From fudge to gin and even cheese, read on for our buyer's guide to the best food- and drink-filled crackers for Christmas. Our picks make great gifts, or they can be used instead of traditional table decorations.
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Whether it's the hat which never seems to sit properly, the terrible jokes or the contents themselves, crackers are an essential part of any festive or New Year's Eve gathering, and there are now more food- and drink-related crackers available to buy than ever.
From gin and chocolate to handy kitchen utensils, crackers are now filled with all manner of goodies for keen foodies.
We tested offerings from across the market, from bespoke, luxury sets to supermarket staples. Central to our testing were the quality of the cracker and its contents, how easy they were to pull, whether we thought they had the ‘wow’ factor and whether we felt they were good value for money.
Environmental considerations were also a main focus of our testing. Given that it's estimated more than 150 million crackers are pulled in the UK alone each Christmas, we avoided any covered in glitter or which contained single-use plastic gifts, and also looked for those using minimal packaging, plus those which could be recycled easily.
Here, we've sourced the best crackers for food and drink enthusiasts which are guaranteed to make your meal go down with a bang.
Read on to discover our top buys. For over 200 buyer’s guides, visit our product review section, plus find more festive inspiration in our bumper gift guide for foodies, round-up of the best Christmas hampers and the best whisky and gin to give as gifts.
Best Christmas crackers 2019
Joe & Seph’s giant Christmas cracker
Best Christmas cracker for… wow factor
Pros: Contains great quality popcorn
Cons: Popcorn is all one flavour
If you're after a cracker which will make a statement this Christmas, look no further than Joe & Seph's giant Christmas cracker which is guaranteed to turn heads, and to get tastebuds salivating.
This enormous cracker, which weighs 102g in total, is super stylish, and its contents are just as praise-worthy.
Once pulled, you'll find six resealable 17g bags of Joe & Seph's caramel & sea salt popcorn, as well as six gold crown paper hats, and six festive jokes.
While the popcorn is packaged in resealable plastic bags, the rest of the cracker and its contents is made from cardboard and paper, so easily recyclable.
It's also worth noting that while we were fans of Joe & Seph's salted caramel flavour popcorn, the cracker only contains popcorn in this flavour; a chance to sample more flavours from Joe & Seph’s expansive range (which contains over 50 flavours) would have been welcome.
Overall, this impressive cracker is great value for money, considering it contains six generous packs of popcorn.
Buy now from:
Joe & Sephs (£16)
Robin Reed eco-friendly fill your own Christmas crackers
Best Christmas cracker for… eco credentials
Pros: Easily recyclable
Cons: Requires DIY
If you're hoping to cut back on waste this year but still want to partake in the festive tradition of cracker pulling, these fill your own crackers are a great option. The box, film and six crackers are all widely recyclable and are plastic- and glitter-free, too.
What's more, while the crackers already contain the all-important ‘snap’, a hat, two jokes and a piece of trivia, they're also free for you to personalise with your own foodie gift, whether that's homemade fudge, gingerbread or a mini bottle of sloe gin, let your imagination run free.
The crackers are straightforward to fill – simply open the end that's not sealed and add your chosen homemade gift, then gently push the cracker back into place and secure with the additional tie that's included. Once filled, these crackers have an impressive ‘snap’ when pulled.
A brilliant option for anyone wanting to avoid unnecessary festive waste, and also one for anyone looking to get creative in the kitchen and make their own gifts this year.
Buy now from:
Hotel Chocolat table crackers
Best Christmas crackers for… chocaholics
Pros: Top-quality cracker and chocolate
Cons: No dark chocolate
From its branding down to the chocolate used, British confectioners Hotel Chocolat are synonymous with quality, and the same goes for their range of Christmas crackers.
While there are a couple of styles available in their festive range this year, from a set of 10 mini crackers to a giant table centrepiece cracker filled with 40 chocolates, it's the individual table crackers we rate highly in particular.
Embossed with metallic wintry illustrations and adorned with two red ribbons, these crackers would make a stylish addition to any Christmas table. The packaging is also made from sustainable sources.
The crackers provide a ‛bang’ when released, and can also be opened by the red ribbons at each end if you'd prefer to avoid the noise.
Inside, you’ll find three chunky chocolates – a milk chocolate reindeer, a white chocolate spruce and a caramel penguin – all wrapped in recyclable packaging, as well as a gold hat and a Christmas joke.
A fantastic option for adorning festive tables (you could also offer them as a dessert option), these would also make superb individual gifts and presents.
Buttermilk fudge cracker
Best Christmas cracker for… those with a sweet tooth
Pros: Top quality fudge
Cons: No ‘bang’, hats or jokes
Cornish-based confectioners, Buttermilk, know exactly how to make top-quality fudge, and now you can bring their delicious offerings directly to the Christmas table thanks to their fudge-filled festive crackers.
