The olive team chose 19 categories to test. The supermarkets then selected the products they wanted to nominate (we allowed them one entry per category). Every product was prepared according to 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, plus runners-up where worthy.
Best smoked salmon
Winner: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Hickory Smoked Salmon, £4.75, 100g
A really good smoked salmon: meaty, dry, with a strong smoke flavour and nicely salted.
Runner up: Lidl Deluxe Robust Smoked Salmon, price tbc, 100g
A good classic smoked salmon – very soft and succulent flesh that almost melts in the mouth. Good saltiness and nice smoking.
Best hot canapé
Winner: Waitrose 8 Paneer Fries, £6, 191g (8 pieces)
The perfect size for a party nibble, these had well-balanced seasoning and just enough crunch, for a moreish combination of textures and flavours.
Runner up: Iceland Cathedral City 8 Pack Mini Ham & Cheese Crumpets, £3, 160g
Fluffy crumpet, mature Cheddar and salty ham are an excellent combination – make sure you cook long enough to go golden brown and ensure they crumpet isn’t soggy.
Joint winner: Morrisons The Best King Scallops with a Champagne Sauce, £5.50, 140g
These pretty scallops are great for a romantic Christmas for two. The scallops are cooked well and judges enjoyed the rich, creamy champagne sauce and crunch from the breadcrumbs. Available from 20th December.
Joint winner: Booths Baking Camembert with Acacia Honey and Truffle, £6, 290g
Who doesn’t love a gooey baked cheese? This is an impressive centrepiece with plenty of aromatic truffle and sticky honey, whilst the cheese itself is rich and creamy. Serve with plenty of bread for dipping.
Best turkey crown
Winner: M&S Collection British Oakham Slow Cooked Turkey with all the Trimmings, £45, 2.93kg
For an effortless Christmas dinner, this turkey comes complete with all the trimmings you need too – carrots, cabbage, gravy, stuffing and all. The turkey was very flavoursome with delicious herby flavour from the stuffing, and it felt good value for the price and ease.
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Best alternative main
Winner: Aldi Specially Selected Wagyu Wing Rib, £24.99 per kg, average weight 2kg
This large cut looks impressive and remained juicy all the way through after cooking – just make sure to season generously.
Runner up: M&S Collection 2 French Trimmed Lamb Crowns with a Caramelised Shallot & Herb Stuffing, £30
These may look small but would easily feed four. The lamb was tender and the stuffing added plenty of extra flavour.
Winner: Aldi Specially Selected Slow Cooked Gammon Shank with Treacle Glaze, £14.99, 1.197kg
An impressive joint to the table, the meat on this gammon shank falls apart with an incredibly tender texture. The sweet glaze adds rich treacle flavour – you’ll want to keep coming back for more.
Best vegetarian main
Joint winner: Tesco Finest Roasted Butternut, Spinach & Sage Galette, price tbc, 500g
If you’re not a fan of meat-alternatives, this is a great option. The pastry was crisp, whilst the filling was creamy, cheesy and had a hint of spice.
Joint winner: Morrisons Plant Revolution Turkey Crown with Horseradish Crumb and Sage Melt, £6, 497g
A very good non-meat meat replacement. Tender, perfect chew and succulent – very clever. Available from 18th December.
Runner up: Lidl Deluxe Winter Sharing Wellingtons (Cheddar, Leek & Parsnip), price tbc
The basic appearance of these pies let them down, but the cheesy parsnip filling was well-seasoned for cosy comfort food.
Best vegan main
Winner: Lidl Deluxe Showstopper Garland (Vegan Pork & Cranberry), price tbc
This looks impressive, like a large vegan sausage roll. Pastry has great flavour and the filling has sweetness from juicy cranberries.
Runner up: M&S Butternut Filo Pie, £8, 550g
This looks celebratory with a crisp pastry topping. The filling was a bit thick, but filled with veg and greens – would go well with gravy.
