Christmas is creeping up on us – mince pies have been in shops since October, shops are playing Wham, and Christmas lights are going up across the country. And the Christmas sandwiches are out! I tried all the vegan offerings I could find from major supermarkets and coffee shops, to help you decide where to go for your festive lunchtime fix.
While grilled carrots were definitely the ‘thing’ last year, this year it seemed to be hummus – which is more than fine by me! I’m really not a fan of ‘fake meat’ products, so I avoided those entirely. I also tried to stick to the most classic of Christmas sandwiches, choosing sandwiches over wraps and feasts over New Yorkers where possible.
Ratings were based on looks, taste, festive feeling, value for money and ease of eating – each category is worth 5 points, for a maximum score of 25. So, in alphabetical order:
- Benugo – Festive Vegan Feast Bloomer, £3.95 (542 cals)
“Parsnip hummus, grilled carrot, nut roast, crispy onion, chilli jam and spinach on 50% wholegrain bloomer”
Looks 5 – very appetising. Love the colours, and the darkness (and thickness) of the bread. Feels very premium.
Taste 3 – my excitement about the thickness of the bread quickly turned sour, as it was sadly very dry. Although there looked like a fair amount of filling from the packaging, there actually wasn’t much. What there is is very nice – I love the soft crunch of the carrots, and the sweet heat from the chilli jam.
Festive feeling 3 – such a thin spreading of parsnip hummus that I just couldn’t taste it. I can’t really get the nut roast, either.
Value for money 3 – I feel a bit cheated by this sandwich: it did not live up to its promising appearance! It’s an extra 20p from last year’s version, and not as good.
Ease of eating 3 – quite a lot of crumbs to brush off the desk
- Boots – Vegan Christmas Feast, £3* (402 cals)
*or part of the £3.99 meal deal
“Roast vegetable stuffing with vegan sage and onion mayonnaise, steam roasted and seasoned red cabbage and fried onions on white bread”
Looks 2 – a bit uninspiring with the white bread, and not much filling
Taste 3 – pleasant, but can’t taste anything in particular beyond maybe the cabbage. Lacking in texture and couldn’t detect the stuffing at all. Onions soft. Not up to the standard of their other sandwiches.
Festive feeling 2 – it feels a bit sad rather than celebratory
Value for money 3 – this is pushed up by its inclusion in the meal deal, which is generally very good value.
Ease of eating 4 – not too much filling makes it an easy one-handed al desco lunch option
- Caffe Nero – Vegan Christmas Dinner Ciabatta, £4.55 (455 cals)
“Parsnip fritter with spiced butternut squash, kale and cranberry sauce in a hand-stretched ciabatta”
Looks 3 – a far cry from the decadently-filled version in the picture (I could only see tiny hints of filling through the packaging), but the bread looks good and the filling colourful.
Taste 5 – it is delicious. You can taste the individual elements – sweet parsnip fritter, crunchy red cabbage, festively spiced squash – and the bread is delicious. It’s also warm, which is exactly what a cold winter’s day needs!
Festive feeling 4 – it’s not the most overtly Christmassy, but the spicing on the squash is a lovely touch.
Value for money 4 – I’m torn. It’s a fantastic sandwich (and it’s hot!), but it’s also expensive, and it’s just too much for a weekday lunch. It would be better if they had a cheaper take-away option.
Ease of eating 4 – everything was nicely encased in the ciabatta; minimal desk-brushing needed.
- Co-op – Vegan Festive Feast, £3* (430 cals)
*or part of the £3.50 meal deal
“Parsnip fritter with cranberry slaw, roasted seeds and a sage and onion vegan mayo on cranberry and poppy seed bread”
Looks 4 – nice colourful layers, well-filled, bread looks interesting
Taste 4 – very nice flavours. The parsnip fritter is lovely, and the bread is great. I was excited about the cranberry slaw, but it was more like a cranberry sauce in the end.
Festive feeling 4 – pretty festive flavours, but it doesn’t scream ‘Christmas’
Value for money 5 – a very good price for what you get, and love its inclusion in the meal deal. Co-op are also donating £50,000 from the sale of their Christmas sandwiches to charity (Mind, SAMH and Inspire), which is even better.
Ease of eating 3 – many, many crumbs
- Costa – Veggies Under Vest Sandwich, £2.80 (436 cals)
“Crumbled falafel with parsnip stuffing, carrot, cranberry sauce, mayo and dresh spinach on malted bread”
Looks 4 – colourful, distinct layers. Not as much filling as some others.
Taste 3 – the spiced falafels are a bit at odds with the other ingredients. It’s not unpleasant, but I don’t think it works.
Festive feeling 3 – festive packaging, but not very festive flavours.
Value for money 4 – a very good price compared to others I’ve tried so far.
Ease of eating 4 – the cranberry sauce and mayo keep everything together well.
- Leon – The Falafel Wrap, £4.95 (529cals)
“Our baked sweet potato falafel with cranberry & clementine sauce, vegan sage & onion mayo, toasted pine nuts and crispy onions”
Looks 3 – lovely-looking flatbread, but all very beige when you peel away the foil wrapper
Taste 4 – It’s nice, though there’s nowhere near enough filling. The sage and onion mayo is a lovely touch, though the cranberry sauce makes the whole thing a bit sweet for me. I also didn’t have any crispy onions – maybe they forgot to put them in, but I am sad. Extra points for being hot though.
Festive feeling 2 – other than the condiments there’s not much festive about it
Value for money 2 – it’s the most expensive I’ve tried, and I don’t think there’s enough there to justify the price.
