Mincemeat Tarts with Hard Sauce – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Nothing says Christmas like mincemeat tarts with hard sauce. Low carb mincemeat is nestled in gluten-free almond flour pastry for a holiday treat that tastes every bit as good as the original.

Low Carb Mincemeat Tarts with Hard Sauce

Some things just deserve to jump to the head to the head of the line. They deserve special treatment, they deserve to push every thing else out of their way while they take up their rightful place in the limelight. It is even true of recipes. I often have a backlog of recipes waiting in the wings, and usually I publish them in the order in which they were made. But sometimes one is so good or so exciting or just simply fits the circumstances so perfectly, I find myself pushing the rest off so I can get that one out there into the world. This is the tale of one such recipe. (And if that doesn’t sound like the start of a Dickens novel, you can call me Ebeneezer Scrooge).

Mincemeat tarts are something I grew up eating around the holidays, and I’ve always loved them, especially with a nice dollop of boozy hard sauce melting on top. Our version of homemade mincemeat tarts consisted of ready-made pie dough and sugary mincemeat from a jar, baked until golden brown and bubbling. Despite their lack of authenticity, I loved the sweet, citrusy, spice-laden tarts and always went back for a second helping. I’ve been mulling over how to get that same flavour in a healthier low carb package for 2 years now, and this year I decided to give it a go.

Low Carb Gluten-Free Mincemeat Tarts

These days, mincemeat doesn’t actually contain any real meat, and consists mainly of dried fruit and apples cooked with sugar, spices and some brandy. Traditionally, however, it is made with beef suet (raw beef fat) and that seemed like my biggest obstacle. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of finding beef suet in my area. I even tried a local British Foods store, a tiny little hole in the wall in an awful strip mall on a very busy thoroughfare. No luck there, although the proprietor indicated that they’d be getting some vegetable suet in before the holidays. Not in time for me to attempt low carb mincemeat, it would seem.

But it struck me that as I was already straying far off the traditional path for mince, I might as well go whole hog and use a completely different source of fat. I decided that a good quality extra virgin coconut oil, like Kelapo, would have just the right consistency. For the rest of the filling, I swapped out the majority of the raisins with sugar-free dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. I did keep one small apple in there, although a reader suggested that chayote squash might make an even lower carb substitute. I skipped the candied peel and just added more lemon and orange zest to get that same sharp citrus flavour. And then I cooked it all with some Swerve Sweetener and added a little brandy at the end. The end result was right on the money – I knew it the moment my husband declared that the house smelled like A Christmas Carol.

Low Carb Mincemeat Tarts and Almond Flour Pastry Crust

I’ve also been working on making my almond flour pastry a little sturdier and easier to work with, without losing tenderness or adding more carbs. This has definitely taken some experimentation, but I’ve found that the addition of a little arrowroot starch and some coconut flour seemed to work. It’s still fragile and can tear and crack a little when being shaped. But it patches back together so nicely that the final product looks great.

Put these two things together and you’ve got yourself some delicious low carb, gluten-free mincemeat tarts. I am extremely proud of these, I will admit. In terms of ingredients, they are wildly un-traditional. And yet I defy anyone to tell the difference. I know my mincemeat tarts and these are the real, albeit unconventional, thing.

Low Carb Gluten-Free Mincemeat Tarts with Hard Sauce

Mincemeat Tarts with Hard Sauce – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Mincemeat Tarts with Hard Sauce – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Nothing says Christmas like mincemeat tarts with hard sauce. Low carb mincemeat is nestled in gluten-free almond flour pastry for a holiday treat that tastes every bit as good as the original.



