An exceptional Christmas pudding
Winner: Asda Extra Special Melting Fig and Brandy Christmas Pudding (£7/907g)
Comments: This looks and tastes homemade. The texture is lovely and firm with juicy, chunked fruit and the orange slices are beautifully tender. It has well balanced fruit and boozy flavours, and the sauce gives a theatrical surprise.
Gluten-free Christmas baking
Winner: M&S Collection gluten free Christmas pudding (£8.50/454g)
Comments: This looks shiny and juicy, and has a lovely boozy smell with nice mix of nuts and fruit. It holds it’s shape well and has a fruity texture. Buy this if anyone is avoiding gluten, it will please everyone.
Winner: M&S 10 Mini Lobster Mac & Cheese (£10/221g)
Comments: Teeny pots of well cooked macaroni with obvious chunks of lobster and a rich cheesy/bisque sauce. Perfectly sized for eating at a drinks party.
Best frozen canapés
Winner: Tesco Finest* 10 Breaded Chicken Satay Skewers (£3, 210g)
Comments: These have a crunchy, crisp crumb and tender chicken centre and they don’t fall apart.
Winner: Lidl Christkindl Mulled Wine (£4.49/1L)
Comments: This had a subtle aroma and flavour and is not too overbearing to serve throughout a party. We felt it would also be a good base to pimp up with extra spices or fruit.
Highly commended: Co-Operative Loved by us Blingleberry Juice (£2.35/750ml)
Comments: This juice with it’s hint of sparkle and pomegranate flavour would make a good base for cocktails, just add fizz.
A standout starter
Winner: Iceland Luxury 2 Vintage Somerset Cheddar Soufflés (£1.99/80g)
Comments: A light and fluffy texture, strong cheese flavour and super-easy to cook. A no-brainer for an easy dinner party starter.
Winner: M&S beetroot & orange Scottish smoked salmon (£9/200g)
Comments: The beetroot and orange makes this smoked salmon special and give it a gorgeous colour. Firm-textured but not oily, the strong orange notes come through and add sweetness.
A ready-made side dish for Christmas day
Winner: Iceland Luxury sprouts with chestnuts, bacon, stilton & gorgonzola (£1.99/ 600g)
Comments: This is like a sprout mac ‘n’ cheese mash up. It has a strong cheesy flavour, plenty of texture from whole chestnuts pieces, and tender but firm sprouts. Intensely comforting – we could eat a bowl of this with a spoon.
All the trimmings
Winner: M&S garnish selection; bacon wrapped pork & shallot cocktails and pancetta wrapped pork & pancetta parcels with cranberries (£6/325g)
Comments: The parcels have a juicy filling with a nicely balanced fruit flavour which plays well against the saltier meat, the well made pigs in blankets contain proper sausages.
Highly commended: Aldi Specially Selected Outdoor Bred British Pork and Chestnut Stuffing Balls (£2.19/350g)
A vegetarian main course
Winner: M&S Honey Roast Parsnip, Chestnut and Camembert Pithivier (£10/ 600g)
Comments: Crisp brown pastry that looks homemade, a chunky veg filling with sweet parsnip and savoury, umami camembert. This looks impressive when put on the table and cuts nicely.
The Boxing Day centrepiece
Winner: Morrisons M Signature Morello Cherry Gammon Joint (£8/1.1kg)
Comments: This gammon is very juicy, with a good strong flavour and sweet, sticky glaze. The meat cut well and tasted lovely both hot and cold.
A show-off dessert for Christmas Day
Winner: M&S Christmas Star (£15/420g)
Comments: Light and zesty, this is the perfect dessert to serve after a Christmas dinner. It had a real lemon flavour with hidden pockets of even more lemon-curd like filling and a clean finish. It comes out of the packaging neatly and looks impressive.
Best frozen dessert
Winner: Asda Chosen By You Meringue Wreath (£5/550g)
Comments: Crisp meringue, soft cream and tart raspberries. This defrosted very well – even the white chocolate drizzle – and was surprisingly light.
The Christmas Cake everyone will want to buy
Winner: Lidl Snowy Lodge Luxury All Over Iced Christmas Cake (£6.49/1kg)
Comments: This cake surprised us. Pretty but not over the top, it’s packed with fruit and has a lovely texture that cuts well and doesn’t crumble everywhere. A hint of booze adds depth, but fruit flavours shine through.
Winner: M&S 6 Christmas star mince pies (£2.50/318g)
Comments: A rich, buttery, crumbly pastry and plenty of fruit in a sweet, citrussy centre made these our winner.
Highly commended: Aldi Specially Selected Exquisite Mince Pies (£2.99/6 pack)
A ready-made cheeseboard
Winner: Cooperative Truly Irresistible Luxury Cheeseboard (£6/485g)
Comments: This collection is astonishing value for money. A good selection of cheeses including brie, manchego, gorgonzola, gouda and cheddar with each cheese an excellent example of it’s type. The packaging is neat and smart enough to give as a gift.
Highly commended: Waitrose Wookey Hole cave-aged farmhouse cheddar (£10/600g)
Best food gift under £20
Winner: Asda Extra Special Deluxe Edition Parmesan Reggiano with Knife (£5/500g)
Comments: We’d love a huge chunk of parmesan for Christmas, who wouldn’t. No one need know it was only a fiver.
Highly commended: M&S Monnet Cognac barrel aged Greenwich ale (£6/750ml)
Best food gift over £20
Winner: Lidl Deluxe Jamon Iberico de Cebo Ham Leg (£99.99/7-8kg)
Comments: Very special, something you wouldn’t buy yourself despite the frankly quite reasonable price. This won the taste test with everyone including our expert Spanish taster, and has a melting texture and deep flavour with a hint of minerality. You’ll need to find a stand for it though.
How we chose the winners
The olive team decided on 18 categories based on the kind of products you might want to buy to make Christmas entertaining hassle-free. The supermarkets then selected the products they wanted to put forward for each category (we only allow them one entry per category so they have to choose wisely).
The panel tastes them all without any packaging on view, and without knowing where they come from, and rate each individually. In some categories it was very close so we decided to award a ‘highly commmended.’
It’s easy to find these products, look out for this label in supermarkets.
If you’d prefer to make your own, our Christmas recipes are here
Best ever Christmas turkey recipes
Best ever pâté and terrine recipes for Christmas
Best ever edible Christmas gifts
Best ever Christmas canapés
Best ever roast potato recipes (and more) for Christmas
Best ever veggie sides for Christmas
Best ever Christmas trimming recipes
Best ever Christmas puddings and desserts
Best ever Christmas baking recipes