SP 14/189, f.7 For six Minst Pyes of an Indifferent biggnesse


Make your own Early Modern Mince Pies


For the filling:

  • 1 1/2lb (700g) lean mutton or beef
  • 4oz (100g) suet
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 2oz (50g) raisins
  • 2oz (50g) currants
  • 2oz (50g) stoned prunes, chopped

For the pastry:

  • 1lb (450g) plain flour
  • 2tsps salt
  • 4oz (100g) lard
  • 1/4 pt (150ml) water
  • 4tbsp (60ml) milk

For the glaze:

  • 1tbsp (15ml) butter
  • 1tbsp (15ml) sugar
  • 1tbsp (15ml) rosewater


Mince the meat, and mix in the suet, spices, pepper, saffron and the dried fruit.

To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Heat the lard, water and milk until boiling and pour into the well. Quickly beat the mixture together with a spoon to form a soft dough, and knead until smooth on a lightly floured board.

Cut off a quarter of the pastry, and keep covered until required to make the lid. Mould the larger piece of pastry to form the base and sides of the pie within an 8 inch (20cm) diameter, 2 inch (5cm)  deep loose-bottomed tin.

Pack the meat into the pie and dampen the edges of the pie wall. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a lid and firmly press into place. Trim the edges, using surplus pastry for decoration, and cut a hole in the centre of the lid.

Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 7, 220C/425F for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to gas mark 4, 180C/350F for a further 1 1/4 hours. Remove the sides of the tin, brush with the glaze and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve cold.

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Take a look at our bonus document, an Early Modern recipe for Christmas mince pies.

Now have a go at following an adapted version of this recipe.

Which do you prefer to eat, seventeenth century savoury pies or the sweet mince pies we have today?


For six Minst Pyes of an Indifferent biggnesse.

Take halfe a peck of the fynest Flower, 2 li[br]e of Suger,

2 li[br]e of Butter, a Loyne of fatt Mutton, w[i]th a litle of a Legg of Veale to mynce w[i]th it, 2 li[br]e of Reasons of the Sunn, as many Currons, of Cloves, Mace, and Nuttmeggs one ownce.

For the Paist mingle 1 pound and a halfe of Suger w[i]th the Flower and breake in the yolkes of six eggs, then worke it together w[i]th 3 parts of the two pounde of Butter. Sett on a litle water, and let it seethe, then scym it and put in the 4th parte of the Butt[e]r, and when it is melted, Scym it cleane from the Water, and worke it w[i]th the Paist.

For the Meate, let it be seasoned w[i]th Pepper, and mingled w[i]th halfe a pound of Suger, the other frute and Spyce, the Raisons must be stoned, & some of them mynced amongst the meate, the others put in hole, put in the Joyce of two Orringes and one Leamond, and the Ryne of them smale mynced. When the Pyes are filled slyce Dates and stick in the top, and when you sett them into the oven wash them over w[i]th the yolkes of eggs and pynn them upp in Papers.