Christmas preview: festive food-to-go battle begins

Holidays are coming! And soon. Festive adverts are on the TV, Coca-Cola’s Christmas truck is getting ready to tour the country but, most importantly, the Christmas sandwiches have hit the shelves.

Shoppers simply can’t get enough of roast turkey, meaning the classic Christmas dinner sandwich is often the centrepiece of ranges. However, many businesses have sought to add a vegan option as well, while others have gone for alternative carriers such as wraps and Yorkshire puddings.

Here’s what coffee shops, bakers and retailers have planned for festive food-to-go:

Asda

Asda is looking to keep its vegan customer base happy this yuletide with the launch of the new Vegan Bubble and Squeak Sandwich. Accredited by the Vegan Society, the sandwich (£2.50) is made with sage and onion-infused bread, a winter vegetable fritter, Christmas-spiced braised red cabbage and chutney, and a vegan sage & onion mayonnaise.

It has also added a Free-From Turkey and Stuffing Sandwich (£2.50) to its nine-strong Christmas sandwich range, which includes a Brie and Cranberry Sandwich (£2.00), Triple Turkey Wrap (£2.90), a vegetarian Brie & Cranberry sandwich (£2.00), and a 20-piece sandwich platter (£6.00) filled with classic festive flavours.

Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee has added some sparkle to its menu this winter, bringing back some of its Christmas classics along with seven new sandwiches and a host of sweet treats. Plus, it has expanded its vegan-friendly and gluten-free options, with items such as the Gluten Free Vegan Iced Fruit Slice (rsp £1.80) for a more inclusive Christmas.

Breakfast is also included in Costa’s Christmas considerations, with the Cup Croissant with Nutella (left) – a cup-shaped pastry filled with the chocolate hazelnut spread and served warm (rsp £1.85).

Heading up its range of cakes and bakes is the on-trend Gingerbread and Sticky Toffee Wreath Cake (from £1.85), topped with icing and crystallised ginger with swirls of toffee. An individually-sized Paul the Penguin Chocolate Cake (centre; from £2.55) injects some festive fun for kids and big kids alike, while the Double Chocolate Yule Log (from £2.60), finished with a golden shimmer, adds some sparkle.

Sparkle is also found in Costa’s savoury menu, thanks to the new Turkey and Emmental Shimmer Brioche (right) – a glazed brioche bun with turkey breast, maple smoked bacon, Emmental cheese and a pork and sage & onion stuffing, flavoured with a spiced BBQ sauce and mayonnaise (from £3.25).

For those seeking an alternative to turkey, Costa has a Prawn Cocktail Sandwich (from £3.60), as well as the Christmas Cheese Board Panini, combining Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Mature Cheddar and Gran Movaria cheeses with a redcurrant & port sauce on a seeded sourdough ciabatta (from £3.95). Also for vegetarians, there’s the Veggie Christmas Lunch Wrap (from £3.50), which is filled with sweet potato falafel, Wensleydale & cranberry cheese and spiced plum chutney.

Eat

Eat is serving up a savoury alternative to Christmas sandwiches that has proven very popular in recent years – a Roast in Yorkshire Pudding Wrap (left), which is filled with turkey, sage & onion stuffing, crispy bacon, sage mayonnaise and cranberry sauce (from £4.99). Also new to the menu is a vegetarian Brie, Cranberry & Stuffing on Onion Bloomer (right; from 3.99).

It joins Eat’s returning festive sandwiches, including the vegan Coronation on Onion Seed Bloomer (from £3.75), which pairs Indian spice with crunchy cauliflower and sweet raisins, as well as the Festive Full Works on Malted Wheat (from £4.25) containing turkey, stuffing, bacon, cranberry sauce, chicken mayonnaise and spinach, topped off with crispy onions.

For those seeking something sweet, Eat is introducing The Mince Pie (from £1.50), described as delicately thin and crispy all butter pastry, filled with 18-month aged mincemeat and topped with a cinnamon crumble-style topping. There’s also the Mini Yule Log and Mini Stollen Bites (centre; from £1.75).

Gail’s

Gail’s is getting in on the act this year with its new Christmas sandwich (bottom left). Priced at £5, it features malted wholemeal bread with succulent smoked turkey, Mayfield Swiss cheese and a layer of chipotle aioli and bacon jam. For those wishing to make their own sandwiches, Gail’s is serving up a Stencilled French Dark Sourdough made with white and wholemeal wheat flour. It costs £12 for the whole loaf, £6.50 for half and £3.30 for a quarter.

The bakery chain also has a range of sweet treats on offer, including Mince Pies sprinkled with demerara sugar (£1.60 each) and Christmas Buns (bottom right) made with frangipane, chocolate crumbs, cinnamon, candied orange zest and vanilla iced with orange crème fraîche. Biscuits also feature heavily, with Cinnamon Stars priced at £5 a tub, Iced Bauble Biscuits (bottom centre) - lightly spiced speculoos biscuits with royal icing, sold individually for £1.50.

