The Great Christmas Sandwich Taste Test!

Pret’s Very Merry Christmas Lunch (£3.75) failed to impress Hayley, especially as the absence of a fillings label on the packaging left her having to guess the ingredients

Christmas lunch comes far more than once a year – thanks to supermarkets and coffee shops offering a delicious range of on-the-go sandwiches. 

And far from just the run of the mill turkey and stuffing, high street retailers are rustling up inventive seasonal eats to suit every palate – and there are more vegan options than ever available. 

But which sandwiches are worth forking out for, and which belong in the bin? And do you really get what you pay for? 

FEMAIL’s Bridie Pearson-Jones – with the help of her very hungry colleagues – sampled more than 30 of 2019’s Christmas sandwiches on sale to find the very best, and the worst.

THE BEST (AND WORST) MEATY CHRISTMAS SANDWICHES

JOINT BEST-RATED 

ALDI SPECIALLY SELECTED TURKEY WITH PIGS UNDER BLANKETS ON SKILLET BREAD BLANKET, £1.99

Aldi’s Specially Selected Turkey and Pigs Under Blankets on Skillet Bread (£1.99) was dubbed ‘a decadent treat that’s a cut above its peers’ by Ian

Smooth, aromatic and well-balanced, Aldi’s delectable ‘Specially Selected Turkey and Pigs Under Blankets on Skillet Bread’ will brighten any drab winter lunch time.

The flavoursome turkey and superlative sausages counterpoint beautifully against the unusually generous spread of rich cranberry sauce.

All in all, a decadent treat that’s a cut above its peers. — Ian Randall 

Rating: 

LEON’S PIGS ON A BLANKET MUFFIN, £3.95

‘Christmas in a breakfast bap!’, Steph raved about Leon’s Pigs On A Blanket Muffin (£3.95)

Christmas and breakfast in a bap! You can never go wrong with British Cumberland sausages and a couple of rashers of bacon in the morning. The saltiness is balanced perfectly by the sweet tang of the cranberry & clementine sauce and the roll was soft and doughy – a delicious way to start the day! – Stephanie Linning 

Rating: 

EAT’S HAM, FRENCH BRIE AND CRANBERRY BAGUETTE, £3.85

Tim was a huge fan of the Eat baguette packed with ham, french brie and cranberry (£3.85)

Big fan of this baguette. Ham, brie, cranberry and greens packed together nice and tightly, with a mouthful of each in every bite, and leaving no boring sections of bread uncovered.

The brie and cranberry in particular keep it nice and moist – it wasn’t dry at all – and the flavours were nicely mixed, with none overpowering the others. Wouldn’t say it felt particularly festive, but would enjoy at any time of year. – Tim Stickings

Rating: 

PAUL’S DINDE DE NOEL, £4.65

Paul’s award-winning Dinde de Noel (£4.65) comes out on top for Rory Tingle

The Dinde de Noel has been voted best Christmas sandwich in London by Time Out for three years in a row – and it’s easy to see why. The crispy, chewy baguette is studded with cranberries and packed with sliced turkey, smoky bacon and spinach. A slather of rich cream cheese and a spicy horseradish sauce is the perfect accompaniment. – Rory Tingle

Rating: 

JOINT WORST RATED

GREGGS CHRISTMAS LUNCH SANDWICH, £2.75

The Greggs Christmas Lunch Sandwich (£2.75) was praised by Charlotte for its balanced flavour but panned by Joe, who thought all the ingredients ‘tasted the same’

‘The sandwich was packed full of turkey, stuffing, bacon and salad so I was hoping for a taste bud tingling party in my mouth. But the size of the sarnie was unfortunately the highlight. All the ingredients tasted the same, the turkey was bone dry, and the entire festive morsel was smothered in a revolting combination of sickly-sweet cranberry sauce and bland mayonnaise. The less said, the better about the so-called bread which had the consistency of a soggy flannel.’ – Joe Middleton

Rating: 

