- Christmas cake
- Mince pies
- Party food
- Advent calendars
- Christmas main
- Vegetarian & Vegan Christmas Main
- Pigs in blankets
- Smoked salmon
- Showstopping dessert
- Christmas pudding
- Cranberry sauce
- Festive drinks
- Christmas fizz
- Christmas wines
- Food gifts
- Special Recognition Awards
- New Brand or Product
By Rose Fooks
Welcome to woman&home's Tried & Tasted Christmas Awards. Our expert food team have blind-tasted an array of products submitted by both independent producers and supermarkets to help ensure you buy the very best Christmas food and drink this year.
The Tried & Tasted Christmas Awards were judged by the expert members of the Future food team: Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith, Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks, Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom, Food Writer Keiron George and Freelance Food Writer Rosie Bensberg.
The team taste thousands of food and drink products throughout the year and are well practised in spotting the very best products in a variety of categories. For the wine tasting, the team were joined by wine experts Alex Layton and Shivani Tomar from Decanter who have over a decade’s experience in the wine industry.
Organising the taste tests is a huge logistical operation. The samples are delivered to the test kitchen where they are prepared and blind-tasted by the panel who make a unanimous decision of the winners in each category. They take into account the taste, look and feel of each product. This year for the first time sustainability was an additional category of which the judges chose one very special winner.
This roundup of the best Christmas food and drink includes the runners up in each category too that also received high scores. We’re so happy to share our best festive food suggestions with you, and hope they make your Christmas extra special.
Best Christmas cake
No.1 Rich Fruit Cake
The very best Christmas Cake 2021
This cake is a stand out winner that tastes just as great as it looks. Cut through the icing and marzipan to reveal a nut and fruit-filled cake with a fantastic texture that is moist and rich and holds together well. We also enjoyed the rich marzipan which has a lovely almond flavour.
The Best Iced Christmas Cake
The best value Christmas cake
Morrisons’ festive bakes never fail to impress, and this delicious cake was no exception. By the time you enjoy this cake, it will have been maturing for a minimum three months, allowing the flavours to intensify. The flavour is very boozy, which we love, with a subtle hint of nutmeg and spice. It looks less impressive than some of the other entries, but the design is simple and classy. Exceptional quality for a supermarket cake and at under £10 it's a real bargain.
Biscuiteers Christmas Greenery Christmas Cake
Best decorated Christmas cake
This cake won us over with the charming hand-iced design. It tasted homemade with every slice packed with ginger, figs and chunky pieces of cherry. It’s quite heavily spiced giving it an extra festive feel.
Best Mince Pies
Biscuiteers Handmade Mince Pies
Best overall mince pies
This exceptional pie has a real artisanal feel and the textures and flavours are very well balanced. The pastry is buttery and flaky and the mincemeat filling is rich without being overly sweet. Each pie has a frangipane top that adds a crisp nuttiness to round them off. The judges agreed that these luxury pies have the Christmas wow factor.
Waitrose Gluten-Free Mince Pies
Best gluten-free mince pies
These mince pies stood out because they were larger than the other entries which could make them perfect for sharing - although we'd understand if you'd prefer not to! Topped with a crisp and delicious pastry with an elegant design, these pies are filled with a mincemeat bursting with flavour thanks to the chunky, coarse fruits.
Riverford Organic Vegan Mince Pies
Best vegan mince pies
These were the best vegan mince pies that we tried, they're from Riverford, so you know they are going to contain the best quality organic ingredients. Despite containing no dairy they still have a rich decadent flavour. When tasting we did find the pastry a little crumbly, but the perfectly spiced filling more than compensated.
Best Party Food
Mini New Yorker Style Pastrami Toasties
Best overall party food
Miniature sarnies filled with oozy cheese, pastrami, mustard and pickles. It doesn't get much better than that. With a great balance of flavours, these are guaranteed to be a real crowd-pleaser. Our judges commended the mustard and enjoyed that they were something a little different from the norm. They are a little on the greasy side, which we kind of love about them. But if you don’t want your guests to get greasy fingers why not pierce them with a cocktail stick and perhaps add a cornichon for good measure.
