BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2021
Discover the results of our annual taste test and shop for the best festive buys including mince pies, cakes, puddings, mains and sides.
From smoked salmon and stollen, to Christmas cake and cranberry sauce, our expert panel blind-tasted more than 175 products to find the best UK supermarket buys to grace your table this holiday season. Find out more about the judging process in our Christmas Taste Awards FAQs.
BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards
Fish canapés and mains
Best smoked salmon
WINNER: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference bucks fizz smoked salmon, £4.45 (200g)
While the bucks fizz flavour isn’t strong, this high-quality salmon has a great, firm texture, clean wood smoke taste and a festive sparkle finish.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Morrisons Best Triple Smoked Scottish Salmon, £4.49 (120g)
This had a strong level of smoke but tasted high quality and had a pleasing, well-balanced texture – not too oily or fatty.
Best fish centrepiece
WINNER: M&S Collection lobster en croute, £50 (855g)
A luxurious upgrade from a classic salmon en croute, this lobster version is generously filled with tender meat and makes for a special Christmas meal. It has a creamy sauce and is encased in crisp, buttery pastry.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Booths Mixed Seafood Platter, £18
Full of luxury ingredients and varied seafood: creamy lobster, a generous tub of potted shrimp and both prawn skewers and large whole prawns. Serve as a starter or part of a buffet for everyone to dig in.
Best hot canapé
WINNER: Co-op Irresistible sea salt & chardonnay fish rosti stacker, £5 (303g)
These fun, generously sized stacks tick all the boxes. The fish is flaky inside crisp batter and paired with bright mushy peas for a classic flavour combo.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Aldi Specially Selected Mini Battered Sausages with Chip Shop Curry Sauce, £3.49- £3.69 (230g)
A fun concept that delivered on flavour: the crisp battered sausages had good texture and classic peppery notes, balanced with a spiced curry sauce. The size was perfect for a canapé and would be a real crowdpleaser.
Best cold canapé
WINNER: Co-op Irresistible salmon mousse pots, £5 (150g)
Serve these versatile mousse pots with toasted bread slices for spreading, or crackers for dipping. They make a fuss-free canapé and are creamy, with balanced acidity and strong dill flavour notes.
Mains and side dishes
Best turkey centrepiece
WINNER: M&S The Perfect Turkey Joint, £45 (2kg)
Here’s a centrepiece worthy of the Christmas table. The turkey is moist (even when it goes cold, so ideal for Boxing Day leftovers), with crisp, flavourful bacon protecting the tender meat. The herby stuffing is peppery and well-seasoned, adding lots of flavour to succulent meat.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Booths Ultimate Turkey Feast
This turkey feast had everything: judges enjoyed the contrast of the succulent breast meat with the stuffed, rolled leg. The dark turkey meat had an almost aniseed flavour, the bacon was crisp and the stuffing well-seasoned.
Best beef wellington
WINNER: Waitrose Entertaining beef wellington, £60 (1.42kg)
The pretty lattice design looks special and cuts nicely. The pastry is crisp and encases a generous piece of beef and large chunks of seasoned mushroom. It also has good red wine flavour.
Best alternative Christmas mains
WINNER: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference outdoor-bred British pork rib roast, £10.50 (1.45kg)
Voted by judges as almost better than turkey for Christmas, this has succulent meat thanks to being cooked on the bone. The highlight is the great crackling: wonderfully crisp and crunchy, it protects the flavoursome meat underneath.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Co-op Irresistible Beef Picanha Joint with Porcini Butter, £17.50 (956g)
For roast beef fans, this tender joint was a great extra centrepiece for the Christmas table. The meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned, with the porcini butter adding plenty of extra flavour.
WINNER: Lidl Deluxe mulled wine gammon joint (1.2kg)
With the best all-round flavour and texture, this has subtle smoky flavour and is salty without being overpowering. The festive glaze tastes homemade, and it can be served hot or cold, so any leftovers make for great sandwiches.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Co-op Irresistible Muscovado Baked Gammon Joint, £7.50 (750g)
A sweet muscovado glaze added flavour to the outer layer of ham, leaving the meat with a good balance of smoke and sweetness. The meat was tender and had a simple festive decoration – useful if serving as a Christmas centrepiece.
