Vegan Mince Pie Filling – Slow Cooker Mincemeat

December 18, 2020Sew White

This Slow Cooker Mincemeat uses a classic recipe packed with dried fruits, spices, nuts. citrus and brandy. With only one simple swap from the traditional ingredients, it becomes the perfect vegetarian and vegan mince pie filling. It really isn’t Christmas in the UK without the heady aroma of mince pies and you won’t regret levelling up by making your own filling.

There is nothing really wrong with shop bought mince pies or mincemeat filling. And of course most shops and brands now offer vegan options for Christmas. But there is nothing better in flavour and joy than making your own mince pies at home.

I have found the flavour of this slow cooker mincemeat is so much richer than anything you can buy. And of course the ingredients can be tweaked for whoever is eating it. Or, as it makes the most amazing edible gift, it can be tailored for that person.

There are so many ways to make mincemeat for Christmas. Some recipe have nuts, some have different alcohol, some make the most of fresh cranberries, some contain marzipan… the list goes on.

However I always wondered how to make vegan mincemeat for my vegan friends for our Christmas parties. I usually make cranberry mincemeat each Christmas but then I decided to see how easy it would be to make slow cooker vegan mincemeat. And it turned out I only needed to make one simple swap.

This recipe using vegetarian suet tastes no different to any other non-vegan mincemeat. In fact it’s just as great for anyone who is simply a little troubled by their sweet pies containing beef fat. I know many meat eaters who re put off by beef suet.

Unlike the very popular Jamie Oliver mincemeat recipe, I take the Delia Smith route and cook the mincemeat to melt down the fats and really boost the flavour. It’s only in the slow cooker for a short time and I think this little bit of heat changes the finished mincemeat for the best.

Plus it is so easy to make, as when you make the slow cooker mincemeat you can easily make it in bulk and pop a few jars in the pantry for later.

What is mincemeat?

Mincemeat is a traditional British pie filling made with dried fruit, fat, spices and alcohol.

It is most commonly used as the filling for mince pies. Mince pies are a staple treat of Christmas in the UK and although you can buy them in every single supermarket and bakery in the run-up to Christmas, they are lovely to make at home.

You can also use mincemeat in a number of other ways such as in a crumble, in cakes and even in oaty cheesecake bars.

I love to use it in my baking too, check out some of my recipes using mincemeat:

Why is mincemeat called mincemeat when there’s no meat in it?

The reason mincemeat has the word meat in it, is because that’s exactly what used to be in it.

Mincemeat pies were once large savoury pies made with mutton, beef, rabbit, pork or game. They were also packed with spices and chopped up fruit to add flavour.

Over the last 500 years or so, mincemeat pies changed from a savoury pie filling with “minced meat” to a sweet filling with no meat. What hasn’t changed is the use of fruit and heavy spicing. Many recipes still use beef suet or butter but it is incredibly easy to use an alternative vegan fat.

How to Make Mincemeat Vegan

Many mincemeat recipes use butter instead of fresh or dried beef suet which makes the mincemeat vegetarian but not vegan.

But by using vegetarian suet which is made from vegetable fats, the recipe can easily be made vegan with no noticeable change in flavour or texture.

The Atora brand of suet is the most common in the UK where the vegetarian version is just as readily available as the beef version. The packet is market as suitable for vegetarians but doesn’t contain any animal based ingredients. If you plan to use another brand, you should check the ingredients list.

It is worth noting that vegetarian (and beef) suet is not generally suitable for a gluten-free diet. Flour is used to separate the chunks of suet and stop it becoming wet.

Apple Mincemeat

During the transition from mincemeat containing meat and it disappearing from the recipe entirely, the sweet version was often known as “apple mincemeat”.

Using apples to make mincemeat is a great way to use up apples and keep them going even longer. Once they are cooked into the mincemeat and in jars they will last easily a year if not longer. So mincemeat is a great way for using some of an apple glut.

Plus you can use eating or cooking apples in this recipe. So if you have a tree in the garden like me, it doesn’t matter what type it is.

golden mixed fruit in the vegan mincemeat in a glass kilner jars after being cooked in the slow cooker

How to Make Vegan Mince Pies

You need two main ingredients to make vegan mince pies. Vegan pastry and vegan mincemeat.

