Collection of the best Christmas cakes for 2021

From Morrisons' great value Christmas cake to a blowout spectacular hand-iced by Biscuiteers, discover the best Christmas cakes for 2021; the ones that scored the highest in this year's Tried & Tasted Awards. 

If you're wondering where to buy your Christmas cake, we're here to help. This year we have tried and tested a large variety of shop-bought Christmas cakes that certainly give Mary Berry's Christmas cake recipe (opens in new tab) a run for its money. The brands we sampled included Waitrose and Cartwright & Butler.

This year's best cake was Waitrose No.1 Rich Fruit Cake which was awarded the Tried & Tasted badge as part of our best Christmas food (opens in new tab) roundup for 2021. However, another standout was the Morrisons entry, which at just £9 is a fantastic value option.

How did we test the best Christmas cakes?

As part of the taste test, each Christmas cake was blindly tested and scores were given based on look, texture, and flavour. The judging was done by our panel of expert foodies; Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith, Deputy Food Editor Rose Fooks, Senior Food Writer Jessica Ransom, and wedding cake business owner, Food Writer and former Bake Off The Professionals contestant, Keiron George - who certainly knows a thing or two when it comes to cakes.

We tasted a variety of different shapes, sizes, and styles for Christmas cakes. Some of the Christmas cakes had no decoration or icing, but the majority were covered in marzipan and fondant icing. Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom says; "While we're strong advocates of making and feeding your own Christmas cake, we understand that not everyone has the time or passion to do so. I was impressed with the simple, yet effective design of several of the cakes we tried. Stars and snowflakes were the most frequent decorations and we think they'd look splendid on your festive table."

What is the best Christmas cake you can buy 2021?

Waitrose Christmas cake in a box with the Tried & Tasted award logo

Credit: Waitrose & Partners

Waitrose No.1 Rich Fruit Cake

Winner: Best Christmas Cake

Serves: 20

Filled with dried fruits and almonds, as well as glace cherries and a generous swig of booze this cake has a real depth of flavour. It also looks impressive with a pretty guided star snowflake design. The stand-out winner, we’ve crowned it the Best Christmas Cake in our Tried & Tasted Awards 2021.

The texture of the cake was moist and held its shape well. Where some of the other cakes crumbled, this one stood firm. The judges commended the rich and fruity flavour. The Waitrose No.1 Rich Fruit Cake has been six months matured which intensifies the rich flavour.

VIEW AT WAITROSE | £16 (opens in new tab)

Best Christmas cakes 2021 – runners up

Morrisons The Best Iced Cake with blue ribbon on a golden board


Morrisons The Best Iced Christmas Cake

Serves: 14

The Morrisons The Best Iced Christmas Cake has a lovely hint of nutmeg, spices, and orange, giving it that unmistakable festive feel that you want from a Christmas cake. It's exceptional quality for a supermarket cake. By Christmas this cake will have been maturing in Cognac for a minimum of 3 months, allowing the flavours to intensify.

After judging, the price was revealed and our panel of food experts was even more impressed with this Morrisons cake. At just £9 it's brilliant value for a delicious cake with a modest, but classy design. This is not the only winner from Morrisons this year as they were awarded a Tried & Tasted award for the Morrisons 'The Best Panettone' too.

VIEW AT MORRISONS | £9 (opens in new tab)

Biscuiteers hand iced Christmas cake


Biscuiteers Christmas Greenery Christmas Cake

Serves: 23

This impressive cake is made by London-based biscuit makers, Biscuiteers. The forset-inspired pine cone design has been meticulously iced around the entirety of the cake. But it's not just the look that we love about this one, it tastes great too. Food Writer, Rosie Bensberg says "I was particularly impressed by the delicate hand-iced decoration on the Biscuiteers Christmas Greenery Cake, which really made it stand out from the rest. It also had lovely chunky pieces of fruit running through the cake which gave it a lovely texture."

All the judges agreed that the cake tasted homemade, as every slice is packed with ginger figs and chunky pieces of cherry. This cake is quite heavily spiced for an extra festive feel. And we would certainly be overjoyed to cut into this cake as part of a very special Christmas tea time spread.

VIEW AT BISCUITEERS | £58 (opens in new tab)

Cartwright & Butler cake in a red tin with a gold bow

Cartwright & Butler

Cartwright & Butler Christmas Loaf Cake in a Tin

Serves: 6

Ideal for gifting this lovely little cake comes in a handsome red tin all wrapped up in a cute golden bow. Food Editor, Samuel Goldsmith loved this loaf cake; "I can think of so many people that this would be a lovely gift for, but as a massive Christmas cake fan, I would be ordering myself one too."

The texture of the cake is perfect and moist. It is jam-packed with fruits and nuts. The top is adorned with cherries, almonds, and marzipan stars. Despite the lack of icing, this cake is perfect and ideal paired with a cup of tea.

VIEW AT CARTWRIGHTANDBUTLER.CO.UK | £12 (opens in new tab)

How long does a shop-bought Christmas cake last?

Christmas cakes always last a long time as most have a high sugar content which helps to preserve them. To see how long a shop-bought cake will last have a look at the label. The best-before date will indicate when it will taste at its best.

However, it will still be fine to consume for a while after this. Senior Food Writer, Jessica Ransom advises, "Store your shop-bought Christmas cake in a cool dry place and it's likely to last until Easter". Inspect the cake for mold and if it tastes good then it should be fine to eat. If your cake is un-iced and you know that you won't be eating it for a while you could always freeze it.

Can you decorate a shop-bought Christmas cake?

Absolutely, decorating a shop-bought cake is a great time-saving hack. It's also a great way to experiment with different Christmas cake decorations (opens in new tab) and design ideas.

If you are wondering how to ice a Christmas cake (opens in new tab) there are a few ways. The quickest is to cover the cake in marzipan and then fondant icing. To save time use pre-rolled marzipan and fondant, which can be found at the supermarket around Christmas. However, if you are interested in a more traditional icing method you may prefer to learn how to make royal icing (opens in new tab).

See all the winners of the Tried & Tasted Christmas awards (opens in new tab)

Rose Fooks is Deputy Food Editor at Future Publishing, creating recipes, reviewing products and writing food features for a range of lifestyle and home titles including GoodTo and Woman&Home. Before joining the team, Rose obtained a Diplome de Patisserie and Culinary Management at London’s Le Cordon Bleu. Going on to work in professional kitchens at The Delaunay and Zedel.