Simply the best

Not all of us can cater for Christmas from scratch at home, so whether you plan to buy a few sides, a cake or pud or even get everything in, we’ve found the tastiest and best-value buys

1 The best turkey

M&S COLLECTION ORGANIC FREE-RANGE PEMBROKESHIRE BRONZE TURKEY, various sizes from £48 Full of flavour with a melt-in-the- mouth succulence. Each slice is tender and the skin crisped up nicely. We liked that it was free-range and produced organically too. A 4-4.5kg bird fed six to eight very generously with leftovers.

2 Best turkey crown

TESCO FINEST BRITISH FREE- RANGE BRONZE DOUBLE-STUFFED BONELESS TURKEY BREAST, £33, 2-2.2kg Super easy to cook with a really tasty stuffing that enhances rather than overpowers the turkey flavour. It carved nicely, providing plenty of snowy- white breast meat. A great option for small ovens.

3 The best ham

DONALD RUSSELL HONEY ROAST HAM WITH CLOVES, £56.50, 2.4kg It arrives ready-cooked but frozen so you’ll need at least a day or overnight to defrost. You can then either carve and serve cold, or reheat to refresh the glaze and serve warm. We tested it both ways and it has a wonderful flavour and texture. Absolutely cracking ham.

4 Best stuffing

CO-OP IRRESISTIBLE PORK, APPLE & CRANBERRY STARS, £3.30, 250g Firm and meaty with a pleasing fruity flavour, these very cute star- shaped stuffing portions looked and tasted lovely.

5 Best chipolatas

A fun way to serve your chipolatas. These come as a Catherine wheel sausage with streaky bacon woven around tightly and the whole wheel is then pinned in place with two wooden skewers in order to keep them in shape while cooking. We loved that they weren’t greasy and had a great balance of pork and bacon flavours. Delicious.

6 Best combined product

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL PIGS IN BLANKETS IN FESTIVE FEAST, £5, 694g An innovative way to serve stuffing and chipolatas and save space in the oven at the same time! With 12 tasty chipolatas nestled on a slab of traditional herby stuffing, it was also easy to serve as guests can help themselves to a piece – or two!

7 Best smoked salmon

ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL GIN, JUNIPER & LEMON SMOKED SALMON, £4, 120g Lovely deep salmon colour with a melt-in-your- mouth texture. There was a definite scent of gin and juniper with a delicate flavour that didn’t over power the classic smoked salmon flavour. Moreish!

8 Best salmon starter

TESCO FINEST 2 SMOKED SCOTTISH SALMON GATEAU SLICES, £5, 400g A clever way to serve salmon blinis. Each thin layer of blini is next to a light cream cheese and a thin slice of salmon and stacked so it resembles a slice of cake. As a fancy starter it was a lovely treat, especially if there are only two of you.

9 The best sharing starter

ASDA ES GARLIC AND HERB BREAD WREATH WITH BAKING CAMEMBERT, £5, 450gThe tear-and-share bread was pillow-like and the cheese melted beautifully. We found that you did need to ‘scoop’ up the cheese with a handy spoon or fork but it made for a fun starter that got everyone talking.

10 Best veggie/vegan main

TESCO FINEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH, MUSHROOM & CHESTNUT WREATH, £4.50, 400g (serves 2) This pretty-looking filo ring has
a delicate, moreish flavour that even meat eaters liked. The mushroom, squash and chestnut combo was tasty and the sprinkle of toasted seeds lifted it to another level.

11 Best mince pies

MORRISONS THE BEST 6 ALL BUTTER MINCE PIES, £2 per pack Tangy and rich in flavour, these are packed with brandy- and cider-soaked fruit and spices. The pastry is gorgeously crumbly. Delightful hot or cold, and the star-shaped top makes for a decorative serving too.

12 Best Christmas pudding

WAITROSE CHERRY & ALMOND-TOPPED CHRISTMAS PUDDING, £14, 800g (serves 7-9) Rich, fruity and deliciously moist, this boozy pudding works with custard, brandy butter or cream. A little goes far: it served eight people. You can taste the amaretto and brandy and the nuts and glacé cherries are really good-quality. It takes ten minutes, including standing time, to microwave, or two hours to steam, and comes in its own ceramic pot.

13 Best no-alcohol pud

LILLYPUDS ALCOHOL-FREE CHRISTMAS PUDDING, £12.35, 454g (serves 4-6) Deliciously fruity and not too sweet, and not too heavy or nutty for a pud. It had a lovely texture and testers didn’t notice the lack of alcohol. The Christmas spices were well balanced. There’s a gluten-free one too.

14 Christmas cake

A beautifully spiced all-butter cake with plenty of plump vine fruits and orange zest infused with cognac. The thin layer of marzipan and icing added just the right amount of sweetness too.

15 Best stollen

LIDL DELUXE LUXURY STOLLEN, £3.99, 600g Fruity, slightly stodgy and with a good amount of almond-scented marzipan running through it and a generous dusting of icing sugar. You need to eat only a small amount as it is extremely filling.

16 Best cheeseboard

M&S COLLECTION BRITISH CHEESE & CHUTNEY SELECTION, £30, 1,190g This contains six good-sized wedges of cheese (Brie, Red Leicester, Cheddar Lancashire, and blue and goat’s cheese), crackers and a pot of chutney. The quality of the cheese and the tangy chutney are perfectly paired.

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