The woman & home Christmas taste tests are an annual event where our expert Test Kitchen taste test hundreds of food and drink products to find the best of the best in everything festive. This year the competition was tough, with numerous outstanding contenders for every category. Our expert panel of judges whittled down the entries to the creme de la creme of Christmas buys. And we are delighted to share with you our results.
Best Christmas Party Food
Even when celebrating in a smaller group it’s fun to have an array of party food. This year we have seen trends emerge for grazing platters and spicy flavours. Delight your guests with these splendid nibbles.
Extra Special Sicilian Giarraffa Olives with Lemon, 150g, £2.20, Asda
- These special green Giarraffa olives are not overly brined giving them the perfect balance of salt enhancing their great fruity flavour. The perfect nibble for when you’re feeling peckish!
Wensleydale Creamery Seasonal Truckles, 200g, £3.00
- Top marks to the Wensleydale Creamery for their impressive variety of flavoured Wensleydale. Who would have thought that Orange & Champagne or Stem Ginger would be such a scrumptious treat in cheese.
10 BBQ Pork Cornbread Stacks, 210g, £7.00, M&S
- Perfectly seasoned with chunky corn pieces and a touch of spice, these moreish morsels are very impressive on taste.
Extra Special Gran Antipasto, 120g, £3.00, Asda
- This generous selection contains three delicious Italian cured meats. They all have great flavours and the salami is satisfyingly chunky. Wrap around a chunk of cheese and secure with a cocktail stick for an easy party bite, or serve as an accompaniment to the latest party food trend, a grazing platter
Waitrose Pork & ‘Nduja Croquettes 10 pack, 300g, £6.00, Waitrose
- These scrumptious spicy pork meatballs are coated in a pleasing breadcrumb crunch and would certainly appeal to meat fans who can handle the heat!
Best Christmas crisps and nibbles
We are on board in a big way with the truffle flavoured crisp trend. They are the perfect bougie nibble to accompany a glass of bubbles, but have you tried the latest fancy thing? Move over truffle, caviar is in town!
Torres Caviar Crisps, 110g, £3.95, souschef.co.uk
- For the ultimate crisp luxuriousness, we recommend Torres Caviar Crisps. You have to experience them once!
Peter’s Yard Sourdough Bites, 90g, £2.00, Sainsbury’s
- A wonderfully versatile crisp/cracker hybrid. They come in three flavours: Sour Cream & Chive, Cyder Vinegar & Sea Salt and Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper.
The Best Steak and Black Truffle Crisps, 150g, £1.00, Morrisons
- A rather pungent but enticing whiff, truffle is seemingly the crisp flavour of 2020, finally something good to come out of this year!
Espelette Luxury Nut Mix, 1.35kg, £39.95, belazu.com
- Enough to keep them going all Christmas! This is a mammoth bag of truly luxurious nuts.
Waitrose Black Truffle Hand Cooked Crisps, 150g, £2.00, Waitrose
- These had a more authentic mild truffle flavour than others we tasted meaning that the lovely potato flavour could shine through too. But it was the good crispy crunch that won us over!
Best Christmas sweet treats
Best Christmas cake
This was a highly contested category this year, our panel tried so many greats. But these six blew us away.
Royal Iced Bell Christmas Cake, 1kg, £23.00, Bettys (bottom, right)
- Packed with plump sherry infused vine fruits and finished with a sweet stencilled bell design. A grown-up cake with minimal icing and maximum cake.
Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cake, 800g, £15.00, M&S (top, middle)
- Chocolate lovers rejoice. This rich and buttery chocolate fruit cake would be a lovely dessert served with port.
Taste the Difference Holly Wreath Christmas Cake, 900g, £11.00, Sainsbury’s (top, right)
- Not just a pretty cake, this classic Christmas fruitcake is rich, moist and full of flavour.
Tesco Finest Rich Fruit Cake, 907g, £10.00, Tesco (bottom, left)
- We were big fans of this one. Lovely rich nutty brandy flavour but with a marvellous light texture.
Specially Selected Luxury All Over Iced Cake, 1kg, £6.99, Aldi (top, left)
- Chic, simple but effective design with a subtle shimmer that would look lovely on any Christmas table. Good even layers of icing and marzipan with lovely rich, spiced fruit cake. Doesn’t taste overly boozy so a good option for the whole family.