  1. Combine cranberries, walnuts, sweetener, apple, raisins, coconut oil, lemon zest, orange zest, lemon juice, water, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 to 10 minutes or until sweetener is completely dissolved, stirring frequently. Remove and stir in brandy. Let cool completely.
  3. Transfer to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator. It may harden up a bit in the fridge but can be warmed gently in the microwave to soften.
  4. Pastry Crust:
  5. Combine almond flour, gluten-free flour, sweetener, arrowroot starch, coconut flour, xanthan gum and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  6. Sprinkle butter over and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  7. With processor running on low, add ice water 1 tbsp at a time until dough begins to clump together.
  8. Cover work surface with a large sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with almond flour. Turn out dough and form into a disk. Sprinkle with additional almond flour and top with another piece of parchment, then carefully roll out in all directions to form a rough circle about 13 inches in diameter.
  9. Using a 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible. Gently loosen circles of dough with an offset spatula and place into the cavities of a mini muffin pan, shaping to fit the cavities.
  10. Gather up scraps of dough and re-roll to cut out more circles, using almond flour as necessary. You should get about 24 small tartlets and still have a little dough leftover to cut out decorative shapes for the tops of your tarts.
  11. Prick the bottoms of the tarts several times with a fork or sharp and then freeze at least one hour.
  12. To make the tarts, preheat oven to 325F. Fill each tart shell with about 2 tsp of mincemeat (this will only use up about half of the mincemeat).
  13. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and tart edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan at least 20 minutes (they are very fragile when still warm - if you want to serve them hot, rewarm them out of the muffin pans gently in the oven).
  14. Hard Sauce:
  15. Beat butter with powdered sweetener and rum until well combined and smooth. Refrigerate until firm. Dollop a little hard sauce on warm tarts to serve.


Mincemeat filling: Makes about 2 cups (you only need one cup for 24 mini tarts). Per tablespoon (32 tablespoons in 2 cups): 39 Calories; 3g Fat (62.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium. Total NET CARBS per tablespoon = 2 g.

Mincemeat tarts: Makes 24 tarts (uses only about half of the mincemeat). Per tart: 111 Calories; 9g Fat (74.1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 70mg Sodium. Total NET CARBS per tart = 3 g.


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  1. Alisa says

    Mmmmm…mincemeat! Thanks for the recipe – I’m the only one in my family who likes it (actually I LOVE it!), so I might half the filling and make another kind of tartlet for the rest of the fam. Can’t wait to smell the spice in the air!

  2. Lisa says

    I am definitely making these for Christmas. My son has type 1 diabetes. We are also having 20 people over for Christmas dinner, but I am determined to make the whole meal low(ish) carb.

  3. says

    These look so good! Now, supposing I wanted to “blind bake” the tart shells to fell with something else? Would they collapse is you baked them empty? Or would you bake them draped over the back of the pan to maker little cups? Was thinking about making some empty without the sweetener to use filled with crabmeat and lobster salad…

    • Carolyn says

      You could blind bake them in the muffin tins, but I would weigh them down with some dried beans or pie weights. Just cut little bits of foil to fit in and stick a few dried beans or pie weights in and bake. You may find the baking time is less without them being filled.

  4. Helena says

    Now I am confused. I thought the minced meat is when one grains for instant beef. The stuff used for meatballs. Im swedish. This sounds like something else entirerly….

  5. Kathy says

    What amazing luck for me that you followed your instinct to push this recipe to the head of the queue. We are going to have our family Christmas dinner on Saturday, and I want to make this for dessert. I just made your dried cranberries (where you cut them in half and bake them with Swerve) two days ago without a specific recipe in mind to use them in…this will be perfect! I also made your candied ginger, just in case….could I add a little to this filling too and eliminate the ground ginger, or would that be too spicy for this application? If one were to want a pie, instead of tarts, what size tin would you use for the whole recipe of filling, and would you prebake the shell first? I could make the tarts, but they would be a little more fiddly than a pie, and I am (as usual) running a little close to my deadline and needing to cut a few corners if I can…. Thanks for any advice, and thanks for such a great recipe!