Clementina Cakes Great British Brownies
Best sweet party food
Pure chocolate indulgence, the brownies were a hit with our judges who couldn’t stop sneaking bites of these beauties. The brownies have blue cornflowers petals scattered on top, so would look pretty at a buffet, or if you’re hosting a canapé party you could cut each brownie into four pieces to make a delicious bite-sized nibble.
Booths Salt and Pepper Chicken
The best chicken canapé
Chunky chicken pieces encased in a crunchy peppery crumb, with a spicy dip—our judges were impressed with the punchy flavour. These tasty bites are sure to be a hit at a party and would complement a glass of white wine or light beer.
Irresistible Sea Salt & Chardonnay Fish Rosti Stackers
Best fish party food
These Fish Rosti Stackers are sure to be a hit at parties this festive season. They have the flavour of the seaside in every bite and will add a nostalgic charm to your soiree. The judges adored the addition of mushy peas for a little fun, and the zingy salt and vinegar powder.
M&S Beef Burger Spring Rolls
Best party food with a twist
Beef burger spring rolls? Yes, you heard us right. The judges were big fans of this unorthodox combination and if you’re a fast food fan you will likely love these. Bite through the crispy crunchy exterior and these unassuming rolls have all the components of a burger—the addition of pickles was an inspired move!
Best Advent Calendar
Hotel Chocolat The Grand Advent Calendar
The best chocolate advent calendar
This supersized calendar contains an amazing array of gifts to enjoy in the lead-up to the big day. From chocolates to lip balm to gin, this calendar has a real variety of treats to give each day an extra special surprise.
Lakrids By Bülow Christmas Calendar
Best alternative advent calendar
Have you discovered Lakrids By Bülow yet? They are a Danish liquorice brand that specialises in making remarkably delicious chocolate coated liquorice balls—and they come in an enchanting array of flavours from mango to salted caramel. In this calendar each door hides a packet of two with an extra special treat for the 24th.
Morrisons The Best Panettone
The best Christmas panettone
A great tasting classic with a well-balanced flavour and springy texture, this panettone is bursting with juicy candied peel and raisins and has a lovely golden colour. Morrisons has become our go-to destination for great quality Christmas panettone.
Crosta & Mollica Hand-wrapped Apricot Panettone
The best panettone to give as a gift
This apricot panettone was a joy to eat. The judges praised the vanilla buttery flavour and sturdy texture. It was less fruit-heavy than some others in this category so would be a good option for breakfast. In Italy, the home of the panettone, it’s customary to take a panettone to people you visit around Christmas and this one comes wrapped up in pretty orange paper, so would make a lovely gift.
Parson's Nose turkey
A stand out winner. This bird really impressed the judges with its exceptional flavour and magnificent looks. The skin was deliciously crispy and the meat incredibly succulent. The cooking time was a little inaccurate, but it helpfully comes with a popper to signal when it’s ready to come out.
Co-op Irresistible Organic Pembrokeshire Turkey
Best supermarket turkey
This turkey has a lovely crispy golden skin while the meat inside stays perfectly moist—and the jus would make for a spectacular gravy.
Aldi Specially Selected Ultimate Turkey Stuffed Crown and Bacon Wrapped Thigh
Best turkey crown
This stuffed crown and bacon-wrapped thighs are easy to cook as they come in a tray ready to pop straight into the oven. Tucked inside the crown is a tasty fruity stuffing that keeps the meat incredibly succulent and moist.
Best Christmas Main
Co-op Irresistible Beef Picanha Joint with Porcini Butter
Best alternative Christmas main
If you prefer beef for Christmas then this is the one for you. All the judges were enamoured with this flavourful and succulent joint from Co-op and the porcini butter is a lovely addition that really enhances the flavour. Any leftovers would be lovely served as part of a cold spread on Boxing Day.
