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This easy fruit mince recipe is quick to make and can be used straight away as a last minute fruit mince, or kept so the flavours can deepen more over time. Using your favourite dried fruit, and with a touch of spice and citrus zest, it’s perfect for all of your Christmas baking recipes.
In some homes, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the smell of spicy fruit and brandy or rum. Whether it’s in a slowly baking fruit cake, or a batch of fruit mince pies.
Sure, you can buy ready-made fruit mince at the supermarket, but there is something so cosy and nostalgic about making a batch of homemade fruit mince.
Some traditional fruit mince recipes require it to “mature” or sit for 2-3 weeks before use. This allows the fruit to absorb all of the liquid ingredients, and for the flavours to combine and develop.
But sometimes you just want to get cracking on a recipe, right? Maybe you need to make an emergency Christmas mince pie or two for Santa on Christmas Eve. Or for afternoon tea on Christmas Day.
So this quick fruit mince recipe is cooked briefly, which helps the fruit start plumping up straight away. Once the mixture cools, you can use it in your favourite fruit mince tart recipe, or however you want to use it.
If you’re organised though, you can definitely make the homemade fruit mince in advance and let it age for a week or two, the flavours will intensify and become even more delightful.
You can use this with your favourite pastry to make Christmas mince pies or use it in any of your other favourite recipes that call for store-bought or homemade mincemeat.
Scroll down to read about ingredients and substitutions and for step-by-step photos of making homemade fruit mince, or head down to the recipe card for the full printable recipe.
Dried fruit – You can use a dried fruit mixture from the supermarket, or a combination of your favourite mixed fruits. I used sultanas (golden raisins), raisins and currants.
Glace cherries or mixed peel (optional) – These both tend to be love-it-or-hate-it ingredients, so use one, both or neither, as you prefer.
Spices – I have used mixed spice and cinnamon here, but if you have different favourite spices then by all means use those. A little nutmeg, cardamom or ground cloves are also a nice touch. Mixed spice is a common spice mixture used in sweet baking in the UK, NZ and Aus. It can be replaced with pumpkin spice mix.
Brown sugar – Brown sugar gives a lovely caramel flavour, but in a pinch, you could use regular white sugar.
Jam or golden syrup – Either of these will give a nice added stickiness to the fruit mince. For the jam, good options are apricot or plum jam. Marmalade is good, too.
Lemon or Orange – Either will work here.
Apples – Granny Smith apples are the traditional option, but if you only have red apples (of any kind) use them. Make sure you choose a fresh apple, otherwise it will get mushy. If you don’t want to use apple you could use pear instead. You could also just leave it out, but the texture will be different, and you will need to add extra liquid. Start with an extra 1/4 cup of alcohol or orange juice, and add more if necessary.
Brandy – Again, brandy is the traditional alcohol used for fruit mince, but rum, whiskey or sherry will also be delicious. Apple cider will also work. If you want to keep your fruit mince alcohol-free, you can replace it with orange juice or apple juice.
How To Make Homemade Fruit Mince
Start by preparing your fruit. You can do this in a food processor or by hand.
Chop the dried fruit roughly – you’ll get the best texture by having some small pieces and some bigger pieces. The smaller pieces help give the fruit mince that sticky texture, and the bigger pieces give you those big pops of fruit flavour.
I just run a knife back and forth through the fruit. If you want to use a food processor, pulse the fruit briefly and be careful not to over-process it or you’ll end up with a paste!
Place all the dried fruit, sugar, spices and golden syrup or jam into a medium sized saucepan that has a lid.
Zest and juice your lemon or orange. Add all of the zest and add two tablespoons of the lemon juice or orange juice to the pan.
Peel, core and coarsely grate the apples. If you’re using a food processor, you can blitz the apples in there, or use the shredder/grater attachment. Add the grated apples to the pan.
Pour over the 1/2 cup of brandy. If you’re not using alcohol, you’ll pour over more orange juice.
Don’t worry if it looks a bit dry before you start cooking it, remember a lot of moisture will come out of the apples as they cook down.
