The letters to the North Pole have been whipped up in crayon, mince pies are steaming fresh from the oven and the annual Regent Street illuminations are imminent – so that must mean Christmas is fast approaching.
While this time of year is synonymous with so many traditions, for us, it isn’t until our favourite supermarkets and eateries start unleashing their seasonal sandwiches that the most wonderful time of the year truly begins.
It really isn’t the festive period until we’ve sunk our teeth into a turkey feast, pigs in a blanket in brown bread or brie with cranberry (or the vegan alternatives of course).
Whether you are working from home or the office, lunch can often be the highlight of the day - and at this time of the year, even more so. With so many Christmas sarnie options around, we’ve done the decent thing in the name of investigative journalism, and tried all the ones we would get our hands on - so you won’t have to. Just call us your (pot-bellied) little Christmas elves.
Say goodbye to food envy or disappointment come 1pm. Here’s the only Christmas sandwich guide you need to read this festive period.
Christmas turkey on cranberry bread
A top-tier, super sexy Christmas sarnie. Totally delicious, this sandwich has a hefty amount of salt, perfectly cooked bacon and a confident sizing of turkey. Biting into this sandwich is a delightfully festive experience with a truly excellent sauce-to-filling-to-bread ratio. The baguette is dotted with cranberries which adds a perfect amount of sweetness. Putting the cranberries inside the bread means it doesn’t get too mushy either, and a light spread of horseradish upon the 10/10 bread shines through like a fiery goddess. Overall an Olympian example of what a Christmas sandwich should be.
The one for when you want the best and nothing less will do.
Vegan Stuffing Sandwich
As a carnivore, I wouldn’t generally opt for a vegan Christmas sandwich but this option from Paul has changed everything. Its vegan stuffing is so tasty. From the crispy sage, onion and cranberry baguette to the freshness of the carrot and salad, it’s a hearty sandwich that somehow manages to be light at the same time. The moreish sweet potato and chestnut stuffing is enhanced by the lettuce and tomato that transforms the traditional filling component into an everyday lunch classic. The cranberry sauce adds a sweetness too.
Turkey and bacon jam on waste-less sourdough bread
This stunning seasonal sandwich will leave you wanting more and more (two of us ate four on the same day). The Mayfield Swiss cheese is creamy, nutty and balances out this sarnie so well. The star of the show is the bacon jam. A 15/10: It’s all the right amounts of naughty and saucy.
GAIL’s has got this spot-on. It’s just Christmassy enough without being in your face. It’s modest, it’s fluffy, and it’s juicy. Do yourself a big Christmas favour and get one immediately.
The one for when you just want a fantastic sandwich.
Vegan Christmas Flatbread
We are the first to appreciate that flatbreads may not immediate scream Christmas to many of us but hear us out. This sandwich from Pret offers a light lunch alternative to some of the heartier and post-lunch slump-inducing sandwiches on this list.
It is packed with a combination of sweet potato falafel, butter nut squash, pesto and fresh spinach that could really work all year round for a delicious midday option. The seasonal twist comes from the cranberry and port sauce yet these were not the predominant taste in the slightest.
The one for dipping your toe into a seasonal sandwich.
Yule Hog Wrap
A slightly off-piste version of a Christmas sarnie.
The best part of this sandwich was the occasional hint of cider apple sauce making a zingy little appearance every other bite or so.
Onto the pulled ‘hog’. A substantial-ish amount of it is in there, and the hickory marinade adds an interesting contrast to the apple sauce in case things get too boring.
Towards the end of the wrap you might across paths with some stuffing. This addition does most of the festive leg-work, making up for where the Christmassy flavours are otherwise lacking.
According to the label there’s a ‘turkey gravy mayonnaise’ happening somewhere but we couldn’t tell. Overall a sticky and weirdly enjoyable sarnie with a few surprises along the way. The one for when you’re feeling experimental.
Pigs Under Blankets
Nothing feels more like Christmas than a humble chipolata wrapped snug in bacon. So we’ve given this sandwich first place in the Tesco Christmas sandwich collection.
The sausage adds just the right amount of bite to off-set the mushy, Boxing-Day-on-a-hangover vibe that Christmas sandwiches sometimes have.
The bread is the classic white sub roll we’ll recognise from the £3 meal deals and adds a good amount of extra stodge - if you’re into that. Add the sprinkling of fried onions that zhush’s up the texture and we’re left with not a bad contender at all. The one for when you fancy a sausage wrapped in bacon.
Bacon and mac and cheese toastie
The carbs! The cheese! A decidedly festive sandwich, if only because of its indulgent and heart-attack inducing ingredients. This contender is giving comfort food at its absolute finest. Mac and cheese shouldn’t technically work sandwiched between two slices of bread- but it does.
The one to reach for when you’re sacking off the diet.
Turkee, cranberry and stuffing toastie
An unmistakable sage and stuffing taste, which gave it the Christmas oomph.
The downside being that it was hard to tell where the sage stuffing ended and vegan ‘turkee’ began, which wouldn’t be a problem if the cheese wasn’t hiding too. Or any hint of sauce.
As an alternative for a sort of bland, dry and confusing meat, this ‘turkee’ substitute does the job. That being said, tucking into this sarnie wasn’t unpleasant and it really did taste festive.
The one for when you’ve overdone the cranberry sauce variations and are in need of a palate cleanser.
