Our annual taste test of supermarket festive food is back and bigger than ever. Read on to discover which mince pies, cakes, puddings, sides and party food to buy this Christmas.
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Welcome to the ultimate guide to your Christmas food shop. Our expert panel of BBC Good Food judges blind-tested over 200 products to find the very best festive food buys in supermarkets this Christmas.
We invited 12 of the UK’s top supermarkets to enter their most delicious festive products for 2019 across 26 categories, then spent six days sampling over 210 entries. Read on to discover which food came out on top in our tasting sessions.
For the full list of winners, including highly commended products, visit our BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards hub page, plus read the full results of our first ever fresh turkey taste test. Learn more about the judging process on our taste test FAQ page.
BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2019 winners
ASDA Extra Special Free Range Norfolk Bronze (serves up to 10) Buy now from ASDA (£28.36)
A very classic turkey, this plump, golden bird not only looks inviting on the table but has moist, juicy and full-flavoured meat. While the most common turkey gripes are dry breast meat and bitter, liver-tasting leg meat, this has neither problem – the white meat is succulent while the dark is rich and gamey, but not overpowering. Described by one of our judges as nostalgic, she says just ‘one bite reminded me of Christmas’ – now that’s what you want from a turkey.
M&S Collection The Perfect Turkey (Serves 12-14). Buy now from M&S (£65.00)
A stand-out, this was voted a resounding winner by our entire panel of judges. Consisting of a turkey crown stuffed with pork, sage and onion, plus deboned, bacon-wrapped thighs (also stuffed), this innovative all-in-one centrepiece is an easy way to please everyone at Christmas. Both the white and dark turkey meat are rich in flavour, while the coarse, meaty stuffing is perfectly seasoned and peppery – not to mention generous. Added to the fact the skin is perfect and the bacon is super-crisp and crackly, this really is a great product. One for large families (or those who like a lot of leftovers).
Co-op Irresistible Beech Oak Smoked Salmon Buy in-store from Co-op (£4)
A combination of pleasantly subtle smoke; a soft, almost buttery texture and natural colour made this our clear winner. According to our judges, it has an ‘artisan smokehouse feel’, giving it a sense of luxury – perfect for breakfast with scrambled eggs.
Specially Selected Christmas wreath Buy in-store from Aldi (£3.99)
A proper centrepiece that we’d be proud to serve to vegans and or vegetarians. This pretty wreath is made with golden, flaky pastry that encases a hearty filling of sweet butternut squash, dried fruit, earthy mushrooms and lentils. It’s well seasoned and has a pleasant flavour, however, and would go well with wholegrain mustard, cranberry or vegan gravy.
The Best layered vegetable tart Buy in-store from Morrisons (£4)
This was commended by our judges for its homemade look and taste, thanks to its buttery, flaky pastry that produces the perfect crunch when cut. The filling is festive and colourful, and balances earthy tender beetroot with sweet chestnuts, toasty nuts and a prominent thyme flavour.
Deluxe gammon with a spiced rum glaze and a pineapple topping Buy in-store from Lidl (£11.99)
A welcome break from traditional Christmas flavours, this is cooked in a spiced rum glaze and topped with pineapple rings, which not only look attractive but provide a hit of sweetness to balance the saltiness of the meat. The meat itself has a good pork flavour and an open, springy texture.
Extra Special cranberry sauce with port Buy in-store from ASDA (£1.39)
A good balance of sweet and bitter, a nice, slightly jammy texture and whole, freshly cooked cranberries made this dark, sticky sauce stand out.
Extra Special pigs in blankets on festive feast Buy in-store from ASDA (£5)
Displaying simple but genius innovation, this 2-in-1 stuffing and pigs in blankets centrepiece was a real hit with the judges. A loaf of old-school stuffing (reminiscent of household-favourite packet sage & onion stuffing mix) is topped with bacon-wrapped sausages in the ideal shape and size for easy sharing.
Alternative meat centrepiece
Specially Selected beef rib joint with salt & pepper seasoning Buy in-store from Aldi (£12.99 per kg)
This two-bone rib joint looks impressive and special on the table. The meat is tender and juicy with good fat and plenty of seasoning throughout, plus the heady, peppery crumb works wonders with the beef flavour.
Taste the Difference Christmas gravy for chicken & turkey Buy in-store from Sainsbury's (£3.15)
This has a clean poultry flavour, pleasant vegetal base and fairly thick yet pourable consistency.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 6 British pork chipolatas wrapped in bacon Buy now from Sainsbury's (£3.50)
Evenly crisped and tightly coiled streaky bacon encases pleasantly peppery chipolatas. Though a touch dry, the sausagemeat has a subtle porky flavour that complements the saltiness of the bacon.
This year, the BBC Good Food team took the decision to not include turkeys in our initial taste test. This is because turkeys aren’t available until much nearer to Christmas time, so tasting them early – in August – means we are potentially judging products that have been frozen at a previous date and are therefore not an accurate representation of what customers can purchase in the supermarkets this year. For that reason, we are going to be blind-testing turkey products in November and will publish the results on this page.
Cakes, pastries and desserts
The Best all butter deep filled mince pies Buy now from Morrisons (£2)
A clear favourite, these taste like traditional, homemade mince pies. The mincemeat is nicely spiced, juicy and packed with whole, plump pieces of fruit, while the pastry is short and buttery.
