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16 December 2022

Supermarket Christmas mince tarts ranked from best to worst

Our blind taste test found the cheapest Christmas fruit mince pies hit all the marks.

Almost as polarising as politics at the dinner table, Christmas mince tarts are back for another year. Love them or hate them, this seasonal delicacy is not going anywhere (well, until next year at least).

Our panel of taste testers blind-sampled seven tarts available in supermarkets across the country. The humble supermarket house brand, Pams, has come through as our top contender, taking out the top two spots.

Christmas mince pies test

The verdict

1 - Pams Finest Butter Crust Traditional Christmas Tarts

$7.09 from New World (9-pack).

The star on top beckoned the panel to these tarts like the star of Bethlehem leading the Three Wise Men to the manger. Cute and inoffensive, these mini-tarts captured our panellists’ hearts, with many agreeing they were the best-looking.

Pams mince pies

“Buttery, not too dry, melts in your mouth.” – Vanessa

“This tart may visit my home any time.” – Roz

“Wee bit stodgy, but I love stodgy so I’m not complaining.” – Nick

“Looks mushy but it’s well cooked. It’s crumbly with a smooth, jam-like filling.” – Jodie

Despite being our winner, a few tasters noted a lack of flavour.

“Pastry smells like a triumph of butter and goodness. It could do with some more spice, though.” – James

“Smells like Christmas but it’s quite plain. I can barely taste the fruit.” – Jessica K

The fine print

2 - Pams Fruit Mince Tarts

$4.29 from New World (6-pack).

In second place comes another Pams product, but this time at the lowest price point. Our panellists praised it for achieving a good balance of sweet and spice.

Pams mince pies

“The crust melted in my mouth, lovely smooth fruit. Falls just short of delightful.” – Vanessa

“Looks like nothing special but it tastes yum. The centre is a bit runny and has a stronger punch of fruit and alcohol flavour.” – Jessica K

“Looks and tastes like a traditional, old-school mince pie. A bit dense.” – Jessica W

The fine print

3 - Unbranded (Yarrows) Fruit Mince Tarts

$4.69 to $4.99, from New World (6-pack) and Pak’nSave (9-pack).

Third-placed favourite among our panellists sits this unbranded packet from New World and Pak’nSave. A close inspection of the fine print reveals it’s made by Yarrows bakery.

Our panel was easily won over by the old-school lattice top, and praised the chunky filling for its good fruit-to-pastry ratio. However, many commented that the filling was very sweet and eating a whole one would be too much.

Yarrows mince pies

“Easy on the eyes.” – Vanessa

“Looks amazing but overly sweet (a bit much for me).” – Jodie

“Really liked the pastry, good depth of flavour on this one.” – Jessica W

“I could only eat half of one. The plain pastry does help to balance out how sweet the filling is, though.” – Jessica K

The fine print

4 - Zesti Traditional Christmas Pies

$4.89 from New World (8-pack) also available at Pak’n’Save.

Don’t be fooled by the hip packaging. These tarts didn’t pass the bar for our panellists, earning fourth place.

Zesti mince pies

“Looks plain and unassuming but the filling is actually really fruity with a good balance of flavours. The crust ruined it, though.” – Vanessa

“Weird texture. Overwhelming filling – can’t taste the pastry.” – Jessica W

“A bit too sweet. I’d eat it again but only if it was free and I was hungry.” – Roz

“Bitter aftertaste and it completely broke apart after biting.” – Jodie

The fine print

Christmas mince pies

5 - Woolworths Shortcrust Fruit Mince Pies

$6 from Countdown (6-pack).

Tied in fifth place is this boozy number, garnering widely mixed reviews among our panellists.

Woolworths mince pies

“An awful surprise. Not how a mince pie should taste. The Shrewsbury of pies with the star cut out. What the hell was that? That taste was truly bad.” – James

“Good boozy flavour.” – Nick

“The pastry tastes more like a cookie. Very thick, with a strong vanilla flavour that overwhelms the whole thing.” – Jessica K

“Feels like Christmas with the star cut out on the top. My puku would be happy if I bought some.” – Roz

“Very boozy, featuring big globs of fruit that mean a bite isn’t predictable. I don’t know why I ate the whole thing.” – Vanessa

The fine print

6 - Jon-Jon Christmas Fruit Mince Bites (gluten-free)

$8.19 to $8.29 from New World and Pak’nSave (8-pack).

Sharing fifth place are these gluten-free tarts that tasted more like shortbread. A mysterious-looking little pie that provides no glimpse as to what’s lurking inside. Unfortunately, what we discovered didn’t overly impress – though of course that depends on who you talk to ...

Woolworths mince pies

“Would eat it again but only if it was a freebie and I failed to bring my lunch.” – Roz

“It looks solid, but it’s quite crumbly. Left throat acidic.” – Jodie

“Dry and flavourless. It doesn’t smell of fruit or pastry ... in fact, it doesn’t smell of anything at all Worse, it doesn’t taste like anything.” – Jess K

“Looks anaemic. Bad fruit-to-pastry ratio. Very sweet but little spice. Little bit gritty.” – James

“Lots of whole sultanas, which felt cheaty." – Caitlin

Although, proving that everyone has different tastebuds, one taster surprised us by being a fan: “The buttery pastry is nice but there isn’t enough filling! Texture has a beautiful crumb.” – Nick

The fine print

7 - Pams Gluten Free Traditional Fruit Mince Tarts

$6.99 from New World (8-pack).

In last place sits this gluten-free number described by one panellist, James, as looking like “the Toyota Corolla of mince tarts – pretty boring.”

Woolworths mince pies

“Dry, crumbly with big lumps of fruit, which isn’t ideal. This is the star of your grandma’s expired mince pie collection.” – Vanessa

“Hit by a salty punch of baking soda, which overwhelms any fruit taste.” – Jessica K

“I’d eat it again only if I was ravenous or had to appease a grumpy old aunt.” – Roz

“Getting some bad bicarb vibes from the pastry. This is a real villain of a tart. Doesn’t look too bad, but then it gives you a nasty hit of nastiness.” – James

The fine print

Note: Some brands were unavailable for purchase at the time of conducting this taste test and as such were not able to be included.

A brief history of the Christmas mince tart

Controversial in name and nature. Why does it have mince in the title when there’s none in it?! I have vivid memories of being a kid and feeling extremely misled after biting into what I thought was a savoury mince pie and instead being met with the utter disappointment of sickly sweet raisins and sultanas.

Once you understand the history, it makes a little more sense. The name is a carryover from 13th century England, when mincemeat did indeed have animal meat in it. The whole point of mincemeat was to preserve meat with sugar and alcohol.

Over time, the meat has vanished from many modern adaptations, leaving the sweet fruit mince filling in its place. Still misleading, if you ask me.

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