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 2019 here, and stay tuned for our 2020 results.
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Best mince pies
Winner: Co-op Irresistible all-butter pastry luxury mince pies, £2/6 pack
These have just the right ratio of nicely spiced, plump fruit filling to buttery homemade-tasting shortcrust pastry. The perfect mouthful… or two.
Highly commended: Spar luxury mince pies, £2/370g
A strong second-place finisher, with slightly crumblier pastry and a hint of brandy. Yes, please!
Best flavoured mince pies
Winner: Waitrose & Partners mini mince pie selection, £3/9 pack
With all the best bits of a classic mince pie, plus a fragipane or caramelised hazelnut topping or citrus-spiked fruit, each one of these mini pies is a true delight.
Highly commended: Aldi Specially Selected millionaire’s mince pies, £1.99/6 pack
If you really don’t like mince pies and fancy an alternative, Aldi has nailed it with these. Instead of the classic filling, these have a silky chocolate, hazelnut and caramel sauce filling with just a touch of sweet mincemeat. But what would Santa say?
Winner: Waitrose No 1 cherry and almond stollen, £9
Golden almonds encase this traditional marzipan-rich, fruit-filled bread. The championing of cherries, as well as other plump fruits, gives this a decadent, generous feel.
Highly commended: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference fruit and nut stollen, £7/545g
Lovely soft, textured bread and good, plump fruits. This stollen has a more cake-like feel, so get that kettle on.
Highly commended: Tesco Finest cherry and almond stollen, £7
A twist on the classic that’s spiked with Jamaican rum and finished with a beautiful cherry and almond crust.
Winner: Morrisons The Best classic fruit panettone, £7/750g
If panettone isn’t part of your Christmas traditions, it’s time to make amends. This is a perfect combination of light, soft, sweet and rich dough, with spiced fruit and candied peel. It’s head and shoulders above the rest in its category.
Best pigs in blankets
Winner: Co-op Irresistible British pork and truffle pigs in blankets, £3.30/220g
Simple, porky perfection. Obvious quality, with tasty chipolatas wrapped in crisp, flavourful bacon. Buy more than you need!
Highly commended: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference pigs in blankets Christmas tree, £3/333g
Festive and fun, this pigs-in-blankets ‘tree’ centrepiece has really succulent sausagemeat.
Highly commended: Waitrose No 1 free-range pork chipolatas wrapped in bacon,£4.25/258g
A bit more gourmet, with chipolatas individually wrapped in bacon and a single sage leaf. If you like this herb, you’ll love the combo.
Best beef wellington
Winner: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference beef wellington, £45/1kg
With rich mushroom duxelles hugging beautifully textured beef, we certainly could taste the difference with this wellington. Complete with crisp, buttery pastry, this is a definite winning centrepiece for the big day.
Best turkey centrepiece
Winner: M&S perfect turkey crown, £50/2.9kg
Even after trying 12 turkeys, this one had us going back for more! The meat is tender, succulent and flavourful, covered with crisp, applewood-cured bacon, and filled with a fantastic pork and cranberry stuffing. Each mouthful offers an array of textures and flavour.Who needs veg?
Highly commended: Booths ultimate turkey feast, £85/3.5kg
A strong second-place contender, with noticeably tasty skin, tender turkey and herby pork, sage and onion stuffing.
Highly commended: Waitrose ‘The Best of Both’ free-range bronze turkey crown with thighs, £65/2.9kg
The slow-cooked thigh meat was the shining star for us. It’s full of flavour, succulent and has a beautiful texture – make sure to bag both thigh and breast meat on the big day.
Winner: Tesco crackling gammon joint with maple and bourbon glaze, £16/2.8kg
This won its category by a Christmas country mile. Great texture and with an obvious quality of meat, it has top crackling and a flavourful glaze. An absolute highlight amongst all the categories this year.
Best smoked salmon
Winner: Co-op Irresistible beech and oak-smoked salmon, £5/100g
A top-notch all-rounder, this salmon would make a great addition to any breakfast plate or party platter. We loved its standout smoke and texture.
Highly commended: Morrisons The Best triple-smoked tsar-cut salmon with soy dressing, £8/283g
A more heartily smoked fish that comes with an Asian-inspired soy dressing. Don’t be deterred by slicing it yourself – this salmon works well thick or thinly cut.
Highly commended: Tesco Finest Scottish smoked salmon, £7/240g
This salmon melts in the mouth. Thinly sliced, it has a silky texture that gives it a luxurious feel. It has a delicate smoke, so keep it simple when serving this refined treat.
