The countdown to 25 December is on and we’re already excited at the thought of Christmas dinner with all the trimmings: pigs in blankets, heaps of gravy, mince pies and Xmas pudding, you name it, we’ll be eating it.
And of course, as it only comes round once a year, you want to be guaranteed the best meal. To help narrow down from all the supermarkets have to offer, an expert panel of judges from BBC Good Food blind-tasted over 200 products from 12 of the UK’s leading supermarkets. Their quest? To find the best buys to add to your shopping trolley.
This year has seen retailers take note of our changing eating habits, says Natalie Hardwick, an editor from BBC Good Food, with strong entries in the growing vegetarian and vegan categories. “We found that many of our favourites were old classics, proving that taking festive food back to basics and doing it really well is a winning formula,” she added.
Rating each dish individually, the panel scored them on taste, texture and appearance before crowing the winners.
Here are the Christmas classics, and a few unconventional dishes, that came out on top.
Best Smoked Salmon
Judges described this as having an ‘artisian smokehouse’ feel with a soft butter texture. You better believe we’ll be serving a plate of this for starters on Christmas morning with scrambled eggs.
Best Alternative Meat Centrepiece
Specially Selected Beef Rib Joint With Salt & Pepper Seasoning (1.1-2.7kg), Aldi, £12.99 per kg (available in store)
An impressive centrepiece, Aldi took home the winning spot for its two-bone rib that was commended for its tender, juicy taste that has plenty of seasoning throughout complimented by a peppery crumb.
Best Vegan Main
Specially Selected Christmas wreath (550g), Aldi, £3.99 (available in store)
If you’re opting for a plant-based Christmas, this golden pastry wreath is described as hearty by the judges, who liked the filling of sweet butternut squash, dried fruit, earthy mushrooms and lentil. Delicious.
Best Vegetarian Main
The Best Layered Vegetable Tart (500g), Morrisons, £4 (available in store)
Veggies rejoice, there’s more choice than ever, and Morrisons is one place to start your shopping. This buttery pastry as loved by the panel for its festive and colourful appearance and a nice balance between earthy beetroot, sweet chestnuts and thyme.
Best Pigs In Blankets
Evenly crisped, pleasantly peppered with a subtle pork flavour that complements the saltiness of the bacon, is how the judges described this iconic side dish. Anyone else’s mouth watering?
Taste the Difference Christmas Gravy For Chicken & Turkey (450g), Sainsbury’s, £3.15 (available in store)
Soak your plate in a healthy serving of gravy from Sainsbury’s, who took home the award for its clean poultry flavour and thick yet pourable consistency.
Best Vegan Dessert
The biggest praise of all was handed to this indulgent cherry and chocolate duo: “You wouldn’t know it’s vegan,” the experts said. We’ll take their word for it.
Best Mince Pies
Outdoing the others, Morrisons took home another award for its traditional mince pies. Judges said they were nicely spiced, juicy and packed with whole, plump pieces of fruit.
Best Gluten-Free Mince Pies
M&S Made Without Gluten Mince Pies (pack of four), M&S, £2.50 (available in store)
If you’re a coeliac, or simply cutting down on gluten, pick up this pack from M&S, whose homemade look makes way for a blend of sweet, butter pastry encasing a sharp and spicy filling that the panel voted number one.
We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.