Waitrose Trio of Christmas Cakes, serves 18-20, £35.00, Waitrose (bottom, centre)
- A charming trio of cakes to please all tastes. One is a chocolate cake, another plain sponge and the third is a perfectly spiced Christmas cake with the ideal balance of icing to marzipan. The cute characters are sure to be a hit with the kids.
Best Christmas pudding
The proof is in the pudding, you will not be disappointed with these. All excellent choices for the finale to the festive feast.
Christmas Pudding, 907g, £9.99, Aldi (top, right)
- Rich and boozy with a generous quantity of fruits and nuts. Perfect served with a greedy helping of cream but custard would be just as good. Specially Selected 30 Month Matured Christmas Pudding, 907g, £9.99, Aldi (top, right)
Bettys Classic Christmas Pudding, 360g, £11 (left)
- In three sizes, this pudding delivers with huge chunks of booze-soaked fruit. This luxurious pud is a Christmas staple for Food Director Elisa Roche, she orders one every year.
Organic vegan Christmas pudding, 450g, £12.75, Riverford (bottom, right)
- This luxurious pudding is the perfect balance. It’s packed to the brim with fruit, without being overly sweet.
The classic Italian Christmas bread is becoming increasingly popular. We love it as a breakfast bread, but it’s also a fantastic dessert and great with a cuppa. Contemplate using any leftover pannetone in trifle or tiramisu.
Battistero Panettone Gift Tin, 1kg, £7.50, Booths (left)
- A showstopper of a panettone in its huge festive tin. The perfect gift to bring to the relatives.
Waitrose Apricot and Peach Bellini Panettone, 750g, £10.00, Waitrose (bottom, right)
- Two of our favourite Italian things, Peach Bellini and Panettone, rolled into one. Great taste and texture. Toast it or toast with it!
The Best Classic Fruit Panettone, 750g, £7.00, Morrisons (top, middle)
- The perfect fluffy texture and just the right amount of fruit. We’ll be heading to Morrisons again for our panettone this year.
Loison Panettone Albicocca e Zenzero, 500g, £19.99, Lakeland (bottom, middle)
- We really enjoyed this light, fluffy panettone. It’s flavoured with apricot and ginger. It wasn’t too sweet, so perfect for an opulent festive breakfast.
Crosta & Mollica Apricot Panettone, 500g, £13.49, Ocado (top, right)
- The chic retro packaging won us over on first sight, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. So under the vibrant packaging, we were delighted to discover a light, fluffy panettone bestrewn with a generous amount of sweet candied apricot.
Best mince pies
The perfect festive treat. These are guaranteed to convert even the mince pie scrooges out there.
Speciality mince pies, pack of 12, £14.95, Bettys (bottom, left)
- The best mince pies we have ever tasted. Mincemeat with a sweet almond topping. They come in a double-layered box which brought us joy.
The Authentic Bread Company mini mince pies, 12s, £6.45, Able & Cole (top, middle)
- We can’t resist these little cuties from Able & Cole. They are ideal balanced on a saucer enjoyed with a cup of tea or as a sweet party canapé. A real allrounder: great mincemeat filling and delicious light pastry.
Specially Selected Millionaires Mince Pies, pack of 6, £1.99, Aldi (bottom, right/middle)
- These are a real crowd pleaser and they’re from Aldi so amazing value.
The Best Blackforest Crumble Topped Mince Pies, 6 pack, £2.00, Morrisons (top, left)
- Chocolate and mincemeat is a heavenly combination, as these pies demonstrate handsomely. The perfect gateway pie, for those who are as yet unconvinced by the power of rich festive bakes.
Taste the Difference 6 Mince Pies, 6 pack, £2.00, Sainsbury’s (top, right)
- Generous mince pies with a great flavour and packed to the brim with mincemeat.
Best Christmas Dinner
Best ready-made Christmas starters
Because frankly, Christmas is already busy enough, save yourself the hassle of rustling up another course with these gorgeous ready to go beauties!
Specially Selected Pate Bowls, 280g, £3.49, Aldi (bottom, middle)
- Generous, rich-tasting pates in veggie or meaty options, in real china dishes that can be reused.
Irresistible Scottish Smoked Loch Trout with Whisky & Honey, 100g, £4.00, Co-op (right)
- Why not mix it up and try smoked trout for something a little different this year. We loved the sweet honey and subtle whisky flavour of this one from Co-op.
