A VERY indulgent Christmas! M&S triumphs in Good Housekeeping’s annual taste test winning best turkey, best gravy and best pudding – while Costa’s mince pies beat supermarket rivals
- Good Housekeeping has revealed the results of its annual Christmas taste test
- M&S and Waitrose & Partners secured first place in three categories each
- Costa Coffee scored top marks for their traditional and gluten free mince pies
- Budget supermarkets Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons also impressed test participants
M&S and Waitrose & Partners beat rival supermarkets and scooped first place in three categories in a blind taste test of seasonal treats – with M&S bagging best turkey, best gravy and best Christmas pudding.
Good Housekeeping Institute tested 423 products from 52 carefully selected retailers who are offering festive food and drink both online and in store.
Having run blind taste tests for 21 years, the GH product reviewers divided the winners into various categories, with a new category for Festive Liqueurs.
M&S and Waitrose were joint overall champions this year, with the former bagging the top spot in the Christmas Pudding, Gravy and Frozen Turkey and Crowns categories.
Waitrose came out on top for its Christmas Cake, Champagne and Yule Log – while the best mince pie award went to high street coffee chain Costa.
Good Housekeeping Institute has revealed the winners of its 21st annual Christmas taste test. Pictured: The winning turkey, M&S’ British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown (£28 for 2kg)
Farmison & Co’s Luxury Chestnut, Sage & Apricot Pigs in Blankets (pictured) impressed the testers thanks to their crispy salty bacon with hints of sweet apricot and sage
Testers said turkey isn’t complete without M&S Cook with Onion Gravy (pictured), which has softened slices of onions in a rich and meaty stock
Coming in first place for the second year running, M&S’ British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown (£28 for 2kg) scored a whopping 92/100, with testers gushing about the smoky bacon-wrapped turkey crown and its sweet onion and sage stuffing.
Completing the meaty dish, M&S Cook with Onion Gravy (£2 for 350g) came out on top with a score of 81/100. The softened slices of onions in a rich and meaty stock proved popular with testers.
Budget chain Aldi came second in the turkey category, while Aah! Bisto Onion Gravy Granules came in behind the offering from M&S.
Christmas dinners may be more luxurious this year, judging by the results of the test.
In the other categories, testers were impressed by Costa Coffee’s mince pies, which beat all of the supermarkets with both their traditional and gluten free festive treats for a second year running.
The brand’s All Butter Mince Pies (£2 for one mince pie) achieved an impressive score of 90/100, winning praise for their crispy, golden pastry and zesty citrus filling with a mixed spice flavour.
Costa Coffee’s mince pies (pictured) beat competitors for a second year running in both the traditional and gluten free categories
A close second in this category with a score of 87/100 were Iceland’s Luxury 6 Mince Pies which are £1.89 for a pack of six. Costa also topped the Gluten Free Mince Pie category for the second year in a row, scoring 73/100.
Testers loved the melt-in-the-mouth pastry, and as an added bonus, the mince pies are also vegan-friendly.
In the Mince Pies with a Twist category, PAUL’s Mince Pie Croissant (£2.65 for one) proved to be the testers’ favourite, scoring an impressive 92/100. The flaky, buttery pastry from the croissant was dubbed utterly delicious, combined with the apple-y, fruity mincemeat filling.
Budget supermarkets Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons also performed well in the taste test this year.
Sainsbury’s’ Taste The Difference Pork, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing Parcels (pictured) were voted as this year’s best meat stuffing
For those seeking a Meat-Free Main this Christmas, testers were impressed by the variety of vegan and vegetarian options on offer.
Lidl’s Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets (£1.69 for 2x120g) won the overall meat free category, scoring 82/100 thanks to their winning combo of flaky, buttery puff pastry, creamy goat’s cheese and sticky, caramelised red onion.
An honourable mention was given to Waitrose’s Vegan Festive Swirls (£6.99 for 480g) which was the top choice for vegans, scoring 79/100 thanks to their flavoursome mix of caramelised tomatoes, red peppers, spinach and plenty of herbs wrapped inside a crisp, golden filo pastry case.
Pigs in blankets are a traditional family favourite, and this year’s must-have is Farmison & Co’s Luxury Chestnut, Sage & Apricot Pigs in Blankets (£7.95 for 300g).
Scoring 86/100, testers were enamoured by the flavour of the tender pork sausages wrapped in crispy salty bacon with hints of sweet apricot and sage.
