BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2020
Our annual taste test of supermarket festive food is back. Read on to discover which mince pies, cakes, puddings, mains and sides to buy this Christmas.
Welcome to the ultimate guide to your Christmas food shop. Our expert panel of BBC Good Food judges blind-tested over 150 products to find the very best festive food to buy in supermarkets this Christmas.
We invited 13 of the UK’s top supermarkets to enter their most delicious festive products for 2020 across 20 categories, then spent five days sampling more than 150 entries. Read on to discover which food came out on top in our tasting sessions.
Find out more about the judging process, including how we adapted our testing methods to be socially-distanced in 2020, on our Christmas Taste Awards FAQs.
BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2020
Booths The Ultimate Turkey Feast (3.5kg)
With turkey, two types of stuffing and pigs in blankets all in one package, this truly is a feast. A succulent turkey crown is stuffed with moist, well-flavoured pork, sage and onion. In addition, there are boneless, bacon-wrapped turkey thighs with a pork and cranberry stuffing.
Waitrose The Best of Both: free-range bronze turkey crown with thighs (2.9kg) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£65)
Although not quite as visually impressive as our winning centrepiece, this duo of pork, sage and onion-stuffed turkey crown with slow-cooked thighs was highly praised by our judges for its tender dark meat, well-flavoured stuffing and accompanying gravy.
M&S Perfect Turkey Crown (2.9kg) Available from M&S (£50)
This turkey crown impressed our tasting panel with its super-soft pork and cranberry stuffing, succulent breast meat and crisp, salty bacon.
Co-op Irresistible beech and oak smoked salmon (100g) Available from Co-op (£3)
This has a great smoky flavour without being overpowering, a hint of sweetness and nice firm texture.
Tesco Finest Scottish smoked salmon (240g) Available from Tesco (£7)
A great salmon to serve with eggs, this has aromatic smokiness and a drier texture.
Morrisons The Best triple-smoked tsar cut salmon with soy dressing (283g) Available from Morrisons (£8)
For something a little different, this satisfyingly soft, triple-smoked salmon comes whole, to be sliced at home to your desired thickness. The accompanying soy dressing doesn’t feel very festive, but for those who like things extra salty, it’s a nice addition – a great option if you’re serving salmon at a party or as a starter.
Vegetarian main course
M&S Mushroom, camembert and parsnip pie (1kg) Available from M&S (£18)
This comforting veggie main has an umami, almost truffle-like mushroom filling, offset by sweet parsnip and a camembert centre, all encased in crisp pastry. Just keep an eye on it in the oven – it browns quickly.
Vegan main course
Plant Kitchen mushroom, chestnut and pumpkin wreath (800g) Available from M&S (£10)
Made with chestnuts, mushrooms, pumpkin and grains, this hearty wreath is well-seasoned and has a mellow sage flavour. As well as making a satisfying vegan main, it could double up as a stuffing for meat-eaters. The accompanying sticky cranberry sauce is very sweet – we advise serving it separately rather than pouring over.
Waitrose vegan festive filo swirls (968g) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£15)
These Moroccan-inspired filo swirls are generously filled with spiced vegetables and dried fruit, including squash, red pepper, apricots and raisins. Our judges liked this as a stand-alone dish for its crisp filo pastry and heavy spicing, but feel that the flavours of cumin, coriander and chilli don’t complement traditional Christmas trimmings.
Booths oak roasted salmon centrepiece (750g)
An attractive dish perfect for a festive party or as part of a Boxing Day spread, this aromatic, smoky cold salmon side is dressed with beetroot-cured smoked salmon for a touch of sweetness, as well as soft cheese, king prawns and dill.
Waitrose Entertaining British beef wellington (1.4kg) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£60)
Our judges were impressed by the crisp, buttery latticed pastry on this wellington, as well as the earthy, umami flavours in the chunky mushroom duxelle. The beef itself was peppery and tender and perfectly rare in the centre. Save the end pieces for those who prefer their beef well-done.
M&S Beef Wellington with a rich mushroom duxelle, wrapped in all-butter puff pastry (1.1kg) Available from M&S (£60)
The most similar to a homemade wellington, this has crisp pastry and an intensely mushroom-flavoured duxelle, thanks to a mix of fresh and dried mushrooms. On our tasting, the beef was slightly overcooked, so if you like it rare, we recommend taking it out of the oven slightly earlier than stated in the instructions.
