Mince pie

British sweet pie, filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices, traditionally served during the Christmas season

A mince pie, also known as 'minced pie', is a small British fruit-based mince sweet pie. It is usually served during the Christmas season. Originally it was a savoury pie, now it is a sweet pie.

A modern mince pie. It has been cut in half. This one was bought from a shop.
Home-made mince pies
Christmas Pie, by William Henry Hunt

Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices.

The early mince pie was known by several names, including mutton pie, shrid pie and Christmas pie. Typically its ingredients were a mixture of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices.

The ingredients for the modern mince pie can be traced to the return of European crusaders from the Holy Land. Middle Eastern methods of cooking, which sometimes combined meats, fruits and spices, were popular at the time. Pies were created from such mixtures of sweet and savoury foods; in Tudor England, shrid pies (as they were known then) were formed from shredded meat, suet and dried fruit. The addition of spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg was "in token of the offerings of the Eastern Magi".[1][2]

Early pies were much larger than those of today,[2] and oblong shaped. "The coffin of our Christmas-Pies, in shape long, is in imitation of the Cratch" (Jesus's crib).[3] In old English cookery books the crust of a pie is generally called 'the coffin'.[4]


  1. Timbs, John 1866. Something for everybody (and a garland for the year). London: Lockwood, p149.
  2. 2.0 2.1 John J. 2005. A Christmas compendium. Continuum International, p78. ISBN 0-8264-8749-1
  3. Selden, John 1856. The table-talk of John Selden. London: J.R. Smith, p27.
  4. Thistleton-Dyer T.F. 2007. British popular customs – present and past – illustrating the social and domestic manners of the people. Read Books, 458–459. ISBN 1-4067-7899-0