Does Mincemeat Contain Any Actual Meat?

Mincemeat is a term perhaps you've read in a Harry Potter book, heard shouted as an angry threat, or maybe read even in the deep recesses of an old recipe book, and it's only natural to be confused at the name once you've heard it.

According to MasterClass, mincemeat is not some ground-up meat or some special carnivorous treat but rather a hearty mixture of various dried nuts and berries with all kinds of warming dry spices rehydrated together with your favorite distilled spirit or liquor. It's a particularly classic sweet item in British cuisine and is a staple at the Christmas dinner table. There are also many combinations and ratios of possible ingredients, ensuring that no two mincemeat pies taste the same. But the question is: Are there any recipes that contain meat?

To meat or not to meat, it's up to you

Historically, mincemeat referred to a method of preserving meat that involved sugar and certain alcohols, per Farmer's Almanac – a welcome alternative to the typically salty and smokey ways. During late Medieval and Renaissance times, Europeans were exposed to spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove and began adding them to their mincemeat recipes. By the 17th century, it became a medley of meat and spices and dried fruits, nuts, wine, and vinegar. Soon the vinegar and wine were replaced by stronger drinks, and the meat was replaced with suet — purified clear animal fat, usually beef, lamb, or mutton, from around the kidneys and loins, per The Spruce Eats

Fast forward, mincemeat or mince pies rarely feature actual meat but sometimes include suet, although "most modern recipes are often made without it entirely" (via MasterClass).