Tesco crackling gammon joint with maple & bourbon glaze (2.8kg) Available from Tesco (£16)
A resounding winner, this showstopping, bone-in gammon has sticky-glazed, yet super-crisp crackling and soft meat that falls apart. It’s nicely savoury without being over-salted and tastes great hot and cold. Perfect for a buffet.
Pigs in blankets
Waitrose No.1 free-range pork chipolatas wrapped in bacon (258g) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£4.25)
These succulent, pork sausages are tightly wrapped in crispy bacon, with a fresh sage leaf tucked in – a simple but very effective touch which gives a lovely Christmas-stuffing-like flavour and extra-appealing look.
Co-op Irresistible British pork & truffle pigs in blankets (220g) Available in-store at Co-op (£3.30)
A very close second, these sausages are super-juicy, meaty and packed with herbs and black pepper. The bacon is really crisp and not overpoweringly salty or smoky.
M&S turkey gravy (500g) Available in-store at M&S (£4)
Described by our judges as a gravy which ‘could pass as homemade’, this has an appealing colour, a good depth of flavour with a rich roasted poultry taste, a nice saltiness and spoonable consistency.
Sainsbury’s turkey, sage and onion gravy granules (200g) Available from Sainsbury’s (£1.45)
With an unmistakably festive sage and onion flavour, a good level of salt and a thin but glossy texture, this was a hit with our judges. It’s great-value, too.
Asda Extra Special cranberry and port sauce (230g) Available from Asda (£1.57)
This sticky sauce with chunks of cranberry has a sharp tang and isn’t sickly sweet – perfect for serving alongside the Christmas meal or in Boxing Day sarnies.
Cakes, pastries and desserts
Spar luxury mince pies (370g) Available in-store at Spar (£2)
These pies have a lovely golden colour and crumbly, buttery pastry. The filling is sweet and jammy, with chunky pieces of plump, soaked fruit and a good hit of citrus from the candied peel.
Morrisons ‘The Best’ deep-filled mince pies (pack of six) Available from Morrisons (£2)
Described as having the most homemade look and feel, these deep-filled pies have a good ratio of sturdy golden pastry to sweet, subtly-spiced fruit filling, finished off with a light dusting of icing sugar.
Specially Selected mince pies (pack of six) Available in-store at Aldi (£1.49)
These generously filled pies have a thick but well-baked pastry top, a nicely balanced fruit filling with prominent citrus notes and a heavy dusting of icing sugar.
Flavoured mince pies
Waitrose mini mince pie selection (pack of nine) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£3)
A cute selection of mini mince pies in three different, cleverly thought-out flavours. Our judges especially loved the almond-topped variety, followed by the nutty baklava-filled one, and were impressed by the crisp, buttery pastry on all three.
Specially Selected millionaire's mince pies (pack of six) Available in-store at Aldi (£1.99)
For those with a serious sweet tooth, these combine a buttery shortbread lid with a salted caramel, chocolate and hazelnut filling à la millionaire's shortbread. There’s traditional mincemeat inside too, but the chocolate-caramel flavour dominates.
Gluten-free mince pies
Made Without Wheat gluten-free mince pies (pack of four) Available in-store at M&S (£2.50)
The unanimous winner, we’d be proud to serve these attractive, star-topped pies to guests. The filling is chunky and the pastry golden, buttery and shortbread-like.
Morrisons Free From The Best maple crumble mince pies (pack of four) Available from Morrisons (£2.50)
Super-crisp pastry filled with a generous amount of fruity filling, with nice, discernible pieces of fruit. Our judges loved the crunchy crumble topping and maple aroma.
Waitrose apricot & peach bellini panettone (500g) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£10)
A twist on a classic panettone, this has a sweet, jammy peach and apricot filling. Our judges praised it for its super-soft, rich, and deliciously buttery dough, reminiscent of a good brioche.
M&S triple chocolate panettone (750g) Available in-store at M&S (£10)
Another break from tradition, this panettone is light and buttery, with a chocolate exterior and soft chocolate ganache-like sauce inside – it’s sweeter than a classic panettone, so great for anyone who isn’t a fan of dried fruit.
