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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 150 products across 20 different categories from 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 2021 winners: best barbecue food
Best hot dog buns
Aldi Specially Selected brioche hot dog rolls
These buttery brioche buns have a lovely golden-yellow colour and nice shine on top. Soft yet still sturdy, they’d be lovely with a salty sausage.
Lidl Deluxe brioche hot dog rolls
On equal par with the rolls above, these golden buns are also soft, sweet and well-balanced.
Available in-store at Lidl from June (£1.19)
Aldi Specially Selected Monterey Jack and chilli cheese hot dogs
These generous sized bangers have a golden-brown exterior and soft, juicy interior. Jalapeños provide peppery, spicy notes, without being overwhelming, while Monterey Jack cheese gives a boost of extra savoury flavour – they’d pair excellently with a sweet brioche bun.
Available in-store at Aldi (£1.99)
Best vegan sausages
M&S Plant Kitchen plant bangers
For those looking for a meat-like sausage substitute, this is the closest to a pork sausage in both texture and flavour of those tried.
Available in-store at M&S (£3)
Lidl Vemondo vegan sausages
If you prefer a more vegetable-led vegan sausage, these taste like a cross between a herby potato cake and sage & onion stuffing, with a nice crispy coating. Great in the oven, but we’re not sure how well they’d fare on the barbecue!
Available in-store at Lidl (£1.59)
Best burger buns
Sainsbury’s sesame-topped milk burger buns
The best all-rounder, not just for holding juicy burgers, but for making picnic baps too, these Japanese-milk-bread-inspired buns are super soft and fluffy, with an attractive sesame seed topping.
Morrisons The Best Shorthorn burger
A unanimous winner, this thick, juicy burger made with British Shorthorn has smoky barbecue notes and cooks to a perfect medium when following pack instructions.
Best vegan burgers
M&S Plant Kitchen No Beef burger
If you’re after a vegan burger that mimics meat, this was the best we tried – it’s well seasoned and has a nice firm texture which holds well when cooked.
Best barbecue sauce
Morrisons sticky Kansas-style BBQ marinade & sauce
This has a nice balance of treacle-like sweetness, vinegary acidity and a slight smokiness. Its thick enough to use in a burger without getting messy, but would make a great marinade for pork ribs too.
Available in-store at Morrisons (£1.25)
Best barbecue-ready chicken
Birchwood garlic & herb spatchcock chicken
A resounding winner which is great for feeding families, this succulent spatchcocked chicken has a perfectly crisp, golden skin and sticky herby coating.
Available in-store at Lidl (£3.49)
Best kebab (meat or fish)
Aldi British minted lamb kebabs
These British lamb kebabs are well-seasoned, with a good level of spice and a hint of fresh mint. Perfect for the barbecue but just as good in the oven, they char beautifully on the outside, while remaining soft and moist inside.
Best vegan kebab
Aldi Indian-inspired veggiebabs
These well-seasoned kebabs are packed full of veg and chickpeas and flavoured with mild, curry-style spicing – they’d be great in a hot dog bun with salad leaves, raita and chilli sauce or chutney.
Available in-store at Aldi (£1.69)
Best ice cream
Waitrose Scrumptious Summer salted caramel banoffee pie ice cream
Banana flavour can often be divisive, but this was a real hit with our judges. It combines creamy banana-flavoured ice cream with crunchy biscuit pieces and salted caramel – it really does taste like banoffee pie!
BBC Good Food Summer Taste Awards 2021 winners: best picnic food
Best ready-to-eat quiche
M&S hand-finished Barber’s cheddar & caramelised shallot quiche
This generously filled quiche is well seasoned, with a rich, creamy, mature cheddar and sweet caramelised shallot filling. Just as delicious cold as it is hot, it’s our number one choice of quiche for taking to a picnic.
Available in-store at M&S (£4)
Morrisons The Best burger coleslaw
Our judges loved this colourful, nicely acidic slaw, packed with white and red cabbage, carrot, red onion, gherkins and mature cheddar cheese (a fun addition) and coated in a tangy mustard dressing. Great in a burger, a kebabs or wrap, or served as it is at a picnic.
Available in-store at Morrisons (£2)
M&S extra smooth houmous
Our judges were seriously impressed with this silky-smooth hummus, which could pass as home- or even restaurant-made. It’s well-salted, heady with garlic and fresh lemon and beautifully topped with chickpeas in a slick of olive oil.
Available in-store at M&S (£2)
Waitrose Levantine Table herb falafels
Described as ‘superior for a shop-bought falafel’, these have a nice chunky texture, warm spicing and plenty of fresh parsley and coriander.
Best sausage roll
M&S handcrafted foot-long sausage roll
This has a moist, onion-heavy pork filling and crisp, buttery pastry, topped with a salty crackling and bacon crumb. At a foot long, it’s great for sharing.
Available in-store at M&S (£5)
Best vegetarian pastry rolls
M&S handcrafted roasted root vegetable rolls
These crowd-pleasing pastry rolls are full of colourful, chunky veg including parsnip, swede and squash. The filling is well-seasoned and nicely spiced, while the pastry is golden, flaky and topped with seeds. Just as good cold as they are hot, these are a great veggie option for a picnic.
Available in-store at M&S (£3)
Best ready-made picnic salad
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Middle Eastern-inspired chickpea salad with tangy beetroot yogurt dressing
This well-seasoned salad combines chickpeas, dried fruit and fresh mint with a nicely acidic yet creamy beetroot yogurt dressing. Great for a picnic or barbecues.
Available in-store at Sainsbury’s (£2.25)
Ready-made handheld pastry
Waitrose No. 1 mozzarella & pesto swirls
These pastry swirls combine golden layers of crisp, buttery pastry with a super cheesy pesto, cream cheese and mozzarella filling. Just as good cold as they are heated, they’re perfect for a family picnic.
How we tested
We chose 20 of the most popular summer foods to test (however, one of these categories was eliminated on the day, as none of the products were good enough). All food was prepared, cooked according to pack instructions and presented by independent home economists. For ready-to-eat picnic products, such as quiche, falafels and sausage rolls, we tried them both cold and hot. Judges blind-tested the products and submitted their scores and comments via an online answer form. Judging took place in silence to ensure the panel didn’t influence one another’s decisions, and the entire process was overseen by an independent adjudicator.
The team sampled 150 different entries from 13 different supermarkets to find a winning product in each category; in addition, they were able to nominate up to two products for ‘highly commended’ status, for those that didn’t win the top spot but still deserved recognition. These entries can be found via the links below.
This review was last updated in May 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.