When it comes to Christmas food we always know what to expect: roast turkey and vegetables, cranberry and bread sauces, pigs in blankets, cheese, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, chocolate, wine, bubbly and spirits. But every year, some new products appear on the market, dictated by new developments, shifting tastes, diets and lifestyle choices, and of course, the economy. So what’s going to be on our plates this year? The team of experts at The Good Housekeeping Institute tried hundreds of new products to not only pick the best, but also the hottest Christmas food trends for 2022.
“The cost-of-living crisis means shoppers are thinking about where they’re spending, and what they’re spending on. That said, that’s not to say families will be cutting back on Christmas dinner and party treats this year – quite the opposite,” says Angela Trofymova, Head of Food Testing at The Good Housekeeping Institute. “When the world is in disarray, food plays an important role in comforting and connecting us, and crucially, making us feel upbeat. We blind taste tested nearly 500 products this year to find the very best on the market, and some of the flavour combinations we saw were outstanding.
“Above all else, it’s great to see how supermarkets have taken everything into consideration in their festive line-ups. Along with integrating festive flavour trends, many products require little to no cooking time, making them more accessible to people strapped for cash and time. We’re seeing a focus on British ingredients, too – tapping into the consumer interest in local produce – making festive offerings even more special.”
Sweet treats turn savoury
Panettone is a Christmas classic, and we predict it will remain as popular as ever this year. One innovation we’ve seen is a Parmigiano Reggiano & Cracked Black Pepper Panettone, which is essentially a cacio e pepe pasta in bread form. Perfect for boxing day sandwiches.
Savoury mince pies are having a moment, too. Heston from Waitrose Pear & Fig Mince Pies in Triple Cheese Pastry are a fantastic example (basically a ploughman’s cheese sandwich and eccles cake pastry rolled into one). To add to that, cheesy and meaty profiterole canapés are also on the menu, not just for Christmas, but as the World Cup unfolds. Aldi, for example, is forgoing the classic cream and chocolate in its profiteroles in favour of Barber’s Mature Cheddar filling and spicy chorizo.
Vegetarian and vegan without compromising on flavour
Dishes that champion veg front-and-centre rather than mimic meat are hitting the top spot. We are seeing more and more products with minimal, easy to identify ingredients. The M&S Collection Rustic Potato, Caramelised Onion and Brie Pie is an excellent example of this, as is the M&S Plant Kitchen Roast Butternut Squash and Spinach Pie. They’re vibrant, flavour-packed creations suitable for vegetarians and vegans that both taste divine and are Instagram worthy.
Sweet twist on tipples
Looking to the drinks cart, liqueurs are taking a sweet Italian twist. Tiramisu is this year’s lead trend, with both Stambecco and Baileys launching tiramisu flavoured liqueurs for the season. Likewise, we’re seeing the supermarkets opt for flavours like salted caramel, chocolate orange and clementine for their sweet treats, tapping into consumer nostalgia.
And, to uplift the classic mulled wine, Waitrose is recommending to serve it with chocolate chunks or Heston Hot Chocolate Pennies that melt and create a whole new tasting dimension. Strictly for grown-ups – drink and dessert all in one!
Truffle takes centre stage
Truffle is nothing new, but it’s having a festive revival. It’s wonderful to see how supermarkets have experimented with truffle, nailing products where the ingredient complements festive favourites without overpowering. We’re seeing it crop up in Christmas meat centrepieces, pigs in blacks and sauces, as well as crisps and snacks.
Not just for Dry January: low/no alcohol drinks
Inclusivity is at the heart of Christmas, and now, consumers are happy to spend on products that taste like alcohol but are nourishing from the inside out.
A fine example is ‘mulled-like’ no-wine or alcohol-free SENTIA Red, that has an arm-long list of botanicals, heady sweet aromatics, herbal complexity, and bittersweet spiced berries. Most interestingly, though, it’s developed with scientists who focused on feel-good ingredients, making it a delicious tipple without the next-day effects of a hangover.