best christmas sandwiches 2023

Twisted’s definitive ranking of 2023’s high-street Christmas sandwiches

18/12/2023

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman

05m read

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The humble Christmas sandwich may have started as a haphazard amalgamation of leftovers pulled together on Boxing Day, but nowadays pretty much every high-street establishment has its own version on shelves from mid-November.

From the Pret Christmas sandwich to the Marks and Spencer festive sarnie to the slightly fancier offerings of bakeries like Paul and Gails, what was once a sloppy affair, made at home after a few eggnogs, has become a winter right-of-passage – purchased on lunch breaks and enjoyed in the weeks before the Big Day by millions around the world.

Naturally, as the festive sub has grown in popularity, each brand has vied to outdo the other with a combination of flavours more Christmassy than the last.

But getting the balance right is a fine art: it needs just the right amount of cranberry sweetness; stuffing that’s packed with flavour (not claggy and bland); and perfectly moist turkey (or an alternative meat), which is a challenge in itself.

Only one of these elements needs to be off for the sandwich to turn into the festive mouthful from hell. However, when it’s done right, there really is nothing better.

We tried a whole bunch of Christmas sandwiches - here's our verdict on the meaty ones (Credit: Twisted)

So, who has nailed it this year?

Here at Twisted we rate our discerning tastebuds pretty highly – it is our job, after all. So, our whole team got together to blind-taste 16 of the ‘hero’ high-street Christmas sandwiches 2023 has to offer, chosen by the brands themselves.

In the interest of fairness, we asked everybody from our chefs to our videographers to get in on the ranking, and we all had no idea where any of the sandwiches were from. The only thing we were considering were two essential factors: Taste, and Overall Festive Vibes.

Ordered from bottom to top, here’s our analysis of this year’s selection:

Co-op’s Christmas Market Sandwich

Co-op's Christmas market sandwich was a crowd divider (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 6.1

Christmassy-ness: 4

Average Score: 5.1

The verdict: Co-op’s Christmas sandwich might be the lowest on our list, but that’s more because it split the crowd than because there’s anything overtly wrong with it. 

You see, Co-op dared to be different this year, and whilst that earnt a big thumbs up from some members of the team, others were less convinced. 

They sent their Christmas Market sandwich, which comes with a Currywurst style sausage, cheese, sauerkraut and gherkins on rye bread – basically everything you’d find on a German market stall. 

There was praise for the flavours, here, and some even said the curry seasoning made them think of a Coronation chicken sandwich (sans the chicken, obvs). 

However, this one ultimately earned its place thanks to its lack of Christmas vibes. Of course, with the context of the packaging, maybe the Christmas market references would have made more sense. 

Asda Festive Feast Christmas Sandwich

ASDA's festive feast won points for its white bread (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 5.7

Christmassy-ness: 5.5

Average Score: 5.6

The Verdict: ASDA’s Festive Feast sandwich is one for those who like their sarnies meaty

It’s malted bread stuffed with turkey breast, sausages, smoked bacon, and a cranberry chutney – nothing to sniff at there, right?

This won points for the fresh, spongy white bread (a change amongst the other sarnies in the bunch). The mayo and the quality of the meat were also given props, but overall, the issue with this one was balance. 

This ultimately ended up towards the end of the pile because it was a little dry, and needed much more sauciness to balance it out. Still, nothing shabby to see here. 

Starbucks Festive Feast Panini

Starbucks offered up a festive panini (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7.3

Christmassy-ness: 4.6

Average Score: 6

The Verdict: Starbucks’ Festive Feast panini is served hot, which is always a winner. 

It’s made with chicken breast, cheddar, smoky bacon and a pork, bacon and caramelised onion chutney, with cranberry chutney and turkey gravy, for good measure. 

When you list the ingredients like that it sounds like an absolute flavour bomb, but overall reviewers noted this one was somewhat unremarkable, as far as Christmas sandwiches go.

A few said this just tasted like a cheesy chicken panini – no bad thing, of course. 

But if Starbucks had dialled up the flavours of chutney and gravy here it could have bagged some more festive points and climbed higher in the rankings. 

M&S Turkey Feast Christmas Sandwich

M&S' Turkey Feast returns this year after 2022's success (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 6.1

Christmassy-ness: 6.3

Average Score 6.2

The Verdict: Marks and Spencer’s Turkey Feast sandwich was a hit last year, so they brought it back again for 2023. 

The balcony flavour notes really come through here, but its also stuffed with roast turkey breast, sage and onion stuffing and an onion mayo, alongside cranberry chutney.

This Christmas sandwich was praised by our videography manager Marcus for being “very moist,” and by many others for getting the balance right, with each ingredient complimenting the next. 

No real complaints here, although senior food producer, Spencer, suggested some salad wouldn’t have gone amiss, to add another dimension to the sarnie. 

The only other reason M&S falls further down the list, despite being the inventor of the boxed sandwich, is because they played it a little safe with this one.