Dukeshill St. George's Wiltshire Ham
Best Christmas ham
A lovely spiced orange glaze adds a subtle sweetness to this remarkable ham which has a mild flavour and is lovely and tender. It would be a great centrepiece at the buffet or if you’re planning a Christmas dinner with lots of guests you could serve alongside a turkey.
M&S Frozen Collection British Beef Bourguinon & Daupinoise Pie
Best Christmas pie
Depending on your preference this might not quite be the centrepiece for Christmas day, but don’t miss the opportunity to taste this insanely good pie. It is super easy to pop in the oven and would be great around the holiday season. The rich flavour combination makes a real hearty treat with a somewhat luxurious feel. Extra points for a sensationally buttery pastry.
Best Vegetarian & Vegan Christmas Main
Waitrose Mushroom, Cavolo Nero & Mascarpone Parcels
Best vegetarian Christmas main
These perfect parcels from Waitrose were a stand out winner. Inside they have a creamy mascarpone filling and nice chunky pieces of mushroom and cavolo nero. They have a well balanced delicate flavour that received high praise from the judges, although they suggested adding a pinch extra of salt.
M&S Plant Kitchen Vegan beef Wellington
Best vegan Christmas main
This vegan Wellington would be a stunning centrepiece at Christmas dinner, or equally lovely served around the festivities. Easy to prepare, it came out of the oven cooked to perfection with a golden pastry and well-cooked filling. Nestled inside the perfect crisp vegan puff pastry is a succulent meat alternative made from wheat and peas that looks appetising with a pleasant firm texture. Topped with a rich mushroom duxelle it's rich tasty and delicious.
Best Pigs in Blankets
Farmison & Co Traditional Pigs In Blankets
The best pigs in blankets
Our winning pigs in blankets have an exceptional flavour and great texture. The sausage has added herbs and is enrobed in thick and delicious bacon. Once cooked they have an appetising colour and kept their shape well.
Best Smoked Salmon
Native Hebridean Smoked Scottish Salmon
Best overall smoked salmon
This impressive smoked salmon has a pleasant oaky, smoky flavour and is perfectly seasoned. The chunky pieces are versatile to serve as you like—either incorporate it into meals or starters or serve as part of a buffet spread.
Morrisons The Best Smoked Salmon
Best supermarket smoked salmon
The thin slices give a melt in the mouth texture to this subtly smoked salmon. It has a fantastic texture and a delicate smoked flavour, which benefits from a generous squeeze of lemon.
Waitrose Pastrami smoked salmon
Best alternative smoked salmon
For something a little different, this pastrami smoked salmon is a delicious alternative that will appeal to meat lovers with its peppery crust.
Best Showstopping Dessert
Co-op Irresistible Bells & Baubles
Best Christmas dessert
Fun and festive, this showstopping dessert from Co-op was the best of a great bunch. The judges appreciated the contemporary look—it’s something a little different while remaining fun and festive. The chocolate orange mousse on the outside conceals an oozy chocolate centre—light and airy while tasting delightfully rich.
Taste the Difference Salted Caramel & Chocolate Star
Best Christmas dessert runner up
This good looking salted caramel and chocolate star has a great flavour and would be a gorgeous centrepiece to end a Christmas meal.
Waitrose Layered Winter Pudding
Best vegan dessert
This pudding is delicious whether you’re vegan or not and it's a light, fresh way to end a hefty meal. It’s not the best looking but is a lovely vibrant colour, perhaps you could add a sparkler for a little festive flair. It’s similar to a summer pudding, with lots of fruit and soaked sponge, but also has a subtle spice which is a nice festive touch.
Best Christmas Pudding
Aldi Champagne pudding
Best Christmas pudding
For a showstopping Christmas pud the judges were blown away with ALDI’s champagne Christmas pudding. The inside is soaked with champagne and the outside has a festive silver shimmer. Although this pudding is sweeter than some of the other winners, it’s a good balance of flavour and lovely and nutty.