Champagne and scallop crowns, Iceland (price to be confirmed) (bottom, left)
- Scallops bathed in a rich creamy sauce with a good wine flavour and lovely pastry.
Higgidy Very Merry Parsnip Pie, 250g, £3.70, Waitrose and Ocado (top, left)
- This perfect pie has a fantastic festive flavour and the ideal pastry to filling ratio. Great as a starter or a veggie main.
Tesco Finest Four Coquille St Jacques, 520g, Serves 4, £12.00, Tesco (top, middle)
- Sumptuously creamy with a subtle chilli kick. Not only do these taste amazing, but they also look incredibly impressive on the plate.
Best smoked salmon
It’s a Christmas classic, great as a luxury starter or for fancy canapes. However, you plan on serving it, this lot gets our vote.
Bleiker’s Bucks Fizz Smoked Scottish Salmon, 100g, £6.00, Booths
- Marinaded in champers and orange oils, this delicate salmon has a beautiful scent and real gold leaf for added luxury.
Loch Fyne Bradan Orach Smoked Salmon, 200g, £9.99, Ocado
- When we say smoked salmon this is what we’re dreaming of, a wonderful smoky flavour and a melt in your mouth texture. It’s pure smoked salmon perfection.
Tesco Finest Smoked Scottish Salmon With Malt Whisky, 100g, £4.80, Tesco
- If you are a whisky fan then this is the salmon for you. Nice chunky slices mean this would look excellent on canapes.
Iceland Luxury Frozen Smoked Salmon, 300g (price to be confirmed)(bottom right)
- A very generous portion ideal for a buffet platter. We were pleased by the lovely thick slices that would work beautifully with a sauce. Don’t be put off by the fact this is frozen. Because of the increased demand at Christmas, much of the supermarket smoked salmon has been frozen and defrosted before it reaches the shelf.
Heston from Waitrose Citrus Gin Smoked Salmon, 100g, £6.99, Waitrose (top left)
- We loved the distinctive citrus flavour and the gold finish that makes this salmon instantly more special and will add decadence to your Christmas breakfast or canapé in a matter of seconds. Good firm texture, fairly heavy on the smokiness.
Best cranberry sauce and Christmas condiments
It’s Christmas, pull out all the stops. These tasty sauces will elevate your meal.
Christine Ferber Pinot Noir Jelly, 220g, £8.50, souschef.co.uk
- This spectacular wine jelly is the perfect accompaniment to goose or red meat. And a dollop added to gravy wouldn’t go amiss.
Firebox Glitter Cranberry Sauce, 408g, £4.21, Amazon
- Add a touch of glitter and glam to your Christmas table with this glitzy cranberry sauce.
Potts Cranberry Sauce With Wild Cranberries & Honey, 250ml, £2.75, Ocado
- As you would expect this sauce goes fantastically well with turkey and goose. It also has a lovely honey sweetness making it an excellent addition to a festive cheeseboard.
Rosebud Preserves Ampleforth Beer Fruit Chutney, 198g, £3.95, rosebudpreserves.co.uk
- A rich and fruity chutney with a hint of spice pepped up with beer from Ampleforth Abbey. Serve with the classic British cheeses, Wensleydale, Farmhouse Cheddar or Stilton.
Scarlett and Mustard Cranberry Sauce, 600g, jar with spoon & tag, £7.95 scarlettandmustard.co.uk*
- This bright red sauce could pass as homemade. It contains whole cranberries and would be the perfect accompaniment to your festive feast. *Exclusive offer: Get 15% off any orders with code W&H15
Best Christmas desserts
Drop it all! These elegant desserts are designed to impress. But they taste as good as they look.
Specially Selected Chocolate and Salted Caramel Layered Bar, 350g, £5.99, Aldi
- Another elegant dessert, perfect around Christmas. We enjoyed the rich chocolate flavour.
Golden Balls, 620g, £12.00, M&S
- A pudding with a name to get them all giggling. This impressive, glittering stack of profiteroles is super sweet but, hey, it’s Christmas!
Waitrose Queen of Trifles, 360g, £12.00
- We were pleased to discover that all of the flavours associated with a trifle were present with the inspired additions of a crunchy light feuilletine base.
Best Christmas food gifts
Best food stocking fillers
We adore these cute tasty gifts, perfect as a little thank you to give to those who have helped you this year.
Waitrose Salted butterscotch mallow, 100g, £3.00, Waitrose
- Utterly delicious. These were so good they converted even the marshmallow sceptics on the panel.
