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Photograph: Ben Rowe
Photograph: Ben Rowe

London’s best Christmas sandwiches 2021

It’s that time of year again. Here are our fave Yuletide sarnies from London sandwich shops and supermarkets to get you in the Christmas mood

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui
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What makes a good Christmas sandwich? Soft pillowy malted bread that holds its structural integrity? Succulent turkey breast that doesn’t taste (and look) like cardboard? A good layer of herby stuffing? Chunky pigs in blankets to ramp up the flavour? Or the correct amount of tart cranberry sauce to cut through all the stodge? We put this year’s supermarket and sandwich shops’ festive offerings to the test so all you eager Christmas-sarnie fans know where to spend your precious gold coins. Pass the Rennies. 

RECOMMENDED: For more festive fun read our guide to Christmas in London.

London’s Christmas sandwiches for 2021

Pret Turkey and Trimmings Toastie, £4.65
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Pret Turkey and Trimmings Toastie, £4.65

A new contender for Pret, but this was essentially like any old regular cheese-and-ham toastie with a few extra festive add-ons. No skimping on good quality ingredients here: a solid herby pork stuffing foundation, thick-cut Wiltshire ham, mature cheddar cheese and slightly dry turkey (to be honest, isn’t all turkey dry?) served on soft, seeded bloomer bread The magic only happens when it’s all toasted, because when that cheese gets all melty and gooey it acts as a lovely glue to bring it all together. It desperately needed another dollop of that caramelised onion chutney and sage mayonnaise to inject some moisture. 

How Christmassy? A bit like your Boxing Day hangover. It could go either way. 

3.5/5

Pret Christmas Lunch Sandwich, £3.99 

An old friend. Other festive sarnies promise the earth with new-fangled toppings and extravagant bread varieties. Not this one. This one knows what it is, with its thick, juicy turkey slices, tangy, sweet port-and-orange cranberry sauce and a mighty meaty herby stuffing. It’s at peace with itself. An attractive sandwich this, or any, year. Plus, 50p of every Christmas sandwich purchase is donated to help the homeless. 

How Christmassy? The Pret Christmas Sandwich is the defining taste of festive London. 

4/5

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Pret Vegan Christmas Nut Roast Sandwich, £3.99

Dare I say that Pret’s vegan version is better than the classic meaty one? Texturally excellent, the flavours are all there and the combination of the cooked but still firm butternut squash, crunchy caramelised pecans, crispy onions and a ‘Christmas pesto’ made up of chestnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cranberry gives this superior nut roast an edge over its competitors. You can distinguish all the flavours individually and they marry together very well.

How Christmassy? As bright and bold as your rainbow Christmas lights.

4.5/5

Pret Vegan Christmas Flatbread, £4.35
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Pret Vegan Christmas Flatbread, £4.35

Pret’s new vegan offering tastes healthy, but not in a bad way. There’s a good range of flavours and textures going on here: fluffy sweet-potato falafel, herby roasted butternut squash, spiced pickled red cabbage, chunky sweet carrots and fresh spinach. It’s decent, but I would’ve liked more crunch – some pecans, walnuts or seeds could’ve taken this sandwich to the next level. A good layered ratio of vegan sage mayo, pesto and port-and-orange cranberry sauce to avoid sogginess. The big downfall? It completely fell apart in my hands and it was a logistical nightmare to eat. This was held together by flatbread rather than actual sliced bread, which potentially calls for disqualification because a flatbread is not a sandwich.

How Christmassy? Like dressing something up with tinsel and calling it a day.

3/5

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Morrisons Turkey Lunch, £2.40

A solid, traditional classic. You know what you’re signing up for here. Not too much cranberry sweetness, a good balance of flavours and it holds its shape nicely. It features moist and well-seasoned turkey chunks rather than wafer-thin slices and the saltiness of the bacon comes through beautifully. Plus, 5 percent of sales from select Morrisons Christmas sandwiches will go to charity Young Lives vs Cancer. Nice one. 

How Christmassy? Like seeing the Christmas shop at Selfridges for the first time.

3.5/5

Morrisons Merry Vegan Vegetable, £2.40
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Morrisons Merry Vegan Vegetable, £2.40

You can taste each rainbow ingredient individually, nothing overpowers and they all live in harmony. There’s a lovely warming spiced braised cabbage, satisfying winter veg fritter and a soft houmous that acts as a protective lubricant barrier to prevent seepage. As for the sage and onion bread? A genius move to ensure the festive flavour comes through with every bite. Give that recipe development team a raise.

How Christmassy? As extra and whimsical as those Paperchase baubles 

3.5/5

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Paul Christmas Turkey Sandwich, £4.95
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Paul Christmas Turkey Sandwich, £4.95

Hello, Paul’s Christmas turkey sandwich. The Sahara called and it wants its desert back. This dry festive baguette’s filling kept spilling out of the sides all over my desk and after my first bite, I had to immediately reach for water to rehydrate. The sweet cranberry-flecked baguette was a lovely festive jewelled touch, but I would’ve preferred it as a sauce to help lubricate. That’s not to say it was all bad: once dismantled, the generous, top-quality ingredients were individually flavourful and well seasoned throughout. The bacon-to-turkey ratio was a bit off and it needed to up the cream cheese and horseradish sauce to balance everything out. What’s usually our annual favourite has stumbled far down in the ranks – we’re not angry, we’re just sad. 

