Taste & Tell

Which supermarket's mince pies came tops in our taste test?

Whether you prefer classic mince pies, gluten-free ones, or those with a non-traditional twist, here's the best place to buy them this festive season

24 November 2019 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Non-traditional mince pies from, from left, Pick n Pay, Checkers (blueberry), Checkers (gluten-free), Food Lover's Market and Pick n Pay.
Non-traditional mince pies from, from left, Pick n Pay, Checkers (blueberry), Checkers (gluten-free), Food Lover's Market and Pick n Pay.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST

It's free and fair!

It's the most anticipated tasting of the year, the annual search for the best-tasting mince pie from five of the big retailers.

As such, we brought in the big guns, to be on our judging panel:

  • Jane-Therese Mulry, the executive chef of the five-star Saxon hotel in Johannesburg, and her two pastry chefs, Catherine Adonis and Nathan Jacob;
  • Chef Fritz Flatscher of CafĂ© Mozart, a top-notch confectioner;
  • Chef Heinz Brunner and Unilever Food Solutions chef Pinky Maruping, who are seasoned tasters, particularly of Christmas fare.

A couple of the stores are offering alternatives to the traditional mince pie, so we decided to add some non-traditional treats to this tasting. It's important to note that Spar is stocking only a traditional mince pie this year and, at the time of the tasting, Woolworths had only the traditional mince pie, in standard and mini sizes, on its shelves.

As with all our tastings, this was a blind taste test, meaning the mince pies were stripped of their packaging, numbered and presented to the judges with no reference to the brand.

An auditor oversaw the entire process and tallied up the judges' score sheets.

THE RESULTS

NON-TRADITIONAL MINCE PIES

As these pies are all different, they were judged individually and given a score out of 10.

PICK N PAY

Honey Burst Mince Pies

Price: R34.99 for four

Rating: 7/10

What the judges said:

  • Chef Mulry: Pastry very nice and buttery. I get the citrus but not the honey.
  • Chef Flatscher: The star design on top gives it a special festive effect.
  • Chef Brunner: Love the pastry and the star on top, it tastes like orange marmalade.
The chefs on our judging panels: Catherine Adonis, Nathan Jacobs, Heinz Brunner, Jane-Therese Mulry, Pinky Maruping and Fritz Flatscher.
The chefs on our judging panels: Catherine Adonis, Nathan Jacobs, Heinz Brunner, Jane-Therese Mulry, Pinky Maruping and Fritz Flatscher.
Image: Michael Edwards

CHECKERS 

Blueberry Fruit Mince Pies

Price: R34.99 for four

Rating: 6.5/10

What the judges said:

  • Chef Maruping: Pastry is well cooked, filling tastes like it is has been flavoured.
  • Chef Jacobs: Pastry was good, the filling was a bit dry and not fruity enough.
  • Chef Adonis: Artificial blueberry taste but pastry is great.

CHECKERS

Gluten-Free Mince Pies

Price: R54.99 for six

Rating: 6/10

What the judges said:

  • Chef Mulry: Very light-coloured pastry that is quite grainy.
  • Chef Jacobs: Tastes too dry and slight grainy.
  • Chef Maruping: Pastry is chewy and pale.

FOOD LOVER'S MARKET

Fruited Mince Pies with Blueberries

Price: R39.99 for four

Rating: 5/10

What the judges said:

  • Chef Mulry: Below-average filling which is insufficient and the pastry is very thick.
  • Chef Brunner: Filling lacks flavour of blueberries and the pastry is underbaked.
  • Chef Maruping: Pastry is cracked, leaf on top is not cut nicely. Filling is dry.

PICK N PAY 

Free From Gluten Fruit Mince Pies

Price: R58.99 for six

Rating: 4/10

What the judges said:

  • Chef Flatscher: Very crumbly pastry, strange-tasting filling.
  • Chef Brunner: The pie can't be handled it's that crumbly and not a great taste.
  • Chef Jacobs: Doesn't leave good mouthfeel.
Traditional mince pies from, from top down, Checkers, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Food Lover's Market and Spar.
Traditional mince pies from, from top down, Checkers, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Food Lover's Market and Spar.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

TRADITIONAL MINCE PIES

FIRST PLACE: CHECKERS

Festive Mince Pies 360g

Price: R36.99 for six

What the judges said:

  • Chef Flatscher: Very nicely baked crust. Nice colour, good acidity.
  • Chef Mulry: Pastry perfect, not too sweet. Filling moist and wholesome.
  • Chef Adonis: Pastry to filling ratio is perfect. Pastry has great colour and texture and is well baked.

SECOND PLACE: WOOLWORTHS

Fruit Mince Pies

Price: R39.99 for six

What the judges said:

  • Chef Mulry: Nice lemon tang. Moist filling but not enough of it.
  • Chef Maruping: Good golden colour, pastry well cooked, not soggy at the bottom. Consistency of filling is good, not runny.
  • Chef Brunner: Soft pastry, great tasty filling. Maybe a little more filling required.

THIRD PLACE: PICK N PAY

Deep Filled Mince Pies

Price: R39.99 for six

What the judges said:

  • Chef Jacobs: Filling is tasty and fruity but not sure about the pastry. There's too much margarine in it.
  • Chef Adonis: Filling is juicy and delicious. Pastry tastes like margarine. Amazing filling but pastry lets it down.
  • Chef Brunner: Most tasty filling, but the pastry leaves an aftertaste in the mouth.

FOURTH PLACE: FOOD LOVER'S MARKET

Traditional Fruited Mince Pies

Price: R38.99 for six

What the judges said:

  • Chef Mulry: Pastry too thick and overworked. Mincemeat filling has shrunk, more like a puree.
  • Chef Adonis: Pastry is doughy, no texture and not enough mincemeat.
  • Chef Brunner: Pastry looks overworked, doesn't hold its shape and very stodgy.

FIFTH PLACE: SPAR 

Freshline mince pies

Price: R34.99 for six

What the judges said:

  • Chef Flatscher: Underbaked, with runny filling.
  • Chef Jacobs: Pastry is undercooked and there's too little mincemeat.
  • Chef Mulry: Not enough filling, pastry is soggy and the pies have sunk in the middle.

X