M&S YULE HOG, £3.50

The £3.50 Yule Hog from Marks and Spencer features pork, stuffing and apple sauce stuffed in a baguette-shaped brioche bun

I’m a big fan of M&S food but this sandwich didn’t blow me away. I didn’t like the mix of bacon and pulled pork, and the taste of apple sauce wasn’t strong enough to make it festive or combat the somewhat dry nature of the mix. Sadly, not one I would go out and buy! – Jessica Rach 

Rating: 

PRET VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS LUNCH SANDWICH, £3.75

Pret’s Very Merry Christmas Lunch (£3.75) failed to impress Hayley, especially as the absence of a fillings label on the packaging left her having to guess the ingredients

Due to the absence of a list of fillings on the packaging of this Pret sarnie I had no idea what I was biting into – and wasn’t particularly enlightened afterwards. It was certainly crunchy, helped by the shavings of carrot, red cabbage and walnuts (I think) and there was a layer of spinach which, while adding little to the taste, certainly made it look more colourful and ‘healthy’. The contents were quite sweet, thanks to a generous dollop of cranberry sauce, and there were some smokey notes in there too. I detected an absence of meat, but with all the flavours going on it wasn’t missed as this would have only complicated things. An interesting taste sensation, but I wouldn’t say it delivered an overly festive punch. – Hayley Richardson 

Rating: 

PRET CHRISTMAS BAGUETTE, £3.99

Pret’s Christmas Baguette (£3.99) was praised for its port and orange cranberry sauce which ‘counteracted any dryness’

Having recently failed my stint at vegetarianism I was excited to try Pret’s famous Christmas menu. I found their Christmas baguette pleasant, with the port & orange cranberry sauce counteracting any dryness. I wasn’t a huge fan of the mixed turkey and pork meats, and felt there was too much stuffing. Although I wouldn’t choose this one again, the flavours generally worked well together and are sure to please any festive fans out there. 

Rating: 

AND THE REST 

ALDI HOG ROAST, £1.69

Aldi’s Hog Roast Christmas sandwich (£1.69) contains roasted pulled pork with pork, sage and onion stuffing – and was praised for its ‘strong apple flavour’ by Luke

This is a heroic move of Aldi’s, and one that is desperately needed in the supermarket world. Stores like Tesco and so-called quality suppliers like Mr Kipling still churn out battery farmed egg-filled snacks and treats on a regular basis – so Aldi should definitely be highly commended on this move.

On the first mouthful there was a strong apple flavour, and then some gorgeous sage and onion stuffing. The meat was also tender. However, at some points the sandwich was dry in places and occasionally was just bread. The bread itself was also meant to be ‘sage and onion’, according to the ingredients, but I never noticed that. – Luke Andrews

Rating: 

M&S STEAK AND PEPPERCORN SAUCE SANDWICH,  £3.50

‘The bread is soft with a really nice caramelised texture and the peppercorn sauce gives a really pleasant bite to the sandwich,’ says Jonathan of M&S’ £3.50 steak sandwich

The bread is soft with a really nice caramelised texture and the peppercorn sauce gives a really pleasant bite to the sandwich. I’m a cheese and pickle man myself, but if this was next to the British favourite on the shelf, I’d pick this!!

The only way to make it a 5, would be to thicken the steak! The beef is a bit too thin! –  Jonathan Trillwood

Rating: 

LEON CHRISTMAS WRAP, £5.65

The British turkey, ham hock, and pork provided the perfect mix of flavours, according to Chloe. The Leon Christmas Wrap retails for £5.65

The British turkey, ham hock, and pork provided the perfect mix of flavours, while the crispy onions added that very welcome crunch. With a generous offering of sage onion stuffing balls too, I was full for hours after. It really did feel like Christmas dinner in a wrap!

