Planning a visit to the UK and wondering what the best British foods are? You’ve come to the right place. Since moving to Canada over 5 years ago one of the things that I always miss is the food. British food can be found all over the world, but it always tastes better in the UK!
Here is a rundown of the best British foods that you will love on your trip to my home country.
Fish & Chips
One of the most quintessentially British traditional dishes that you should definitely try in England, preferably at the seaside, is fish and chips.
A fresh piece of cod coated in crunchy batter, and nice fat greasy chips covered in malt vinegar and salt is my idea of a perfect fish and chips.
One of the meals I miss the most overseas has to be a traditional roast dinner. It is always a challenge to find a good roast overseas so I encourage you to eat one when you are in England, especially on a Sunday.
A British roast dinner is comprised of roasted meats, crispy roast potatoes, vegetables, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. You can also add other special touches like Cauliflower cheese or mashed potatoes and mint. cranberry or bread sauce depending on what meat you have.
No roast dinner is complete without Yorkshire puddings. Made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water, these savoury puddings should always be accompanied by gravy.
After Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese is a popular accompaniment for a classic roast dinner. It’s a simple dish of Cauliflower in a milky cheesy sauce.
Afternoon Tea has been a popular tea-related ritual in England since the 1840s. A typical afternoon tea is usually a meal made up of mini sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, sweet pastries and a cup of tea. You will be able to find restaurants offering afternoon tea all over the UK
A classic breakfast option in England is the bacon roll, also known as a bacon bap, bacon butty, or bacon sarnie, depending on where you are in the UK. It is simply a sandwich made of bread and slices of bacon. A fried egg is sometimes added, as well as a sauce like tomato ketchup.
Full English Breakfast
A full English breakfast, or a fry-up, is easily one of the best breakfast options, especially for a hangover.
It’s comprised of any combination of butcher’s sausages, bacon, eggs, baked beans, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, fried bread, hash browns and buttered toast.
Many Brits think black pudding is yummy so I have to include it but personally, it’s a no from me. What is it? It’s a sausage made out of the blood. Congealed blood. And oats.
A cold meal of bread, cheese and pickled or fresh onions with butter and a chutney condiment called “pickle”. You will find this often on pub lunch menus.
Sausage & Mash
Bangers and Mash’ is British comfort food at its best. It’s a simple dish of fatty meaty sausages, buttery mash and caramelized onion gravy. Most pubs in England will typically have it on the menu.
Bubble & Squeak
Bubble and Squeak is simply cooked potatoes and cabbage, mixed together and then fried. You can also make variations of this dish with any leftover vegetables.
Savoury Pies (With Mash)
Savoury pies in England are pretty similar to the golden-crusted potpies that you will find in the States. Beef, Chicken and Steak & Ale are typical fillings for pies in the UK and they are usually served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
At most British restaurants, you can switch your mashed potatoes for thick-cut chips (fries).
Shepherds Pie & Cottage Pie
A simple British food, and not a pie in the typical sense, Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie are family favourites. These dishes are minced meat and vegetables topped with a mashed potato crust.
A shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb, and a cottage pie is made with minced beef.
Popular on restaurant menus, Beef Wellington is a filleted beef steak coated with pâté and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry, and then baked.
Fish Fingers, Chips and Beans
The average British kid will probably eat this thousands of times, It’s frozen sticks of fish in breadcrumbs, oven chips (fries) and Heinz baked beans (canned beans in tomato sauce).
Fish Finger sandwiches are also really good if you see them as an option on a pub menu.
Toad In The Hole
Toad in the hole is sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter and served with gravy. It’s another classic comfort food and a great option for a winter’s day.
No list of British foods is complete without the classic sausage roll which is just sausage meat wrapped in pastry. If you spot a Greggs on your travels get a freshly baked one from there.
Another very traditional British food to try is a pork pie which is chopped pork meat and pork fat encased in a hot water crust pastry. It can be eaten hot or cold as a snack. Great for picnics in the park.
Scotch eggs are a great snack or picnic treat. It’s a fresh soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and coated in crispy fried breadcrumbs.
A crumpet is a small griddle bread made from an unsweetened batter of water or milk, flour, and yeast
Hot Cross Buns
A British favourite at Easter time, hot cross buns are spiced sweet buns made with fruit such as raisins. Best eaten toasted with butter, but also yummy not toasted.
Scones are definitely a British institution. Whether you put the cream on first or the jam on first has been debated for centuries, and it’s personal preference really. I’m a jam then cream person myself.
In England, people either love or hate Marmite. Personally, I love it so I couldn’t do a list of British foods without including Marmite. It is a brand of savoury spread that’s made from yeast extract.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky toffee pudding is a traditional dessert found throughout the UK. This pudding is a cake made with dates and topped with a toffee glaze, and it’s often served with vanilla cream. Other popular British desserts include trifles, sweet fruit pies, and shortcakes.
One of the best British desserts in my opinion and a must eat especially if you love meringue. It’s a delicious mix of meringue, fresh cream and fruit (usually strawberries).
Bread & Butter Pudding
A favourite British dessert growing up was bread and butter pudding which my mom made on a regular basis. Slices of buttered bread are scattered with raisins, layered into an oven dish, and covered with an egg custard mixture seasoned with nutmeg, and vanilla, then baked. Can be eaten by itself, but it’s also delicious with custard.
Apple crumble is a delicious comforting British pudding. It’s a cooked apple topped with a mixture of butter, flour, and brown sugar rolled together to resemble breadcrumbs. Brits also make crumbles with other fruits like berries and rhubarb.
It tastes good hot or cold and can be served with either ice cream or custard.
Trifle is layers of sponge cake and/or jelly and egg custard topped with cream. The sponge is usually soaked in fortified wine or a brandy-like sherry or port.
Shortcrust pastry beneath layers of jam, and frangipane usually topped with flaked almonds or icing and a cherry.
In England, we eat rice pudding hot, overcooked and drowned in milk and sugar…and its delicious.
The Victoria Sponge brings some class to this list of the best British foods. Two moist vanilla sponge cakes with thick strawberry jam and fresh cream in the middle.
Spotted dick is a steamed pudding made with suet and dried fruit and often served with custard.
Jam roly-poly is a traditional British pudding that dates back to the early 19th century. It is really similar to a Swiss roll, but it’s made from flat-rolled suet pudding covered with jam and rolled up rather than cake.
If you love ice cream then I encourage you to try a knickerbocker glory in the UK. It’s layers of ice cream in a big tall conical glass which often includes ice cream sauces, cream, fruit and meringue as well.
Mince Pies are a British favourite at Christmas time. If you ever visit England during the festive period they are a must. They are small sweet pastry pies filled with spice and dried fruit filling.
A very sweet syrupy treat, treacle tart is a pastry shell filled with a gooey treacle (golden syrup) filling.
An Eccles cake is a small round pie made from flaky buttery pastry filled with currants and topped with demerara sugar.
A bright pink and yellow sponge cake that is held together in 4 different sections with jam and covered with marzipan to create a two-by-two check pattern when it’s sliced.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this run-down of some of the best British foods for you to try. Have you had any of these in England? Have I missed any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments.
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Gemma Lawrence is the creator of This Brits Life. Born and raised in England, she has been living in British Columbia, Canada as a permanent resident since 2016. A solo traveler for the past 9 years, she hopes to inspire and help others to enjoy solo adventures too. As someone who has always struggled with her self-confidence and mental health, she also shares tips and inspirational stories relating to self-love, self-care, and mental health.