Best pigs in blankets
WINNER: Asda Extra Special 10 pigs in blankets, £2.25 (210g)
Crisp, smoky bacon evenly coats mini sausages, which bake to darkly golden perfection. The sausages are well-seasoned, with a good level of salt and smoke, and don’t dry out during baking.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Lidl Deluxe 2 Footlong pigs in blankets (400g)
Go big on the pigs in blankets this year with this footlong twist on the classic. Thin, crisp bacon wrapped a well-seasoned, dense sausage that was not too salty.
Best cranberry sauce
WINNER: Waitrose cranberry sauce, £2.25 (300g)
A stand-out winner, this loose-textured sauce is mild and not too sweet. Tart, whole cranberries balance the flavour to make it a good all-rounder.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Aldi Specially Selected Cranberry Sauce with Port, £1.49(230g)
Mouthpuckeringly tart, this sauce had a smooth, jammy texture – a good choice for those who don’t want chunks of fruit in their sauce. It had a strong cranberry flavour and wasn't as sweet as others we tried.
WINNER: M&S Collection turkey gravy, £4 (500g)
Described by the judges as the gravy closest to tasting homemade, this has a strong poultry flavour, good consistency and an attractive, dark golden colour with plenty of glossy shine.
Vegetarian & vegan mains
Best vegetarian main
WINNER: Waitrose mushroom, cavolo nero and mascarpone parcels, £6.99 (300g)
These individual crisp filo parcels look special and make serving easy. Filled with a creamy cheese sauce, perfectly cooked cavolo nero and chunks of rich, savoury mushrooms, they’re not too rich and work well with all manner of side dishes.
Best vegan main
WINNER: Lidl Deluxe showstopper garland, £3.99 (500g)
With a jug of vegan gravy alongside, you can’t go wrong with this main. The pastry is crisp and flaky, with a herby, well-seasoned mushroom filling. Dried fruit adds a touch of sweetness.
RUNNER UP: Iceland Luxury Festive Roast, £2.50
Judges commented that this tasted almost homemade, with a touch of sweetness. You could taste the individual vegetables, including parsnips, carrots and onions, and the overall level of spicing was good.
Puddings & cakes
Best Christmas cake
WINNER: Asda Extra Special fully iced fruit cake, £9 (907g)
Even layers of soft icing and marzipan coat this traditional cake, which is decorated with a large gold bauble design. The cake itself is gently spiced, with a good helping of plump fruit. Whole nuts add flavour and texture.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Iced Fruit Cake, £11 (900g)
A simple gold and white snowflake and star design decorated this cake, with thick icing and an even layer of marzipan. The cake was light in colour (not too treacly or boozy), packed with dried fruit and nuts for texture. There was a good kick of citrus along with spices and the cake was moist.
Best yule log
WINNER: Booths festive yule cake, £20 (1.75kg)
This stump-style layer cake is a fun and crowd-pleasing twist on a classic yule log. It’s reminiscent of a Brooklyn blackout cake, with dark, dense sponge layers and rich chocolate icing.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Iceland Luxury Ultimate Chocolate Log, £8 (775g)
This frozen yule log is handy for freeing up fridge space in the busy Christmas period: keep frozen then defrost for three to four hours. Our judges wouldn’t have known it was frozen and enjoyed the rich chocolate frosting and deep dark chocolate flavour.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Waitrose chocolate yule log, £10, (825g)
The generous cream filling balanced out the sweetness of the chocolate icing and sponge and was a great visual contrast with the dark sponge. The latter was fluffy, decadent and easy to slice.
Best Christmas puddings (joint winners)
WINNER: M&S Collection Golden Blond Christmas Pudding, £12, 800g
A lighter version of a classic pudding, this is a crowd-pleasing option that would be great for families. The spices are spot on, with juicy fruit and a sweet blonde chocolate sauce.
WINNER: Waitrose No.1 Christmas pudding, 12-month matured, £12 (800g)
For a warming Christmas classic, this pudding has a well-made, crumbly texture and obvious nuts and fruits, plus generous citrus peel to add bitterness. The alcohol is not too strong, so would work with lots of different sauces.
Best sharing desserts (joint winners)
WINNER: Heston from Waitrose The Giant Cracking Penny, £20 (700g)
The presentation is unique and beautiful. Inside, there are many textures, quality chocolate flavour and strong hazelnut elements for praline lovers.
