Fat-Free Apple and Almond Mincemeat with Brandy

By Karen Burns-Booth •

Why not make your own mincemeat this year?  It's easy and gives you so much more control of the ingredients.  Karen shares a family recipe for a fat-free mincemeat, packed with vine fruits, citrus peel, nuts and apples and generously laced with brandy.


I like the idea of Christmas in a jar……there are so many Christmassy things that come in jars and bottles, wine and champagne obviously, as well as lovely preserves such as fruit in brandy, jams, conserves, brandy butter, chutney, pickles, relishes and of course, mincemeat. As well as buying all the lovely stuff that comes in jars, and believe me I can shop for Britain on the run up to Christmas, I am an avid preserver and I ALWAYS make my own mincemeat, as well as chutney, jams and pickles.

The idea is that we have lots of lovely home-made preserves to take us through the festive period and beyond, as well as having a few spare jars to give as gifts, which are always appreciated by foodie friends and family. So, when making my Christmas preserves, rather than using my “recycled” jars as I normally do, I like to buy new jars and decorative lids, like these lovely hexagonal jars and gingham lids, that you can see in the photos that I bought from Lakeland.

My “Christmas in a Jar” recipe today is a GREAT recipe for a fat-free mincemeat, packed with vine fruits, citrus peel, nuts and apples and generously laced with brandy, it’s a family recipe for Fat-Free Apple and Almond Mincemeat with Brandy, and it is DIVINE! I don’t know why more people don’t make their own mincemeat, as it is so easy and it’s a thousand times better than most commercial brands, plus, you are in control of the ingredients too, which makes me happier knowing what is actually in what I am eating. This mincemeat is so fruity and spicy with a lovely light texture, it’s a real star of the mincemeat world.

Because it doesn’t have any fat in it, you have to “cook” the apples and fruit before adding the brandy, this ensures the mincemeat keeps for a long time and the apples don’t ferment. It also means that the vine fruits are plump and succulent. The texture is not as “cloying” and as heavy as commercial mincemeat with added suet etc., which means it’s a lovely preserve to dollop on top of ice creams and creamy desserts, a sort of boozy fruit compote. And, and it makes the most amazing mince pies ever, such as these Little Custard Pies with Mincemeat and Almonds as well as my Spiced Mincemeat Meringue Pies too.

I am sharing this old family recipe for mincemeat below, and the reason it has apples in it, is all due to my grandmother who had a small orchard and was always looking for ways to incorporate apples into her cooking, baking and preserving! As for the fat-free element, that is down to me, as one year I had no suet left for my mincemeat and I had used all the butter in my Christmas cake, and once the family tried my fat-free mincemeat they said it was better than the usual “fatty version! Do try this mincemeat recipe, I guarantee you will never buy shop-bought mincemeat again. 

Fat-Free Apple and Almond Mincemeat with Brandy

Approx 6 - 8 x 110ml jars


450ml cider
450g soft dark brown sugar
450g cooking apples, cored & chopped – no need to peel
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
175g currants
175g raisins
115g sultanas
110g candied peel
110g flaked almonds
1 orange, juice and zest of
1 lemon, juice and zest of
150mls brandy or Cognac


1. Put the cider and sugar into a large saucepan & heat GENTLY until the sugar has completely dissolved.
2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the brandy or cognac and slowly bring to the boil – stirring ALL the time.

3. Lower the heat and partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and leave it to become completely cold.
5. Stir in the brandy or cognac and then spoon into cold, sterilised jars, making sure that the mincemeat is packed down firmly with NO space or air bubbles.
6. Cover with TIGHT fitting lids. Store in a cool, dry and dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate after opening. 

Inspired? For more Christmas recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.



Karen Burns-Booth

Karen Burns-Booth is creative freelance food writer & blogger. Her love of seasonal food & recipes stems from her childhood observing her grandmother and mother’s cookery skills. A regular contributor in Country Kitchen magazine, she currently writes for numerous other publications, food, travel and tourism websites and has several recipes in print in compilation cookbooks. She is currently working on a Historical British Cookbook.

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