Marks & Spencer has been named the standout star for its Christmas dinner offerings this year, with more of its products in the top five for each food and drink category in a blind taste test than any other supermarket.
The annual Good Housekeeping test compared 316 different festive foods from more than 30 British retailers, with judges ranking the products based purely on taste – with all packaging removed before the items are placed in front of the panel of experts.
M&S boasted 14 products in the top five for each of the 16 categories, and came in first place for its Christmas turkey (£27), Prosecco (£10), cranberry sauce (£3) and brandy butter (£3).
Aldi also performed strongly in the test, winning the title of Britain’s best Christmas pudding (£7.99), meat stuffing (£2.29), and vegetable parcels (£1.99).
Both retailers surpassed last year's best performers, Iceland and Lidl. In 2016, Lidl's £5.29 Allini Prosecco Spumante was voted best bargain Prosecco, while Iceland's six luxury mince pies beat brands including Harrods and Selfridges to claim the top spot. Iceland's turkey also came top of its class, as did its stuffing.
For the first time this year, Good Housekeeping added vegetarian main courses and vegetarian stuffing into its basket of Christmas staples, which also includes cheese, smoked salmon and Champagne.
The rise in vegetarianism and those adopting a “flexitarian” diet means supermarkets are doing more to appeal to those who want something other than a nut roast for their Christmas dinner.
In fact, Marks and Spencer is showcasing more meat-free Christmas dinner main courses on its new menu than meat options. Its 2017 Christmas dinner select range includes three vegetarian main options; baked ricotta stacks with mushrooms, leeks and kale; seasonal squash bake; butternut squash and sweet potato rosti; and vegan butternut and beetroot filo parcels.
While the tastiest mince pies award this year went to Tesco's Finest six mince pies (£2), Iceland’s pigs in blankets (£3) came top of their class. Sainsbury’s scored top marks for its Taste the Difference NV Champagne Brut (£18).
Angela Trofymova, food testing manager at Good Housekeeping, said: “Luxury supermarket Marks & Spencer has proved that shelling out a little more where possible can take your festive dining experience to the next level, while budget supermarket Aldi shows you can get cost-effective quality without breaking the bank.”