Taste testers voted Waitrose’s Christmas Chocolate Yule Log (pictured) as this year’s must have treat
Winners: Pictured left: M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding, pictured right: Morrisons The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding
Waitrose & Partners’ No.1 Richly Fruited Christmas Cake (pictured) was selected as this year’s most impressive Christmas cake
Those with a sweet tooth will be glad to hear the most impressive Traditional Christmas Pudding was awarded to the M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding (£15 for 800g) with a remarkable score of 92/100.
Testers loved the deeply rich pudding packed full of juicy vine fruits, Christmas spices and booze-soaked nuts.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s secured the number one spot in the Christmas Puddings with a Twist category thanks to its Taste the Difference Salted Maple & Pecan Christmas Pudding (£6 for 400g), which combines an irresistibly nutty salted caramel-like sauce with sweet yet tart vine fruits, scoring 86/100.
Winner:s Pictured left: Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne; Pictured right: Graham’s LBV 2015 port – Bicentenary Edition
Testers said Primo Aperitivo Negroni (pictured) is the best pre-mixed cocktail for this festive season
Winners: Pictured left: Ocado’s Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c., Pictured right: Adnams Finest Reserve Port
For something less traditional and more on the indulgent side, the winner in the Dessert Centrepiece category was Morrisons’ The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding (£6 for 500g).
It scored 86/100 for its moist and light sponge, gooey chocolate centre and fresh orange flavour.
Completing Christmas celebrations, testers quaffed 11 supermarket own-label Champagnes, with Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne (£23.99 for 75cl) impressing the most for its smooth bubbles and beautifully balanced, rich and fruity flavour; it scored 84/100.
In the supermarket own-label Prosecco category however, it was Ocado’s Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c. (£9.99 for 75cl) that blew the panel away with an impressive 90/100. This easy drinking fizz has a juicy pear and baked apple flavour with fine, lively bubbles and a smooth finish.
Tesco’s Finest Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liquor (pictured) was selected as this year’s best festive liqueur
New alcoholic drink categories for 2020 included the Festive Liqueurs and Pre-Mixed Negroni categories.
Tesco’s Finest Gingerbread Latte Irish Cream Liquor (£10 for 70cl), was awarded the top spot in the former, scoring 90/100 thanks to its warming, festive ginger spice and creamy richness, while the bitter citrus flavours and moreish herbal notes of Primo Aperitivo Negroni (£27 per 50cl) meant it secured the top spot in the latter with a score of 83/100.
Alexandra Hale, Food & Drink Specialist for Good Housekeeping said: ‘We all know that this Christmas is going to be very different to last year – and that’s why we think the public deserve to know where to spend their hard-earned money to ensure they have the best tasting food and drink possible this Christmas.
‘We’ve tested more products than ever before and hope that consumers feel as informed as ever as the festive season approaches.’
So what’s worth buying this Christmas?
FROZEN TURKEYS AND CROWNS (11 TESTED)
Winner: M&S British Stuffed Oakham Turkey Crown, £28 for 2kg. 92/100
Runner-Up: Aldi Specially Selected Stuffed Turkey Crown, £17.99 for 1.8-2.3kg. 88/100
GRAVY (11 TESTED)
Winner: M&S Onion Gravy, £2 for 350g. 81/100
Runner-Up: Aah! Bisto Onion Gravy Granules, £1.50 for 170g. 77/100
MEAT STUFFING (14 TESTED)
