homepage logo

Mincemeat cookies and more

By Staff | Dec 20, 2018

This delicious Star Mincemeat Cookie Recipe makes the perfect cookie for a holiday gathering.


GRIT Magazine

Among the holiday treats from my childhood were cookies shaped in half-moons, the sweet dough pressed around a dollop of mincemeat and puffed to a golden brown.

The cookies were favorites in our household, although the appeal for me was probably more the pie crust dough than the sweet mincemeat inside. Mom used jarred mincemeat from the grocery store, and I don’t think I realized “real” mincemeat actually contained meat until I was grown and away from home. I have a feeling that had Mom used “real” mincemeat, those cookies would not hold such a place of fondness in my memory.

Minced meat started as a way to preserve meat, using sugar as the preservative. As a spiced meat pie, it was a medieval holiday tradition in England; the minced and preserved meat was loaded up with dried fruits and spices and was served as a main dish. Nowadays, the mixture is more fruit than meat, since dried fruit, spices and sugar have become more readily available.

The beginnings of the mincemeat pie as a Christmas tradition probably started about the time the Crusaders began returning from the Holy Land in the 11th century. The warriors came bearing gifts of oriental spices – cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg – and the pies were often shaped as cradles (or coffins) with a doll representing the Christ Child placed on top. Gradually the pies grew smaller, the shape became round, and the meat was reduced in favor of spices, sweeteners, and dried fruit. The mixture was often steeped in brandy.

Over the years, the pie has become sweeter and less savory, but it remains popular around the holidays. Try a mincemeat fruitcake instead of cookies. To contrast this desert, try a summer favorite, barbecue, in the winter. Included here are several recipes for delicious, homemade barbecue sauce.

Mincemeat start cookies

Jenifer-Joan Lauren, of Lakebay, Washington, sends a recipe she found in the Better Home and Gardens Cookies and Candies cookbook published in 1968. As all good cooks do, Jenifer-Joan has made the recipe her own: “I never use shortening, which the original recipe calls for, and I substitute salted butter and leave out the salt all together. I also double the orange (peel) zest.”

1 1/3 cups salted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons grated orange peel or zest

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 to 3 tablespoons milk


1 package (9 ounces) mincemeat

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange peel or zest

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or zest

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts, optional

To make cookies: In large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in grated orange peel.

In another bowl, mix together flour and baking powder; stir into creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Divide dough in half and chill.

On lightly floured surface, roll out one half of dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter. With butter knife, cut an X (star) in center of half the cookies (this is top part of cookie). Repeat with remaining dough.

To make filling: In small saucepan, break mincemeat into pieces. Add sugar, orange peel, lemon peel, orange juice, and lemon juice. Heat. Stir until all lumps are broken; simmer for 1 minute; cool. Stir in nuts.

To assemble: Place 1 heaping teaspoon filling on each plain cookie; top with star-cut cookie. Press edges together with fork to seal.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Yields 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies.

Homemade mincemeat

Dorothy Wulfkuhle, of Topeka, Kansas, sends a similar recipe she has made for Thanksgiving and Christmas since the late 1950s. Her cookie dough and baking instructions are almost identical to the recipe sent by Jenifer-Joan, but Dorothy makes her own mincemeat. Here’s her recipe.

5 cups cooked meat (I use hamburger)

4 pounds raisins

2 cups water

3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons cloves

1 orange, ground up

1 cup vinegar

5 pounds ground apples

2 pounds brown sugar

2 1/2 cups (or more) meat stock

1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoons nutmeg

1 lemon, ground up

6 cups fruit juice (I use grape or orange)

In large kettle or stockpot, combine all ingredients. Cook until apples are done.

Sterilize quart jars; place lids and rings in boiling water and simmer until ready to use.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (www.NCHFP.uga.edu) recommends using hot-pack method and either a dial-gauge or weighted-gauge pressure canner.

Fill hot jars with hot mixture, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure (at zero to 2,000 feet altitude) in dial-gauge pressure canner.

Note: For altitudes from 2,001 to 4,000 feet, use 12 pounds pressure; for 4,001 to 6,000 feet, 13 pounds; and for 6,001 to 8,000 feet, 14 pounds. For a weighted-gauge pressure canner, process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for altitudes up to 1,000 feet, and at 15 pounds for altitudes above 1,000 feet. Yields 9 to 10 quarts.

Mincemeat cookies

Helen Finnie, of Lucerne, California, sends a recipe with a slightly different perspective. “The following is a recipe I have used since the 1960s, and it is foolproof,” she said. She also suggests adding grated orange rind to the mincemeat.

3 eggs

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 jar mincemeat mix

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, beat eggs; add butter and sugar. Add dry ingredients slowly, and then add mincemeat.

Drop onto greased cookie sheet; bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Old-fashioned barbecue sauce

Jean Crocket, Idabel, Oklahoma, asked for an old-fashioned barbecue sauce that does not include ketchup or tomato sauce. A number of readers sent in different versions of a vinegary sauce.

No-tomato barebecue sauce

From Pauline Patterson, of Seminole, Oklahoma, comes a somewhat complicated version. She uses it on chicken and pulled pork.

1 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

2/3 cup diced onion

3 tablespoons oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons ground mustard

5 teaspoons cold water

In large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, onion, oil, garlic, bay leaf, sugar, salt, thyme, black pepper and red pepper. Bring to boil; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.

In small bowl, dissolve mustard in cold water. Add small amount of vinegar mixture; stir to combine. Stir mustard mixture into saucepan mixture and simmer until well-combined. Sauce will be watery.

Cornell barbecue sauce

Edna Babcock, of Owego, New York, said, “Here in New York, this is called Cornell barbecue sauce.”

1 egg

1 cup oil

1 pint cider vinegar

3 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

In bowl, beat egg. Add oil and beat again. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Leftover sauce may be refrigerated up to 8 weeks. Yields enough sauce for 10 chicken halves.

Barebecue sauce

Sarah Vaughan, of Waterville, Maine, sent a simple-to-make recipe.

1 cup vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups boiling water

1 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until blended.

Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2018 by Ogden Publications Inc.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page