Looking for easy Christmas party food for the festive season? From Christmas cakes to mince pies and cranberry sauce, we’ve got it covered.
Want to know which bottles of wine to serve this Christmas? Check out the winners of our wine awards for 2020 here.
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Best smoked salmon
Winner: Waitrose Pastrami Smoked Salmon, £5.50, 100g
With strong peppery smoke flavour, the pastrami cure on this salmon adds extra flavourful interest and spice. The salmon itself is well cured, dry and cut into meaty slices.
Highly commended: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Bucks Fizz Smoked Salmon (200g), £4.45
With a touch of extra festive glitter, this is high-quality salmon with a good level of smokiness. While our judges couldn’t taste the bucks fizz flavour coming through, the cure was well done and produced nicely textured dry fish.
Winner: Waitrose Tiramisu Panettone, £10, 750g
For a twist on a classic, this panettone had a hit of boozy coffee liqueur to balance out the sweetness. The brioche was soft and packed with juicy raisins and festive dried fruit.
Best vegetarian main
Winner: Waitrose Mushroom, Cavolo Nero and Mascarpone Parcels, £6.99, 300g
These filo parcels have crisp pastry and a luxuriously cheesy filling, with big pieces of cavolo nero and mushroom adding texture. The individual portions make serving up easy and would go well with the rest of the Christmas dinner trimmings.
Best classic mince pie
Winner: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 6 Mince Pies, £2, 325g
These have a pretty festive design and crumbly pastry that is a good thickness all round. The juicy filling is full of sweet, plump fruit.
Winner: SPAR Luxury Mince Pies 6s, £2.00, 330g
Our judges loved the open top star design of these pies. The thick pastry was well baked, whilst the filling is full of plump fruit and well balanced between sharp and sweet flavours.
Highly commended: Co-op Irresistible All Butter Pastry Luxury Mince Pies, £2, 6-pack
A classic mince pie, these stood out for their well-made pastry with a slight salty note at the end to balance out the sweetness. Nicely flavoured, sticky mincemeat was packed with plump fruit.
Best flavoured mince pie
Winner: ALDI Specially Selected Salted Caramel Flavoured Crumble Mince Pies, 6 pack 295g, £1.79
One for the sweet tooths, caramel balances out the tart mincemeat filling here for a rich festive treat. The pastry is well baked and caramelised and the streusel top is crisp, adding good crunch.
Highly commended: Waitrose Cherry & Almond Frangipane Topped Mince Pies, £2, pack of 4
For those who don’t love classic mince pies, these Bakewell-style pies make a great alternative. The frangipane had a strong almond flavour, the pastry was well-cooked and the almond flakes add extra crunch.
Best yule log
Winner: Booths Festive Yule Cake, 1.75kg, £20
Dark, decadent and very rich – this cake turns a Yule log into a centrepiece. The soft and very sponge is balanced with super sweet icing, and we couldn’t help but love the fun Santa icing decoration.
Winner: Lidl Deluxe Premium Rum Stollen
Traditionally decorated with icing sugar and flaked almonds, this classic stollen delivered on all fronts: a great ratio of fruit to marzipan, subtle vanilla notes and soft texture. The cherries are a welcome addition to combine with the generous almond flavours.
Highly commended: Waitrose No.1 Cherry & Amaretto Stollen, £9, 585g
This stollen expertly combines cherries and almond. There is a good ratio of rich, plump fruit to marzipan and bread, and the loaf was very moist. It was not overtly sweet and was generously spiced, with a lasting aftertaste.
Highly commended: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Hand Decorated Fruit and Nut Stollen, £7 (545g)
Filled with generous amounts of great-tasting soft marzipan, this was nicely baked and caramelised on the outside, and dense inside – good for those who enjoy a less cakey stollen. There were lots of plump cherries and a strong toasted nut flavour throughout.
Best vegan main
Winner: Lidl Deluxe Showstopper Garland (Vegan Pork & Cranberry), £3.99
The ‘sausage’-style filling delivers deep savoury flavour, balanced by a good hit of sweetness from the chutney underneath. The pastry is really crisp and flaky and the crumb adds extra crunch on top.
Highly commended: Waitrose Vegan Jewelled Roast (530g)
This stuffing-style bake would be a perfect addition to a Christmas dinner for vegans and non-vegans alike. The flavours were festive and fruity with a great ‘meaty’ texture. The dried fruit added pops of sweetness and the judges also enjoyed the caramelised onion and notes of allspice.
Best vegan dessert
Winner: Tesco Wicked Kitchen Belgian Chocolate and Salted Caramel Log, £5 (570g)
This had the best presentation, with striking layers. The chocolate mousse is silky and delivers a deep dark chocolate hit, balanced by the touch of salt in the rich caramel.
Highly commended: M&S Plant Kitchen Vegan Melt in the Middle Chocolate Pudding, £10 (500g)
You wouldn’t be able to tell this is vegan – a crowd pleaser for everyone. The sponge was light with deep chocolate flavour, while the melting middle was rich and comforting but not overly sweet.
Best pigs in blankets
Winner: Lidl Deluxe 2 Footlong pigs in blankets (400g)
A supersized pig in blanket, this full flavoured spiced sausage had a gentle sweetness and lots of black pepper. The thin bacon crisped up well and had good saltiness.
Highly commended: Aldi Specially Selected Pigs in Beds, £3.99 (210g)
An unusual innovation, these ‘pigs in beds’ are a hearty addition to the Christmas plate. Judges liked the balance of cranberry and apple, and the sausage contained good-quality pork with a strong peppery flavour. We also liked how the soft sausage meat was balanced by the crispy bacon wrapping.
