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
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.