It’s the most wonderful time of the year and that means one thing – mince pie season is upon us! This year at Embryo, we’ve decided to try and test some of the most popular brand’s mince pies to find out who the ultimate winner is. To make it fair, we’ve decided to judge each festive treat in four categories: pastry, mincemeat filling, value for money and all round general festiveness. Each week for seven weeks we’ve collected boxes from supermarkets and stores and the team have been voting for their favourite We’ve then gathered up each rating to give an average total score, and we also have a few winners in each of the different categories too.
Throughout this experiment, our chosen fighters are:
So, let’s take a look at our winners in the pastry category!
The Best for Pastry
In the pastry category, we saw a lot of high scores, with two joint winners. In fact, out of five, the lowest score that was given in this category was 3.5. But, the real winners of exceptional buttery pastry are … Greggs and Morrisons!
Both of these mince pies scored a whopping 5/5 for their crumbly pastry, pipping all the others to the post. We saw a variety of pastry types over the seven weeks, some much flakier pastry and some very sweet pastry, but these two reign supreme with their beautiful pastry to filling ratio and all-butter crusts. If you judge your mince pie success on the taste of its pastry, those are your winners.
The Best Filling
Let’s be honest, the filling is what makes a great mince pie. This category saw some big fluctuations, with a very low score of 2.8 even being given to one brand. But, there was one brand that got full marks for their festive treats and that was … Aldi!
Aldi’s mincemeat was the perfect combination of fruity flavour with festive spices and citrus peel. A little bit of booze, but not too much, these mince pies went down a treat with the whole team. In direct contrast, the Sainsbury’s mince pies saw a 2.8 for their filling, largely due to very chunky mincemeat that tasted more of alcohol than anything else. It also had a very meagre pastry to filling ratio that left a lot to be desired. Well done Aldi.
Value for Money
There are a lot of options when it comes to mince pies at Christmas, with practically every supermarket stocking multiple variations, but where do you get the most bang for your buck?
For our judging, we sampled from deluxe ranges all the way through to bakery items, so that we could really see how special the ‘special range’ is. What we’ve found, surprisingly, is that our winner in the value for money category is once again … Greggs!
At £1.65 for 6, just over 27p per pie, Greggs’s mince pies are a steal. And it didn’t just go off price for this category, as there were others who were cheaper but didn’t score as highly. We took into consideration the quality of the pie and the cost to come up with our all round winner. The loser in this category was, once again, Sainsbury’s, who saw an average score of 2.9 for their pies, sitting at £2 for 6.
Our final judging category is quite a subjective one, but what is a mince pie if it doesn’t give you a warm, fuzzy, festive feeling that makes you want to burst out into a rendition of Merry Christmas Everyone?
For this category, we took into consideration festive flavour, icing sugar decoration, pastry shaping and just general festive spirit. We were shocked to find that overall, we scored a lot of brands quite poorly in this category. The average score was only 3.4, with one brand hitting the 4s. That winning brand was … M&S!
Known for their extra special touches, it’s no surprise that M&S are the winners of this category. Their snowflake designed tops and use of orange peel made these mince pies an absolute delight for Christmas lovers. If you’re looking for that extra something with your mince pies at Christmas, then these are your winners.
The Big One – Overall Winner
The main award, who is the overall winner of the Best Mince Pie of 2021?
It was very close, with only 0.6 points in it between our first and second place entries. Let’s start from the bottom.
In 7th place is … Sainsbury’s. It’s probably no surprise as they came last in two categories, but the filling just isn’t good enough to justify the price point.
In 6th place is … M&S. Great festive vibes about them, but similarly to Sainsbury’s, their filling just isn’t good enough.
In 5th place is … Tesco. Very average scores across the board. Their filling, pastry and value for money is all fine, so not a bad mince pie, just not the best.
In 4th place is … Waitrose. The pastry and filling on these was pretty good, but their value for money and lack of festive pizzazz really kept them from the top three.
In 3rd place is … Morrisons. 5/5 points for their pastry, but only a 2.3 for festiveness really brought down the average for these. They may not be Christmas in a pie, but the pastry is definitely top tier.
In 2nd place is … Aldi. Full marks on their filling and decent marks for their pastry, they were just pipped at the post by our number one spot.
Our winner is … Greggs! Greggs are official the best mince pies! Across pastry, filling and value for money they only dropped 0.4 marks! They came out with an average score of 18.4, making them our winner for 2021. The key with the Greggs mince pies is the homemade taste that was lacking in a lot of other mince pies.
So, There You Have It!
It’s been a great seven weeks of mince pie tasting. I, for one, could never get sick of eating mince pies. What we’ve seen from our judging is that you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to get high-quality mince pies, but if you’re looking for a festive finish, you may need to splurge a little more cash.
What shall we taste test next? I’m definitely in!