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Traditional British Food – 27 dishes you need to try

Four countries - One Guide

You are in Great Britain. Don´t miss Cullen Skink, Toad-in-the-Hole, Haggis, Laverbread, Irish stew, Eccles Cake, Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry

BRITISH FOOD TRADITION: We all loves The Queen. We love iconic Irish pubs and the world are fans of English football. We wonder what unpronounceable Welsh place-names means, and we visit Scottish castles. Generally, we start the day with English breakfast and order fish-n-chips for lunch and a pint of lager. A tasty and updated guide to traditional British food is something you possibly missed. This is about Classic Britain food lasting far longer than revolutions, turns and innovations.

A couple visiting The Devonshire Arms, Beeley, Peak District smiling and eating a full English breakfast.
A couple visiting The Devonshire Arms, Beeley, Peak District smiling and eating a full English breakfast.

This is Great Britain

Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland are Great Britain. They all have words like bangers & mash, different accent and humour, bur the same sarcasm for long got lost in translation. We love the music, James Bond and people with charm and manners to die for. And then the food. In Great Britain some of these meals are voted best food ever. Who needs brunch when you have typical English food and great British traditions.

Rick Stein's fish and chips, Padstow, Cornwall
Chef Rick Stein’s fish and chips, Padstow, Cornwall

#1 Fish and Chips

No matter where you are, you’ll be able to find a delicious plate of fish and chips. Freshly cooked, hot, smothered in salt and soused with vinegar, sometimes with mushy peas. There is nothing more British than fish and chips – it simply cannot be beaten. It is said that the first Empire fish and chips shop opened in Cleveland Street in London in 1960. There are now around 8,500 such shops across the United Kingdom.

#2 Lancashire Hotpot

A dish made from lamb cutlets and onion, topped with sliced potatoes and left to bake in the oven on a low heat. An undisputed Northern classic. For a more low-rent version, use chopped-up lamb´s kidney instead of the cutlets.

English steak pie
English steak pie

#3 Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie

These are two dishes are very similar; the only difference is the choice of meat used in the dish. In shepherd’s pie you use lamb whilst in cottage pie you use beef. And to confuse you even more, neither of these dishes are pies in the usual sense with pastry. Shepherd’s pie and cottage pie consists of: mince (lamb or beef), vegetables (such as; carrots, tomatoes, and onions), and potatoes which are on top of the meaty pie like filling. First appeared in 1877.

Bangers and Mash
Bangers and Mash

#4 Bangers and Mash

A perfect pub classic. Also known as sausages and mash, this traditional dish consists of sausages and mashed potato, and is often accompanied with peas and onion gravy. This dish can usually be found on a menu in most pubs across the country, or can be made very easily at home. Simple and sure to please all the family. Don’t be surprised by more exotic flavours, such as apple or venison, mixed in as well.

#5 Full English Breakfast

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why if you are doing something physically or mentally demanding, you need to have a full English breakfast. This breakfast usually includes: bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and black puddings.

Good Morning: Nothing is like Full English Breakfast
Good Morning: Nothing is like Full English Breakfast

#6 Posh Food on Sunday

The Brits simply love their Sunday Roast dinners, made at home or served at pub or restaurant. This can be posh food, depending where you have a Sunday Roast. The meal is made up of roasted meat, such as beef, chicken, lamb or pork. Add roast potato, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables such as roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, beans, broccoli and cauliflower, and gravy.
Listen what model Kate Moss said about gravy: “I can do a good roast with my eyes closed. I´m amazing with gravy. Even other people ask me to do gravy at their house. I´m very proud of my gravy”

Sunday Roast at Hawksmoor, Edinburgh, Scotland
Sunday Roast at Hawksmoor, Edinburgh, Scotland

#7 Yorkshire Pudding

In today’s Sunday Roast dinners, Yorkshire puddings are always included. It has become such a part of the institution that they have nominated their own day of celebration – the first Sunday of February. A Yorkshire pudding is traditionally cooked in a tin and then cut into squares to be served, rather than the individual puddings you can buy today. There are few calories in Yorkshire Pudding.

#8 Steak and Kidney Pie

This much-loved British pie is definitely a dish you must try whilst you are in the UK. The ingredients include beef, kidney, fried onion and gravy all wrapped up in pastry. The first recipe for steak and kidney to appear in print came in a book published in 1861.

#9 Toad-in-the-Hole

This hearty dish is another easy recipe you can make at home. It includes sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter and is often served with gravy and vegetables. Yes, British people love Yorkshire puddings.
Why the name…? Apparently because the look of the dish resembles a toad poking its head out of a hole.

#10 Scotch Egg

Classic English picnic food or hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and baked or deep fried. Apparently created in 1809 by Mrs Rundell. She served them hot with gravy.

