Written By: Lucy July 21,2023

Beyond Fish and Chips and pies that aren’t really pies, it’s sometimes hard to nail down exactly what British food is. It can be easy to poke fun at the Brits for their cuisine, especially with some of their ridiculous names. Toad in the Hole?! But UK cuisine is an expedition through history. Its hearty and comforting style was born out of necessity when meat was scarce and the weather bone-numbing cold.

Traditional British Food

Each traditional British food has a story to tell, one that usually dates back centuries. From Jellied Eels sourced from the River Thames to Kidney Pie with mashed potatoes. The cuisine is far more than what meets the eye and the cozy local pubs are the place to enjoy it.

If you are visiting the United Kingdom make sure to try some of these British dishes to blend in at the local pub. For more food from the Commonwealth, check out Best Canadian Foods to Try.

1. Sunday Roast

A tradition if there ever was one. The Sunday roast dinner is the easiest way to forget the dread that comes with the end of the weekend. One of the most popular UK dishes, the base of the scrumptious meal, is the meat.

A typical roast dinner will have either lamb, roast beef, chicken, or turkey. If you’re dining out, you may even have multiple. The meat is then topped with a thick gravy and complemented by roasted potatoes, cauliflower cheese, and Yorkshire Pudding. While a variety of extra condiments is added depending on the meat, such as a mint sauce with pork.

The Sunday roast dinner is a quintessential part of British cuisine and culture. It’s a coming together of the family that has been a weekly event for generations.

2. Fish And Chips

Other parts of the Commonwealth have their own take on what comprises classic fish and chips, but you can trace the origins right to London. In 1860, the city opened the first fish and chips shop marking the beginning of the most authentic of British food.

Traditionally served with chunky chips (fries) and a white fish such as haddock, fish and chips is an everyday part of British culture. When the clouds are moody and the temps are low, the national dish is the perfect accompaniment.

Smothered in salt and vinegar and wrapped in newspaper, the chips are left to steam as they wait for prying hands. Alongside the hearty meal, you’ll find pickled onions and mushy peas. This recipe makes it easy to make at home. Make sure to also grab a deep-fried mars bar for dessert!

3. Shepherd’s Pie

The line between pie and, well, not a pie is a blurry one in UK’s food culture. One of the best traditional British food is Shepherd’s Pie. While it isn’t quite a pie, it sure is a filling meal.

    You can find Shepherd’s Pie all around the UK. It began its rise to prominence in Scotland when it was covered in pastry. From its ancient origins, the pie later lost its shell in Ireland and was replaced by potato.

The pie starts at the base, with a layer of diced or minced lamb. The meat is then slathered with onions, an assortment of diced veggies then topped with a thick layer of mashed potato. After baking the pie, you’re left with a hearty and delicious dish that will soothe the winter blues.

Hot Tip: Switch the lamb for beef to make a Cottage Pie instead or pork for Pork Pie. This is the perfect way to make Shepherd’s Pie!

4. Bread And Butter Pudding

You may be catching onto a theme with British foods. Heart-warming and nourishing, most of the classic British dishes help to combat their consistently chilly weather. Not that we should complain. After all, it brought us Bread and Butter Pudding.

The traditional British food dates back to medieval times when the pudding was made out of bone marrow. Thankfully, the dish has transformed over the centuries. Now, bread is sliced and buttered before becoming the base of the delicious dessert. After topping the base with currants and raisins, the bread is blanketed with egg custard. Bake until the buttered bread is golden and crisp for a sweet post-dinner treat.

5.Sticky Toffee Pudding

Indulging in Sticky Toffee Pudding is something everyone must do when in the UK. In fact, the classic British dessert is one you’ll be racing to make back home. Thankfully, you’ll find everything you need at your local supermarket.

The pudding is essentially a sponge cake that is lathered with melted toffee, creating a thick and sticky texture. It’s sweet and delicious at worst and mouthwatering at its best. To complement the hot dessert, add a side of custard or ice cream, which will melt at the touch of the hot toffee.