You can make pastry from scratch using a dairy free butter alternative but it is easiest to but it ready made. Most commercially available pastry is vegan (not the all butter kinds) although you should always check the label.

It is traditional to use shortcrust pastry for mince pies but you can use puff pastry if you prefer. I love to use filo pastry to make my Filo Pastry Mince Pie Rolls with Cranberry.

To make the actual pies you should grease a muffin or bun tin, cut out rounds of pastry and line each tin hole. Spoon in this vegan mincemeat then top with another round of pastry.

You can seal the pastry together or leave the lid floating for a more rustic look. Using a star cutter for the lids is really cute. Brush the pastry with a plant based milk and bake in a hot oven until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is piping hot. And bingo, you have vegan mince pies!

How to Make a Family Sized Vegan mincemeat pie

Or Why not turn vegan mince pies into one giant vegan mince pie! A giant mince pie will be a great centerpiece for a Christmas dessert. You don’t need to do anything different than you would for a simple normal size mince pie. You will just need a big dish to cook them in.

A pie dish will work really well. Use short crust pastry. You might need two batches or two rolls from the supermarket. Once for the top upper crust of the pies and one for the bottom crust of the pies.

You will need to cook a large pie on a slightly lower heat for a little longer than you would individual mince pies.

Does Mincemeat Need to Be Cooked?

Mincemeat needs to be cooked in some form or another before it is eaten.

In theory vegan mincemeat can be added to a cake or mince pie raw and cooked as part of the baking process. Or it can be cooked on its own and then eaten as it it. Maybe over ice cream.

But one way or another, the mincemeat does need to be cooked. You do not want to eat raw suet – trust me!

The fats melt and coat the fruit and it gives all the flavours an opportunity to mingle, infuse and really develop. Those flavours will continue to develop the longer you keep mincemeat. And of course, it is well known that I am always looking for ways to make my kitchen smell glorious. Mincemeat cooking out might well be the ultimate home fragrance of all time.

Slow Cooking Mincemeat

I use my slow cooker to cook out my mincemeat. It only takes around an hour. The large bowl is perfect for a 2 litre quantity of mincemeat and the controlled low temperature really reduces the risk of anything catching or burning on a slightly too high heat.

I like to cook it low and slow to help that flavour infusing process. If you prefer you can use a pan on the stove and cook it much faster. You need the fat to be melted and for it to be piping hot.

If you do not have a slow cooker, you can also cook it low and slow on the stovetop. Choose the smallest possible heat source and keep and eye on it. If you have a heat diffuser to use under your pan, that is even better.

The last way you can cook is in the oven. Choose an ovenproof dish and then bake on a medium/low heat for an hour. You will still need to stir it occasionally and it is best to cover it with a lid or foil. A dutch oven is perfect to use if you have one.

close up of vegan mincemeat in a kilner jar after being cooked in the slow cooker.

What do I need to make slow cooker mince pie filling?

Mincemeat is made of a lot of ingredients and it can seem daunting when you see the ingredient list for the recipe that it will be hard to make. I promise you it is so easy to make.

Fruit & Nuts

As mincemeat changed from being a savoury to a sweet pie filling, it become known as “apple mincemeat”. Apple is still a prominent ingredient. You can use eating or cooking apples. Just make sure to peel and core them before cutting into chunks around the size of the raisins.

I use bags of mixed dried fruit. These usually include a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed peel. Other versions are available which contain other fruits. And some don’t contain mixed peel. If this is the case you will need to buy and add mixed peel separately.

I also add dried apricots and glace cherries. These give great flavour and colour to the mincemeat.

Not all mincemeat contains nuts but I like to include chopped almonds for the lovely extra texture. You could switch in your favourite nut instead. Cashews, pecans and walnuts are all especially lovely.

fresh apples from the garden

Spices

I use ginger cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and mixed spice to flavour my mincemeat. All of the spices can be bought ready ground or your can grate whole nutmeg.

This is the mix that I prefer and I think that it is perfectly balanced. But if you love one particular flavour or dislike a particular flavour, feel free to adjust the quantities or omit a spice as you desire.

Citrus & Aromatics

As well as the dried mixed peel, this recipe also uses the juice and zest of an orange and lemon. Make sure to zest the fruits directly over the pan to catch all the oils.

If you don’t have fresh citrus to use, you can add a little extra or just the juice from a bottle or carton. But do try to use the real things as they brighten the flavour of the mincemeat and stop it from being too heavy.

