From burgers and hotdogs to pork pies and potato salad, we blind-tasted over 110 products from top supermarkets to bring you our ultimate summer shopping list for barbecue and picnic food.
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Picture the scene: It’s a hot summer’s day and you’ve been invited to an impromptu barbecue or picnic but have no time to make something from scratch, so you head to the local supermarket – but how do you know which products are worth buying? Our expert panel of BBC Good Food judges blind-tasted over 110 products across 18 different categories from 10 of the UK’s top supermarkets to bring you the best barbecue and picnic-friendly buys in supermarkets this summer.
BBC Good Food Summer Taste Awards 2019 winners: best barbecue food
The best burgers
Best burger buns
Specially Selected brioche burger buns (4-pack), Aldi (79p)
Soft, buttery and sweet but not too sweet, our judges loved these buns, which come conveniently pre-cut.
Best classic burger: joint winners
Taste the Difference steak and caramelised onion burger (2-pack, 340g), Sainsbury’s (£2.50)
Praised by our judges for a ‘handmade’ texture and meaty flavour, the sweetness from the caramelised onions means this burger would go well with strong cheeses.
The best beef & bone marrow burger (2-pack, 340g), Morrisons (£3)
If you prefer a saltier burger, this one’s for you. Beefy and well-seasoned, bone marrow provides an added boost of flavour. The judges also loved the size, thickness and juicy texture.
Best vegetarian burgers
The Deli sweet potato burgers (230g, 2-pack), Aldi (£1.49)
Our judges liked the slightly curried, dhal-like flavour of these - they hold together well when barbecued and would be great in a bun with a dollop of yogurt or raita.
Best vegan burgers
Love Your Veg! The Smoky ‘Jack’ quarter pounder (2-pack, 227g), Sainsbury’s (£2.50)
Smoky and well-seasoned with peppery undertones, these have great flavour and an excellent ‘meaty’ texture that holds well on the BBQ. Both vegans and meat-eaters will enjoy them.
Best barbecue sauce
Classic BBQ sauce (460g), Asda (£1)
The most balanced BBQ sauce we tried, this has a pronounced tomato flavour, low-level vinegar acidity, a touch of smoke and not too much sweetness. Our judges felt it would go well with everything.
The best hot dogs
Best hot dog buns: joint winners
Hot dog brioche rolls (4-pack, 280g), Tesco (95p)
A good balance of sweet and savoury, this buttery roll has a light, airy crumb yet pleasant chew. Its shape and size make it perfect for all sizes of hot dog.
Brioche Posh Dog™ rolls (6-pack, 385g), M&S (£1.90)
This classic white roll-style bun has a sweet brioche flavour and nice spring to its texture.
Taste the Difference smooth pork sausages (400g), Sainsbury's (£2.50)
A stand-out winner, these are perfectly seasoned, herby and peppery. The texture is smooth yet robust and they hold up well on the BBQ.
Best vegetarian sausages
Meat free Lincolnshire-style sausages (6-pack, 264g), Tesco (£1.75)
A great example of a classic veggie sausage, these have a juicy, meaty texture, strong seasoning and are an all-round crowd-pleaser.
Best vegan sausages
Vegan whirls: Italian style & Spanish style (4-pack, 400g), Waitrose & Partners (£4)
These were highly praised for their distinctive, impressive flavours and ‘meaty’ texture, however their shape does limit use as a classic hot dog in a bun.
Best barbecue meat, fish and veg
Best kebabs: joint winners
Tandoori chicken breast kebabs (250g), Waitrose & Partners (£4)
A modern take on a tandoori kebab, the meat is well-spiced and the addition of black onion seeds on the outside give a nice crunch.
Korean-inspired chicken kebabs (305g), Tesco (£4)
Made with chicken thighs, these are very succulent. The judges love the Korean-style spicing, with plenty of heat and floral undertones.
Best vegetarian kebabs
Vegan tandoori kofta kebab (280g), Waitrose & Partners (£2.99)
Nicely spiced and with flecks of grated carrot within them, these have a good texture and would go well in a hot dog bun or served with salad.
Best barbecue fish
Chilli & lime salmon kebabs (4-pack, 177g), Tesco (£4)
Vibrantly flavoured with a spicy-sweet Asian-style marinade, these salmon popsicles are an impressive-looking and accessible BBQ fish choice.
Best barbecue joint
Ready-to-cook garlic & herb spatchcock chicken (1135g), Co-op (£6)
A real crowd-pleaser, this juicy chicken has a good hit of flavour from the herby garlic marinade but without being overpowering. It has to be cooked in the oven first but it crisps up nicely on the BBQ to finish.
For the full list of best barbecue food, including highly commended products, visit our best barbecue food results page.
BBC Good Food Summer Taste Awards 2019 winners: best picnic food
Best sausage rolls
Handcrafted Wiltshire ham, pickle & cheddar sausage roll (4-pack, 188g), M&S (£2.80)
Our judges loved the addition of smoky ham, slightly sweet pickle and full-flavoured cheese in this pork sausage roll. Plus, the pastry is golden and flaky.
Best pork pie
Large Melton Mowbray pork pie (440g), Tesco (£2.50)
Short, buttery pastry with a lovely even colour, a nicely seasoned filling and just a sliver of jelly made this an obvious winner for our judges.
Best scotch egg
Taste the Difference scotch egg (140g), Sainsbury’s (£1.30)
A clear winner, the meat is well-seasoned, coarse and nicely peppery, while the bread crumbed-coating is a deep golden brown.
Best vegetarian picnic snack
Handcrafted roast butternut & red onion rolls (4-pack, 188g), M&S (£2.80)
The judges thought this was a great example of a veggie roll which ‘isn’t trying to be meat’. The pastry is buttery, deep brown and crisp and the fruity, onion-based filling is generous.
Best potato salad: joint winners
Taste the Difference potato salad (275g), Sainsbury’s (£2.10)
A classic, homemade tasting potato salad, this is well seasoned and has a bright acidity to its dressing.
Yogurt-dressed charlotte potato salad (270g), Waitrose & Partners (£2)
This also has a homemade taste and the judges loved the subtle tang and pungent crunch of red onions and refreshing mint flavour.
For the full list of best picnic food, including highly commended products, visit our best picnic food results page.
How we tested
All food was prepared, cooked and presented by independent home economists. All products in the barbecue categories were cooked entirely on the barbecue, apart from the larger ‘barbecue joints’, which were started in the oven and finished on the barbecue. Packaging was removed and the dishes were blind-tasted and assessed by our team of experts. Judging took place in silence to ensure the panel didn’t influence each other’s decisions and the entire process was overseen by an independent adjudicator.
The team sampled 113 different entries, looking for a winning product in each category, as well as up to two highly commended products for products that didn’t win the top spot but which we felt deserved recognition. We looked, first and foremost, for the best flavour but other factors were considered such as how well burgers and kebabs (particularly vegetarian ones) held together on the barbecue and texture came into play too, especially in categories involving bread and pastry.
This review was last updated in May 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.