However, the tarragon mayo, a cranberry and clementine sauce was a bit too sweet for my liking and overpowered the flavour of the rest of the fillings, which were strong enough on their own. It wasn’t enough to put me off the wrap altogether, but I would be inclined to scrape out some of the sauce if I were to purchase again. Overall, the perfect snack if you’re looking for Christmas dinner on the go! – Chloe Morgan

Rating: 

SAINSBURY’S ON THE GO HAM & WENSLEYDALE SANDWICH, £2.25

The ham was thick and plenty, which went great with the Wensleydale, as a great alternative on the ham and cheese regular option.

There was also a good portion of cheese in there, which really get you the feeling of getting your money’s worth – Claire Toureille

Rating: 

PAUL FESTIVE PIG BAGUETTE, £4.65

The only let down of this £4.65 sandwich from luxury chain Paul was the ‘bacon and onion baguette’ which was a ‘slight con’, according to taste tester Phoebe

I tried the Paul Festive Pig baguette which included pigs in blankets, caramelised onion, plum and balsamic chutney, and sprouts.

I’m rating this sandwich 4/5 – it was packed with flavour and offered a variety of textures. It avoided the stodginess of most Christmas sandwiches.

This felt quite gourmet and top marks for whoever prepared the sprouts – they were peppery and had a real punch, a far cry from a canteen’s Christmas roast offerings! The portion was generous and left me positively stuffed.

The only let down was the ‘bacon and onion baguette’ which was a slight con and I didn’t pick up on these flavours- so this puts the score at 4, not 5! – Phoebe Eckersley

Rating: 

LIDL HAM HOCK AND WEST COUNTRY CHEDDAR, PRICE TBC

This one actually tasted like gingerbread, which is lovely for a Christmas sandwich

The ham hock and cheddar went extremely well together, and the onion chutney brought the only sandwich together. The bread wasn’t too dry,which is always a plus in a sandwich – Claire Toureille

Rating: 

EAT SMOKED SALMON AND BEETROOT BLOOMER, £4.50

The portion police could have been a little more generous on the fillings but overall this one hits the spot, says Rory Tingle of Eat’s Smoked Salmon and Beetroot Bloomer (£4.50)

Smoked salmon is a Christmas classic that you mess with at your peril. Thankfully, Eat have got the balance just right, with the sweet beetroot and tart horseradish combining to delicious effect, without overpowering the subtle taste of the salmon.

As ever, the portion police could have been a little more generous on the fillings but overall this one hits the spot. A blooming good effort! – Rory Tingle

Rating: 

GREGGS PIGS UNDER BLANKET BAGUETTE, £3

James thought the Greggs Pigs in Blanket baguette (£3) was ‘far too sweet’ as it was ‘smothered in too much sauce’

Christmas, my favourite time of year. There are several things that get me very excited during the festive period and one of those in pigs in blankets.

What a delight it was to receive a sandwich dedicated to such a tasty item. And a warm and toasty one too. This really could have been quite a delicious treat.

For me, it was far too sweet. I prefer the savoury bite of a traditional pig in blanket. This was smothered in too much sauce for my liking, and it left me feeling a little bit sickly.

But, even with this extremely sweet sauce we are dealing with a pig in blanket, the most glorious of Christmas items. And no amount of sauce can smother that joy. – James Wood 

Rating: 

CO-OP TURKEY FEAST, £3

Hayley thought the Co-op’s Turkey Feast (£3) sandwich was a ‘solid effort’ and praised its generous portion of meat

A solid effort from the Coop – the turkey portion was generous and juicy, and the sweet cranberry sauce set it off nicely without making the bread soggy.

The bacon was also a welcome addition and wasn’t too fatty.

My only criticism would be that the stuffing was a little on the dry side, yet it was still flavoursome. – Hayley Richardson

Rating: 

CO-OP BOXING DAY LUNCH, £3

A strong Boxing Day Lunch sandwich from the Coop. Soft white bread, tasty smoked ham and turkey, could really taste the flavours.

Loved the tangy red cabbage coleslaw… complimented it really well.

