Tucking into a mince pie is usually the first sign Christmas is on the way and with budgets under pressure this year getting your fix doesn’t have to break the bank, with a 29p pie from Aldi coming a close second to Waitrose’s brown butter pastry in a taste test.
The upmarket supermarket’s No 1 Brown Butter Mince Pies came top in a “rigorous” blind taste test conducted by Which?. They wowed the panel of baking experts with their “buttery aroma” and “citrussy aftertaste” to achieve the top score of 74%, earning the consumer group’s coveted “best buy” badge of approval.
At £3.50 for six, or 58p per pie, the judges said the almonds and chunks of fruit in the Waitrose pies gave them a “homemade” quality. Reading between the lines this could mean you could attempt to pass them off as your own work.
But with food prices rising at their fastest rate for 45 years Which? said shoppers eager to save money did not have to compromise as Aldi’s pies, which are half the price of Waitrose’s at 29p or £1.75 for six, scored 73%, just one point less. The Aldi pies also work out cheaper than making your own given the cheapest jar of mincemeat costs about £1.25 in the supermarket.
The popularity of the mince pie is rivalled only by pigs in blankets at Christmas with shoppers spending around £100m on the festive treat amid a fierce supermarket bake-off. This year a welter of new flavours, including speculoos and cheese pastry, are on the menu as stores seek to broaden their appeal.
Natalie Hitchins, Which?’s head of home products and services, said there was “nothing quite like a deliciously warm and crumbly mince pie straight from the oven to get you in the festive spirit”.
“The competition was tight this year but the luxury mince pie offerings from Waitrose and Aldi have come out on top,” she said. “Our experts tasted pies from the biggest supermarkets in the UK and found some great options which won’t break the bank”.
The Which? panel rated each pie on taste, aroma, texture and appearance and despite failing to secure a best buy gong, the judges praised the “buttery aroma” of the Co-op’s Irresistible All Butter Pastry Luxury Mince Pies although they complained alcohol “dominated the flavour”. They added that Asda’s Extra Special Mince Pies were also a “tasty option”.
However this year’s taste test turkeys were Tesco and Morrisons. Morrisons’ The Best and Tesco’s Finest mince pies did not stand out from the crowd when it came to the taste test and came bottom of the rankings, Which? said.