Preserved ginger brings a different flavour, texture and sweetness to the finished mincemeat. Don’t be scared of letting a little of the syrup go in the mix too.

Suet

I’ve largely discussed the suet above – just make sure to check the label to make sure it is suitable for vegans.

The reason suet (or any fat) is used in mincemeat is not only to help preserve the mincemeat so it can be stored for longer. The suet also adds an ingredient which helps bind the mincemeat together. It also adds a texture to the finished mincemeat which makes it so iconic.

If you do not want to use, or cannot get hold of suet, you could use a dairy free butter substitute instead. But be warned that I haven’t tested that version of the recipe.

Sugar

Using dark brown or muscovado sugar adds a dark richness which is essential to any mincemeat.

Alcohol

I love to use the traditional brandy in mincemeat.

For mince pies you don’t need the most expensive brandy as the flavours of everything else in the vegan mincemeat mix will add to it and make it delicious.

Most brandy will be vegan suitable but as always, it is worth checking the label of the particular bottle you intend to use to make sure.

How can I make my mincemeat non-alcoholic?

If you don’t like alcohol or you want to keep all your mince pies alcohol free there is an easy way to do so.

In this mincemeat recipe to make vegan mince pies I have used brandy but you can replace that with orange juice. It keeps the wonderful festive flavours and removes the alcohol.

How to make Slow Cooker Mincemeat – step by step

Keep scrolling to find the full printable instructions and ingredient quantities.

  • Peel, core and finely chop the apples. Pop them in the slow cooker dish.
  • Add in the dried mixed fruit (and candied peel if your mixed fruit doesn’t have it in it).
  • Chop up the dried apricots and add them to the slow cooker.
Apples in a slow cooker
mixed berries being added to the apple in the slow cooker to make vegan mincemeat
chopped apricots on a wooden board
  • Chop up the cherries and add them to the mix.
  • Remove the preserved ginger from the syrup then chop up and add to the mix.
  • Stir in the chopped almonds.
glacé cherries in the mincemeat mix
chopped almonds in the vegan mincemeat mix.
  • Add in the vegetable suet.
  • Add the dark brown soft sugar.
  • Measure out and add all the spices.
mixed spices, cinnamon, cloves added to the vegan mincemeat
  • Zest and juice the oranges and limes. Stir it into the mix.
  • Add the brandy and give it all a really good stir.
  • Pop the Slow Cooker Mincemeat on high and leave the mix for 1 hour.
  • Stir every 15 minutes to make sure it’s all gorgeously mushing together. It will smell incredible.
  • After an hour, give it a good stir and gently pour the vegan Slow Cooker Mincemeat mix into the jars.
  • Add the lids and allow to cool.

Top Tip – The jars will be really hot so be careful!

vegan mincemeat after being cooked in the slow cooker for an hour.
Finished vegan mincemeat in the glass kilner jars

How do I sterilise jam jars?

There is a quick way and slightly longer way to sterilise jam jars. Either way add the mincemeat to the jars when both are still hot. This will stop the risk of the jars breaking.

The quick way is to put the jars and lids in the dishwasher on a quick hot cycle. The heat will also dry the jars so you don’t end up adding your mix into damp jars.

The slightly longer way is to wash up the jars and lids in the sink with hot soapy water. Give them a rinse and pop them in the oven at 100ºC for 20 minutes. The heat will dry the jars without having to use a cloth. It helps keep the centre of the jars clean.

I don’t use a canning process on mincemeat. Here in the UK we do not generally process our preserves. Adding the hot mixture to hot jars and sealing is sufficient to make the mincemeat shelf stable.

What is important is that once fully cooled, the jam jar lid is fully depressed. Eg. it doesn’t click or have any give when you click it. If it does click, it is not sealed. You can store any such jars in the fridge or reheat the mixture and re-sterilise the jars and try again.

One way to help ensure the seal is to leave the jars upside down to cool.

If you have a preference on canning/preserving, please go ahead and use whatever method you are most comfortable with.

How many jars will this Slow Cooker Mincemeat make?

This recipe will make 2 litres of Slow Cooker Mincemeat. I use two large 1 litre clip lock jars to store my mincemeat. I generally use a lot each time.