Waitrose Christmas Turkey, Stuffing and Bacon Sandwich

Waitrose offered a jam packed meaty sarnie (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 6.3

Christmassy-ness: 6.3

Average Score: 6.3

The Verdict: Waitrose’s Christmas sandwich is as premium as you’d expect. Turkey stock mayo, pork and chestnut stuffing and cranberry and redcurrant chutney make an appearance, here. 

Our food producer Ori says the stuffing was “lovely” here, but one of the best parts of this sandwich was ultimately its downfall. 

Whilst the big fat chunks of turkey meat and stuffing were a welcome addition, it meant that the sandwich was somewhat dry, because there wasn’t enough of that delicious chutney to moisten it all up.

Shame, as all the components had potential here. Still, we’d happily eat this again. 

Gail's Smoked Turkey and Swiss Cheese Christmas Sandwich

Gail's stuff smoked turkey between their fresh sourdough (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7.4

Christmassy-ness: 5.6

Average Score: 6.5

The Verdict: Made with freshly baked white sourdough bread, Gail's smoked turkey Christmas sandwich comes with bacon jam, chipotle aioli and swiss cheese. 

Smoked turkey makes a nice change here, and unlike other densely packed sandwiches, the ingredients list is small but mighty, meaning they all get a chance to shine. 

This won points for presentation. Our senior video editor, Matt, was pleased with the generous slab of cheese and many complimented the freshness of the bread and the meat, too.

However, others questioned if the salad dominated a little bit, and said the festive flavours were less obvious than other sandwiches in the running. 

Either way, a decent sarnie all in all. 

Aldi Turkey Feast Christmas Sandwich

Aldi's Turkey Feast Christmas sandwich earned a respectable score (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 6.3

Christmassy-ness: 6.9

Average Score: 6.6

The Verdict: Aldi’s Christmas sandwich beat a lot of the high-street's sandwich titans, and for that the supermarket deserves praise.

It comes packed with turkey breast and a pork, sage and onion stuffing alongside a cranberry chutney, mayo and fried onions.

The sauciness from the mayo and the chutney really came through here, meaning this wasn’t dry like some other Christmas subs, and also had some noticeable festive flavours.

Marcus dubbed this one a “good solid sandwich” with “all the trimmings” you’d expect, and once again, Spencer questioned the lack of veg (are we noticing a theme here?).

Some did suggest the festive flavours were a little predictable. Alas, if you're not gonna break the mould you risk landing middle of the pack.

Costa Pigs & Blankets Toastie

Costa's festive panini was a welcome warm addition (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7.5

Christmassy-ness: 5.8

Average Score: 6.7

The Verdict: Another hot sandwich, this time from Costa. 

The Costa Pigs & Blankets Christmas sandwich is basically a sausage and bacon toastie – and a very lovely one, too. 

It is filled with succulent pork sausage, maple cured bacon and a caramelised onion chutney, and the bread is coated in a garlic, onion & sage crumbed cheese topping.

Yup, this is basically a cheesy garlic bread sandwich… and who could say no to that?! Massive tick. 

Once again, people loved that it was warmed, and Ori dubbed it a “nice different option” that would be “perfect for brekky, or whenever you want,” really.

Most of the points lost here came down to Christmassyness (or lack thereof). We needed more from that chutney. 

The end result was perfectly tasty but it wasn’t hugely dissimilar from your standard sausage sarnie, with the addition of some cheese and garlic.

Pret’s Christmas Lunch

Pret's Christmas sandwich is always a classic (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 6.8

Christmassy-ness: 7.4

Average Score: 7.1

The Verdict: Fear not, Spencer! Finally you shall have some salad. 

Pret has some serious clout in the boxed sandwich game, so it’s no surprise this one has such a decent score. 

It’s made with turkey, a port and orange cranberry sauce and a herby pork stuffing, with baby spinach, mayo and crispy onions.

Ori was raving about the sweet chutney and festive hints of sage, here.

Granted, spinach isn’t the most Christmassy of salad options, and whilst some would have rather had a slaw, most were just happy to see some greenery amid a sea of beige. 

Top points for balancing all the ingredients here, and allowing them all to shine.

Morrisons The Best Ultimate Festive Feast

Morrisons brought a sausage packed sandwich into the mix (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7

Christmassy-ness: 7.2

Average Score: 7.1

The Verdict: Morrisons came in joint seventh alongside Pret - not bad, ey? 

The supermarket proved it has a stake in the Christmas sandwich game with its Ultimate Festive Feast, which comes packed with turkey, sausages, bacon, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce. 

As you may have deciphered from that ingredients list, this one doesn’t offer anything remarkably different to the other Christmas sandwiches, but it does at least do every element very well. 

Because of the generous helping of sausage in this, there were once again comparisons to a breakfast bap, but nobody was mad at it!

Tesco’s Turkey and Trimmings Christmas Sandwich

Tesco's Turkey & Trimmings sarnie is worth a try (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7.2

Christmassy-ness: 7.6

Average Score: 7.4

The Verdict: Coming in at number six is Tesco with its Turkey and Trimmings sandwich. 