    • Carolyn says

      Well that worked out nicely! 😉

      Yes, I think you could do the candied ginger here…mince it pretty finely to get ginger flavour without big chunks. I wouldn’t use more than a few tbsp.

      As for a whole pie, you just want a typical 9-inch pie plate (preferably glass or ceramic). And I think you will end up using the whole amount of mincemeat which will put the carb count a little higher. I wouldn’t pre-bake the shell, but I would freeze it first (pricking all over with a fork beforehand). Fill the pie, bake for about the same amount of time as I did my coconut cream pie shell here –> http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2013/07/coconut-cream-pie-low-carb-and-gluten-free.html Watch those edges to make sure they aren’t getting to dark (cover with strips of foil if they are).

      This crust is definitely sturdier than the original almond flour pastry crust but it does crack and break a bit when handling, so you may find yourself patching it back together. Doing a large pie is harder in terms of getting it into the pie pan in one piece. The end result will still look and taste great.

  6. Linda Franks says

    I didn’t see this on FB, but I did receive my email! I think this recipe sounds great especially with adding cranberries into the mix!

  7. Jane says

    Wow–I am so excited! I was just feeling a little sad thinking that it wasn’t really going to feel like Christmas this year–no mincemeat :( And then you saved me !! Scrooge no more :) Can’t wait to try these!! I live in Lancaster where you can actually still buy “real” mincemeat with suet and meat in it. I was really shocked the first time I had mincemeat pie at a local diner and it had meat in it! Maybe it’s an acquired taste 😉
    Anyway thanks and you just made my Christmas more merry–hope yours is too!

    • Carolyn says

      Hope you like it! It’s very much like the mincemeat I grew up with, spicy and has that citrus peel flavour, but no meat. Not even suet…I would have used it if I could have found it!

  8. Kathy says

    This mincemeat will become a Christmas tradition in our house, but the pastry will become a staple. I made a pie, rather than tarts as indicated by Carolyn in response to my enquiry, and it worked out so well. I used Calvados, instead of brandy, and put it into the water at the beginning because I wanted the flavour, but wanted to boil out the alcohol. I think after baking the pie there would have been very little left, and I used Carolyn’s candied ginger (about a tablespoon) instead of powdered. I had to restrain myself from “tasting” the mincemeat so I would have enough for pie…It is fabulous! I think I am going to make a batch just to eat with high fat, greek yogurt on Christmas morning, and I am wondering about other applications….it is TOO good to limit it to Christmas.

  9. Jane says

    Hey Carolyn! Would you be able to pop a link in to the candied ginger here? I must have missed it and didn’t see it when I searched. I am only on my phone so maybe I’m just not seeing it. Thanks!

  10. jo says

    this pastry is delicious! i made the mincemeat right away and intended to make the tarts the following day – but then i couldn’t help myself, made a savory version of the pastry for a tourtiere. replaced the sweetener with a little bit of additional flour + roasted garlic powder + 1 Tbsp vermont cheese powder (from King Arthur). (1 Tbsp a little too much, btw, overpowered the spicing in the meat just a little). holy man, was it good! Amazing amazing good! i’m really interested to know how the tarts would freeze, but they are all gone. today, onto this sweet version…can’t wait to have mincemeat tarts for Christmas Eve. thank you Carolyn!

    • Carolyn says

      Well, I will be able to tell you how they freeze because I have my mincemeat tarts in the freezer right now for Xmas Eve!

      • Kathy says

        I am really anxious to hear how the filling freezes too please. I found that after I refrigerated my leftover mincemeat pie the filling crystallized somewhat, and I wonder if that was because I needed to boil off all the alcohol at the beginning, rather than adding it at the end.

        • Carolyn says

          That’s just the erythritol re-crystallizing. There isn’t too much you can do about that. But I plan to re-heat mine in the oven and serve warm so I think it will be fine upon serving.