A Toastie To Be Thankful For
Starbucks has nailed the toastie game. Cheese lovers everywhere will be pleased to learn that the coffee chain puts a crispy layer of melted mature cheddar goodness atop this sandwich. It admittedly does overpower the rest of the sandwich but we don’t mind at all - the more cheese, the better, in our view.
It is kept light with cranberry “jewels” that add a sweet surprise. Once you get a taste of the filling, you won’t be disappointed. It combines shredded ham hock with turkey breast, potato, cabbage, sprout and leek hash with a lovely cranberry sauce that ties it all together. The icing of the cake is the sourdough bloomer that is crispy and delicious once toasted.
The one for when you need your cheese fix.
No Turkee & Trimming Toastie
The vegan counterpart to the sandwich above, this ‘Turkee’-filled option doesn’t quite live up to its meaty sister. No matter how long it spent in the toastie maker, the coconut oil alternative to mozzarella failed to melt. This lacked the oomph of the other sandwich where the cranberry sauce reigned supreme as the predominant flavour, making it a touch sweet. That being said, the turkee itself holds up and makes a great alternative if you’re trying to go entirely plant-based or curb your meat consumption. The bread - a sourdough bloomer - was also filling and made a great housing.
The one for when you’re cutting down on the meat front.
Rudolph Christmas Feast
Right for the outset, this Christmas sammie won our hearts. The aesthetically-pleasing star shaped bread filled us with joy with every bite. Not just a novelty, the roll itself was delicious and the rest of the sandwich lived up too. The festive root vegetable patty was surprisingly filling and the umami carrot ribbons and spiced candy seeds were packed with flavour. Major props too to the caramelised carrot chutney and the hint of sage and onion for the traditional edge. For a plant-based take on this complete seasonal dinner, it went down a treat.
The one for when you’re looking for something extra special.
Beef Wellington Special
Sainsbury’s has upped its game in the bread department with its offering of Christmas sandwiches this year. Following on from the star shaped roll above, this Beef Wellington Special comes in a croissant roll. Don’t be deterred by the breakfast connotations, it proved to be a natural parter to the savoury filling. The salad-to-beef ratio leaned in salad’s favour, so extra points would come from beefing this up. Fresh spinach offsets the carb extravaganza, and makes for a great lunch that won’t leave you feeling drowsy.
The one when ordinary bread just wont do.
Smoked Salmon, Egg & Truffle
Waitrose’s Christmas sandwich offering this year provided a welcomed surprise. Alongside the classics, the supermarket turned the traditional turkey and stuffing based options on its head by throwing in a few fish-based alternatives.
The Smoked Salmon, Egg & Truffle has an afternoon tea finger sandwich-like feel and offers a great light lunch option. For those who aren’t the biggest fan of truffle, have no fear: this element is very light. On the flip side, those who opt for this on the sole basis of the presence of the prized mushroom may be disappointed.
One to reach for when you’re tired of turkey.
No Lobster Marie Rose Roll
We have to admit, we were quite skeptical on the arrival of this sandwich. Lobster is not exactly synonymous with the festive season and there are many things that could go wrong a faux version of the luxury crustacean. Thankfully, Waitrose’s risk paid off.
The “lobster” is made from oyster mushrooms and doesn’t have the obvious fish taste but you still get a feel from the Marie Rose sauce. The vegan brioche bread is lovely and cucumber adds welcome freshness and crunch.
The one for when you’re looking for something fancy.
Plant Kitchen No Beef Welly
Wrapped in a tiger bread roll, this sandwich had us very excited. On first look, you wouldn’t know that this is in fact a plant-based sandwich as the “meat” is pretty realistic. The softness of the bread is perfectly balanced by the crunch of the salad that comes from the carrot additions. It went down a treat.
The one for your meat-free meat fix.
Naughty & Spice Turkey Feast on a buttery brioche roll
Does exactly what it says on the wrapper. If you’re in the mood for something naughty, spicy and substantial then look no further. Piri-piri marinated turkey is not traditional, but we hope it returns year after year. If you want to play it safe then get one of Tesco’s Turkey Feast or some other vanilla option.
Inside there’s a big dollop of red cabbage slaw, which always works nicely with a buttery brioche. Here it balances out the spice, elevates the sweetness of the bread, and moistens up the turkey and “spiced pork stuffing”. No amount of spice can ever make a dry pork stuffing enjoyable. Thank God for that slaw.
The one for when you’re feeling a bit naughty.
Festive Crispy Chicken
Let’s not split hairs over whether this is a sandwich or a burger - it’s two pieces of bread with filling inside, that that makes it fit for this list. Part of McDonald’s Festive Menu, the Crispy Chicken burger is superior to its sister, the beefy Festive Stack.
This is all down to the delicious crunch on the chicken breast, which gives some much needed texture and bite to a sandwich otherwise swimming in Christmassy trimmings. It holds its own against a gauntlet of cranberry sauce, sage and onion flavoured mayo, slices of bacon, red onion, cheddar and the obligatory lettuce.
If we’re solely talking buns, huns, then the brioche-style one in which the Festive Stack is housed edges it. While the Stack is tasty, made up of a double patty with a red onion relish, white cheese sauce, bacon, crispy onions, red onion, lettuce, cheddar cheese, without sufficient crunch it does melt in the mouth - and not in a good way. Structure is key to a good sarnie.
McDonald’s Festive Menu is available for six weeks from Nov 17 and also includes Camembert dippers, a festive rendition of its classic Apple Pie and a McFlurry topped with teeny tiny Celebrations pieces.