While the cracker itself doesn't ‘bang’, a simple twist of the crackers ends reveals 12 individually-wrapped pieces of Buttermilk fudge.
The fudge, which is handmade in traditional copper pans, comes in three different flavours: clotted cream, caramel sea salt, and a festive (and incredibly moreish!) mince pie. The latter, launched this year, also happens to be dairy-free – great for any vegan guests.
If you're feeding a crowd this Christmas, this would be a great cracker to bring out alongside dessert, or to have with tea and coffee.
If you're looking for a traditional cracker that contains a ‘bang’, hat and joke, this may not be for you, but given the quality of its contents, it's a sure-fire contender nonetheless.
Pinkster gin crackers
Best Christmas crackers for… gin lovers
Pros: Includes great gifts
Cons: No hat or joke
While it doesn't get much better than a gin-filled cracker, these bold and bright table crackers have the added advantage of containing not one, but two, boozy gifts.
We particularly enjoyed the bright pink packaging – which is recyclable – and silver bows; these crackers certainly make a statement.
Inside, you’ll find a 5cl bottle of Pinkster gin which is infused with rasberries giving it its pink colour, plus a 42g jar of Pinkster jam. Both gifts offer good quality, and the jam in particular provides a longer-lasting alternative to the more throwaway gifts usually found in Christmas crackers.
Unlike most traditional crackers though, these particular crackers don’t contain party hats or jokes, nor do they ‘snap’. We’d also advise opening them over a soft surface as both the gin bottle and jam jar are made from glass.
Practicalities aside, we're pretty sure the mini bottle of gin and jar of jam – which both taste delicious – more than make up for the lack of hats or jokes.
Best Christmas crackers for… a festive tipple
Pros: Top-quality contents
Cons: Each cracker contains a different spirit
This six-cracker set is just the thing for a dose of festive spirit. Drinks by the Dram offer a range of spirit-containing crackers, depending on your preferences. The line-up includes gin, whisky, and premium whisky. Given the time of year, and the fact that there's no better way to wash down a Christmas dinner than with a liqueur, we recommend the mixed spirit and liqueur set.
The crackers look classy, and ‘pull’ and ‘snap’ well and open to reveal six individual wax-sealed 30cl bottles of rum or spirit (gin, whisky, rum and brandy are all up for grabs) as well as a shimmery gold paper crown, and a joke.
They're a great way to discover new distilleries, although guests may fight over which tipple they end up with as each of the six crackers contains a different bottle.
Overall, the crackers are efficiently packed, with the set of six stacking neatly into a hexagonal box. The individual crackers are made from cardboard, and the bottles wax-sealed and made from glass.
Handily, the crackers can be bought as a set of six for £29.95, or individually for £4.99 – ideal if you're hosting more or less than six guests.
Overall, this is a quality cracker that's guaranteed to add a touch of class – and excitement – to your Christmas table.
Buy now from:
Master of Malt (£29.95)
Best Christmas cracker for… cheese lovers
Pros: Contains cheese, chutney and crackers
Cons: No ‘bang’
Cheese and crackers are a festive staple, especially when they form part of a Christmas cracker, too! A collaboration between food blogger Annem Hobson and cheese producer Norseland, this tasty cracker is every bit as gouda as it sounds.
To open, it's a case of carefully twisting each end – which is a sensible alternative to pulling considering there's a glass jar of Wilkin & Sons tomato chutney inside.
Inside, you’ll find everything you need to make your very own cheeseboard: 20g Ilchester cheddar, 20g Ilchester red leicester, a 38g mini glass jar of Wilkin & Sons tomato chutney, and five oat crackers to load up with cheese. The crackers also contains a festive hat and joke.
There aren't many downsides to these crackers. At just £3 each they offer great value for money, and are guaranteed to impress any cheese-loving guest. Although one thing to consider is that as the crackers need to be refrigerated, so you'll need to make sure you save adequate fridge space. Additionally, it's also worth noting the two portions of cheese, plus the crackers, are packaged in plastic.
Overall, these crackers offer a fun, festive and cheesy take on the traditional cracker.
What we looked for when testing Christmas crackers
Quality: This included the quality of the cracker, its ‘bang’ and its contents. How would it look on a Christmas table? Did it have a wow factor?
Packaging: We looked for crackers with recyclable packaging where possible, and endeavoured to avoid crackers using glitter or single-use packaging.
Contents: Did the crackers contain a gift, hat and joke? Did they ‘bang’? Did they contain anything out of the ordinary? Do the crackers provide good value for money?
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This page was last updated in November 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.