Tracklements Rhubarb & Apple Chutney, 220g, £3.60, www.tracklements.co.uk
- Tasty and goes very well with cold cuts. Neither too sweet nor too tart as some chutneys are. It would make an ideal gift for a savoury fan.
Doisy & Dam Vegan Truffles, 144g, £4.99, Holland & Barrett
- Deliciously rich and silky smooth, everyone will be fighting over these chocs, not just the vegans!
Lindt Teddy Jumper Edition, 200g, £4.99
- Loving the jumper design for Christmas, a lovely new twist that will update your stocking filler.
Tesco Finest Sticky Toffee Pudding Filled Cookies tin, 200g, £4.00, Tesco
- These moreish biscuits would make for a lovely gift, they come in a fun reusable tin. It’s almost impossible to just have one, with a gooey caramel centre these didn’t hang around long!
Best Food hampers
Really spoil them this year with these fabulously indulgent hampers.
Bah Humbug! Hamper, £85.00, Dukeshill (bottom, right)
- Good enough for the queen! These hampers have a royal warrant, and we can vouch for her majesty having impeccable taste as every single thing in it was wonderful, especially the cooked hams and salmon.
Luxury Hamper £59.99 Aldi (bottom, left)
- Wow, this is bursting with a selection of Aldi’s Christmas favourites. We think it’s fantastic value. Aldi has a foodie hamper for every taste including a vegan hamper. Prices range from £19.99 to £99.99.
Belazu Hamper (awaiting price confirmation)
- The ideal source of inspiration for the adventurous chef. Belazu supplies an amazing array of unique ingredients all ethically and sustainably sourced from all over the world.
Harvey Nichols Champagne Breakfast Hamper, £85.00, Harvey Nichols (top, middle)
- Always the stylish choice. This generous hamper provides an opulent breakfast for the lucky recipients.
The Absolute Classics Hamper, £85.00, Hotel Chocolat (right, top)
- Being keen chocolate fiends it’s hard to resist this sensational chocolate-filled hamper, it’s top of our wish lists.
Best food advent calendar
No longer just for the kiddies. Advent calendars are a lovely way to spoil yourself or your loved ones in the runup to the big day!
OffBlak 24 Days of Tea Calendar, 24 x 60g Tea Pyramid Sachets, £19.99, Holland & Barrett
- Packed with refreshing natural herbal and fruity teas, it’s the ultimate gift for a loved one who is cutting back on the booze.
Lindt Pick & Mix Advent Calendar, 325g, £12.00, Lindt
- A decadent chocolate selection. A brilliant option for anyone who loves the classic Lindt truffles but wants some variety. We are obsessed with the mint flavour.
That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar, 72cl, £49.95, Master of Malt
- With a different gin nestled behind each door, this calendar is such a fun way to sample an array of gins without committing to the whole bottle.
Love Cocoa Advent Calendar, 261g, £20.00, Ocado
- Filled with 24 delectable chocolates and an exciting extra surprise behind door 24. And if you need more convincing: three trees are planted for each purchase.
The best Christmas drinks
Christmas is a fantastic time to discover new drinks and indulge in some old favourites. At this time of year, there are many opportunities to raise a glass and toast good tidings. We have included a range of spectacular non-alcoholic options too for those avoiding the alcohol.
Wine to pair with Christmas dinner
Don’t let your dinner down! If you’re finding it hard to choose between them, any of these bottles could take pride of place at your festive feast.
Touraine Sauvignon Blanc Domaine des Corbillières, 2019, 75cl, £12.99
- An excellent Sauvignon Blanc. It has it all: it’s rich, crisp, fruity, toasty. We would happily drink this with the starter through to the main and beyond.
The Sorcova Pinot Noir, 75cl, £7.79, Waitrose
- This great value Romanian fruity red has a textured and balanced palate with a hint of festive spice. It will stand proudly on your Christmas table and complement the turkey handsomely.
Waitrose Gavi, 75cl, £8.49, Waitrose
- We were so impressed with this reasonably priced wine. It would be perfect with a fish starter.
Loxwood Meadworks Mead, 750ml, £15.00, loxwoodmeadworks.com
- An elegant bottle of delicious honey wine that’s so impressively delicious you may ditch the grape altogether. Serve with cheese for a perfect pairing.