Greggs

The highly anticipated Festive Bake is back on the menu at Greggs this Christmas, and it’s being joined by two new additions to the menu. The first is a Pigs Under Blankets Baguette, which is described as a twist on the classic Christmas favourite and filled with pork sausages, sweetcure bacon, pork, sage and onion stuffing with a cranberry & port sauce (rsp £3.00).

The second is the Choc Cherry Muffin (right). The treat (rsp £1) is filled with Belgian white chocolate chunks, cherry pieces and a cherry-flavoured centre.

Family-friendly treats such as the Christmas Pudding Biscuit, Christmas Tree Biscuit (left) and Sweet Mince Pies are returning,  as well as the Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Roll, filled with seasoned turkey breast mince, pieces of sweetcure bacon and dried cranberries, all wrapped in a golden puff pastry. The Christmas Lunch Sandwich (centre) is also back on the menu.

Paul

Paul has got Christmas all wrapped up from festive feasts for the grab-and-go diner to sweet desserts, suitable for those special occasions.

When it comes to the hotly contested Christmas sandwich category, Paul is offering a more inclusive range this year including ‘Tis the Vegan, a sesame baguette filled with houmous, grilled carrots, peppers and spinach topped with cranberry sauce and roasted pumpkin seeds (rsp £4.35). Also new to the menu is The Festive Ham Hock Feast (centre), which comprises a sage & onion baguette studded with cranberries and filled with hand-pulled British ham hock and chunky coleslaw (rsp £4.40). They’re available, alongside the Camembert Cracker (rsp £4.25) and Dinde de Noël (rsp £4.65) options, from 6 November.

Following its success last year – including being a finalist in the Bakery Innovation Award at British Baker’s Baking Industry Awards 2018 – is the Mince Pie Croissant. Paul has adapted the recipe, introducing a mini version and two new flavours: Almond & Apricot Mince Pie Croissant and the Blueberry & Red Fruit Mince Pie Croissant, both costing £2.25.

New to its festive cakes range this year is the Gâteau de Noël La Forêt d’Hiver: Winter Forest Christmas Cake (left), priced at £22.95 and serving six to eight people. It features a crunchy biscuit base, a layer of dark chocolate mousse and is decorated with a forest of frosted trees and a snow-capped dark chocolate chalet. A Passion Fruit and Milk Chocolate Bûche (right) is also available. It features a coconut dacquoise with a passion fruit and milk chocolate ganache with crispy cereal pieces, surrounded by a passion fruit mousse. The Bûche is topped with coconut, chocolate Christmas trees and a dark chocolate reindeer.

Pret A Manger

Pret is tapping into the trend for hybrid bakery products this year with its new Mince Pie Cookie (£1.45), described as a seasonal ginger & orange cookie with mincemeat inside. It’s available alongside returning favourites such as Melvin, The Melting Gingerbread Snowman (£1.45) and the Christmas Tiffin (£1.60).

New to its sandwich range is the Christmas Lunch Baguette (£4.25) filled with free-range turkey, port & orange cranberry sauce, herby pork stuffing and baby spinach leaves. Also new is the Wiltshire-Cured Ham & Wensleydale Baguette (£3.99).

Pret has also been quick off the mark when it comes to vegan sandwiches – it’s Very Merry Christmas Lunch Sandwich (right), priced at £3.50, will be returning this year, filled with grilled carrots, crispy onions and baby spinach alongside vegan stuffing and orange cranberry sauce. Also returning is the Veggie Christmas Lunch Sandwich (left) – stuffed with roasted butternut squash, rocket and Christmas pesto – and the Christmas Lunch Sandwich (centre; £3.75).

Every Christmas sandwich and baguette sold at Pret this year will see 50p donated to the Pret Foundation Trust, which is working to break the cycle of homelessness.

Starbucks

Starbucks may be known for its indulgent yuletide drinks, but the retailer is getting into the Christmas spirit on the bakery front, too, with six new festive bakery products. These include a Salted Caramel Christmas Tree (left) – a salted caramel rice crispy and pretzel tree decorated with golden balls and white chocolate stars; a Prosecco & Cranberry Cake – prosecco-flavoured sponge filled with pink chocolate and champagne ganache, decorated with scarlet cranberries and white chocolate flakes; and a Chocolate & Raspberry Christmas Star – butter pastry with marzipan and vanilla cream fillings, chocolate drops, and a raspberry glaze.

Returning favourites include the Christmas Tree Brownie (£1.99), Chocolate Truffle Loaf Cake (£1.99) and Vegan Chocolate & Raspberry Cake (£1.99). Mince Pies (left) and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Muffin (centre) are also available.

Urban Eat

Sandwich brand Urban Eat has added a vegan offering to its festive range this year in the form of the Veggie Feast Sandwich. The sarnie features sweet potato falafel with beetroot, carrot and cranberry slaw, vegan cranberry mayo and salad leaves on malted bread.

Also joining the range is the Turkey, Bacon and Stuffing Sourdough Toastie – a cheese and cranberry-topped toastie filled with turkey and beechwood smoked bacon, stuffing and béchamel sauce. The Turkey Feast Sandwich and vegetarian Brie and Cranberry Wrap will also be returning.

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