M&S Collection perfectly matured rich fruit cake (907g) Available in-store at M&S (£10)
This well-balanced fruit cake is rich and treacly, with a perfect amount of spice. Whole cherries give an extra pop of fruity flavour. It boasts a thick layer of marzipan and pretty snowflake design, too.
Waitrose No.1 richly fruited Christmas cake (1.3kg) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£16)
This rich, moist fruit cake stood out for its nutty texture and punchy hit of lemon zest, which cuts through the sweetness to result in a nicely-balanced flavour profile.
Lidl Deluxe luxury all over iced Christmas cake (1kg) Available in-store at Lidl (£6.99)
A slightly lighter fruit cake in both colour and density, our judges think this would pair well with cheese. It was praised for its proportion of fruit to cake, level of spicing and big nut pieces.
M&S Gastropub chocolate torte (twin pack, 140g) Available in-store at M&S (£3.50)
A delicious dessert for any chocolate lover – vegan or not – this torte combines super-rich, silky-smooth dark chocolate ganache with a crunchy biscuit base. Although the twin-pack is only available in-store, you can also order a large torte, to serve six, online (£12).
Asda Extra Special vegan chocolate cherry cottages (twin pack, 240g) Available from Asda (£3)
Our judges liked the Black Forest flavours in this dessert, which comprises a cottage-shaped dark chocolate shell filled with cherry compote-like filling and light chocolate mousse. The cute cottage design makes it an inclusive dessert for the whole family.
Waitrose elderflower, raspberry & blackcurrant jelly (625g) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£4)
Despite some outcry that this summer berry jelly isn't in keeping with the season, our judges couldn’t deny that it’s an impressive vegan option, especially for those who like a lighter, fruity dessert. The jelly has a nice texture, isn’t too sweet and has whole pieces of fruit and elderflower tones running through it.
Aldi Specially Selected Belgian chocolate & praline bombe (500g) Available in-store at Aldi (£5.99)
This stunning chocolate bombe was a real hit with our judges. The thin chocolate dome encases a light, creamy hazelnut mousse and crispy feuilletine base.
Taste the Difference tiramichoux dessert (746g) Available from Sainsbury’s (£12)
Not only will this dramatic-looking centrepiece impress at the table, it’s also great for sharing, as everyone can help themselves to a profiterole or two before diving into the trifle underneath. The flavours are typical of a tiramisu, combining light cream, coffee-soaked sponge and chocolate sauce.
Specially Selected damson, plum and pink gin pudding (800g) Available in-store at Aldi (£8.99)
A soft pudding with whole chunks of juicy dried fruits and almonds, our judges enjoyed the sweet, almost jelly-like plum centre. It’s finished with a shimmering gold lustre for an extra-special end to the Christmas meal.
Waitrose No.1 12-month matured Christmas pudding with Courvoisier (400g) Available from Waitrose & Partners (£7)
A more traditional option, this squidgy pud is packed with whole pieces of fruit, a good level of spicing, subtle hints of booze and bags of zesty citrus flavour. Also available in 200g and 800g sizes.
M&S Collection stollen slices (250g) Available in-store at M&S (£3)
These super-squishy, buttery stollen slices feature layers of marzipan, a smattering of dried fruit and a dusting of icing sugar. Already cut into neat pieces, they’re great for serving to guests with a cup of tea or coffee throughout the festive season.
Taste the Difference fruit and nut stollen (545g) Available from Sainsbury’s (£7)
Soft and satisfyingly dense, this subtly-spiced stollen is packed full of plump soaked fruit and big chunks of marzipan. An attractive coating of flaked almonds provides welcome crunch, while whole glacé cherries give an attractive festive look.
Tesco Finest cherry & almond stollen Available from Tesco (£7)
For those who like a more bread-like stollen, this has a firmer, slightly drier texture and a little less marzipan. It’s full of chunky dried fruit pieces and attractively topped with flaked almonds and whole glacé cherries.
M&S woodland yule log (1.05kg) Available from M&S (£20)
A family crowd-pleaser, this tree stump design cake has soft sponge, sweet chocolate buttercream and rich chocolate ganache for a moist, fudgy texture and taste.
The judging process
All food was prepared, cooked and presented by independent home economists following 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 157 different products to find their favourites in each of the 20 categories. As well as a winner in each category, we awarded highly commended status to high-scoring products that we felt deserved recognition.
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To read more about the judging process, visit the BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2020 FAQs.
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.