6. Haggis, Neeps And Tatties

Featuring root vegetables and a traditional Scottish pudding, Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties continue to be a favorite north of the English border. The national dish of Scotland, Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties is a must-try on your travels.

The original recipe would have called for a mixture of sheep offal, which includes the lungs, liver, and heart. The offal is then mixed with spices, onion, and oats before being boiled in a sheep’s stomach! Now, that may be hard for those following along at home. In modern times, the stomach has been switched for a casing, making it easier to recreate the haggis from your kitchen.

For those traveling around the United Kingdom, you’ll have to head to Scotland to try it. But it’s well worth a detour. Or try it at home with this recipe. Read more about Scotland at North Coast 500 – The Ultimate Trip Guide to Scotland’s Epic Drive.

7. Irish Stew

As the name suggests, this traditional British food is beloved in Ireland. It’s a working-class meal with origins hailing from the 19th century. Irish Stew is typically served with meat and potatoes. In fact, some would say that those two ingredients are all that you need.

When the dish rose to popularity, mutton was the meat of choice. This was because the community kept their sheep longer than most. So long that the meat was only edible if in a stew.

Today, you’ll find that mutton has been replaced by lamb or beef while the potato is accompanied by a variety of root vegetables. These include parsnips, turnips, and carrots. While you’ll find Irish Stew across the UK, you can’t beat the traditional recipes made around Dublin.

8. Welsh Cawl

Arguably Wales’ national dish, the Welsh Cawl, is the perfect choice for those bitter winter nights. When the sun goes down long before you make it home, there’s something uplifting about having this soup waiting just for you.

Now I’m not usually team soup, but there’s something deliciously filling about Welsh Cawl. The British food straddles the line between soup and stew thanks to the bevy of additions to go along with the soothing broth.

After heating the stock, add potatoes, leek, carrots, and swede for a vegetarian version. A common meat addition is lamb, although you’ll often find beef used around the United Kingdom.

9.Yorkshire Pudding

A traditional British food that you’ll regularly find with your Sunday roast, Yorkshire Pudding, is not your regular pudding. Far from a sweet dessert, the pudding is a savory pastry whose origins date back to the mid-1700s.

Instead of custard or sticky toffee, the pudding is caked with gravy and served as an appetizer. This filling starter was added because the main course would often be too small. Now, in more modern and gluttonous times, the Yorkshire Pudding remains as the accompaniment for the meat.

Baking the pudding at home will take a few tries to master, but adds an extra layer to your roast, or any of your favorite winter dishes.

10.Toad In The Hole

If you’re wondering what ways you can include Yorkshire Pudding in more dishes, then the Toad in the Hole may be the traditional British food you’re searching for. The name may be off-putting, but don’t worry, no toads were harmed in the making of this dish.

Using the pudding, the inside is filled with meat. The meat of choice was typically offal, pigeon, or steak. The pudding and meat are then cooked at the same time, causing the meat to rise to the top, like floating toads.

While this dish was used to further the meager meat supplies in the poorer communities, it grew into a popular dish that’s now served around the UK. Pork sausages are now the usual protein addition, with many restaurants taking liberties and adding their own twist to the meal.

11. Lancashire Hot Pot

Many of us can sympathize with the plight of Lancashire women in the late 1800s. With the local cotton industry thriving, many went to work, leaving little time at the end of the day to cook. A common problem for many of us in the 21st century. Their solution was the Lancashire Hot Pot.

The slow cook recipe is the perfect option for anyone wanting to come home with a delicious dinner ready to be served. The hot pot comprises lamb (mutton in the old times), a collection of chopped vegetables topped with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes.

Left in a high-rise dish to cook throughout the day, the ladies of Lancashire were able to return home to a hearty meal. You can too if you try it from this recipe.

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