Highly commended: Asda Extra Special 10 Pigs in Blankets, £2.75 (210g)
One for the purists! This was the best of the classic pigs in blankets on offer. The bacon was really nicely caramelised with excellent smokiness, and the sausage meat was well flavoured.
Best hot canapé
Winner: M&S Molten Cheddar Choux Buns
Gorgeously gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside, these moreish nibbles are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of fizz. Easy to eat with your fingers, these have a rich cheesy hit and are neat to serve up.
Highly commended: Co-op Irresistible Sea Salt & Chardonnay Fish Rosti Stacker, £5 (303g)
If you’re having a drinks party and need a hearty snack to keep people going (rather than a mini bite before dinner) these substantial canapés fit the bill. The stacks were well put together and featured flaky fish inside a crisp batter.
Best Christmas cake
Winner: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Snowflake Iced Rich Fruit Cake, 900g, £11.00
A moist classic fruit cake with large soft fruit, chunky whole nuts and a decent booze hit. The marzipan has a pronounced almond flavour with a good ratio of icing on top.
Winner: Waitrose No.1 richly fruited Christmas cake, 1.3kg, £16
This heavily spiced dark cake was deeply treacly with a ginger-cake flavour and sweet mixed peel. The impressively high-quality marzipan had natural nuttiness and the thick icing was soft.
Best frozen dessert
Winner: Co-op Irresistible Millionaires Roulade, 430g, £4.50
A rich, indulgent dessert that looks good both sliced and whole. It is sweet from meringue but the bitterness of the chocolate balances this well, with an indulgent mix of textures and lasting caramel flavour.
Winner: Waitrose Free Range Bronze Turkey Crown with Thighs, £65 (2.9kg)
There’s plenty of elements to enjoy here, with hits of herbs, garlic and citrus throughout. The turkey tastes high quality and flavour comes through strongly, with dark and light meat both cooked well.
Winner: M&S Collection The Perfect Turkey Joint, £45 (2kg)
This simple joint has succulent meat that stays tender and stood out for being well seasoned. The stuffing provided sweet fruitiness and strong sage that worked well with the turkey.
Best Christmas pudding
Winner: M&S Golden Blond Christmas Pudding, £12 (800g)
If you like a lighter pud, this golden and fruity sponge is a winner. It is well balanced with a good amount of fruit and a unique caramelly blonde chocolate sauce that the judges wanted to keep eating.
Winner: ALDI, Specially Selected Exquisite 30 Month Matured Pudding, 907g, £9.99
One for the dedicated Christmas pudding fans, this dark, boozy sponge deliveries big brandy flavour instantly. It is packed with nuts and plenty of fruit and stays moist.
Best Christmas ham
Winner: Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference Outdoor Bred Dry Cured Gammon Joint with a Maple & Marmalade Glaze, 1.3kg, £15
A ham with really good smoky flavour that was not overly salty. The meat stayed moist, and judges enjoyed the sweet and spiced maple-marmalade glaze that felt festive.
Highly commended: Waitrose Duchy Organic Orange Marmalade Ham, £25 (1kg)
The marmalade glaze on this ham was fruity and sweet, and the meat underneath was extremely tender, soft and succulent with a mild flavour.
Winner: Waitrose No.1 Cheese Collection, £15
One for the cheese connoisseurs – a selection of really great cheeses with strong flavours. The Cheddar is sharp and tangy, whilst the soft goat’s cheese is fresh and creamy. The blue is well balanced with a kick.
Highly commended: Morrisons The Best Slate Cheeseboard, £10 (605g)
This cheeseboard has something for everyone: strong, sharp, mild, soft and hard cheeses. The fresh goat’s cheese was zingy and the soft brie was a good addition, while the hard cheeses had a good texture – but the cranberry addition in the cheese will be love or hate!
Best bottled cocktail
Winner: M&S Marksologist Negroni, £18, 70cl
Best served over a block of ice, the botanical bitterness opens up as this chills and draws out festive notes. A good bitter orange zest aftertaste is balanced with subtle sweetness.
Best festive liqueur
Winner: Tesco Lebkuchen flavoured Irish Cream Liqueur, £12 (70cl)
Christmas spices dominate in this festive liqueur: delivering a resounding gingerbread and salted caramel flavour, judges enjoyed the innovation and balance of creamy and toasty notes.
Highly commended: by Sainsbury’s Cranberry Gin Liqueur, £12 (50cl)
Sweet, light and not overly syrupy, this fruity liqueur delivered a strong hit of cranberry cordial-style flavour and enjoyable festive colour.
Winner: Morrisons, The Best 10 Year Old Tawny Port, 75cl, £12
Complex and interesting to drink, this classic tawny port had good length and depth of flavour. It is not overly sweet and would be perfect with a cheeseboard.
Highly commended: Tesco Finest Late Bottled Vintage Port, £11 (75cl)
This smooth vintage port has rich body: it feels made for sipping on its own in front of a roaring fire. The flavour was fruity without being overly sweet.
Best cold canapé
Winner: Co-op Irresistible Salmon Mousse Pots 150g, £5
Rich salmon in a creamy, slightly acidic dressing and pops from the salmon roe – this versatile mousse is a DIY canapé in the making. Judges thought it would be great served with toasted bread or even scooped onto ready salted crisps.
Best seafood centrepiece
Winner: Sainsbury’s, Taste the Difference Stuffed Salmon & Trout Roast, 870g, £18.00
This fish duo combination is texturally satisfying and expertly seasoned. The lemon and herb stuffing adds plenty of extra flavour for a unique alternative to meat centrepieces.
Best Christmas wellington
Winner: Morrisons The Best Seafood Wellington with Champagne Sauce, £7.00 (615g)
A unique wellington packed with seafood, the pastry here was buttery and cooked well. Inside, a rich creamy cheesy sauce balanced out the fish and the salmon was tender and flaky.