Didn’t put me in the Christmas mood just yet (it’s only November 6 after all) but a promising start!! – Dan Holbrook 

Rating: 

BOOTS TURKEY FEAST, £2.75

Hayley thought the the pork, sage & onion stuffing in this Turkey Feast sandwich (£2.75) lacked a little spice

The layer of spicy stuffing dominates here; it’s easily twice as thick as the turkey, and its strong flavour overpowers the sweetness of the cranberry sauce. If you love stuffing, this is the seasonal sarnie for you… but I would have preferred a more balanced ratio. And while I appreciated the greenery in this festive offering too, raw spinach somehow doesn’t feel very Christmassy. – Jo Tweedy 

Rating: 

STARBUCKS TURKEY FESTIVE FEAST PANINI, £4.25

The Starbucks Turkey Festive Feast Panini (£4.25) is filled with pulled turkey, hickory smoked bacon and Emmental cheese with cranberry chutney on a rustic panini

This sandwich includes pulled turkey, hickory smoked bacon and Emmental cheese with cranberry chutney on a rustic panini.

Given these ingredients, you’d think Starbucks were in for a winner – including all the makings of a delicious lunch. But there was nothing amazing nor distasteful – and the roof of my mouth was left smothered in cheese.

It was okay and a reliable choice for people who are usually fans of Starbucks ham and cheese toastie. If you want something filling to tie you over until dinner time, or to snack on at your desk, why not give it a go. It does what it says on the tin but might leave you feeling slightly bloated. – Phoebe Eckersley

Rating: 

LIDL FESTIVE FEAST DEEP FILL SANDWICH, £1.69

As first ever Christmas sandwich, this option was very meaty, and a little bit dried. The turkey tasted great, and so did the bacon, but the two put together were a bit too salty for my taste – Claire Toureille

Rating: 

THE BEST (AND WORST) VEGGIE & VEGGIE & VEGAN SANDWICHES

BEST RATED

M&S NUTCRACKER SANDWICH, £3.50

Harriet thought the M&S Nutcracker sandwich (£3.50) was packed full of tasty flavours and sweet jam, and said it’s a ‘great grab for any vegetarian, or vegan, looking for a festive lunchtime treat’

I would 100 per cent opt for this sandwich again – packed full of tasty flavours and sweet jam, it’s a great grab for any vegetarian, or vegan, looking for a Festive lunchtime treat.

Sometimes it can be tough to get a great vegan sandwich which tastes so good, but I really felt this wasn’t lacking in anything. Delicious nut roast and butternut squash filling, tasty jam and just enough salad not to feel too guilty about enjoying it. – Harriet Johnston

Rating: 

JOINT WORST RATED 

LIDL BRIE & CRANBERRY SANDWICH, PRICE TBC

I feel like the most impressive thing about this sandwich is the fact it comes in a recyclable packet. The sandwich itself is lacking in flavour, with an overwhelming taste of brie, and nowhere near enough cranberry for my liking.

While I’m also a fan of spinach in a sandwich, it wasn’t finely spread throughout the snack, which also added to the overly cheesy flavour. I’m not sure I would go for it again. – Harriet Johnston

Rating: 

CO-OP VEGAN FESTIVE FEAST, PRICE TBC

The Vegan Festive Feast from the Co-op (price TBC) contains parsnip fritters with cranberry slaw, toasted seeds and a sage and onion vegan mayo, on cranberry and poppy seed bread

My overwhelming impression of this sandwich is that it tastes more like a mince pie because it’s so sweet. The first bite I took was all cranberry sauce and, for some unknown reason, raisins, and was far too sickly. I was almost going to abandon it, and only pressed on in the interests of research. The parsnip fritter was dry, but fine, and I couldn’t find any evidence of sage and onion vegan mayo, which must have been drowned out by the sweetness. The toasted seeds would have added a nice savoury note too, but there were nowhere to be found. – Siofra Brennan

Rating: 

AND THE REST  

WAITROSE CHRISTMAS VEGAN NO TURKEY FEAST WITH CRANBERRY, PORT AND ORANGE CHUTNEY, £3.30 

Well, what a tasty surprise! I’m a little sceptical of food pretending to be meat when it’s not, however this was a delicious substitute with plenty of jam and added extras that helped moisten the sandwich and add flavour.