A plate with potted lobster and Scotch Egg at The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh, Northumberland.
A plate with potted lobster and Scotch Egg at The Potted Lobster, Bamburgh, Northumberland.

#11 Cullen Skink, Scotland

This hearty fisherman´s soup is made from smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. Cullen Skink originated in late 1800s in the coastal town of Cullen in Moray, on the northeast coast of Scotland. The soup has been a firm local favourite ever since. Skink is a Scots word for a shin, knuckle. Since 2012 the Cullen Skink World Championships has been organized.

Three for Cullen Skink: Potatoes, onions and smoked haddock
Three for Cullen Skink: Potatoes, onions and smoked haddock

Make it at Home. Cullen Skink is perfect to make at home.
Place the haddock in a pan with 5dl milk. Bring the milk to a gentle boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 5 minutes for any herbs and fish to infuse flavour into the milk.
Remove the haddock from the milk and put to one side.
In another saucepan, melt the butter and add the onions. Cook gently until 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
Add the milk and the potato to the onions and stir well until the mixture has a thick and creamy consistency.

Easy to make: The Scottish fish soup Cullen Skink
Easy to make: The Scottish fish soup Cullen Skink

Flake the smoked haddock, removing any bones. Add the fish to the soup.
Add chopped parsley leaves to the soup and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook the soup for an additional 5 minutes. Don’t over stir, the fish chunks might disintegrate.
Garnish the soup with more chopped parsley and a little extra pepper. Serve hot with bread.

#12 Irish Stew, Northern Ireland

Traditionally, the stew is consumed on St. Patrick’s Day and for Samhain, an old Gaelic festival. But stew can also be found on the menus of most Irish restaurants throughout the year. The beauty is that little is needed to make it a meal because it contains vegetables. Add some carrots, onions, leek and cabbage, the choice is yours.
A stew made with Guinness stout has gained widespread popularity throughout Ireland.

Breakfast Wales: Laverbread served with full Welsh breakfast
Breakfast Wales: Laverbread served with full Welsh breakfast

#13 National dish of Welch

Laverbread is a traditional Welsh delicacy that have little to do with bread. Richard Burton once described it as “Welshman´s caviar”. Laverbread is made from laver seaweed boiled for 6 hours, then minced to pureed. Laver has no great flavour, but once added olive oil and butter onto hot toast with egg and bacon, you will have a typical Welch breakfast. You can buy tinned laverbread.

National specialities: Haggis and whisky served in Scotland
National specialities: Haggis and whisky served in Scotland

#14 Haggis in Scotland

Taste is excellent but Haggis is made of various parts of sheep anatomy. And become the meal of a legend.
This aromatic dish of minced sheep´s heart, liver and lungs with onions, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt. Haggis shot to fame as Scotland´s national dish with the publication of Robert Burns` poem “Address to a Haggis” in 1787. On Burns Night January 25 they make speeches, crack jokes a drink one or three whisky. No Burns Night is complete without a large plate filled with steaming haggis. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

#15 Eccles Cake from anywhere

Named after the Greater Manchester town of the same name. Interestingly, they don´t have protected geographic status. So, Eccles cake can be made anywhere and belongs to traditional British Food. This is a small, round cake made with flaky and light pastry and filled with fruit. In Eccles they were served with creamy Lancashire cheese.
Try to make Eccles cake – a recipe is Here

#16 Fifteens

You just can´t have a cup of tea in Northern Ireland without a Fifteen on the side. This sweet fridge tray-bake got its name because it has 15 digestive biscuits, 15 marshmallows and 15 glacé cherries, mixed together with some condensed milk and desiccated coconut. A simple recipe to follow, with some pretty delicious results!

Education: Fifteens Biscuits made by Wee Buns Cookery School
Eductaion: Fifteens Biscuits made by Wee Buns Cookery School

The cake is usually rolled into a log, left in the fridge to set, and then cut in slices. It can be found in numerous bakeries and at festivities and celebrations throughout the country. The original Fifteens came from Ulster and rarely found outside Northern Ireland.
For more food such potted Herring, Irish cider, brown soda bread and more delicacies on offer, visit Discover Northern Ireland

#17 The National Dish of Wales

In Wales they will most certainly say: “It is as good to drink the broth as to eat the meat”. Cowl is the national dish of Wales. It is a stew made of bacon, Welch lamb or beef, carrot, onions, cabbage, and leeks.
Like many dishes, Cowl tastes better the next day and the day after that, so don’t be afraid to save any leftovers for reheating.

