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20 traditional English foods to tempt your taste buds!

If you are planning a trip to England why not try some of the traditional English food the country is famous for? To help you I have put together a guide to some of the typical English food you have to try during your vacation! 

I have also mapped out the best places to try the different foods (some are traditional English dishes which are found in a certain town or area of the country)

Though British food (and British cuisine in general) has had a rough time over the years and has been described as boring, bland and overcooked there are some tasty traditional British dishes that you really should try when visiting.

Best of English – Savoury dishes

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings are undoubtedly one famous British dish that you will definitely come across in the UK. They first appeared in an English recipe book in 1737 and while they may have originated in Yorkshire they are a popular British food everywhere. Made from plain flour, eggs and milk which are whisked together to produce a batter.

This batter is then cooked in hot oil in a hot oven until the pudding rises and browns.

They are delicious and you will find them served with any roast meal or at any restaurant or pub with a carvery section in the UK.

Yorkshire Puddings are a traditional English food eaten with Sunday Roast

Make your own Yorkshire Puddings

Ingredients:

– 1 cup of flour

– 2 eggs

– 1/2 cup of milk

First, preheat your oven to around 220 degrees Celsius. Mix the flour, eggs, and milk together in a bowl until there are no lumps of flour left.

Add a generous amount of vegetable oil to a baking tray and place it in the oven for around 5 minutes until the oil is piping hot. Pour the batter into the tray and make sure it fills up all corners before quickly placing it back into the oven.

Leave to cook for around 20 minutes or until the puddings have risen and look golden brown in colour. Tip – Do NOT open the oven door while the Yorkshire Puddings are cooking or they will not rise!

Serve with roast beef, pork or turkey and lots of gravy!

Use a deep tray like this one to make the Yorkies in – reminder – make sure the oil is hot before you add a small amount of the batter mixture.

If you prefer you can always buy a packet mix!

Sunday Roast

Of course one of the most popular dishes in the UK is the Sunday Roast. This national dish consists of roast beef, roasted potatoes, vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, Yorkshire Puddings and lots of gravy!

In the summer you will find the meal served with new potatoes while in the winter mashed potatoes are the norm. Roast potatoes can be a vital component at any time of year!

I highly recommend finding a traditional British pub and enjoying a good roast dinner when you are in the UK. It’s a social meal and a time when families generally get together. It is a traditional British dish that is particularly nice in the winter when the pubs have roaring fires and the atmosphere is cosy.

Christmas dinner in the UK traditionally includes turkey as the roast meat of choice. It really is just a glorified Sunday dinner though!

When I was a child this was the day we went to my Grandparents house for lunch and I still have not tasted Yorkshire Puddings as lovely as the ones made by my Grandmother.

A Roast Dinner with meat, vegetables and Yorkshire Pudding on a white plate

Toad in the Hole

Sticking with the theme of Yorkshire Puddings and traditional British food have you heard of Toad in the Hole?

Toad in the Hole is made when you cook sausages and then (when they are nearly ready) add the Yorkshire Pudding batter mix.

This is a delicious combination and when served with mashed potatoes, peas and gravy is a tasty and hearty meal in winter.

I will quickly mention some traditional sausages that you may come across during your travels – Cumberland sausages. Whilst they are delicious they are not the best to add to a Toad in the Hole though! Traditionally a Cumberland sausage is very long (up to 21 inches) and rolled in a circular coil.

Originating from the ancient county of Cumberland (now in Cumbria) these spicy sausages are one English tradition you have to try!

Yorkshire Pudding with 4 sausages inside

Lancashire Hotpot

A lamb or mutton stew originating from Lancashire is a delicious dish for the cold winter months. Slow baked in a heavy pot or dish and topped with sliced potatoes this is a childhood favourite of mine.

This is a dish you will find on most pub menus throughout the country!

A Lancashire Hotpot

Full English Breakfast

My husband’s absolute favourite is a full English breakfast! This rather unhealthy (but tasty) meal consists of a fry up of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomato and bread with the addition of baked beans. You will also find black pudding included with some full English breakfasts.

Serve with a strong cup of tea and all will be good with the world! In Scotland expect a full Scottish breakfast with the addition of haggis, tattie scones and oatcakes!

English breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage and toast

Steak and Kidney Pudding / Pie

Another traditional British food and one of my husband’s favourite dishes is steak and kidney pie (or pudding). You will definitely be able to order this from most traditional pub menus.

With pastry made from suet and steamed and then served with mash and peas a steak and kidney pie is a firm favourite.

Steak and Kidney Pie with a knife on a plate
Traditional British food can look a little unappetising but actually can be delicious!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Is there is any classic British meal that represents British culture better than Chicken Tikka Masala? The dish consists of chicken in a creamy orange coloured spicy sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala originated in the 1960s from the South Asian community in Britain and has since become one of the most popular national dishes.

chicken tikka masala in a white dish.

Shepherd’s (or Cottage) Pie

Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) depending on whether is it is made with beef or lamb is another popular dish particularly during the colder months.

Topped with mashed potato this savoury meal is filling and tasty. Cottage Pie is generally also found on restaurant menus in traditional English pubs and bistros.

A shepherds ie and a slice on a plate

Melton Mowbray Pork Pies 

Melton Mowbray in the Midlands in the home of the ultimate pork pie and the gold standard of this great English snack!

Consisting of chopped pork mixed with pork fat and surrounded by jellied pork stock these delicious pies are served cold on their own or with a salad.

Served as part of a Ploughman’s in pubs (with pickled onions, apple, chutney) pork pies are definitely a traditional English snack to try.

Pork pie with salad and a cup of tea

Scotch Eggs

Scotch eggs are made by wrapping a hard-boiled egg in sausage meat, coating in breadcrumbs and baking or deep-frying.

Commonly eaten as a snack (or in a picnic) they are available to buy in all UK supermarkets.

Miniature Scotch egg versions are also available with chopped eggs or quail eggs instead of whole chicken eggs. Sometimes there is mayonnaise inside too!

Scotch eggs on a wooden board with a knife. One of the eggs has been cut in half.
Scotch eggs are a popular British food to eat as a snack!

Cornish Pasties

Cornish pasties originated in the counties of Devon and Cornwall. They were created as a hand-held lunch for the tin miners who worked in the counties mines.

Traditionally the Cornish pasty contained minced beef, diced potato and turnip but they could also have a small portion with a sweet filling too. The thick crust enabled the miners to eat without contaminating the meal with arsenic which was found in the tin mines.

2 Cornish Pasties on a plate

UK Travel Planning Facebook Group

If you are inspired to visit the UK why not join my UK TRAVEL PLANNING GROUP where you can ask questions and research, plan and organise your trip.

We are a friendly bunch and love sharing our knowledge and tips to help you make the most of your visit to the UK.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE FREE UK TRAVEL PLANNING GROUP ON FACEBOOK

Traditional English desserts, cakes, sweets and tarts

There are many delicious desserts, cakes and sweets to try when you are in the UK. These are my favourites and suggestions.

Bakewell Pudding & Tarts

The best Bakewell tarts/puddings can be found in the town from which they are rumoured to have originated – Bakewell in Derbyshire.

Consisting of shortcrust pastry filled with jam, frangipane and topped with almonds these tarts are delicious warm and served with clotted cream or custard.

If you visit Bakewell make sure to pop into the Bakewell Tart Shop and Coffee House to sample their signature dish! You can even pay to post a tart anywhere in the UK (and have it personalised!)

Bakewell slice with a fork next to it

Do you want to bake British desserts at home?

British cakes and recipe for Lemon drizzle cake

Subscribe to the British Bash monthly box!

Each month you will get a box filled with non perishable ingredients required to make your delicious dessert. There will be a step by step recipe card complete with the history of the dessert, some fascinating facts from Queen Anne and helpful hints from King Henry.

  • A different dessert each month
  • Free Shipping
  • Disposable baking pans included
  • 100% British women owned company
  • Only ships within United States

-> CLICK FOR INFORMATION

Kendal Mint Cake

The Kendal Mint Cake originates in the market town of Kendal in the county of Cumbria. Created by accident by Joseph Wiper who was making mints these ‘cakes’ are more like bars with a sugary mint flavour.

Kendal Mint Cakes are a popular snack with climbers and hikers as they provide a great source of energy.

A packet of Kendal Mint Cake

Pontefract Cakes

Pontefract Cakes are also not cake-like at all! They are a small, round liquorice flavoured sweet. They were traditionally made in the Yorkshire town of Pontefract.