You can alternatively use more standard 454ml (1lb) jars. This mixture will fill 4 jars with a little leftover. This size is perfect for gifting and will make around 24 mince pies.

The entire batch will make around 100 mince pies depending on how generously you fill them.

How long does vegan mincemeat last?

The vegan mincemeat will last for at least a year if kept unopened and in a cool dark place.

It is a great jar to have at the back of the pantry for when mince pies pop into your head. And there is nothing at all wrong with mince pies in August. Just for the record!

Pin this Vegan Mince Pie Filling – Slow Cooker Mincemeat for later

Vegan Mince Pie Filling – Slow Cooker Mincemeat

Sisley White
This Slow Cooker Mincemeat uses a classic recipe packed with dried fruits, spices, nuts. citrus and brandy. With only one simple swap from the traditional ingredients, it becomes the perfect vegetarian and vegan mince pie filling. It really isn't Christmas in the UK without the heady aroma of mince pies and you won't regret levelling up by making your own filling.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Preserves
Cuisine British, English
Servings 2 litres
Calories 52 kcal

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker
  • chopping board
  • knife
  • Peeler
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients
 
 

  • 250 g vegetable suet (I used Atora brand)
  • 225 g dark brown sugar
  • 175 ml brandy

Fruit & Nuts

  • 500 g apples (eating or cooking apples both work. A mix is nice but I often just eating apples)
  • 800 g mixed dried fruit
  • 40 g candid peel (only add if your mixed fruit doesn't have it inside the mix)
  • 100 g dried apricots
  • 100 g glace cherries
  • 50 g chopped almonds

Spices

  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Aromatics

  • 60 g preserved ginger in syrup
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice)
  • 2 oranges (zest and juice)

Instructions
 

  • Peel, core and finely chop the apples. Pop them in the slow cooker.
  • Add in the dried mixed fruit (and candied peel if your mixed fruit doesn't have it in it).
  • Chop up the dried abricots and add them to the slow cooker.
  • Chop up the cherries and add them to the mix.
  • Remove the preserved ginger from the syrup then chop up and add to the mix.
  • Stir in the chopped almonds.
  • Add in the vegetable suet.
  • Add the dark brown soft sugar.
  • Measure out and add all the spices.
  • Zest and juice the oranges and limes. Stir it in to the mix.
  • Add the brandy and give it all a really good stir.
  • Pop the slow cooker on high and leave the mix for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes to make sure it's all gorgeously mushing together. It will smell incredible.
  • While the slow cooker is on prepare and sterilise the jars are you going to use to store it. (Check out my post above for how to sterilise them.)
  • After an hour, give it a good stir and gently pour the vegan mincemeat mix into the jars. Add the lids and allow to cool. The jars will be really hot so be careful.

Notes

•The mincemeat will last in its jar for about a year or so when kept unopened in a dark cool place. It is a perfect pantry item.
•Makes great gifts and can be used in a range of Christmas dishes.
•Created 2 litres of mincemeat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tbspCalories: 52kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 65mgFiber: 1gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 35IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg

Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

Keyword Slow Cooker, Slow Cooker Mincemeat, Vegan Mince Pie Filling, vegan mince pies, vegan mincemeat
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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8 Comments

  • Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    December 21, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    5 stars
    This looks absolutely flavour packed and I love that you’ve not been shy with the brandy too!

    1. Sew White

      December 22, 2020 at 5:36 pm

      Oh absolutely not! Can’t be shy with that key ingredient.

  • Chloe

    November 3, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    5 stars
    Fabulous, it’s such a good idea to use the slow cooker too – very smart! And I much prefer veg suet to beef suet, even though I am a raging carnivore!

    1. Sew White

      November 15, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      I love a slow cooker hack at Christmas. Throw it and something delicious comes out later. Perfect!

  • Rebecca – Glutarama

    November 4, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    5 stars
    WOW! What a gorgeous sounding recipe for a luxury homemade mincemeat. The step-by-step instructions are really easy to follow too.

    1. Sew White

      November 15, 2021 at 4:19 pm

      I’m glad you found them easy to follow and I hope you enjoy the mincemeat this Christmas.

  • Cat

    November 5, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    5 stars
    You really can’t beat homemade mincemeat! Love the flavours in this – especially the amount of brandy you’ve used!

    1. Sew White

      November 15, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      If it was making it for me I might even add more brandy!

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