Ease of eating 5 – all very encased; no crumbs at all
- M&S – Plant Kitchen, The Nutcracker, £4.25 (495 cals)
“Layers of sweet potato, chestnut and cranberry roast, butternut squash, cranberry chutney, pistachios and caramelised pecans with an almond butter vegan mayo dressing.”
Looks 5 – lovely packaging, and the sandwich itself looks really colourful and inviting. It sets a high bar!
Taste 5 – beautiful flavours and textures that work together incredibly well. The almond butter lends everything a decadent creaminess, while the pistachios and pecans give a great crunch that makes every mouthful slightly different. This will be a hard one to beat.
Festive feeling 5 – cranberry, caramelised pecans, squash, and the general feeling of decadence makes this feel very festive indeed. It’s also infinitely better than the no-Turkey feast which was their only vegan option last year.
Value for money 4 – while I initially winced at the price, and lamented it not being included in M&S’s £5 meal deal, the quality and amount of filling assuaged me. It’s also very filling, so doesn’t need a snack alongside.
Ease of eating 3 – a slightly messier desk option, but only due to there being a lot of filling. It’s a pay-off I’m willing to accept.
- Paul – All About the Sprout, £4.25 (627 cals)
“Sage, onion & cranberry bread, roasted Brussels sprouts, houmous, fresh spinach, grilled carrots, sweet chestnuts, pickled red cabbage, orange jam and old English chutney”
Looks 5 – lots of colours, and gorgeous-looking bread (of course)
Taste 5 – just an explosion of flavour. Softly crunchy carrots, creamy hummus, earthy chestnut, beautifully tangy chutney, and of course the sprouts – sweet and festive and delicious. And the bread! My only criticism is the spinach, which didn’t really add anything.
Festive feeling 4 – not the most obviously festive flavours (particularly the spinach and chutney), but more than a good nod to it.
Value for money 4 – it’s a pricier option, but you more than get your money’s worth.
Ease of eating 2 – as with all Paul sandwiches, this is not a neat affair. Worth it though.
- Pret – Very Merry Christmas Lunch, £3.75 (540 cals)
“Grilled carrots, crispy onions and baby leaf spinach with our festive vegan stuffing and port & orange cranberry sauce. Finished with caramelised pecans for an added Christmas crunch.”
Looks 4 – good amount of colourful filling; bread slightly squashed
Taste 4 – too much filler-spinach for my preference and the stuffing was slightly soggy, though the flavours are nice. It’s made by the pecans and crispy onions.
Festive feeling 5 – possibly even too festive, with so much hype on social media and a dedicated Christmas Sandwich Eve Party. I bought mine on 5th November, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was playing over the speakers and the cashiers were wearing santa hats.
Value for money 3 – though the sandwich is the same for the third year in a row, the price has gone up by 25p since last year – and it wasn’t that cheap to start with. Bonus points for donating 50p per sandwich to their homeless charity, though.
Ease of eating 3 – there’s nothing sticking the spinach to the bread, meaning there were some rogue leaves and some crispy onion loss (sob!)
- Sainsbury’s – Festive Falafel & Houmous Wrap, £2.30 (457 cals)
“Festive style falafel with carrot, houmous, cucumber, chutney, pickled red cabbage and spinach in a tortilla wrap”
Looks 3 – not the most inspiring appearance, but fairly colourful.
Taste 3 – there’s not much to it. A lot of spinach, and I think I had one piece of pickled cabbage in the whole thing, which had none of the tang I was hoping for.
Festive feeling 2 – the wrap overall is distinctly unfestive, but they have managed to inject some festivity into the falafel – the ginger, cloves, nutmeg and sultanas are a nice addition.
Value for money 3 – although this was the cheapest I tried, it’s not hard to see why. It’s not included in the meal deal, either – though one of their meaty Christmas sandwiches is.
Ease of eating 3 – much more crumb-y than expected from a wrap – mainly from the falafel.
- Starbucks – Very Merry Vegan Wrap, £3.20 (543 cals)
“Crumbled butternut squash fritters & roasted red cabbage with a vegan maple mustard mayonnaise in a beetroot wrap”
Looks 4 – love the colours, though it doesn’t immediately say ‘festive’.
Taste 3 – the butternut fritter is very nice – sweet and gently spiced, with a nice texture – but the whole thing’s a bit dry, and there were some very tough stems to the greens that I had to pick out.
Festive feeling 1 – beyond the name and the inclusion of cabbage, there’s nothing festive about it.
Value for money 3 – not the cheapest, but considering it’s only 20p more than the Boot’s one it’s not bad for the quality, and it’s fairly filling.
Ease of eating 4 – the nature of wraps is easy-eating
- Tesco – Wicked Kitchen Bubble, Squeak & Greens, £3 (444 cals)
“Chilli bubble and squeak, sage and onion stuffing with cooked chestnuts and faba bean alternative to mayonnaise, cooked red cabbage, cranberry chutney with a spring greens and spinach mix in chilli and pepper bread”
Looks 4 – lovely colourful layers and nice packaging.
Taste 3 – Quite a nice flavour. I like the warming hints of chilli from the bread, though the bread is a bit on the dry side.
Festive feeling 3 – festive packaging, but not particularly festive flavours with only a hint of cranberry and chestnut.
Value for money 3 – a bit pricey for a supermarket sandwich, and it’s not included in the meal deal.
Ease of eating 3 – quite a lot of rogue crumbs and cabbage.
So, there we have it. The winner with 22/25 points is M&S’s Nutcracker, with Paul, Caffe Nero and Co-op all coming in at joint second place with 20/25.
Have you tried one I haven’t mentioned, or have I done a disservice to your favourite? Let me know in the comments below. And wherever you go for your sandwich, may you have a very festive lunchtime!