Non-alcoholic Christmas drinks
There are now so many amazing No and Low options out there that’s it’s tricky to know which to pick! These are all great choices.
Lyre’s Amaretti, 70cl, £23.50
- Has the much-loved sweetness of the popular almond liqueur. We enjoyed it with tonic but it could also make a good addition to cocktails where you want a sweet almond flavour but less alcohol in the mix.
Double Dutch Cranberry & Ginger Tonic Water, 4 x 200ml £3.19, Ocado
- With a fresh and natural flavour, this tonic is equally lovely with or without a shot of booze.
Bax Botanics Sea Buckthorn spirit, 50cl, £18.99
- A wonderful option, whether avoiding alcohol or not. Aromatic without being medicinal. Serve with tonic and a twist of orange zest.
Savyll Non Alcoholic Bellini, 4 x 250ml, £15.99
- It exudes a divine fresh peach flavour. We would happily swap an alcoholic version for this, it’s intoxicating without being intoxicating!
Real Royal Flush 750ml 6 Pack Kombucha, 6 x 750ml, £48.00
- Kombucha is a great alternative to boozy bubbles that won’t leave the non-drinkers feeling left out. Notes of rhubarb were very prominent. REAL is best stored cool, so pop in the fridge before serving in a Champagne flute for optimum taste. Savour and Enjoy!
Tame & Wild Gift Pack, 4x 275ml, £12.25
- Finally, a soft drink that feels very grown-up and is not overly sweet and very refreshing. A splash of summer for Christmas day.
Best Christmas spirits
These festive spirits would all make magnificent gifts. We are enchanted with the M&S Light up Gin Globe, it’s bound to be a sell-out this year. Our panel also discovered some surprising drinks this year, including our latest addiction: Figgy Pudding Gin!
Clementine and Rhubarb Light Globe Gin Liqueurs 70cl £18.00 M&S
- The ultimate gift for gin lovers and a very pleasing taste and heady nose of an English country garden. Just look at it, it’s gorgeous!
Festive Bramble Gin Elixir, 20cl, £19.00, shed1distillery.com
- Cloves, oranges and Christmas in a glass. A wonderful way to create easy cocktails. Extra points for the company’s refillable empty gin bottle scheme.
Esprit de Figues Liqueur, 500ml, £24.95, The Drinkshop.com, The Whisky Exchange, Master of Malt
- We added this delicious sweet fig liqueur to champagne for a different take on a kir royale. It’s made from Violette de Bordeaux Figs in the 150-year-old family distillery in Burgundy.
Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding Gin, 70cl, £36.00, Amazon
- This is the flavour combination we didn’t know that we needed! It’s exceptionally warming. You’ll want it all year round.
Fishers Gin 70cl, £39.95, fishersgin.com
- The perfect gift for sea lovers, a stunning bottle wrapped in seashell paper and twine and encased in a handsome blue and white tin. As for the flavour? Strong, botanical and unusual with myrtle and samphire. A class act.
Best Christmas Champagne and fizz
It doesn’t always have to be champers, we were impressed with how many excellent English sparklings are out there. But this year the latest trend is swapping grape-based bubbles for an elegant cider at celebrations. These excellent festive fizzes are all brilliant.
Danebury sparkling ‘Cossack’ Brut Vintage 2015 75cl £25.00 danebury.com
- Citrusy and delicate with a pleasing effervescence, this is the one to enjoy with a salmon starter.
Leckford Brut 75cl £26.99 Waitrose
- In a lovely gift box, this appley, nougaty English fizz tastes classy and the bubbles last well. Hattingley Valley Classic
Reserve English Sparkling Wine 75cl £30.00 hattingleyvalley.com
- Incredible value for an award-winning English sparkling wine. It has a rounded flavour with aromas of brioche and hazelnuts with a hint of peach.
Les Pionniers NV Champagne, 75cl, £19.00, Co-op
- This champagne has a wonderful secret: it comes with a Co-op price tag but in actual fact, it is created by an extremely well known and revered French champagne house.
Bouvet Saphir Sparkling 75cl £16.99, Majestic
- Nice and light, very drinkable. Great for parties or ideal paired with a fishy/seafood starter or with canapes.
Gospel Green Brut 2017, £12.95
- A lovely alternative to prosecco, quite dry and very fizzy. We would happily drink this with our Christmas dinner, it certainly looks the part.
Now all that’s left to say, we wish you and yours a very tasty Christmas and a delicious New Year!