Like liquorice? Click to try some Pontefract Cakes

A lot of Pontefract Cakes

Eccles Cakes

Named after the town of Eccles these cakes were first sold in a shop in the town centre in 1793.  Eccles cakes are small round cakes made from flaky pastry and filled with currants.

Eccles Cakes piled on top of one another

Spotted Dick

Spotted Dick was traditionally made with suet and dried fruit and is often served with custard.

British suet pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding  is made by layering slices of buttered bread scattered with raisins in an oven dish.

A mixture of egg custard made with milk or cream and seasoned with nutmeg is then poured over  before it is is baked in the oven.

Bread and Butter Pudding in a white dish

Trifle

The wonderful trifle! Layers of sponge, jelly, fruit and custard topped with whipped cream. What a delight whatever the season.

Some people don’t put any fruit in their trifle at all and just use other ingredients like chocolate or coffee or vanilla though the traditional English trifle is simply layers of fruit (whichever is in season), jelly, sponge fingers, custard and cream.

You will find trifle is sometimes on the menus in pubs and restaurants but it is not as common as it once was.

Eton Mess

Created at the prestigious school Eton this dessert is absolutely delicious.

Consisting of a mixture (mess) of cream, meringue, and soft fruits this is a fabulous summer dessert.

Two glasses filled with Eton Mess

Cookbooks

English cheese

Stilton cheese

There are so many wonderful cheese to choose from in England it would be rude not to try as many as possible. I have included Stilton on this list (but substitute with Cheddar/ Red Leicester/ Wensleydale or any other from a wide range of delicious cheese if you are not keen on blue cheese.)

Stilton is the only British cheese to have a Certification Trade Mark and an EU Protected Name.

It can only be produced in the three counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and is made from pasteurised milk from cows in those area.

Cheese, grapes and a glass of wine

Traditional British foods – Condiments and sauces

Marmite

Marmite (you either love it or hate it) is not the same as vegemite for any Australians reading this! It originates from the Midland’s brewery town of Burton-on-Trent and is made from yeast extract – a by-product of beer brewing!

You will find many marmite flavoured foods in England including cashews, crackers, crisps and even chocolate! Best spread thinly on hot buttered toast try it and find out what camp you are in! Love it or Hate it let me know in the comments below!

Branston Pickle

Branston Pickle also originates from Burton-on-Trent! They were on a roll (no pun intended!)

Branston pickle is jarred pickled chutney which is delicious with cheese in a sandwich and is an essential with any ploughman’s lunch!

Pease Pudding

I have to include pease pudding as this is a local dish popular in the north of England where I am originally from. Not really a condiment or spread and definitely not a pudding despite its name it is made from yellow split peas.

Pease pudding as anyone from the North-East of England will tell you is best spread on a stottie (a flat round loaf) with butter and ham.

Pease Pudding is is even mentioned in a traditional English nursery rhyme!

“Pease pudding hot!
Pease pudding cold!
Pease pudding in the pot
Nine days old.”

Afternoon Tea

More an institution afternoon tea is one English tradition that has made its way around the globe.

Traditionally served with a choice of teas, dainty sandwiches, cakes and authentic British scones this is one tradition to partake in when visiting.

There are also lots of great themed afternoon teas on offer too but make sure you book well in advance as they are very popular.

Where to have your high tea in England may end up being your dilemma. My recommendations include Bettys Tea Rooms in York or one of these amazing offerings in London!

afternoon tea

Which traditional British dishes and foods will you try?

Feeling peckish? I know I am!

After reading about all these typical British foods and traditional dishes you will have a clearer understanding of some of the foods you make come across when you visit.

Perhaps you will now have a foodie “bucket list” of the different British cuisine and dishes you want to try to add to your UK bucket list! Why not make some of the dishes in your own kitchen and try them at home (also a great gift for any Anglophile)

I have lots of great posts to read all about travel in England to help you plan your visit. Also, don’t forget to join my UK Travel Planning group on Facebook – it is a great resource for anyone visiting the UK.

  • For first time visitors check out my top 15 tips including things to avoid doing when you are travelling the country.

Enjoy sampling different dishes around the world? Read my guides to the best food to try in Switzerland, France, Australia and South Africa.