Festive, rich & fruity Christmas Vegan Mincemeat steeped in boozy deliciousness! A Christmas staple that is really easy to make & can be used in all of your festive baking. It's also perfect for gifting.
I wasn't actually planning on making my own Vegan Mincemeat recipe, but when I published my Festive Mincemeat Tart a few weeks ago it became apparent that a lot of people aren't really sure what it is or how to use it.
As a Brit, I've grown up eating mincemeat in Vegan Mince Pies and other baked goods every Christmas and I didn't realize that it wasn't as widespread here in Canada or the U.S.
I actually used store-bought mincemeat for my tart recipe and I found it pretty easy to find a suet free variety here. Some of you have let me know that you are struggling to get hold of it though, and that is what gave me the idea of making my own.
Like most things, store bought is nice but nothing can beat homemade. I can really testify to that now I have tasted my own!
What is mincemeat?
Mincemeat is a combination of dried fruits, citrus fruits, nuts, spices and alcohol and is used to fill festive pies and tarts.
Why is mincemeat called mincemeat when there is no meat in it?
Historically mincemeat did actually contain meat, and although modern-day versions don't contain it anymore, non-vegan versions do usually contain suet.
Click here to read a bit more about their medieval history and see an example of a very traditional recipe (there are many references to meat in the text so don't click through if you will be offended).
Suet is often made from animal fat which means that regular mince pies are not always suitable for vegetarians. And although you can buy vegetarian suet these days, I prefer not to use suet in my recipe as I don't like the oiliness it gives the mincemeat and it detracts from the flavour of the fruit and alcohol. It's way better without!
So if you're wondering if mincemeat is vegan, the answer is, it depends. Always check the ingredients if you are buying it. A few store bought varieties are vegan and obviously my vegan mincemeat recipe is.
What ingredients are in vegan mincemeat?
My vegan and meatless mincemeat recipe uses a combination of dried fruit, nuts, spices, grated apple, oranges, lemons and then as a little twist, some fresh rosemary. The rosemary flavour isn't too obvious but it adds a lovely little something.
Then as if all that fruity, spicy deliciousness isn't enough, along comes a very generous glug of port. If it didn't say "Christmas" before it certainly does once that's added!
I don't use any suet or oil in this recipe. It really doesn't need it.
Most store bought mincemeats have palm oil in the ingredients. By making my recipe you have yourself palm oil free mincemeat!
What alcohol do you use in mincemeat?
The alcohol used in traditional mincemeat is usually brandy although I prefer to use port. It tastes richer and more festive. You can however swap the port out for brandy or use a combination of the two. Rum and sherry also work well.
How to make vegan mincemeat
For detailed measurements and instructions, scroll to my printable recipe card at the bottom of the page or click the "jump to recipe" button at the top of the page.
It's really easy to make. Here's how it's done in 3 easy steps:
Step 1 - Combine all of the ingredients except the port.
Step 2 - This is where my recipe differs from most. Now we warm the fruit mixture in the oven on a very low temperature before adding the alcohol. This step intensifies the flavours beautifully and is well worth the extra time.
Step 3 - Once it has been warmed through then cooled, the alcohol is added. Doing it this way means it has a really great boozy kick and none of the alcohol evaporates. It is Christmas after all!
I recommend following my recipe as closely as possible for the best results but there are a few changes you can make to put your own spin on it:
Switch the alcohol for apple juice, although it won't be as tasty and obviously won't be boozy if you do this
- Use any combination of dried fruits in any quantities as long as you keep the total amount the same. Dried apricots and dates are a great addition.
- Skip the rosemary
- Omit the nuts to make it nut-free
- Add any other nuts instead of almonds. Walnuts or pecans would work well
- Add some lime zest instead of oranges and lemons or as well as
- Use port, brandy, rum or sherry. A combination of port and rum is nice
Store freshly made jars of vegan mincemeat in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.
You can store it for up to a year though and it gets better and better with time. I always make extra and stash it away for Christmas the next year because it ends up tasting amazing. Note, only store it for extended periods if you used the alcohol. Alcohol acts as a preservative. If you use apple juice you will need to use it within 4 weeks or freeze it.