#18 Victoria Sponge

A great British classic, the Victoria Sponge was named after Queen Victoria who was widely thought to have enjoyed a slice at afternoon tea and served at her tea parties. The Queen was particularly fond of sweet treats from chocolate and plain sponges to petit fours and pralines. Afternoon tea English-style would not be complete without a Victoria Sponge. A traditional sponge cake has just three ingredients: flour, sugar, and eggs.

#19 Bread and butter Pudding

A pudding made by layering slices of stale buttered bread, raisins and egg custard mix. It´s come a long way since its origin in 1728, when it was called white pot. Very tasty. The Pudding is made of buttered bread, raisins, and egg custard. Adding yummy things like fruit, marmalade and rum makes it even more a delicious pudding.

Look for a Seafood Shack all over Scotland
Look for a Seafood Shack all over Scotland

#20 Fish and Seafood

With Atlantic on the doorstep, fish and seafood from Scotland’s waters are just sensational. Scottish salmon is celebrated for its taste and perfect texture – farmed in waters that is as fresh as can be. Chippy with fluffy chips is another delicacy – when in Edinburgh make sure to ask for the tangy brown chip-shop sauce.
A great place to find this food is at a local Seafood Shack. You can find these all over Scotland, the majority by the coast or harbor.

#21 Shortbread

The first printed recipe of this wonderful invention is from 1736 and Shortbread has been Scotland´s dessert option ever since.
The Scottish cookies have a distinctly different texture, crunchier, than other British variants. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and is the perfect homemade and buttery gift at Christmas.

Bangers and Mash
Bangers and Mash

#22 Bangers and Mash

Any British household looks forward to bangers and mash for supper. It is a classic after all. A generous lump of butter and milk are typically added to make the mashed potatoes that much fluffier. Bangers (or sausages) in Scotland are second to none. Expect to find locally raised meat of the highest quality. Don’t be surprised by more exotic flavours, such as apple or venison, mixed in as well.

#23 Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea is a tea-related ritual, a small meal and a British tradition introduced in the early 1840s. Without freshly-baked scones served with generous clotted cream and jam it wouldn´t be complete. Afternoon Tea will be a match made in heaven if you add a glass of Champagne.
As they say in London: An excellent way to spend the tiresome hours between lunch and cocktails.

#24 Jam Roly-Poly with custard

What a remarkable name! Jam roly-poly, also known as dead man´s arm, is a pudding probably first created 200 years ago. Ex-football manager Harry Redknapp has own brand and sell his favourite cake online. It is a flat-rolled pudding, spread with fruit jam and rolled up, similar to a Swiss roll. Then steamed or baked and usually served with custard.

#25 Barmbrack, Northern Ireland

This Northern Ireland speciality is not as rich as a Christmas cake, more like a bread with dried fruit and spice. It´s generally spread with butter to be eaten. The tradition is represented by the inclusion of charms in the bread, meant to indicate the fortune of the recipient. There were a few traditional charms: a ring, a coin, a pea, and a piece of fabric. The person who got the ring would be married within the year. Barmbrack is a Halloween favourite also in the Republic of Ireland.

Barmbrack is a slice of tastiness, a sprinkling of history in with the flour and eggs.
Barmbrack is a slice of tastiness, a sprinkling of history in with the flour and eggs.

#26 Dundee cake

This is a fruit cake recognizable from its almond decoration. Dundee cake also includes oranges, preferably from Seville, sultanas and whisky. It was first produced by a Dundee marmalade maker in the 19th Century using left-over peel from making the marmalade. The Scottish city of Dundee is also known for Angus Beef, smoked fish, cheese and whisky.

Dundee cake, a taste of Scotland and Bake Britain
Dundee cake, a taste of Scotland and Bake Britain

#25 Jamie Oliver´s Fishcakes

Jamie Oliver wasn´t even born when most of these British favourites rose to fame. Throughout his career as a Chef, Jamie has done his part to keep traditional British food  alive – while others have been renewed. Jamie Oliver sausage and mash are very famous. Cullen Skink Fishcakes are made with smoked haddock and potatoes, and has a rich flavour. Jamie got his inspiration from Scotland. Jamie Oliver Kedgeree is also a much-loved British lunch dish made by fish.
Buy ingrediencies and make Jamie Oliver Fishcake

Homemade Fishcakes, recipe of Jamie Oliver.
Homemade Fishcakes, recipe of Jamie Oliver.

#26 Traditional British Food Recipes

Searching typical British food recipes and traditional English food, I suggest to start with Mary Berry. The Chef, writer, TV-presenter, and national treasure has been around for ages and still in action on BBC TV. No one prepare meals and main courses, real English cuisine, and UK national dishes, like Mary Berry. One of her many tasty recipes: Mary Berry easy lemon meringue pie. It´s simply Very Berry!



Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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