How the rankings work
Our mince-pie-scoring nonsense is now proper science (because we’re writing it down). Therefore, we’ve realised we probably need to be a bit more specific and scientific in our scoring of each mince pie. This will also help keep us fair in our scoring. Therefore we have decided on the following criteria, each marked out of five (five being excellent, and one awful):
Pastry – is it buttery or dry?
Filling – is it sufficiently fruity; or is it lacklustre or overwhelming?
Pastry to filling ratio – is there enough filling to complement the pastry? Is there a massive air pocket between the top of the filling and the top of the pie?
Presentation & packaging – is there unnecessary plastic in the packaging? Do the pies look nice, or are they all kind of wonky?
These will each contribute to a grand score, out of twenty, for each pie. Negative scores are possible, reserved for only the most shocking of pies.
Sox Digital Mince Pie Championships 2021
Marks and Spencer Own-Brand
Berryman’s Bakery, Redruth
Co-Op & Tesco Own-Brand
Below you can find more detail on the pies we tasted, and the scores for each (right at the bottom).
The reviews were posted on our Facebook page every day, so have a look there if you’d like to see a bit more!
Winner was announced on 23rd December 2021.
The pastry was excellent (very buttery), but the filling made the pie fall short. It felt a little short on the fruit compared to other mince pies we’ve had in the past. The caster sugar sprinkled on the top was poor (it only covered half of each pie) and the tops were all wonky, marking the pie down on presentation. However, the packaging had no additional and unnecessary plastic which yanked the mark back up again.
Good Lord, this is a disappointing entry and our days are probably worse for having eaten one. The pastry was acceptable, if slightly dry, but any redeeming features this brought were quickly undone by the addition of the icing. The filling was not fruity enough to compete with the sweetness of the icing, so the whole pie was rather overpowering sugar-flavoured. Mr Kipling has also been significantly marked down due to excessive and unnecessary plastic use; there was a plastic window on the cardboard box and the mince pies were wrapped in yet more plastic inside the box!
Would recommend avoiding this pie in all circumstances.
A previous (unofficial) champion of our Mince Pie Championships, once again the unassuming Co-Op mince pie blows us away. Whilst the filling felt a little less fruity this year compared to previous, it is still an excellent and incredibly respectable entry. One we would recommend to others and suggest it is worth hunting down.
Apparently these are by royal appointment, but we sincerely hope that Queenie isn’t tucking into one of these on Christmas day. The pastry seems almost undercooked and also overwhelms the filling – which is lacking, at best. Whilst there is no excess plastic, the sugar distribution is poor and the majority of the top have sunk and are wonky. We’re disappointed, we were expecting better,
Excellent pastry, packing and presentation – some of the best presented pies we’ve seen so far – but the lack of filling lets the whole pie down. A respectable entry, and worth picking up if you’re in the shop anyway.
The Tesco own-brand mince pie suffers from wonky tops and poor sugar distribution. The pastry isn’t great – it has the taste and texture more akin to a biscuit (so, if you like shortcrust pastry that’s reminiscent of shortbread, you’ll love this). Whilst the pastry, in our opinion, lets the pie down, the filling is some of the best we’ve had so far.
Wow. Just… wow. The last time we had these, they were lacklustre at best. But this time, this time they’ve blown us away. The pastry is probably the best we’ve had so far, the only minor improvement would be adding a small kick to the filling, perhaps a bit more lemon or orange zest would give it the tiny improvement it needs.
A small comment, that we feel is worth making (but has not been taken into consideration with scoring), is that these pies are £1.80 for six. This is over twice the price of most of the other pies we have tasted.
The filling is excellent, and the ratio of filling to pastry is very good too. The pie is let down by the pastry itself – it’s a little dry and oversweet, and it’s also quite thin in places. The packaging is acceptable, with no additional plastic, but the presentation is very poor. All of the pies were wonky and only the pies on the edges of the pack had any sugar sprinkled on top.
Excellent filling, but not enough pastry to compliment it (though the pastry was OK). The presentation and packaging has been marked down by one point for two reasons: 1.) There wasn’t really any packaging to present them in (just popped into a paper bag), and 2.) the sugar on top was icing sugar rather than traditional caster. Also prohibitively expensive at £2.10 for a single pie.
The pastry is excellent but there is a substantial air pocket at the top of the filling, which means that the pastry overpowers it somewhat. The flavour of the filling just isn’t strong enough. Caster sugar distribution also a bit uneven on the top of the pies.
Very disappointing – it’s a very bland pie. The pastry on the bottom seems almost undercooked and the filling has next to no flavour at all; it’s actually the worst filling we’ve had so far. There’s a large air pocket at the top of the pie too – and the caster sugar sprinkling is very stingy.
A very respectable pie, though the large air hole between the filling and the pastry lid is disappointing. The filling is slightly overwhelmed by the pastry, but the pastry and presentation are both good.
We were very excited about these, because the presentation and packaging was so good, but unfortunately we were disappointed. There simply isn’t enough filling, which makes the whole pie seem dry.
An excellent pie – they look like they might not be anything massively special, but when you bite into them, they are fantastic. Our only slight gripe is that the pastry is a tiny bit tough for our liking.
The presentation could have used a little love, with very uneven caster sugar distribution; but there was no excess plastic which bodes well for the ASDA own-brand. The pastry was a little soft – not undercooked, just soft – but the filling was very good. Overall, a very good pie that’s worth picking up if you’re in the store.
Very good pastry complimented by great filling – though not as good as Cafe Nero’s filling. If it had filling to rival Nero then this pie would easily be our winner. The caster sugar distribution was very uneven but, that aside, still a very good pie.
Here’s a recap of each pie’s score breakdown:
Pastry to Filling Ratio
Mr. Kipling Iced
Aldi Holly Lane
Marks and Spencer Own-Brand
Cafe Nero Classic (Vegan)
Premier Corner Stores
Berryman's Bakery, Redruth
It’s scary how full our camera reels are of mince pie photos. There’s a lot. Like, too many.
“Remember, kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.” – Adam Savage