Lewis & Cooper Traditional Plum Pudding
Best traditional Christmas pudding
This pudding stood out for its luxurious plump fruit. It’s not overly sweet, and the combination of rich fruit and booze made it taste particularly festive. It’s deliciously moist and quite a looker too, so was awarded high scores all round.
Co-op Irresistible Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding
Best individual Christmas pudding
This little cutie serves one so would be ideal if not everyone around the table is a fan of Christmas pudding or you’re planning a paired down celebration this year. The miniature size also means that it looks adorable on a plate—dress it up with a dollop of cream and a sprig of holly for a classy look. The judges commended the great boozy flavour and texture of this pudding and enjoyed the well-balanced flavour. It doesn’t contain nuts and the fruit is good quality.
Best Ready-made Starter
Bloody Margaret Prawn Cocktails
Best Christmas starter
Who doesn’t love the return of a vintage favourite at Christmas? If you like to kick off the meal with a prawn cocktail then you will love this twist on a classic. The base is a Bloody Margaret jelly (a Bloody Margaret is a gin version of a Bloody Mary) with prawns in a creamy sauce. The starter comes ready to serve, elegantly presented in a verrine.
Dukeshill Potted Shrimps
Best luxury starter
These potted shrimps taste utterly divine, the ultimate rich and indulgent beginning to a festive feast. The shrimp is moist and flavourful and the judges praised the perfect seasoning. It will however require a small effort to make it look presentable, we suggest serving on a warm crisp brown toast with perhaps a few leaves for a pretty garnish.
Best Christmas Hamper
It's a Wonderful Life Hamper
The best Christmas hamper
All the products are sensational in this very generously packed hamper. Dukeshill offer a range of Christmas hampers, with prices starting from £60 and going all the way up to £795 for a real blow out! Each one contains a famously delicious Dukeshill ham.
Best Sustainable Christmas Product
Chococo Tuan the Orangutan to support SOS
Best sustainable product
This year we added a new category to celebrate the most sustainable product from the Tried & Tasted awards. We couldn’t resist this charming chocolate Orangutan from Dorset-based chocolate maker Chococo. This tasty chocolate cutie would make a lovely stocking filler for children and adults alike and £3.50 of each sale goes to the charity SOS to buy cocoa tree seedlings in Sumatra - so far 4,100 trees have been pledged. Plus the packaging is completely compostable.
Best Cranberry Sauce
ASDA Extra Special Cranberry Sauce with Ruby Port
The best cranberry sauce
The perfect accompaniment to Christmas dinner. This cranberry sauce feels special and traditional as it contains whole cranberries and has a gorgeously glossy consistency. Where other contenders were often sweet and jammy, this one had a pleasant flavour with a good sweet, sour balance. Don’t forget to save some for the turkey sandwiches!
Waitrose No.1 Cherry & Amaretto Stollen
Cherries are the big trend for stollen this year. This was the best of the cherries and the judges favourite overall stollen. The booziness of the Amaretto helps to balance the sweetness of the marzipan, while the sour cherries add a touch of tartness. Plus it really looks the part and would be a welcome addition to the breakfast table on Christmas day.
Tesco Finest Cherry & Almond Stollen
Best stollen runner-up
This was just pipped to the post by the Waitrose entry, but was an extremely strong contender. It has a lovely nutty flavour and is subtly spiced and the marzipan was a good texture. Although typically served at breakfast we think this would also be lovely with an afternoon cup of tea.
Best Festive drink
Tesco Finest Lebkuchen Flavoured Irish Cream Liqueur
The best festive drink
With a well-balanced flavour and a good amount of sweetness, this could be the perfect addition to your festive hot chocolate.
Aldi Chocolate Clementine Cream Liqueur
The best Christmas cream liqueur
Well balanced and not too sweet, this would make a lovely gift for the chocolate orange lover in your life. Serve neat over ice or treat yourself and add this to a winter warming hot chocolate.
