Budget mince pies from Asda and Iceland top Which? taste test

Budget-priced mince pies from Asda and Iceland have come top of a festive food taste test, while a “claggy” effort from Sainsbury’s languishes at the bottom of the poll.

Consumer group Which? said that ranges from Asda and frozen food specialist Iceland had both scored 73% in the exercise, landing its ‘Best Buy accolade.

Its consumer panel – featuring members of the public – blind-tested 12 supermarket own-brand premium mince pies to determine the most delicious, as well as the blandest and least appetising.

Asda’s Extra Special Mince Pies (£1.75 for six, or 29p per pie) scored highly for overall flavour, texture and appearance. Tasters singled out the “crisp” and “buttery” pastry and the intricate pastry design. The supermarket chain was the first in the UK to start stocking mince pies, putting them on its shelves in the first week of September.

Iceland’s Luxury All Butter Mince Pies (£1.89 for six, or 31p per pie) also notched up the top score of 73%. One panelist said they tasted “like a more expensive product”. The pies were also crowned the best overall supermarket mince pie in the recent Christmas taste test from Good Housekeeping.

Iceland went back to the drawing board to create a brand new recipe for its luxury range. The new version – again free of palm oil – has a lengthy and exotic ingredients list. It features buttery pastry filled with spiced mincemeat made with currants, sultanas and raisins, then some brandy, port and yuzu juice (a small Japanese citrus fruit), along with lemon peel and orange zest just to up the tang ratio.

When it came to the bottom of the table, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference mince pies (£2 for six or 33p each) came out the worst with a rating of 58%. Some panellists complained that they were “claggy” and tasted “stale” and “overcooked”.

Positive recommendations in such national taste tests can empty supermarket shelves. With the expectation of a lockdown Christmas looming, consumers have been stocking up on mince pies and confectionery earlier than usual.

Harry Rose, the editor of Which? magazine, said: “While this year Christmas might be a little different, we want to make sure that at least your mince pies don’t disappoint.”

Elsewhere in the poll, Tesco’s Finest All Butter Mince Pies (£1.75 for six or 29p per pie) missed out on a Best Buy with a 72% score, as while the pastry was hailed as as “melt in the mouth”, a few panellists were not keen on the firmer filling.

Marks & Spencer, which this year has taken a bite out of tradition by launching Percy Pig (or Percymas) mince pies, notched up a rating of 71% for its M&S Collection pies (£2.50 for six or 41p each), which were among the most expensive in the poll.