Gluten free mince pies
M&S made without gluten mince pies Buy in-store from M&S (£2.50)
These star-topped pies have an appealing homemade look. The pastry is short and crumbly with a sweet, buttery taste, while the filling is contrastingly sharp with a good level of spicing and chunky fruit.
The Best classic panettone Buy in-store from Morrisons (£8)
With a golden, buttery and light (but not remotely dry) crumb; juicy, well-distributed fruit and subtle alcohol kick, this panettone is a no-frills knockout that feels supremely well made.
Waitrose & Partners No 1 richly fruited Christmas cake Buy in-store from Waitrose & Partners (£16)
This mature, deeply flavoured Christmas cake ticks all the boxes. Not only is it nutty, boozy, packed with plump fruit, heavy with citrus and nicely spiced, it also has – according to our judges – the perfect ratio of icing, marzipan and cake.
Vegan chocolate & cherry dessert Buy now from M&S (£10)
A stand-out winner, this impressed with its balance of rich chocolate and sharp, sour cherry. It tastes festive and indulgent, and ‘you wouldn’t know it’s vegan’ – high praise indeed.
Traditional centrepiece dessert
Heston from Waitrose ‘The Fig & Port Cheese Cake’ Buy from Waitrose & Partners (£12) [launching 13th Dec]
Don’t be fooled into thinking this Heston creation (designed to look like a wheel of cheese on a cheeseboard) is just a gimmick. This clever dessert combines creamy, feather-light cheesecake with a complementary fig & port ‘chutney’-style filling and a ‘cheeseboard’ made from crisp, buttery biscuit.
Chocolate centrepiece dessert
Waitrose & Partners the giant Jaffa cake dessert Buy from Waitrose & Partners (£13) [launching 13 dec]
This elegant layered dessert has a pronounced, natural chocolate-orange flavour that fully lives up to the nostalgic Jaffa title. Its slender shape, distinct layers and shiny lustre finish make this easy-to-portion pudding look as if it’s come from a fancy French patisserie.
Deluxe 24 month matured Christmas pudding Buy from Lidl (£11.99)
This plump, juicy pud is packed with lots of whole fruit and nuts and a balanced level of spice and peel, providing a moreish, lasting flavour. Its ample size and pronounced, but not too strong, brandy flavour makes it great for the whole family.
Gluten-free Christmas pudding
Free-from Christmas pudding Buy now from Tesco (£3.75)
Filled with plump raisins and whole toasted nuts, this glossy, gluten-free pudding offers a good level of juiciness without being too sickly sweet. Praised for having a nice balance of spice, booze and citrus flavours as well as a good texture and appealing outer shine, it’s also one of the larger puds we tried, so would cater well for a crowd.
Heston From Waitrose pistachio stollen loaf Buy from Waitrose & Partners (£8) [available in December]
Golden, spice-laced, buttery brioche dough and a perfectly soft marzipan centre makes this stollen a real standout. Although the shape is traditional, its syrupy apricot glaze and topping of toasted flaked almonds, verdant pistachios and sweet dried cherries helped elevate this above its rivals.
Woodland yule log Buy now from M&S (£15)
A showstopper through and through, the novel tree-stump design of this cake (with added woodland toadstools and acorns) makes it stand out at first glance, then it goes on to wow in flavour and texture, too. Cleverly coiled chocolate sponge – light, yet certainly not dry – melds perfectly with sweet chocolate buttercream, rich ganache and slightly bitter cocoa dusting.
Co-op Irresistible Belgian chocolate cups Buy in-store from Co-op (£3.50)
These attractive-looking mini morsels come in two distinct, punchy flavours to please all party goers. Choose from sweet, tangy passionfruit with white chocolate or rich chocolate with salted caramel.
No bull burger sliders Buy in-store from Iceland (£4)
A sure crowd-pleaser, these taste like fast-food burgers but with an extra mustardy kick, fresh tomato chutney and a tender, vegan patty that has a good level of bite and umami hit. Although they look a little messy, they're a good size for a canapé with a clear identity.
Vegetable gyoza with soy and chilli dip Buy in-store from ASDA (£2)
These crispy edged, Japanese-style gyoza dumplings with a rich, umami filling and soy-ginger dipping sauce were unanimously loved by our panel. A simple but excellent canapé, these look great, are easy to eat and full of flavour.
Savoury canapés (meat or fish)
Pulled ham & rarebit crumpets Buy now from M&S (£7)
Creamy, distinctly mustardy rarebit with subtle notes of bitter ale works perfectly with the salty-sweet glazed ham hock topping and light crumpet base on these. They feel modern yet festive – a real flavour bomb in just one mouthful, perfect for a party.
For the full list of BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2019 products, including those given highly commended awards, visit our BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards hub page. For more taste tests and best buys, visit our BBC Good Food review section.
The judging process
All food was prepared, cooked and presented by independent home economists following specific pack instructions. Judging took place in silence to ensure the panel didn't influence each other and the entire process was overseen by an independent adjudicator.
This year, the team sampled 208 different products to find their favourite in each of the 24 categories. As well as a winner in each category, we also awarded ‘highly commended’ status to high-scoring products that we felt deserved recognition.
To read more about the judging process, visit the BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2019 FAQ page.
All prices correct at time of publishing. If you have any questions or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.