      • jo says

        Carolyn, did you freeze them assembled and baked or naked and unbaked? I “aged” my mincemeat for a few days, just had a taste of it last night. Very yum! And I love the spicy-sweetness. Did a little happy-dance in front of my fridge.

        • Carolyn says

          Ooooh, I caused a happy dance? Score for me! I actually went ahead and baked all of mine to lessen my load on the big day. So they will just need some gentle reheating (I hope!) on the day of.

          • jo says

            Ha! You are the source of many happy dances of delight in front of my refrigerator. But you have outdone yourself on this particular recipe because – oh so many of my low carb / diabetic longings are workable with such a good pastry solution. AND mince meat for tarts for Xmas Eve!

          • Carolyn says

            Well you are going to love me in a little while. I created another, similar pastry that is so good and really perfect in savoury applications. Worked beautifully in some baked brie, which I plan to make again for the blog soon. They are both really good pastries, a little different from each other.

          • Kathy says

            Well, I’m looking forward to that pastry recipe too!

            I don’t know if this is a good place to ask, but I have been reviewing many of your cake recipes, deciding which one to make for my birthday, and I notice that in earlier ones you use xanthan gum, but I don’t see it more recently. How do you decide when and how to use that ingredient? Perhaps you have covered this in one of your tutorials, and if so, would you provide me with a link? Many thanks.

          • Carolyn says

            When I am concerned about the final product not holding together well, I use a little xanthan. I’ve found that in many cake recipes, I don’t need it because I use enough eggs.

          • jo says

            Baked brie and pastry? I may be too busy swooning to be able to dance! I tried – and loved – your brie and bacon tarts last week. So if you’ve topped that, I am really looking forward!

            And, Carolyn, thank you for all of your dedication and hard work. And generous sharing. I wish you and your family a very happy week liberally sprinkled with your goodies (as mine will be!). Merry Christmas!

          • Kathy says

            What Jo said….ditto!
            I can’t remember in which post I read the reviewer’s comment that she subbed almond flour for soy flour in your Cranberry Orange Ricotta Muffins (Volume 1) and added 2 TBSP of vanilla whey powder, but I wrote those suggestions in the book and decided to make the muffins for Christmas morning. I made them tonight, and I don’t think that I will have enough left for breakfast. My husband ate 4 …they are moist and delicious…so, so good….
            Thanks Carolyn for another great recipe!!

          • Carolyn says

            Yes, I no longer use soy flour too and the changes are about in line with what I would have done. Glad they worked!

          • Kathy says

            Beyond “worked”…they were fabulous….not often do I see food fights for the last piece of anything around here. I used fresh raspberries instead of cranberries, because I had some, but next time I’m going to use your recipe for dried cranberries (I made a ton). I am going to make your recipe for chocolate cake for my birthday, and I see that one of the ingredients is greek yogurt, which leads me to wonder if I could substitute that for the ricotta in these muffins? I always have greek yogurt on hand, whereas I will have to wait till I shop for ricotta.
            Happy Boxing Day!

  11. Heather from Canada says

    Ok. This crust is amazing!!! I made mini tarts with the pecan pie filling. Ridiculously good!!!!

  12. JoanneM says

    Bravo! These are wonderful, exactly how I remember mincemeat tarts from Grandma’s. Love them, and they are now a permanent part of my low carbing Celiac life. Now, Butter Tarts, gooey delicious parcels of tasty goodness…any future plans for them? ; )

  13. Nancy says

    “—it tastes like a Dickens novel” and the house “smelled like a Christmas carol.” I love the images your words evoke. Keep up the amazing work!

  14. Eric says

    How did I miss this last year??!! Mincemeat!! I have been missing it ever since going low carb, and now it is back. Horray! So what if no one else in my extended family will eat it, that just means more for me. 😉 Thank You, Carolyn, for developing this recipe, and then for the recap list which brought it to my attention. Hope you are starting to unpack your kitchen, and can start to see familiar things. Merry Christmas.


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