To store for up to a year (I've even stored it for 2 years with no problems) you will need to sterilize the jars.
How to sterilize jars - Wash the jars in very hot soapy water, rinse them in hot water to be sure any soap residue is gone, then place on a metal baking tray in a 350°F (175 °C) oven for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and fill the jars with the mincemeat immediately while they are still hot, being careful not to burn yourself. Seal tightly with a lid. Store in a cool dark place like the basement, under the stairs cupboard, or back of the closet, or the back of a cupboard where it won't be disturbed.
To freeze - Mincemeat can also be frozen for up to 6 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Be sure to cool it completely first. If you want to keep if for a long time though I highly recommend keeping it in sterilized jars in a dark place over freezing because that way the flavour gets better and better. If you freeze it the mincemeat will be preserved but it won't get better. Defrost mincemeat in the fridge overnight.
- Don't skip warming the fruit mixture in the oven. It really intensifies the flavour!
- Be sure to sterilize the jars or to freeze if keeping for more than 4 weeks
- Time really makes a difference, so make this recipe ahead if you can. It gets so much more flavourful if you stash it away in a dark place for a few months or years!
How to use vegan mincemeat
Mincemeat is a really versatile addition to your Christmas menu.
Here are some ways to use it:
- The obvious way to use my Vegan Mincemeat is in Vegan Mince Pies.
- You can also use it in my Festive Mincemeat Tart
- In my Vegan Christmas Shortbread
- It makes a lovely addition to muffins and other baked goods
- Use it as an alternative to jam in thumbprint cookies, or as an alternative to dates in date squares.
- Add a layer to my Baked New York Cheesecake for a festive dessert.
- You can also use it to make a speedy Christmas cake or pudding
- Stuff baked apples with it
- Add to apple pie or strudel fillings
- Warmed it and use to top pancakes, waffles or dairy-free vanilla ice-cream
How to gift
Jars of vegan mincemeat make a great festive gift. I recommend sterilizing the jars as per my instructions above if you are gifting it though, so the recipient doesn't have to hurry to use it.
Simply fill some mason jars then buy some Christmas ribbon to tie around the top. Maybe add a pretty tag and a print out of my vegan mince pies recipe.
WARNING: Please bear in mind that this recipe contains a substantial amount of alcohol. As such it is not suitable for children. Although the alcohol content in a single portion of it probably isn't too much, please take it into consideration if you are going to be driving, operating heavy machinery, carrying out any other important tasks or eating a lot if it all in one go! If gifting be sure to let the recipient know.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Use apple juice instead but be sure to read my recommendations for storage if you do.
For more Christmas inspiration, check out Vegan Christmas Dinner Menu, Shopping List and Timeline. I have planned the entire meal for you down to the tiniest detail!
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- 300g / 2 slightly heaped cups raisins , (see recipe notes regarding substitutions for the dried fruits listed)
- 160g / 1 slightly rounded cup currants
- 140g / 1 slightly rounded cup dried cranberries
- 100g / ½ cup dried blueberries
- 80g / ½ cup dried cherries
- 80g / ½ cup dried figs , chopped
- 140g / 1 cup slivered almonds , (you can omit to make the recipe nut free)
- 2 lemons zest and juice
- 2 oranges zest and juice
- 1 large apple , grated
- 225g / 1½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped finely
- 375mls / 1.5 cups port , brandy, rum or sherry can be used instead but I think port give the best rich flavour. For an alcohol free version sub the port for unsweetened apple juice.
- Set oven to 200°F (93 °C)
- Put all of the ingredients except the port in a large ovenproof bowl or casserole and mix together well.
- Cover tightly with tin foil or a lid and place in the oven. Leave to warm in the oven for 90 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Add the port and stir really well.
- Transfer the mixture into clean jars. Be sure to sterilize them if you will be storing for an extended period. See recipe notes below for how to sterilize.
Nutritional information is provided for convenience & as a courtesy. The data is a computer generated estimate so should be used as a guide only.
This recipe was originally published on December 8th, 2016. I've updated it with some new information and am now republishing it for you. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for following A Virtual Vegan!