. I found that I normally get about 1 pound of prepared meat from a raw beef tongue after it is cooked, trimmed, and minced.


Ratio of ingredients

  • 1 beef tongue or  1 pound plus of venison loin (back strap)
  • 1 pound of Beef kidney suet
  • 2 pounds of dried fruit (raisins, currants, cherries, etc)
  • 1 pound of candied fruit (brandied cherries, citron, orange peel, lemon peel, some people use some preserves or nice jam)
  • 3 pounds of prepared apples, Rhode island greenings
  • .5 pounds of almonds, walnuts and/or hickory nuts
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon mace
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 quart cider
  • 1 pint brandy
  • Molasses to cover tongue



Thus is a long and somewhat complicated recipe. You have to really want to make it. And this is called mincemeat for a good reason; there is lots of chopping and mincing to do. Read the recipe thoroughly and make a plan, it will take a few days to complete.


Put the beef tongue in a large pot of water and simmer till cooked but still tender, a knife inserted to the thick part should go in easily. You could also call it ‘fork tender’. This takes 2-3 hours or more. Don’t let it cook fast because that makes the tongue tough. Remove the tongue from the pot to cool a bit. When it has cooled just enough to handle it, go ahead and peel off the skin and taste buds. Trim off the root parts and any glands. A lot gets trimmed off. Trim it nicely and put it in a covered dish and cover it with molasses. Refrigerate that overnight. The next day mince the tongue very fine. For backstrap roast it in stead.


Now prepare all the other ingredients and have them ready. Here are a few notes on some of them.


  • Dried Cherries: Chop the cherries in half. If you don’t have these you could try dried apricots or maybe prunes and some dates.
  • Brandied Cherries: I make my own brandied cherries; you can skip this step if you don’t have any. I don’t know where they can be purchased. Some recipes call for adding some preserves or nice jam. You could try that.
  • Apples: I like to use Rhode Island Greening apples. They are a very fine cooking apples and don’t turn to mush in the mincemeat crock. They are peeled, cored and minced fine.


  • Citron: I only use my homemade candied citron. I think the conventional citron available at common grocery stores is intolerable and should be avoided. It does not taste like the real thing at all. If you can’t get any good citron, just skip it. And of course to prepare it for the mincemeat crock it should be minced fine. You can add some quality candied lemon or orange peel instead.


  • Nuts: of course mince them fine.


  • Oranges and lemons: First grate the rind of the citrus fruit and set it aside in a bowl. Then squeeze the juice from what is left and set it aside in another bowl.
  • Cider: This is called hard cider today. I can buy it local but not everyone can. Lots of local ciders are being produced today. If no local is available,  woodchuck brand will do. This is a fermented drink. It is often confused with apple jack or other types of spirits or whisky.  It is not as strong as whisky or brandy or even wine.


  • Brandy: I use the Ernest and Julio brand of brandy


  • Beef suet: Know the weight of your beef tongues and get the same amount in beef suet. On average I have found tongues are about 1.5 pounds each. Many local butchers will put the beef suet through a sausage grinder for you, thus mincing it for you. If you have to buy the suet whole you will have to mince it very finely yourself. This is a lot of work.


After you have all the indigents ready and standing by you can begin to mix it all together.


Mix the suet with the salt and about 2 cups of the sugar, so that the suet is well coated and does not clump together. Take ½ cup of the sugar and the grated lemon and orange rind and mix those 3 ingredients together well. Now mix the suet with the minced tongue and apples. Add the raisins and currants. Sprinkle the sugar and citrus rind mixture on top and mix it all well together. Add the dried cherries and brandied cherries and mix well. Sprinkle the citron and almonds on top and mix it all together very thoroughly.


Dissolve and simmer the remaining sugar in the brandy and the cider. Then add the spices to it and dissolve. Then add the lemon and orange juice. Let it simmer a bit more. Let it cool before adding it to the crock of mincemeat.


Now mix the wet ingredients with the other ingredients in a tall crock or some large container. Allow this mixture to stand for at least a few days before attempting to use it, two weeks or more is ideal. This will make about 1-2 gallons of mincemeat. Keep the mincemeat in a crock/crocks or gallon glass jars all throughout the holiday season and use as needed.  It is usually made in early November and then used to make pies until it runs out, maybe sometime in January or February. The crock of mincemeat can be kept in the refrigerator or a cellar or maybe even a cold garage. Just keep it well covered with a heavy cloth and some string or a lid. Don’t let it freeze.  It should stay moist. In the beginning it will soak up lots of moisture so you will have to add more brandy and cider. Be liberal with the liquids and keep the mincemeat moist.  The liquor is what keeps it from spoiling and the sugar too! The mincemeat improves with age. Make sure to stir it at least every other day. If it does not get stirred the mincemeat exposed to the air at the top of the crock will start to mold.


When you want to make a pie, prepare a top and bottom crust. Put the bottom crust into the pie plate and prick the bottom of the crust and then scoop in enough mincemeat mixture to fill the crust, you can add more minced apples at this point if desired. Put the top crust on and cut some vents into the top. I always brush a bit of milk on the top crust and sprinkle a bit of sugar. It improves the way the crust looks. Bake at about 350 degrees till golden brown probably about an hour. Enjoy! If anyone has any questions please contact me and I would love to hear from you if you really do make this! Susan@HillsideHomestead.com.


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