Best seafood centrepiece
Winner: Booths lobster, prawn and shrimp platter, £45/500g
Impress your guests with this effortless platter. Each element has a striking flavour that’s quite different to the next, from spiced potted shrimp, to sweet prawns and a perfectly dressed lobster. Top marks.
Highly commended: M&S seafood rockpool,£25/794g
Cooked in a herby broth, this no-faff hot seafood centrepiece combines all your favourite shellfish in one easy oven-to-table crowd-pleaser. Don’t forget the finger bowls.
Best vegetarian main course
Winner: Tesco Plant Chef meat-free festive vegan roast, £6/476g
A herby, flavour-packed meat alternative with a sweet, shiny glaze. It certainly feels at home with all the classic trimmings, too.
Highly commended: M&S Plant Kitchen mushroom, camembert and parsnip pie, £18/1kg
This contains good chunks of seasonal veg, with the unmistakable hit of melted camembert. There’s no mistaking what day it is with this.
Best vegan main course
Winner: Morrisons The Best vegan vegetable star tarte, £5/390g
Herby breadcrumbs and sweet cranberries give this puff pastry, veg-filled tart a noticeable festive edge.
Best Christmas pudding
Winner: Lidl Deluxe 24-month matured Christmas pudding, £12.49/907g
Whole nuts, moist sponge, great spice and plenty of fruit – if plump and fruity is how you like your pudding, that’s what you’ll get with our winner this year. Deck the halls and dig in.
Highly commended: Tesco Finest 12-month matured Christmas pudding with Courvoisier VS cognac, £8/800g
This grown-up pud is rich and deep in flavour, with an unmistakable kick of the good stuff. This is maybe one for an adult’s table.
Best frozen dessert
Winner: Asda Extra Special Belgian chocolate and raspberry stack, £5/488g
This rich dessert has layers of mousse-like Belgian chocolate that perfectly contrasts with the tart, fresh tang of raspberries and the sweet crunch of meringue. Is there another box we should be ticking? Pass another slice.
Best yule log
Winner: Asda Extra Special yule log, £3.50/475g
Light and chocolatey with a velvety smooth buttercream. This yule log isn’t tooth-achingly sweet and has the perfect balance of filling to sponge.
Highly commended: Tesco Finest hand-rolled and decorated chocolate yule log, £3.50
This beautifully decorated yule log has a more dark chocolate vibe and grown-up feel about it.
Best vegan dessert
Winner: M&S Gastropub chocolate tortes, £3.50/2 pack (140g)
Simplicity is often the answer to good food. This is a special occasion pud that would make anyone happy with its dark, smooth ganache and crumbly base. Make it your own with extra fruit or a plant-based cream.
Best Christmas cake
Winner: Waitrose No 1 richly fruited Christmas cake, £15/1.3kg
With a great use of brightly flavoured candied peel, plus a big variety of fruit, this cake tastes homemade in the best possible way. It contains fresh spices and isn’t too dense. Fool your friends and claim it’s your own!
Highly commended: Tesco Finest hand-decorated rich fruit cake,£10/907g
Booze-soaked fruit makes this an option for those who like their cake more on the moist side. A good variety of fruit and nuts made this a clear second-place winner
Best ready-made cheeseboard
Winner: Asda Extra Special continental cheeseboard, £8/570g
Every cheese in this selection is a standout, from a sharp cheddar to a smooth, creamy stilton and sweet, nutty manchego. What appeared quite ordinary at first took us brilliantly by surprise.
Highly commended: Co-op Irresistible Belton Farm Red Fox vintage cheese, £2.80/200g
There’s red leicester, and then there’s Belton Farm’s Red Fox…this aged red leicester has a sweet, nutty complexity, plus those moreish salt crystals that keep you coming back for more.
Best own-brand gin
Winner: Tesco Finest The Melodist gin, £20/70cl
This caught our attention for its notes of classic juniper, zesty citrus and peppery spice, probably thanks to the yuzu and lemongrass botanicals used, which are balanced by bay leaf and angelica. Bring on the tonic!
How we chose the winners
The olive team chose 19 categories, having researched which products you, our readers, would be most likely to buy. The supermarkets then selected the products they wanted to nominate (we only allowed them one entry per category, so they had to choose carefully). Every product was prepared according to the pack instructions, and our expert panel of judges blind-tasted them, rating each on taste, texture and appearance. We then chose our winning products in each category, as well as up to two highly commended products for those that we felt also deserved a mention.