How Christmassy? Like trying to hide your disappointment when given an unwanted Christmas gift.

3/5

Paul The Vegan Stuffing Sandwich, £4.65

No thought to the structural integrity. I was absolutely covered in the crumbly, mince-like sweet potato and chestnut stuffing and roasted carrots. I’ll be fishing chunks of it out of my keyboard for weeks. The crunchy, thin cranberry-studded baguette made it tricky to eat and the fillings escaped. There was barely any vegan pâté or cranberry sauce to keep things moist, but the flavours were decent and a nice nod to Christmas. Paul can learn a thing or two from Pret’s vegan sandwich offerings about having the right balance of texture, crunch and sauce. 

How Christmassy? As Christmassy as Rudolph’s leftover carrot.

2/5

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Paul Boxing Day Ham Hock Sandwich, £4.45
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Paul Boxing Day Ham Hock Sandwich, £4.45

This thing is eye-catching. Its showy yellow exterior ensures that this sandwich will be the talk of your office lunch. The bread-to-filling ratio was slightly off in favour of bread, and the powerful, tangy piccalilli means it’s prone to spilling. Not one for messy types or on the go. Consider a napkin-on-lap situation and certainly don’t eat it if you’re wearing white. The ham hock was wonderfully moist and paired perfectly with the cheese, but I wasn’t getting enough of the ham hock. More ham hock. Hock me up, baby. There was a great medley of textures and colours going on here, but the taste was rather subdued, considering the razzmatazz of its appearance.

How Christmassy? Like the person who sports the garish Christmas jumper to try to upstage everyone else. 

3.5/5

Tesco Finest Beef Dinner Sub, £3

Me: Alexa, what is the definition of sad? 

Alexa: Okay, just a minute. Here’s what I found on the web. This year’s new beef dinner sub roll creation from Tesco. Did that answer your question?

Me: No, Alexa it did not. I have more questions than answers when it comes to this sandwich. Why was the roast beef so dry? Why are the parsnips and carrots diced so finely that you couldn’t even taste them? Why was there so much rosemary gravy mayo? Where is the said rosemary? Must try harder, Tesco.

How Christmassy? As Christmassy as the day you found out Santa wasn’t real.

1/5

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Tesco Pigs Under Blankets Sub, £2.75
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Tesco Pigs Under Blankets Sub, £2.75

Let’s face it, even a life jacket isn’t going to help you in this situation because you’re going to be drowning in this sandwich. It’s swimming in so much mayonnaise to try to overcompensate for the dreaded sandwich dryness, but that means there’s no escaping that horrid gummy texture and synthetic taste. As for the pigs in blankets? No promise of any actual bacon and it’s as if they’ve used those dry mini cocktail sausages, wedged them in a flavourless plain white sub roll and called it a day. Christmas is cancelled.

How Christmassy? Like the Grinch actually stole Christmas and kept it.

0/5

Tesco Brie and Cranberry Sandwich, £2.50

Considering this sandwich only has two ingredients – brie and cranberry – it shouldn’t be hard to get wrong. But somehow Tesco gets it so wrong, so miserably wrong. Proper scrimping on the overly sweet cranberry sauce. The brie was a mere slither and it tasted nasty and synthentic, and repeated on me. For some reason, there were also a couple of wilted spinach leaves in there, but they didn’t bring anything to the party. Not a very inventive filling combo and could’ve done with some walnuts for texture, and better-quality brie. 

How Christmassy? Like a festive cheeseboard past its sell-by date.

1/5

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Gail’s Turkey and Bacon Jam on Waste-less Sourdough Bread, £6
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Gail’s Turkey and Bacon Jam on Waste-less Sourdough Bread, £6

It’s not much of a looker, but we all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and you’ll find that this sandwich is the gift that keeps on giving. Very distinct layers, incredible structural integrity that ensures it doesn’t slip and slide after a few bites and, most importantly, it has exceptionally good ingredients. The sourdough bread is made from unsold surplus loaves and brings the classic sourdough funk to the table without being too much. The delicately smoked turkey slices from Walter Rose & Son pack a punch and, paired with the sweet bacon jam and smoky chipotle aioli, keep things nice and moist while not being sloppy and overpowering. The Mayfield Swiss cheese adds a creaminess and nuttiness to the party. Potent. Powerful. It spoke to me. 

How Christmassy? Straight to the top of Santa’s nice list.

4.5/5

M&S Pigs in Blankets, £3.50
Photograph: Ben Rowe

M&S Pigs in Blankets, £3.50

Surprisingly fruity considering the meat-heavy pig-on-pig filling. Not spectacular but it does the job. The bread could have been slightly hardier, to prevent the ‘gravy-style mayo’, red onion chutney and caramelised onions from causing chaos and seeping everywhere. All in all, it was okay, but forgettable.