Joint Winners: Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 6 Pork, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing Parcels, £7 for 252g. 82/100
Farmison & Co Free Range Pork, Plum Pudding & Apple Brandy Stuffing, £6.95 for 450g. 82/100
Runner-Up: Pipers Farm Sage and Onion Stuffing, £11.90 for 500g. 80/100
Bleiker’s Smokehouse, Yorkshire Peat Smoked Salmon (pictured) is the best traditional smoked salmon
PIGS IN BLANKETS (15 TESTED)
Winner: Farmison & Co Luxury Chestnut, Sage and Apricot Pigs In Blankets, £7.95 for 300g. 86/100
Runner-Up: M&S British Outdoor Bred Pork 12 Pigs in Blankets wrapped in Oak Smoked Bacon, £3.50 for 282g. 84/100
TRADITIONAL SMOKED SALMON (15 TESTED)
Winner: Bleiker’s Smokehouse, Yorkshire Peat Smoked Salmon, £3 for 100g. 87/100
Runner-Up: ASDA Mild & Delicate Smoked Salmon, £4 for 120g. 84/100
FLAVOURED SMOKED SALMON (11 TESTED)
Winner: Booths Gravadlax Smoked Salmon, £6 for 100g. 95/100
Runner-Up: Bleiker’s Scotch Whisky Smoked Salmon, £3 for 100g. 82/100
MEAT FREE MAINS (12 tested)
Winner: Lidl 2 Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets, £1.69 for 240g. 82/100
Runner-Up: Waitrose & Partners Vegan Festive Swirls, £6.99 for 481g. 79/100
MINCE PIES (15 TESTED)
Winner: Costa Coffee All Butter Mince Pie, £2 for one mince pie. 90/100
Runner-Up: Iceland Luxury 6 Mince Pies, £1.89 for pack of six. 87/100
GLUTEN-FREE MINCE PIES (11 TESTED)
Winner: Costa Coffee Gluten Free Mince Pie, £2 for one mince pie. 73/100
Runner-Up: M&S Made Without Gluten Free 4 Mince Pies, £2.50 for 205g. 72/100
MINCE PIES WITH A TWIST (12 TESTED)
Winner: PAUL Mince Pie Croissant, £2.65 for 116g. 92/100
Runner-Up: Waitrose & Partners 9 Mini Mince Pies Selection, £3 for 240g. 86/100
CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS (13 TESTED)
Winner: M&S Vintage Christmas Pudding, £15 for 800g. 92/100
Runners-Up: Daylesford Organic Traditional Christmas Pudding, £20 for 900g. 87/100
CHRISTMAS PUDDINGS WITH A TWIST (8 TESTED)
Winner: Sainsburys Taste the Difference Salted Maple & Pecan Christmas Pudding, £6 for 400g. 86/100
Runners-Up: M&S Collection Chocolate & Orange Pudding, £12 for 700g. 84/100
CHRISTMAS CAKE (15 TESTED)
Winner: Waitrose & Partners No.1 Richly Fruited Christmas Cake, £16 for 1.3kg. 82/100
Runner-Up: M&S Christmas Collection Christmas Cake, £10 for 907g. 75/100
YULE LOG (11 TESTED)
Winner: Waitrose & Partners Christmas Chocolate Yule Log, £5 for 825g. 81/100
Runner-Up: M&S Woodland Yule Log, £20 for 1.05kg. 80/100
DESSERT CENTREPIECE (13 TESTED)
Winner: Morrisons The Best Chocolate Orange Pudding, £6 for 500g. 86/100
Joint Runner-Up: Aldi Specially Selected Golden Twist Sticky Toffee Pudding, £5.99 for 700g. 82/100
Joint Runner-Up: 82/100 Co-op Truly Irresistible Fully Loaded Billionaires Dessert, £6.00 for 600g
CHAMPAGNE (11 TESTED)
Winner: Waitrose & Partners Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne, £23.99 for 75cl. 84/100
Runner-Up: Aldi Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut, £12.69 for 75cl. 81/100
PROSECCO (11 TESTED)
Winner: Ocado Abbazia Fiorino Prosecco d.o.c., £9.99 for 75cl. 90/100
Runner-Up: Aldi Organic Prosecco, £7.99 for 75cl. 87/100
FESTIVE LIQUORS (14 TESTED)
Winner: Tesco Finest Gingerbread latte Irish Cream Liquor, £10 for 70cl. 90/100
Runner-Up: M&S Luxurious Chocolate Salted Caramel Brownie Cream, £12 for 70cl. 84/100
PRE MIXED NEGRONI (8 TESTED)
Winner: Primo Aperitivo, Primo Aperitivo Negroni, £27 for 50cl. 83/100
Runner-Up: Master of Malt Sacred Negroni, £29.95 for 70cl. 81/100
VINTAGE PORT (8 TESTED)
Winner: Graham’s LBV 2015 – Bicentenary Edition, £13.99 for 70cl. 85/100
Runner-Up: Cálem LBV 2015, £20.29 for 70cl. 79/100
RUBY AND CRUSTED PORT (11 TESTED)
Winner: Adnams Finest Reserve Port, £13.99 for 70cl. 85/100
Runner-Up: Rozes Port Ruby, £12.99 for 70cl. 81/100