Black Cow Christmas Spirit
The best festive-flavoured spirit
Smooth and creamy vodka with a subtly spiced festive flavour, this spirit is delicious neat with ice but would also be exquisite mixed into a Christmas cocktail. If you do fancy it then get this one quick, it's likely to sell out quickly.
Best Christmas Fizz
Bon Courage Wine Estate Jacques Bruére Cap Classique Blanc de Blancs 2011
Wow! It's not often you get to try a New World sparkling wine with such an amazing amount of bottle age. This is simply oozing complexity and class with aromas of honeycomb, dried fruit and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Packed to the rafters with flavours too - apple danish, stewed peaches, honey roasted nuts and hints of nougat. This is truly one to savour slowly.
Hattingley Valley Blanc de Blancs 2014
Best English sparkling
Absolute knock out nose of freshly baked pastries, bread dough and lemon meringue. Beautifully elegant and poised with ripe apricot and apple flavours alongside vibrant acidity and a great finish. Stunning.
Frerejean Frères Blanc de Blancs NV Premier Cru
Best Christmas Champagne
Really intriguing and complex aromas of ripe golden delicious apples and pears, roasted almonds and pecans with hints of honey. Slightly smoky flavours over grapefruit, almonds and hints of nougat. Stylish bottle and a great way to kick off the festivities.
Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Best Supermarket bubbles
Lovely nose of nectarines with hints of fennel. Creamy palate with biscuity flavours, vibrant acidity and good flavour concentration. Fruity, berry flavours on the finish. Great value for money.
Booths Rosé Prosecco
Delicious fresh and fruity - ripe strawberries, raspberries. Lovely intensity of flavour and freshness
Asda Extra Special Low alcohol sparkling Sauvignon
Best low alcohol fizz
Vibrant and zesty, this sparkling de-alcoholised Sauvignon Blanc wine is a great alternative to Champagne. It has a rich toasty flavour that is well balanced with a zesty freshness and the presence of sweet pear with hints of gooseberries.
Best Christmas Wines
Waitrose No.1 Chianti Classico Riserva Piccini
Best red to pair with ham
Scorched earth, red cherries and plums, strawberries, ripe and bright acidity.
Poggio del Moro Ivole Toscana Bianco
Best white to pair with ham
Textured and complex - full of lemon rind and dried herbs.
Château Moulinet Pomerol 2016
Best red to pair with beef
Regal and glossy red wine with big spicy oak hints alongside the deep dark fruit flavours. Not one for turkey (too much tannin and dryness) but perfect with forerib of beef.
Quinta da Pedra Alta Reserva Branco
Best white to pair with beef
Beautifully complex aromas of pineapple, peaches and nectarines, lychee - super aromatic! Rich and robust on the palate with everything integrated perfectly. A real Christmas stunner.
Domaine Pillot Volnay
Best red to pair with turkey
Supremely elegant - gorgeous ripe red and black fruits, hints of smoked meat, leather, tobacco leaf...wow. Powerful yet graceful on the palate with ripe but powerful tannins and a long, long finish. A serious treat for the big day.
Edouard Delaunay Septembre Chardonnay
Best white to pair with turkey
Stone fruit filled aromas with nutty hints. Rich and textured palate of green apples, pears and dried herbs - lovely freshness.
Calvet Reserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux 2019
Best value red under £10
Dense black and red fruit flavours, smoky hints, great backbone of tannins. Very young and needs decanting before drinking.
Cramele Recas Curious Parallel Fetesca Regala
Best value white under £10
Super bright and aromatic - zesty lemon, lime, gooseberry and tropical fruit flavours all wrapped up in a rose blossom perfume. A real crow pleaser and something to get the party started!