There were a few ‘grisly’ bits, and I’m still really unsure of what the vegan turkey actually was – which to me, will always be a bit disconcerting – but all in all it was a really great sandwich. – Harriet Johnston

Rating: 

ALDI BRIE AND SPICED CRANBERRY CHUTNEY ON MALTED BREAD, £1.69

Bridie said Aldi’s Brie and spiced cranberry chutney on malted bread sandwich (£1.69) made her want to crack open a bottle of red wine

The brie was rich and creamy and gave me huge Christmas eve vibes. It made me want to crack open a bottle of red wine, which probably isn’t appropriate when I’m eating my lunch al desko. The cranberry was sweet and added a nice complement to the cheese, and spinach wasn’t too soggy which often happens in shop bought sandwiches. My biggest criticism is the bread was a little dry and had me reaching for water (unfortunately not for wine!) – Bridie Pearson-Jones

Rating: 

WAITROSE BRIE AND CRANBERRY SANDWICH, £3

Brie and cranberry is usually Latoya’s go-to for Christmas but she was disappointed with this £3 offering from Waitrose

Brie and cranberry is usually my go-to for Christmas sandwiches but I found myself disappointed by Waitrose. The Sandwich had a soggy texture despite having minimal cranberry chutney and spinach filling.

The brie was satisfyingly creamy and the bread was very soft – but overall I’ve had other festive brie and cranberry sandwiches from other supermarkets that I’ve preferred. – Latoya Gayle 

Rating: 

STARBUCKS VERY MERRY VEGAN WRAP, £2.99

Steph thought the combination of butternut squash fritters, roasted red cabbage and the extra crumbly beetroot wrap from Starbucks (£2.99) made for an ‘extra dry lunchtime snack’

At last a veggie/vegan Christmas sandwich that’s not too sweet! I feared it might be a bit sickly when I read that the ingredients included butternut squash fritters and roasted red cabbage, but it was nicely savoury and had a good bite to it. It was a little dry, so more of the mayo would have been welcome – which I have to say was very convincing and didn’t have an odd twang to it like some dairy-free mayonnaise does. It didn’t particularly bother me, but there’s nothing particularly Christmassy about the taste, which may put some people off. – Siofra Brennan

Rating: 

LEON VEGAN CHRISTMAS WRAP, £4.95

Sarah was left disappointed by the Leon Vegan Christmas Wrap (£4.95), finding it dry and unsatisfying

This sandwich is apparently supposed to be a Christmas miracle, but the dry wrap and filling were not what I was expecting.

The baked sweet potato falafel was the only good thing about it, however, the sweet and tangy cranberry & clementine sauce over powered its taste. The onions and pine nuts felt too crispy and the mayo didn’t sing Christmas to me.

It was my first Christmas sandwich this year – so it was a disappointing start! – Sarah Finley

Rating: 

SAINSBURY’S VEGAN CHRISTMAS NEW YORKER, £2.25  

Bridie said the cheese was the best bit of the Sainsbury’s Vegan Christmas New Yorker (£2.25), as it was ‘flavoursome and a great texture’ however the bread was ‘okay but the chutney was completely overwhelming and masked anything else’

I’ve dabbled in vegan cheese a few times in an attempt to cut back on dairy and it’s very hit and miss, good vegan cheese is life-changingly good but some tastes like rubber. So with a mix of apprehension and excitement, I approached this  sandwich. The cheese was the best bit, flavoursome and a great texture, and the bread was okay but the ‘chutney’ was completely overwhelming and masked anything else. I think to call this a chutney at all is a bit of a con – as it’s more a coleslaw. The mustard flavour was really strong and there was way too much of the coleslaw that it made the bread soggy. Didn’t get a Christmas vibe at all, it was too acidic and did not get me in the festive spirit. Not Ideal.  – Bridie Pearson-Jones   

Rating: 

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Bridie Pearson-Jones