Britain often gets a bad rap when it comes to cuisine. While there might not be many massive differences between us and Brits (other than our accents and differences in spelling), one of the biggest differences is our food.
Let’s be honest – British food can look a bit odd. It’s not the land of burgers and pizza, after all. So, if you want to get a taste of some true delights from the United Kingdom, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are 28 delicious traditional British recipes from across the pond!
Nothing screams “British food” quite like fish and chips. Fish and chips is arguably Britain’s most iconic meal, and it’s clear why.
There’s something about the crispy beer-battered fish with the thick chips (fries for translation) that will teleport you to a British seaside town – minus the seagulls swooping down to steal your food.
Fish and chips are best served with sauces like tartar and ketchup, and lots of vinegar.
One of the most classic comfort foods in British cuisine is bangers and mash. Bangers and mash consists of three key features – sausages, mashed potatoes, and onion gravy.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about this meal, it’s just something that Brits typically eat when they fancy some pub grub or if they’ve had a rough day at work.
This meal can be easily turned vegetarian by substituting the meat sausages for veggie alternatives!
As the name suggests, the humble Cornish pasty is the national dish of Cornwall. This is a flaky pastry pocket filled with meat and vegetables, but there are some vegetarian and vegan options available.
They were first invented by miners and workmen who needed a portable lunch option while working. Cornish pasties might be fiddly to make, but the results are definitely worth it.
You can’t talk about British foods without noticing the foods of Wales. Welsh rarebit is one of the country’s most iconic dishes, even though people consider it to just be fancy cheese on toast.
However, the flavors of Worcestershire sauce, beer (or stout or ale), and English mustard makes this a hearty and flavorful lunchtime option. This dish was named after the working class families who couldn’t afford rabbit.
Brits love a hearty and filling breakfast. The classic full English breakfast is typically made on weekends, special occasions, or after a heavy night at the pub.
This breakfast consists of bacon, sausages, fried egg, baked beans, mushrooms, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, and toast. As per tradition, serve alongside a cup of warm English tea and a generous dollop of ketchup or brown sauce.
In the States, toad in the hole is a fried egg cooked in the middle of a slice of bread. In Britain, however, toad in the hole is a dish consisting of sausages baked into a Yorkshire pudding.
This is another home-cooked comfort meal that can be baked in one oven dish, plus you can use your own choice of sausages. Serve with vegetables or mashed potatoes and lots of onion gravy.
One of Britain’s most iconic side dishes are Yorkshire puddings, which actually aren’t a pudding at all. Yorkshire puddings are essentially just batter baked in the oven, until they have risen into a cup-like shape.
They are most commonly served as a side dish in a roast dinner, and they are often the star of the meal. The key to Yorkshire puddings is to allow the batter to cool before baking it.
Brits love anything to do with meat and potatoes, don’t they? Shepherd’s pie is another family-favorite dish that, despite the name, is actually a casserole rather than a pie.
This dish consists of a rich, hearty beef stew covered by a thick layer of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie is typically served with steamed vegetables, gravy, or alone.
You know how Americans wait all year to have a huge roast dinner for Thanksgiving? Yeah. Brits have roast dinners far more regularly. In fact, it’s traditional to have a roast dinner for lunch every Sunday.
Roast dinners typically consist of roasted meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, or turkey), alongside roasted vegetables, homemade gravy, and Yorkshire puddings. You can be experimental with a roast dinner and use whatever vegetables you like.
Bubble and squeak is the meal you make after a roast dinner with all the leftovers.
It typically consists of frying whatever vegetables and meat you have leftover from the Sunday roast dinner, and then eating it for Monday lunch or dinner. Some people like to have it alone, with more gravy, or even with a fried egg on top!
11. Beef Wellington
Beef wellington is considered one of the more luxurious roasted beef dishes in Britain, mostly because it features one of the most tender cuts of beef – the tenderloin.
The tenderloin is then covered in a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, and then wrapped in a flaky puff pastry. It is then roasted and served with vegetables. Beef wellington is popularly served at holidays and special occasions.
12. Welsh Lamb Cawl
Another traditional Welsh dish is lamb cawl, which is essentially a lamb and vegetable stew. A bowl of cawl is the best meal in cold weather or when you’re sick, filled with warmth and goodness.
It doesn’t matter what cut of lamb you use, whether it’s lamb joint, shoulder, or steaks. Serve with some crispy, fluffy bread to soak up the liquid at the end.
13. British Scones
A British cream tea isn’t complete without scones. Scones are a slightly denser version of American biscuits, and they are instead eaten as a sweet treat. They are paired with clotted cream and jam, but the true debate is which way round it goes.
For us, we opt for clotted cream first and jam second (though don’t tell the Cornish). Scones are eaten as a snack throughout the day with a pot of tea.
Another iconic British dish, beans on toast is a comforting meal that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or a light dinner.
While most Brits will simply heat up some Heinz baked beans and smother it on toast, you can make your own beans on toast with this delicious and easy recipe. Make sure to cover the warm beans with a sprinkle of cheese!
