1963 Thanksgiving Menu: The Dessert

So to recap what is going on here, I talked about making a 1963 Thanksgiving menu from Better Homes and Gardens Birthdays and Family Celebrations last Friday. Then I talked about the appetizers here, the main course here and I quickly delved into the history of Waldorf salad here which was featured on the menu. Today I will be finishing this whole journey up with the dessert which for this menu was mincemeat pie with hard sauce and hot coffee.


In my original post, I mentioned that I picked this menu specifically for this pie. I am going to sound kind of weird but I have strong nostalgia for mincemeat pie but I have never, until this menu, tried a slice. This was my paternal grandmother’s (Grandma McDowell) favorite pie. While my grandmother hosted the holidays, she would also have  this pie alongside the pumpkin and apple pies. Eventually my mother took over hosting and mincemeat pies were no long part of our holidays.


This pie is now, and actually even at the start of the 20th century, considered old fashioned. I will at some point write a whole post of the history of this pie as it has a long and interesting history but today I will just try to give a quick overview. Mincemeat pie (also known just as mince pie) has its origins in England and came over with the English colonist. It was originally made with beef, suet, fruits such as raisins and apples, sugar and alcohol such as rum or brandy. This was a way to preserve the meat as the sugar and alcohol slows down spoilage. It was also a long process that took about a month. The first commercially available mincemeat hit the markets in 1882 and as the years went on there was less and less meat in the mixture. Modern day mincemeat have little to no meat in the mixture in their recipes.


The recipe from Better Homes and Gardens uses a premade mincemeat. Like many recipes that I found for mince pies in the mid century, this added sliced apples to the mix. Other additions included fresh cranberries, apricots or crushed pineapples. Putting it together was super quick as it was just a matter of slicing apples mixing it with the mincemeat and pouring into the crust. The pie filling is complex with a slight sweet yet sour and tangy with a savory note at the end. The apples do a great job at cutting through the richness of the mincemeat.


Served with it was another old fashioned staple which was hard sauce. It is not a sauce and is made by creaming butter and confectioners sugar with a flavoring such as rum, brandy or vanilla. The best I can describe to you is that it is like a thick buttercream frosting. It is usually served with warm desserts such as bread pudding or gingerbread. The hard sauce is super sweet which is usually not my thing but with the warm mincemeat pie it work quite well. All this was accompanied with hot coffee which made me laugh that the cookbook had to stress the hot.

And now that concludes this rather fun journey. I quite enjoyed making this menu and I look forward to my next one. It didn’t hurt that all these dishes were quite easy to make as well as taste good. That is a big plus in my book! I would also like to give a BIG thank you to my mother who let me use her Fire King dishes and Libby gold leaf glassware for this post. It really helped create the 1960s look.


Mincemeat Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An old fashioned holiday pie recipe from the mid century.

source: Better Homes and Gardens Birthdays and Family Celebrations (1963)


  • 2 cups prepared mincemeat (27 ounce jar)
  • 3 cups apples, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Pie crust for a double crust pie
  • Sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together in a large mixing bowl the mincemeat, apples, lemon zest and lemon juiced.
  3. Line a deep dish crust pan with the pastry and pour mincemeat mixture.
  4. Top with other pastry and crimp edges. With a knife, cut a design in the crust and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50  minutes or until crust is golden brown.


  • Read the label carefully on the back of the prepared mincemeat jar. Some brands like None Such still have a very little bit of beef in their recipe. Just be aware in case you are someone who does not eat meat.
  • The package of mincemeat may be used. Just follow the directions on label before mixing with the other ingredients.

Hard Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An old fashioned accompaniment to warm desserts.

source: Better Homes and Gardens Birthdays and Family Celebration (1963)


  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla (can also use lemon or orange juice, rum or brandy)


  1. Thoroughly cream to together the ingredients.



7 thoughts on “1963 Thanksgiving Menu: The Dessert

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