It comes filled with sausage, turkey breast, sage and onion stuffing, and sweet cured bacon, with a dollop of mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.

Ok, we'll say it again...nothing new to see here – although, in this case, the sandwich’s ordinaryness is actually what landed it such a decent score.

Several people said it was “exactly what [they] expected” from a turkey sarnie, and when nailed, that can be a very lovely thing. 

This won praise for its “classic flavours,” for being “very meaty” and well balanced. As always, some salad wouldn’t have gone amiss. 

Lidl Turkey Feast Christmas Sandwich

Lidl landed itself towards the top of the list (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 7.7

Christmassy-ness: 7.8

Average Score: 7.8

The Verdict: Who would have thought Lidl would make it into the top five out of the whole high-street? We love to see it!

This is made with (you guessed it) turkey breast, a pork, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce and streaky bacon, alongside fried onion and mayo. There's certainly no denying this sandwich spread was samey!

This one won praise because there was a generous amount of sauce and the sweetness really cut through. Meanwhile, the meat was tender, resulting in a “moist,” meaty mouthful. 

Marcus said this one stood apart for having “just the right amount of trimmings,” adding that a bite of it “felt like Christmas”.

Quite the compliment if you ask us! Lidl's place in the runnings definitely seems to consolidate this.

Sainsbury’s Christmas Cracker Club Sandwich

A colourful entry from Sainsbury's with their Christmas club (Credit: Sainsbury's)

Taste: 8.4

Christmassy-ness: 7.5

Average Score: 8

The Verdict: A break from turkey! This one comes with smoked shredded chicken breast, a gravy mayo, a pork, sage and onion stuffing and smoky bacon. 

There’s also red cabbage, spinach and an ale and onion chutney in there – and to mix things up, it’s on white bread.

Props for how festive this one looks, and the fact it’s a club sandwich (which means an extra layer of goodness). 

This layer was put to good use, jamming in the likes of red cabbage and other salady bits that other sarnies were lacking.

And what do ya know? The score is reflective! Nice one, Sainsbury’s.

Greggs Christmas Lunch Baguette

Greggs offered a warm Christmas toasted sandwich (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 9.1

Christmassy-ness: 8

Average Score: 8.6

The Verdict: Greggs were firm favourites in our Christmas sandwich rankings last year, and this year they’re no different, landing a spot in our 2023 top three.

Their Christmas lunch baguette comes filled with sage and onion flavoured chicken breast, onion gravy, streaky bacon and a slice of cheese with cranberry and onion relish.

Not only was the baguette fresh and crispy, the filling to bread ratio was spot on, allowing the festive flavours to sing. People loved that it was hot, too.

This one’s succulent, saucy and tastes like your Christmas leftovers have been dunked in gravy and shoved into a sarnie. Very nice, too. 

Caffe Nero’s Turkey Feast Focaccia

Caffe Nero offered a focaccia sandwich - and it was a favourite (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 9.3/10

Christmassy-ness: 8.9/10

Average Score: 9.1

The Verdict: There was a lot of love for Caffe Nero’s Turkey Feast Focaccia, particularly the focaccia part. 

After a whole lotta malted bread, a spongy, fresh rosemary and sea salt focaccia was a welcome addition. 

This toasted Christmas sandwich came packed with a butter basted turkey, smoky bacon and a stuffing, made with pork fennel and apricot. 

It’s an Italian inspired festive toastie – and a very delicious one, too.

There was some cranberry sauce in there too (although there could have been more), but all in all, props to Caffe Nero for delivering festive flavours in a new and innovative way!

We'd unanimously order this one again.

Paul’s Christmas Club Sandwich

Paul was our winner - what a beauty (Credit: Twisted)

Taste: 9.1/10

Christmassy-ness: 9.4/10

Average Score: 9.3

The Verdict: Paul’s Christmas sandwich ultimately took the crown. Why? Because it was a crowd pleaser, and a damn good sarnie, too. 

Freshly baked and full to the brim of festive bits and bobs, this one won points for aesthetics (which, let’s face it, is hard when it comes to a turkey sandwich).

On the flavour front, it was jam packed full of all the Christmas trimmings, like turkey, bacon, cranberry sauce (each balancing the other perfectly).

However, the best part was the sage, onion and cranberry baguette that housed all of that, which team members hailed as “chewy, crisp” and altogether a bit of a treat. 

The only feedback was that this sandwich was a little heavy on the spinach (we know, the great salad debate continues). Still, the general consensus was that this one looked nice, tasted legit and ultimately felt premium. 

Well done, Paul! 

Of course, we’re not saying these are the best Christmas sandwiches ever. There are independent sandwich shops which quite frankly thrash all of these on the ‘reg. But if you’re looking to grab a budget Christmas sandwich on the high-street this year, then there are certainly some strong contenders out there.

And with that, we wish you a merry lunch-break!

Featured image: Twisted

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