The hottest food & drink buys for summer 2023

Discover what to pop in your trolley for your next picnic or alfresco dinner with our edit of the best new barbecue fare, frozen treats for hot days and more, from producers big and small. It’s going to be a tasty summer.

The hottest food & drink buys for summer 2023

Savoury delights for summer

1.  The barbecue meat box

In the more esoteric quarters of the fire-cooking world, the idea of cooking burgers, sausages and chicken wings on your coals is seen as lacking ambition. But let’s face it – if you’re a meat eater, all three are damned satisfying. You need to secure the best quality meat, though…

Step forward sustainable Devon stalwart Pipers Farm. Founded in 1989, it now works with 40 small family farms in the West Country to supply quality ethical meat. We tried the Medium Barbecue Meat Box (£40). It comes frozen, so leave in the fridge overnight and you’re ready to go.

The ‘properly free-range’ chicken wings grill beautifully (mix up a tandoori marinade for old-school deliciousness) and the fat, unshrinking sausages with proper hog’s skins (six each of pork and Cumberland), are German-level good. You also get four each of chicken burgers and big succulent steak burgers, plus brioche burger buns and a bottle each of cult Sauce Shop ketchup and barbecue sauce from Nottingham. Also Small (£22) and Large (£60), available from Pipers Farm


2. A pair of hotties

What is a barbie without hot sauce? Spare a thought for tester Les Dunn, who discovered there’s only one effective way to do it: dip your finger in and dab it on your tongue. No pain no gain…

Wiltshire condiment maestro Tracklements’ new Smokin’ Chipotle Sauce (£3.50 for 150ml, available from farmshops/delis and Tracklements) has an addictively sweet quality under the smoke, with fruity chilli tones and the piquancy of cider vinegar.

Inspired by the uncompromising power of Nigerian sauces, Maggie’s Original Chilli Sauce is made in North Wales by Margaret Ogunbanwo (£3.95 for 100g, available from Wakuda and Maggie’s African Twist). Despite its strength, there’s velvet in that steel glove, with garlic, oregano and lemon.


Our favourite ices

3. The vegan one

Dairy-free ice cream – a contradiction in terms? Yet somehow, in the hands of Booja-Booja, this frozen treat is so good that you don’t miss what’s usually a key ingredient. Our favourite? The caramel pecan praline, with a sweet-balancing hint of sea salt… And how do they achieve the essential ice cream creaminess? With organic cashew nuts. Clever. £5.65 for 465ml, available from Waitrose


4. The one you want though you know it’s wrong

After launching blonde choc bar Caramilk in 2021, Cadbury has gone and swirled this golden nectar through vanilla ice cream. Tuck into caramelised chunks of chocolate, ripples of caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and an entire core made of Caramilk. It’s super sweet and unfairly moreish. £3.50 for 480g, available from supermarkets


5. The zingy one

Dense, silky, intensely fruity, Crosta & Mollica’s sorbets are made for a hot evening. Pick from Sorrento Lemon or Sicilian Pomegranate (pictured) – both deliver sweet-sharp balance. Served in their respective fruits’ skins, these palm-size puds also have a rustic novelty about them. Sorbet-filled Fruit Shells, £5.50 for two (150g total), available from Waitrose


6. The one that’s not actually ice cream

Are Pleese’s frozen cheescakes the true pinnacle of frozen dairy? Incredibly rich but with the tang of cream cheese, they’re one of our favourite things we’ve eaten this summer. Freezecakes, £5 for 350g, available from Waitrose


Hot on the shelves

Food editor Tom Shingler’s pick of the best hot-weather products from the big retailers.

7. Chilled out

Too hot to even think about cooking? This gazpacho from Re:Nourish is the answer. A world away from some of the more watery options out there, it feels thick enough to satisfy but light enough to counteract the blazing sunshine. £2.95 for 500g, available from Ocado


8. Kebabulous!

Ready-made skewers tend to be overprocessed, measly and aggressively flavoured with poor quality aromatics, but the impressively named Collection Master Grill Greek Style Pork Skewers from M&S buck the trend. Generous in size, top quality and the ultimate grill fodder. £9.50 for 675g, available from M&S


9. Are you ready for these?

Dill and pickle-flavoured snacks are big business in the US and Eastern Europe, and they’re finally starting to make in-roads in the UK. The new dill pickle and jalapeño flavour of Kettle Chips has plenty of herby tang with a lick of heat – it’ll be my snack of the summer. £2.39 for 125g, available from Asda and Morrisons


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