Best food gifts
Tracklements Festive Four Gift Pack
Best stocking filler
The ideal stocking filler for the condiment queen or king. The Tracklements Festive Four Gift Pack contains all you need for Christmas Day to compliment a cheeseboard and to be enjoyed with the turkey: sticky fig relish, Christmas spice chutney, cranberry port & orange sauce and spiced plum chutney. Tracklements meticulous craft all their sauces from the highest quality, natural ingredients. And it really shows. The judges thought these wonderful sauces tasted just like homemade.
Honey Tradition Luxury chocolate bars
Best foodie gift under £10
These beautifully packaged chocolate bars from Honey Tradition would make a lovely gift. The judges were particularly taken with the spiced 65% dark chocolate bar and its flavours similar to lebkuchen with rich spices and honey sweetness.
Hotel Chocolat Rather Large Cracker
Best foodie gift under £40
This humongous cracker would make for an enchanting gift for the whole family. It’s packed full of 40 delicious Hotel Chocolat truffles and chocolates as well as 12 jokes and paper hats. We were amazed because, just like a regular-sized one, this ‘rather large’ cracker really bangs! We would happily swap a box of crackers for this biggie.
Slate Deluxe East Anglian cheese selection
Best foodie gift under £50
This was an overall winner for judge and woman home Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom who said “The ideal gift for the cheese lover in your life. This gift set comes with tasting notes that your loved one can read through if they like to geek-out. This is an excellent showcase of some truly delicious British cheeses and will no doubt be very gratefully received."
Special Recognition Awards
Best Christmas Retailer
Waitrose won so many categories that it was impossible for the judges not to award them Best Christmas Retailer. Judges were excited about their Christmas offering and felt that consumers would love what they were offering.
Best sustainable Christmas supermarket
The judges were impressed with co-op's commitment to sustainability and their excellent all round ethos when it comes to caring for the quality and source of their ingredients and products.
Best value retailer
Aldi have long been known for their good value products and this Christmas it's no different. The judges were impressed with the quality of product especially when considering price.
Best Christmas drinks retailer
Great value and great tasting was the judges view on Aldi's Christmas drinks range. Whether that's wine, fizz or spirits. They were impressed with the range and also how much effort had gone into sourcing the drinks.
Best vegan/vegetarian offering
The judges were big fans of M&S's vegetarian and vegan ranges and felt that they deserved their spot on the Christmas table, whether alongside or instead of the turkey!
Best New Brand or Product
Co-op IRRESISTIBLE BELLS & BAUBLES
Best new product
Our panel of judges were really wowed by this dessert. It looks unique and fun and tastes great too—it would be the perfect finale to a festive feast.
The dessert is compiled of rich Belgian milk, dark and white blood orange chocolate mousse that has been formed into a bauble shape. Inside is a hidden chocolate orange ganache sauce centre. And the whole thing is decorated with hand crafted chocolate bells.
Rose Fooks, Deputy Food Editor at Future plc, creates recipes, reviews products and writes food features for a range of lifestyle and homes titles including Goodto, Style at Home and woman&home. Since joining Future, Rose has had the pleasure of interviewing cookery royalty, Mary Berry, enjoyed the challenge of creating a home-based, lockdown baking shoot for woman&home, and had her work published in a range of online and print publications, including Feel Good Food.
Rose completed a degree in Art at Goldsmiths University and settled into a career in technology before deciding to take a plunge into the restaurant industry back in 2015. The realisation that cookery combined her two passions - creativity and love of food - inspired the move. Beginning as a commis chef at The Delaunay, Rose then worked at Zedel and went on to become a key member of the team that opened Islington’s popular Bellanger restaurant.
In order to hone her patissier skills, Rose joined the Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management course at Le Cordon Bleu. Rose ran a food market in Islington championing local producers and cooked for a catering company that used only surplus food to supply events, before finding her way into publishing and food styling.
Other than cooking, writing and eating, Rose spends her time developing her photography skills, strolling around her neighbourhood with her small, feisty dog Mimi, and planning the renovation of a dilapidated 17th-century property in the South West of France.
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