The festive season is about sparkle for sure – from sequins to fizz – but it’s also about carb-loading. And mince pies aren’t the only vehicle for them.
We’ve already sampled the best (and worst) new Christmas sandwiches on the high street for you, but today is magic Monday, when Greggs launches its new Festive Bakes, and such has been the excitement on social media, we figured they merited a taste-test all of their own.
In truth, it’s only been a few months since Greggs launched its last new offering in the form of the Vegan Melt, which – it’s fair to say – divided our team. Now, the bakery chain is back with a seasonal spin on its grabbable square bake.
This new Festive Bake comes in meat and vegan versions (each costing £1.60), the former filled with chicken and bacon bits, and the latter with Quorn and vegan bacon crumbs.
Neither combo screams Christmas if we’re honest, but common to both is the more recognisably festive element of Greggs’ sage and onion stuffing, as well as its sage and cranberry sauce. So, what did we make of the full packages?
Greggs Festive Bake
“Never having been a massive Greggs fan, the chain is slowly winning me over with its winter offerings, none of which I’ve hated even though I’m more of a sandwich than pie girl at heart. The meaty Festive Bake looks to be a signature offering, the trademark flakey orange pastry bearing a visible shine of grease that you’ll respond to in direct relation to your level of hunger or hangover.
“The different elements of the filling mix nicely, with the chicken and bacon bits distributed in good balance and cooked to the right level of moistness. But with a double dose of sage in the stuffing and sauce, it’s no surprise it ends up being the dominant flavour – I can barely taste the cranberry at all. And while we all agree turkey is a bit overrated, chicken isn’t really a festive substitute, nor is bacon without sausages not repping pigs in blankets.
“This is an eminently eatable bake on a cold day and will fill you up heartily for the price, but you can’t make something Christmassy just by sticking it in the name. See also Pret’s “Christmas” pesto.” – Nancy Groves, head of Life, HuffPost UK
Greggs Vegan Festive Bake
“The pastry on the Gregg’s vegan festive bake is buttery and flakey with perfect crunch – but we know from their famed sausage roll that the recipe developers have nailed that free-from element before. I’m less impressed with the filling, though. The bake supposedly encases savoury Quorn pieces, vegan ‘bacon’ crumbs, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce.
“But the only thing I can detect is the stuffing, which is well seasoned but a little sloppy (the texture of runny mash potato springs to mind). I do like the flavour, but I wouldn’t say it’s noticeably ‘Christmassy’ and after several bites, the bake becomes a little samey. Still, it warms me from the inside on a cold day – and certainly isn’t the worst Christmas launch I’ve ever tried.” – Rachel Moss, Life editor
But, how do they compare?
We asked our shopping writer, Beth Mahoney to try both bakes.
“Being a big fan of Greggs I’m excited to try their new festive offerings and have decided to try half of the meat Festive Bake and half of the Vegan Festive Bake.
“The meaty Festive Bake smells amazing; its flakey, buttery pastry is definitely calling out to me. Filled with a combination of chicken, sage and onion stuffing, and sweetcure bacon, topped with a creamy sage and cranberry sauce, it’s an interesting combination. The taste is quite nice – it definitely has festive hints to it, but the creamy sage sauce does tend to be the dominant flavour. It’s a warming bake (perfect for a cold winter lunch hour) with definite festive hints, but it lacks the turkey and sausage that I would expect from a festive bake. Overall, the taste is nice and the low price makes it a bargain.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The pastry on the Vegan Festive Bake is so wonderfully crunchy and flakey, with an almost buttery taste – they’ve clearly nailed their free-from pastry. The bake features Quorn pieces, vegan ‘bacon’ crumbs, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce. However, the main flavour I can taste is the sage and onion stuffing, which is a little overpowering compared to the other flavours. Overall, the taste is fine but it doesn’t really embody that festive Christmas flavour.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️