Yes, sugar-free mincemeat really does exist! It’s easy to make and tastes like the real deal. And it’s perfect for baking keto desserts like mincemeat shortbread bars. They’re crumbly and delicious, and taste like A Christmas Carol!
Once upon a time there was a girl who really loved mincemeat tarts, especially around Christmas. And when she went on a low carb diet, she was very sad to find out how much sugar was in jarred mincemeat.
Then she took it upon herself to create keto-friendly, sugar free mincemeat. And it was so good, with the classic holiday flavor, that she danced a jig around her kitchen.
Creating sugar-free mincemeat
Did you guess that the mincemeat loving girl is me? Yes, it’s true. I really do love mincemeat beyond all comprehension. We always had mince pies or tarts on Christmas, so it has a special place in my heart.
But conventional mincemeat has a ridiculous amount of sugar and carbs. A quick look at the nutrition label, and you know it’s not even remotely keto acceptable. Over 36g per serving!
Which is why, over 8 years ago, I created some sugar-free mincemeat tarts. They were delicious and they even got the stamp of approval from my father, which is high praise indeed.
I decided to revisit my recipe and see if I could make it even lower in carbs. I skipped the raisins and molasses, and swapped apple for green tomato (yes, really!). And this time I used a combination of Swerve Brown and allulose to give it that rich flavor and gooey consistency.
It was better than ever! It tasted just like the real deal with only a fraction of the carbs.
Does mincemeat contain meat?
Fear not, my friends, this sweet pie filling usually does not contain any real meat. It’s made up primarily of dried fruit, nuts, spices, and a little alcohol.
Once upon a time, mincemeat really did contain ground meat cooked in wine to help preserve it. But somehow over the centuries, these savory meat pies became sweeter and less meaty. Dried fruit and nuts replaced the ground beef or mutton, and it was served as dessert, rather than dinner.
Classic mincemeat recipes still contain animal products in the form of beef suet. This isn’t easy to come by in North America, so many people substitute lard or butter.
How to make keto mincemeat bars
My mum recently told me she was making mincemeat shortbread bars for the holidays and I knew I had to try a keto version. Two of my favorite holiday treats in one!
Here are my best tips for getting it right:
- Prep the sugar-free mincemeat. Despite the long ingredient list, this is an easy recipe that takes about 10 minutes to make. Sugar-free dried cranberries make up the bulk of the recipe.
- Use a little allulose or BochaSweet. I like to use Swerve Brown for that rich molasses flavor, but a little allulose makes the filling more gooey and sticky, like classic mincemeat.
- Let the mincemeat cool. You can store it in glass jars in the fridge for up to a week.
- Prepare the shortbread crust. This crust is very similar to my Keto Salted Caramel Butter Bars. I simply made a little more of it for this recipe.
- Bake the bottom crust. You want to par-bake the bottom crust so that it doesn’t get soggy with the mincemeat filling.
- Spread on the mincemeat. There is enough sugar-free mincemeat filling to cover the entire bottom crust.
- Crumble the remaining filling. I just use my fingers to crumble the remaining crust mixture overtop the filling, leaving some tantalizing gaps where the mincemeat peeks through.
- Bake until golden.
- Let cool completely. Now how many times do I have to tell you this! They need to cool completely to firm up properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Just use some water and perhaps a little vanilla extract. The end result will be about the same, albeit a little less like traditional mincemeat.
While you can purchase unsweetened dried cranberries online, I like to make my own homemade. It’s easy, although it does take quite a bit of time in an oven or a dehydrator.
The sugar-free mincemeat is dairy free already, and the crust can easily be made with coconut oil. It may be a little softer that way.
Any sweetener substitutions will affect the outcome of these keto mincemeat bars. The filling is best made with some Swerve Brown (for flavor and color) and some allulose (for consistency). The crust won’t firm up properly with anything other than an erythritol based sweetener.
You can make substitutions but I simply cannot guarantee the results.
The sugar-free mincemeat should be stored in glass jars in the fridge, and will last for at least a week, if not more. Alcohol is an excellent preservative! If you skip the alcohol, I would only keep it for a week.
Store the bars on the counter for up to 4 days, or in the fridge for up to a week. They can also be frozen for several months.
Keto Mincemeat Bars
Sugar Free Mincemeat
- 1 cup sugar-free dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup finely diced green tomatoes or chayote squash (or apple!)
- ¼ cup lard, coconut oil, or butter
- ⅓ cup Swerve Brown
- ¼ cup allulose
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 tablespoon rum or brandy
- 2 ½ cups almond flour
- ½ cup Swerve Granular
- 2 tablespoon coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Sugar Free Mincemeat
- Combine the cranberries, walnuts, green tomato, lard, sweeteners, lemon juice, orange zest, and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat
- Bring to a simmer and cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring until the sweetener is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Let cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan well.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sweetener, coconut flour, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla until the dough begins to clump together.