Best side dish
Joint winner: Tesco Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Sprout & Leek Gratin, price tbc, 500g
For an extra comforting way to serve sprouts, this gratin had a rich and creamy bechamel sauce with big chunks of leek, soft sprouts and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.
Joint winner: Waitrose Roasted Potatoes Sage and Garlic, £4.50, 800g
Golden, fluffy, crispy – these are everything you want from a roastie, plus strong herby flavour from the generous quantity of sage.
Best pigs in blankets
Winner: Aldi Specially Selected 100% British 10 Bacon Wrapped Sausages 90% Pork, 210G, £2.79
These chipolata-style sausages are a classic, with a good bacon to sausage ratio, a touch of sweetness in the sausagemeat and good overall texture.
Runner up: Ocado Pigs in Blankets
Judges liked the classic appeal of these pigs in blankets – herby and peppery with a good ratio of bacon that would happily sit on a Christmas dinner.
Best classic mince pie
Winner: Booths All Butter Mince Pies, £3.50, 6-pack
With thick, buttery pastry and a generous amount of filling with visible pieces of candied peel and raisins, these were a popular winner for our judges.
Best flavoured mince pie
Winner: Waitrose 4 Crumble-topped Mince Pies with Cranberry & Orange, £3.75, 4-pack
These wide shallow pies have very buttery pastry and a crisp crumble topping that balances out the sweet, fruity filling – good as an alternative to a biscuit or for an effortless dessert.
Best showstopper dessert
Joint winner: M&S White Chocolate & Passionfruit Yule Log, £15, 850g
The tart passion fruit filling was the highlight of this tropical twist on a classic yule long. The soft sponge and firm icing balanced well, along with the fruit and rich white chocolate.
Joint winner: Lidl Deluxe Christmas Showstopper Double Bauble, price tbc
One for the sweet tooths. This unique double dome bauble design is impressive and fun to cut into, with plenty going on inside – thick mousse, cake, chocolate ganache and salted caramel.
Best vegan dessert
Winner: M&S Collection Hand Finished Chocolate Torte, £15, 500g
A salty, crunchy base topped with thick, indulgent dark chocolate ganache filling. Very rich, so would be great for sharing with a crowd.
Best Christmas cake
Winner: Aldi Specially Selected Luxury All Over Iced Christmas Cake, £8.99, 907g
This simply decorated cake has a thin layer of marzipan, whilst the lightly spiced cake is filled with lots of boozy, plump fruit which gives a lovely and moist result.
Best Christmas pudding
Winner: Booths Sherry & Cognac Infused Christmas Pudding, £13, 800g
An attractive glossy dome, this pudding is full of really plump juicy fruit whilst whole almonds add good texture. There’s plenty of booze and it tastes homemade.
Runner up: Tesco Finest Black Forest Christmas Pudding, 800g
For a spin on a classic, this Christmas pudding has a light hint of chocolate and an attractive cherry glaze. The pudding is rich and sweet with a strong almond flavour and very soft texture.
Best box of chocolates
Winner: M&S The Magical Christmas Village, £15, 249g
A magical winner – this musical, light-up box is full of festive joy and the simple chocolates within are crowd-pleasers and good quality, with smooth chocolate and good snap.
Runner up: Waitrose Winter Village Chocolate Box, £15, 158g
This compact chocolate box is sleek and classy. Judges enjoyed both the salted caramel and orange chocolates – a good dinner party gift.
Best festive liqueur
Joint winner: Aldi Ballycastle Blonde Chocolate Flavour Cream, 70cl, £7.49
This sweet liqueur was an irresistible on-trend choice with creamy caramel notes.
Joint winner: Lidl Deluxe Irish Cream Liqueur
A supermarket own-brand version of a classic cream liqueur and you’d struggle to know the difference: a moreish, creamy all-rounder.
Best bottled cocktail
Winner: Tesco Finest Gingerbread Espresso Martini Liqueur, £14, 70cl
Whilst the gingerbread flavour was subtle, judges enjoyed this chilled over plenty of ice – great for sipping after dinner.