A favorite lunch item at most British pubs is the Ploughman’s lunch.
A Ploughman’s board is essentially a snack board filled with bread, cheese, meat (such as salami or baked ham), pickled onions, chutney, boiled eggs, fruit, and another meaty item such as a scotch egg or pork pie.
While a Ploughman’s is usually eaten at lunch, it also serves as a good sharing platter before a main meal.
Another traditional food sold in pubs around Britain is the humble steak and ale pie. This is a classic dish that reminds Brits of their mother’s cooking, and is most popularly eaten in the colder months.
As the name suggests, steak and ale pie consists of tender chunks of steak cooked in a vegetable and ale stew-like mixture, and then wrapped in flaky pastry.
17. Pickled Onions
It’s not a British refrigerator without a jar of pickled onions. Once you’ve tried one of these delicious snacks, there’s no turning back.
While you can pickle slices of red onion, it’s most traditional to pickle small boiler onions and eat them whole. They require about 6-8 weeks of pickling before eating, but the wait is worth it.
A traditional British dessert with a rather unfortunate name is spotted dick. This dessert consists of a steamed pudding filled with dried currants, and then smothered in vanilla custard.
While a fairly dense dessert, a spotted dick is the perfect way to round off a beautiful British meal. Don’t be concerned about the beef suet ingredient, as this helps the moisture of the pudding!
Liver and onions is probably one of the more controversial traditional British dinners. If you ask any Brit whether they enjoy this meal, you’re either going to be met with extreme passion or hatred.
This is because liver has a strong flavor and texture, so it’s something you’ll either love or hate. Still, liver and onions is a traditional British recipe that is worth trying. Especially when it’s smothered in bacon, onions, and gravy.
A roast dinner isn’t complete without cauliflower cheese. This is basically like mac and cheese, except with cauliflower instead of the macaroni pasta.
The cauliflower is baked in a creamy, cheesy sauce until it is golden brown and bubbly, and it’s certain to be a hit. Also, if you excuse the fact that it’s smothered in cheese, this is technically one of your five a day!
21. Mushy Peas
Mushy peas are another love-it-or-hate-it side dish in British cuisine. This side dish is typically served alongside fish and chips, or even on the side of roasted meat such as lamb (which is popular in Ireland).
The key with mushy peas is to allow the peas to soak for 12 hours to enhance the mushy texture.
Haggis is Scotland’s national dish, and it’s certainly not one for vegans and vegetarians. Traditional haggis is made from the innards of animals, including sheep and cows, making for a meaty savory pudding.
This isn’t exactly the easiest meal to make, nor is it the most attractive, but it’s worth it for a taste of the Highlands.
You can’t forget about Ireland when talking about British recipes! Ireland’s national dish is Irish stew, a hearty and warming dish that is comparable to Welsh lamb cawl.
However, instead of being a soup, Irish stew is far more stew-like and popularly served on St Patrick’s Day. This stew consists of lamb (or mutton if available) and a range of vegetables.
A highly popular British dessert is sticky toffee pudding. This pudding consists of a dense, sticky date-based brown sugar cake smothered in a toffee sauce, and often accompanied by custard, ice cream, or cream.
It’s a real treat to have this dessert after a meal, and it never gets old.
Apple crumble is arguably the backbone of British desserts. Crumbles come in all flavors, including gooseberry or rhubarb, but apple crumble is undoubtedly the most popular option.
America has the apple crisp version which contains oats, but the biscuity crumbly topping of an apple crumble is what’s truly special. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, custard, or cream.
26. English Trifle
An English trifle is the pinnacle of nostalgia. Every Brit has distinct memories of shoving their spoons into the bottom of a trifle, only to be met with a sherry-soaked cake.
Perhaps not the best flavor for kids, but it’s definitely worth appreciating as an adult. English trifle consists of layers of sherry-soaked cake, custard, jam, fruit, and whipped cream. It is then decorated with strawberries on top.
27. Eton Mess
Eton mess is the pinnacle of British summertime. This traditional dessert consists of crushed up pieces of meringue, whipped cream, strawberry sauce (or a balsamic glaze), and fresh strawberries.
This is a light and fluffy dessert that is perfect for warm weather, especially after a filling meal.
You didn’t think you’d get through this list and not see the recipe for Victoria sponge, did you? Victoria sponge is Britain’s most famous cake, and for good reason.
This is a nation-favorite cake consisting of two fluffy, delicate sponges, sandwiched together with jam and cream. Decorate the top of the cake with powdered sugar and sliced strawberries.
So, there you have it! There are countless traditional British recipes that range from heavy and meaty to light and sweet, and hopefully this guide has taught you more about British cuisine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Arguably the most British dinner is the humble roast dinner. Typically served on Sundays and special occasions, a roast dinner will consist of the following:
Roast meat (chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or turkey are the most popular)
Roasted carrots and parsnips
It is believed that beef is the most eaten meat in the UK, although it’s not the cheapest type of meat. Chicken is a close second due to its low cost and versatility.