- Press a little over half of the dough into the prepared baking pan and bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.
- Spread the mincemeat over the cooled crust, then take the remaining crust mixture and crumble it over the filling, pressing lightly to adhere.
- Bake another 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Remove and let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.
Lynn Z says
I have a suggestion for anyone following this or any other Keto mincemeat recipe. Prepare it at least 2 days in advance. I ate a piece the first day and it was ok, but it didn’t taste like mincemeat. However, the next day when I tried another another piece it was better because the flavors had started to blend. Today is the 3rd day and it’s starting to have that special flavor that comes from the blend of the fruit, spices and brandy.
Oh my goodness! I love mincemeat & missed it over the holidays. I should have known our Special Carolyn would have a recipe. So amazing!
Carolyn, I am going to adopt you. You are such a Blessing!
Thank you and your family for all the time, effort & love you put in to cooking/baking Keto & taste testing! Smile… 💛
This filling sounds like it would taste wonderful in a cookie. What dough recipe would you use what are your thoughts on this? I cannot find green tomatoes or squash ????????♀️ There is an Italian cookie called Cuccidatti that has a similar filling with chocolate and figs this sounds like a great substitute
I’d put it into a thumbprint! Like this… https://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/low-carb-raspberry-almond-thumbprints/
Debbie Sue says
This was like finding treasure for me. A long lost love for the holidays I can now revisit in a healthier way 🙂 WONDERFUL!! Thank you!!
Enjoy! I love them!
I love the real mincemeat with meat. My non-keto mincemeat recipe uses ground beef suet and meat, not hamburger. I’m thinking of replacing the oil with the ground suet and a small amount of meat. I’ll let you know how it turns out. It shouldn’t add ay extra carbs.
I made these mincemeat squares today, and I’m doing my “happy dance”. I made your dried cranberries earlier in the week. Then continued on with the recipe. As a person that grew up with these tarts and continued making them, I can honestly say, these squares hit the spot. The spices are bang on. The texture is great. Possibly next time I’ll soak the nuts just a little. Also, this was my 1st time making this almond flour/coconut mixture, it’s great. Thank you very much for the work involved into getting these recipes right. This one’s a keeper!
Yay! Hooray for mincemeat lovers. 😉
These mincemeat squares are a seriously good mincemeat squares. I’ve been low-carb/keto for years and every Christmas I was going to try making them. I’m the only one in the family that eats mincemeat now that my mom is gone. This year I baked them for me. The hardest part was cutting up the frozen cranberries as my supermarket said there were no fresh available. They took about 5 hours in the oven but they came out perfect. This is probably one of my favourites. Keep up the good work Carolyn.
Omg, these are delicious!! I made them last night & they will soon be gone! So good!
eventhough the name of this fruit is weird, this recipe tastes amaazing! thank you for sharing this recipe!
I made this with xylitol, because I can’t get allulose, and tomatillas from my freezer because i couldnt get green tomatoes.
The recipe is brilliant. It does taste like mincemeat, to the point that I am thinking of making a large batch of the. Mincemeat and canning it up for different recipes.
I am so glad you like it!
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing mincemeat shortbread bars recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!
Thank you for this recipe! I’m not keto but a diabetic off meds controlled by diet and exercise so love your sugar free and almond flour recipes. My problem here in rural Canada is getting allulose and some of the swerve products. I can get golden swerve, white swerve, which I grind up to make powdered sugar and that’s it. Could I use xanthum gum to thicken the mincemeat? Or arrowroot powder? And sub in arrowroot for coconut flour in the base?
Another reader made it just with Swerve Brown and said they were great. Not quite a gooey, though. Should be fine!
If you are willing to pay the shipping, you can now order allulose from Amazon.com The price if theirs is amazing. I just Recieved a 4 lb bag of Allulose from the, and shipped to me in Ontario Canada. The price in Canada for allulose is highway robbery, not to mention the bag is in oz. Hope that helps in your search.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I love mincemeat tarts and couldn’t wait to make this version. It tastes very much like the original and the only change I made was I used all Swerve Brown as I didn’t have Allulose, very hard to find here in Canada. Also, I love your cookbooks.
Excellent! If you made just the mincemeat, it would probably re-crystallize without allulose but since it’s in the bars already, it won’t be as noticeable.
Tracy Andries says
Bar not bat. Lol!
Tracy Andries says
Another bat I’ve missed are date bars. They were always a favorite of mine. These look like they could take their place. I will definitely be making these for Christmas. Your recipes are amazing!!
My mother made the best date bars! I miss those… no good way to make dates low carb 😉
Your recipes are amazing Thank you. Happy Holidays!
I always want to try every new recipe but this has to be on the top of my list now. True Christmas dessert. Love that you have reinvented the classics like butter tarts and nanaimo bars. Makes a fellow Canadian happy