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer on the stove, then cover and simmer it for five minutes, lifting the lid and giving it a stir once or twice. The liquid should be mostly absorbed, but it shouldn’t be dry, so make sure it’s not simmering too hard.
As it cooks, the fruit will start to absorb the liquid, and become lovely and plump and juicy, and the sugar will create a lovely stickiness.
Add the extra tablespoon of brandy, give it one last stir, then pop the lid back on and allow it to cool to room temperature before using.
How to store Homemade fruit mince
If you’re planning to use your homemade fruit mince within a couple of days, you can simply store it in an airtight container in a cool place.
For longer storage, it’s best to spoon the hot fruit mince into a sterilised jar, then once cool, pop it into the fridge. It will keep well for 6+ months.
Fruit mince is traditionally a mixture of dried fruits, spices, sugar and alcohol such as brandy. It is used as a filling for fruit mince pies, and other Christmas treats.
No. While it is sometimes called “mincemeat”, Christmas fruit mince doesn’t contain any meat, it is made with dried fruit. Historically, mincemeat did sometimes contain meat in addition to fruit, but in more recent years, it refers to fruit only.
Homemade fruit mince will last for 6+ months in the fridge. The alcohol and sugar help to preserve it. Fruit mince made with orange juice instead of alcohol may not last quite as long.
The alcohol content of fruit mince depends on the recipe (how much alcohol is used) and whether the fruit mince is cooked or not. This fruit mince recipe is cooked, however some alcohol will remain.
When fruit mince is baked into fruit mince pies, some more of the alcohol will burn off during cooking.
Yes, just replace the alcohol with orange juice, apple juice or even grape juice. Keep in mind that alcohol-free fruit mince should always be stored in the refrigerator, and may not last quite as long as fruit mince made with alcohol.
If you find there is too much liquid in your fruit mince when you go to use it, you have several options.
1. Strain off the excess liquid.
2. Cook the fruit mince for a few extra minutes until the liquid is evaporated or absorbed, then allow it to cool.
3. If you’re not in a hurry to use it, you can add a little more dried fruit and leave it for a few days to absorb the liquid.
4. If you’re using the mincemeat in fruit mince pies, you can add some crushed biscuits (cookies), breadcrumbed or crumbled cake on the bottom of the pie crust or pastry base before adding the fruit. They will absorb some of the moisture as the pies bake.
More Christmas Recipes:
- Gluten Free Christmas Cake
- Chocolate Peppermint Fudge Christmas Pudding
- Peppermint Mousse
- Gluten Free Trifle
Fruit Mince Recipe
- 500 g dried fruit see notes
- 100 g glace cherries optional
- 50 g mixed peel optional
- 100 g brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin pie spice
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch grated nutmeg and/or ground cardamom optional
- 2 Tablespoons jam or golden syrup see notes
- 1 lemon or orange
- 2 medium apples any variety
- ½ cup brandy or rum see notes for alcohol-free options
- 1 Tablespoon brandy or rum, extra
- Prepare the fruit: Roughly chop the dried fruit – aim for some smaller pieces and some bigger (or whole) pieces for the best texture. Chop the glace cherries and/or mixed peel, if using.You can use a food processor to chop the fruit, just be sure to pulse it briefly and then check the consistency to make sure you don't turn it into a paste.
- Place all the dried fruit, brown sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and/or cardamom (if using) and jam or golden syrup into a medium saucepan that has a lid.
- Peel, core and then coarsely grate the apples. If you’re using a food processor, you can blitz the apples in there, or use the shredder/grater attachment.Add the grated apple, along with the brandy (or other alcohol, or orange juice if making alcohol-free fruit mince) to the pan, and mix to combine all of the ingredients well.
- Zest and juice the orange or lemon. Add all of the zest and 2 tablespoons of the juice to the pan.
- Bring to a gentle simmer on the stove, then cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring 2-3 times, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Cover with the lid again and leave to cool.
- If planning to use the fruit mince within a week, it can simply be stored in an airtight container. For longer storage, place it in a sterilised jar while the fruit mince is still hot.The fruit mince can be stored in the fridge for 6+ months.
Nutritional Disclaimer: Any nutritional information provided is a computer generated estimate and is intended as a guide only.