WINNER: Iceland Luxury Giant Chocolate Bar, £6 (600g)
‘What’s not to love?’ was the verdict on this pud. There’s a good level of sweetness from the distinct layers, plus crunchy peanuts and a moreish mousse.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: M&S Sticky Toffee Pudding Crown, £20 (1.4kg)
This generously sized pud felt like it could be homemade, and, impressively, microwaved in minutes. The sponge had an indulgent soft texture and clear date flavour. The sticky toffee sauce was sweet and decadent, with the custard-style sauce an added bonus.
Best vegan desserts (joint winners)
WINNER: Tesco Wicked Kitchen Belgian chocolate and salted caramel log, £5 (570g)
A shiny mirror glaze and distinct layers of chocolate, sponge and salted caramel make this rich dessert stand out. It’s easy to slice and tastes luxurious without being too sweet, with lasting caramel flavour.
WINNER: Morrisons The Best vegan Sicilian lemon & raspberry semifreddo, £5 (450g)
This refreshingly light dessert is sweet, with a good level of sherbet tang, bitterness and nostalgic ice lolly notes.
Best classic mince pies
WINNER: Spar luxury mince pies, £2 (330g)
Our judges were impressed by the festive star design, and despite the open top, the mincemeat is golden and not burned. The deep-filled pies have buttery pastry and jammy, well-spiced mincemeat with citrussy notes.
Best flavoured mince pies
WINNER: Waitrose cherry & almond frangipane topped mince pies, £2 (pack of four)
If you like bakewell tarts, this is the pie for you. The frangipane topping gives a good hit of almond flavour that works well with the mincemeat and isn‘t too sweet. They’re also lovely served warm with cream.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Tesco Finest 4 Crumble Topped Mince Pies With Salted Caramel & Festive Spice, £3 (4-pack)
Full of festive spices and caramel, our judges enjoyed this twist on a classic and the light crumble topping. The heavily spiced filling reminded judges of gingerbread and lebkuchen, with sweet mincemeat throughout.
Best gluten-free mince pies
WINNER: M&S made without wheat mince pies, £2 (205g)
With a pretty, festive design and buttery, shortbread-style pastry, these pies, made without wheat, were the clear winner. The filling has good bite and is full of juicy, spiced fruit, with strong citrus notes.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Tesco Finest Free From 4 Mince Pies, £2 (4-pack)
These could easily pass as a non-gluten-free mince pie, with short, crumbly pastry. The sticky mincemeat filling had a good texture and mild spicing.
WINNER: M&S Collection stollen loaf, £8 (630g)
A pleasingly soft loaf filled with a good amount of dried fruit and mixed peel. The swirl of natural-tasting marzipan is generous and not too sweet.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Lidl Deluxe Premium Rum Stollen, £4.49 (600g)
A classic example of a stollen, this had a good shape, bread structure and an enjoyable hint of vanilla. There was a balanced variation of fruit and a well-positioned swirl of marzipan in every slice that kept the loaf moist.
WINNER: Morrisons The Best panettone, £7 (750g)
With an appealingly shiny crust and rich golden colour, this classic brioche-style panettone is filled with good-sized pieces of fruit and is not too sweet. Vanilla and citrus notes come through, with just a hint of booze to finish.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Aldi Specially Selected Panettone (Chocolate), £2.49 (750g)
For a sweeter version of a classic panettone, this chocolate panettone was filled with rich dark chocolate chunks. The bread had a good texture and deep salted-butter flavour.
The judging process
We invited 13 supermarkets to enter their best Christmas products for consideration across 23 categories. All food was prepared and cooked following pack instructions, then presented to our panel by two independent home economists. Packaging was removed and judges tasted all items blind. Judges submitted their comments and a score out of 10 for each product in the category via anonymous online forms.
In addition to the winning products here, the judging team also awarded ‘highly commended’ status to high-scoring favourites that they felt also deserved recognition.
Our judging panel
Christine Hayes, group editor-in-chief; Anna Glover, food editor, video; Barney Desmazery, skills & shows editor; Miriam Nice, projects editor; Liberty Mendez, recipe developer; Emily Lambe, digital writer.
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 goodfoodwebsite@.