How Christmassy? Like that one person you forgot to buy presents for.

3/5

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M&S Boxing Day Triple, £3.80

I’m as up for excess when it comes to food as the next glutton, but when we play with fire and decide to shove every festive item we can think of into three different sandwiches and have it in one sitting, it is simply too much. One contains turkey breast with pork, sage and onion stuffing, cranberry, chutney and mayonnaise. Next: a pulled British ham hock with piccalilli on white bread. Finally a wensleydale cheese with an orange-and-carrot chutney on malted brown bread. There’s a lot going on here and it’s confusing to wrap your head around all the conflicting flavours. These sandwiches are one dollop of cranberry sauce away from gout. 

How Christmassy? Tries too hard. A bit like the inevitable Lynx Africa gift set you’re going to get this year.

2/5

Sainsbury’s Beef Wellington Special, £3.50
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Sainsbury’s Beef Wellington Special, £3.50

At first glance, it’s a lot smaller than the other offerings and my guess is that Sainsbos is going for quality over quantity, but I don’t understand this sandwich’s relevance to Christmas: nothing felt festive at all. Despite the beef being given the sous-vide treatment, it still tasted bland and dry. Plus, no sign of the promised ‘gravy mayo’ anywhere. The veggie sidekicks were the stars of the sandwich: lightly spiced crunchy pickled red cabbage and the tender, earthy mushroom duxelle did all the heavy lifting. The round croissant bun was confusing and there weren't any pronounced buttery, flaky laminated layers nor was it sweet or airy enough to be brioche. A sad, soggy mutant hybrid.

How Christmassy? Like that one person who ‘forgets’ to wear a Christmas jumper on Christmas jumper day. 

3/5

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Sainsbury’s Vegan Rudolph’s Night Before Christmas Feast Sandwich, £3  

This new vegan offering is aptly named ‘Rudolph’s Night Before Christmas Feast Sandwich’, but does that mean this is actual reindeer food? Because if so, why would anyone in their right frame of mind want to eat what Rudolph is eating? Surely we should be eating human food? There was nothing magical about the carrot, root veg and candied spiced seeded patty; it was claggy and dense. And that sweet caramelised carrot chutney was nowhere to be found. The flavours were just fine, but a bit too nutloafy (been there, done that, right?). Bonus points for it being one of the few sandwiches to actually make a festive effort with the adorable star bun, but that’s about as good as it got. Too much naff bread. 

How Christmassy? It’s shaped like a star, put it on top of the tree.

2.5/5

Waitrose Smoked Salmon, Egg and Truffle Sandwich, £3.80
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Waitrose Smoked Salmon, Egg and Truffle Sandwich, £3.80

Waitrose really has put the ‘lux’ in luxury for its new festive entry this year. The fresh Scottish smoked salmon, fluffy egg mayonnaise and decadent mushroom-and-truffle sauce, packed between two slices of light rye bread is a thing of beauty. Imagine the strong smoked salmon egg breakfast you’ve always wanted to kickstart celebrations on the big day, but in sandwich form. You might as well pop the bubbly while you’re about it.

How Christmassy? Like a Christmas power breakfast.

4/5

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Waitrose Vegan No Lobster Marie Rose Roll, £3 
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Waitrose Vegan No Lobster Marie Rose Roll, £3 

Yeah, yeah, the sub is soft and pillowy, but it’s definitely not a sweet brioche roll as suggested. Structurally this one worked the best out of all the subs and kept hold of everything, but I wish it didn’t and the filling had disappeared. I would’ve preferred to eat just plain white bread on its own. As for the filling, where to start? The slimy oyster mushrooms resembled slugs and it seemed like there was no attempt at recreating the lobster whatsoever – I think it’d be a crime to even associate the two together. The sauce reminded me of a very weak, thinned-down thousand island and needed more oomph. 

How Christmassy? I would rather eat a lump of coal. 

1/5

Co-op Boxing Day Feast Sandwich, £3   
Photograph: Ben Rowe

Co-op Boxing Day Feast Sandwich, £3   

At first glance, the white bread looked very anaemic and pale, a bit like looking into the mirror when all of us seriously lacked vitamin D post lockdown. The smoked turkey and oak-smoked ham were meh. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either, it was just there. The red-cabbage coleslaw had far too much watery mayonnaise in it, but the spiced fruit chutney was a nice touch. 

How Christmassy? Like the Ghost of Christmas Past, where it should stay.

2/5

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Co-op Pigs Under Blankets Sandwich, £3  

A big meaty boy. Hunky, herby sausage semi-circles rather than those rubbery, sinewy cocktail sausages and it was lightly seasoned all the way through with sage and smoky bacon. Okay, it’s essentially meat with a side of meat and ideal for those bulking, not sulking, but there is such a thing as too much meat. Sadly, the cranberry and mayo seeped into the sugary white bread and there wasn’t enough sauce to lubricate each component, but at least they’re donating £50,000 from their Christmas sandwich sales to mental health charity Mind. 

How Christmassy? Like a pile of pigs stacked on top of each other. 

3/5

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