14 Truly Great Traditional English Recipes

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Why we think traditional English recipes get a bad rap. While some traditional English food is not as tasty as some of its southern European neighbor’s food, not all of it is that way and they do offer many great tasting recipes.

“English cuisine in the twentieth century suffered from a poor international reputation. Keith Arscott of Chawton House Library comments that “at one time people didn’t think the English knew how to cook.

These [eighteenth and nineteenth century] female writers were at the forefront of modern-day cooking.”

English food was popularly supposed to be bland, but English cuisine has made extensive use of spices since the Middle Ages; introduced curry to Europe; and makes use of strong flavorings such as English mustard.

It was similarly reputed to be dull, like roast beef: but that dish was highly prized both in Britain and abroad, and few people could afford it; the “Roast Beef of Old England” lauded by William Hogarth in his 1748 painting celebrated the high quality of English cattle.

The years of wartime shortages and rationing certainly did impair the variety and flavor of English food during the twentieth century. The nation’s cooking recovered from this with increasing prosperity and the availability of new ingredients from soon after the Second World War.

The Real Truth About British Restaurants

In 2005, 600 food critics writing for the British Restaurant magazine named 14 British restaurants among the 50 best restaurants in the world, the number one being The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, led by its chief chef Heston Blumenthal.

The global reach of London has elevated it to the status of a leading center of international cuisine.

Meanwhile, the list of United Kingdom food and drink products with protected status (PDO) under European Union law has increased rapidly, with 59 items now on the list.

These include among others Cornish sardines, Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese and Yorkshire forced rhubarb, Fenland celery, West Country lamb and beef, and traditional Cumberland sausage listed as registered in 2015, and a further 13 including Birmingham Balti listed as applied for.

By 2016 there were 12 kinds of cheese from England with PDO status.” [2]

What Really Is Traditional English Food

“English cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions, and recipes associated with England.

It has distinctive attributes of its own, but also shares much with wider British cuisine, partly through the importation of ingredients and ideas from the Americas, China, and India.

These became popular during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration.

Some traditional meals, such as bread and cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, boiled vegetables and broths, and freshwater and saltwater fish have ancient origins.

The 14th-century English cookbook, the Forme of Cury,[a] contains recipes for these, and dates from the royal court of Richard II.

English cooking has been influenced by foreign ingredients and cooking styles since the Middle Ages.

Curry was introduced from the Indian subcontinent and adapted to English tastes from the eighteenth century with Hannah Glasse’s recipe for chicken “currey”. French cuisine influenced English recipes throughout the Victorian era.

After the rationing of the Second World War, Elizabeth David’s 1950 A Book of Mediterranean Food had wide influence, bringing Italian cuisine to English homes.

Her success encouraged other cookery writers to describe other styles, including Chinese and Thai cuisine. England continues to absorb culinary ideas from all over the world.” [1]

English food has a bad reputation. Despite gifting humanity with delicacies such as the Yorkshire pudding, mushy peas, and mince pies.

English cuisine receives a lot of criticism for being “bland” or just plain weird.

Americans ridicule English gravy-based dishes, while Europeans joke that English cuisine is overcooked. In fact, it’s hard to get through a diplomatic meeting or an episode of Frasier without someone mentioning how unbearable it is.

Some of the public does at times eat some odd food that Americans might think you simply should not eat. Spotted Dick, Black Pudding and others do not necessarily bring up visions of a tasty dish but to be truthful they are great.

To be sure some of their food is not that tasty but in most cases, a bit of salt and pepper will change the whole concept.

For great pastries and desserts, the English have a leg up in many countries.

5 FAQ For traditional English food

1. Why is English food so bad?

English food has a bad reputation. Despite gifting humanity with delicacies such as the Yorkshire pudding, mushy peas and mince pies, English cuisine receives a lot of criticism for being “bland” or just plain weird.

Americans ridicule English gravy-based dishes, while Europeans joke that English cuisine is overcooked.

2. What makes food bland?

A bland diet includes foods that are soft, not very spicy, and low in fiber. If you are on a bland diet, you should not eat spicy, fried, or raw foods. You should not drink alcohol or drinks with caffeine in them.

3. What are the most common British foods?

Well-known traditional British dishes include full breakfast, fish and chips, the Christmas dinner, the Sunday roast, steak, and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, and bangers and mash.

People in Britain, however, eat a wide variety of foods based on the cuisines of Europe, India, and other parts of the world.

4. What is Britain’s Favorite meal?

Crumpets are perhaps a surprise God Tier contestant, with 81% of Britons saying they like them – putting them level with a full English breakfast and bacon sandwiches.

Other top tuck according to the public includes bangers and mash (76%), cottage pie (76%), and shepherd’s pie (75%).

5. What kind of food is England famous for?

Fish and chips. Fish and chips have been around since the late 19th century when it became popular in London and southeast England. Here are some others you will want to try.

a. Chelsea buns
b. Melton Mowbray pork pie
c. Bakewell tart
d. Red Leicester cheese
e. Bedfordshire clanger
f. Stilton cheese

1. Bangers and Mash – Traditional English Recipes

1. Bangers and Mash - Traditional English Recipes

Sausage with Onion Gravy and Mashed Potato – a traditional English food affectionately known as “Bangers and Mash” – is one of the greatest traditional English meals recipes of all comfort foods. A sausage recipe for a quick easy dinner with a side of peas or steamed vegetables to douse in the homemade gravy.

The onion gravy is to-die for but only requires 4 things: onion, garlic, beef broth/stock and flour. That’s it!

“Bangers and Mash” is the affectionate British slang for sausages and mashed potato, served with gravy. “Bangers” refers to the sausages – named as such because back then, sausages would burst open “with a bang!” when cooked unless you pricked with a fork.

Onion Gravy

The onion gravy is what really makes this sausage recipe. Onions not only add flavor, but they also bulk up the gravy so you can really pile that gravy on and smother the sausages.

What Are the best Sausages for traditional English meals recipes for Bangers and Mash?

For a really classic Bangers and Mash experience, you can’t go past some big, fat pork sausages. Look for good quality ones that are all meat, no fillers – check the ingredients or ask your butcher.

The only sausages I do not recommend using in this traditional English food are lean sausages because they won’t drop enough juices and fat to make a truly tasty gravy.

If you use low-fat sausages, I cannot be held accountable for lack of flavor in the gravy!!

It’s very simple to make and no different from making gravy for things like roasts – Roast Lamb, Roast Chicken, and Turkey.

2. Eggs in a Basket – Traditional English Food

2. Eggs in a Basket

Egg in a hole, egg in a basket, toad in a hole, hen in a nest, one-eyed Jack. Whatever you call these traditional English meal recipes, an egg in toast is one of life’s simple pleasures. One that can’t get any better, right? Wrong.

Skip the bread slices and use a whole loaf as the vessel for your eggs. Since this dish is baked in the oven, you can throw it together and let it cook while you brew coffee and catch up with guests. Talk about a crowd-pleaser.

3. Classic British Faggots – Traditional English Recipes

3. Classic British Faggots -Traditional English Recipes

Faggots are a traditional English food is an old-fashioned British dish and one that has sadly fallen out of favor in recent years. How lovely that there is a revival of interest in this humble meat dish, possibly because they are so easy and cheap to make.

Traditionally, faggots are made from offal, usually pork, and from the bits of the animal that are generally discarded but now tend to just be the liver and possibly, the heart.

Serve these delicious morsels with a bowl of light, fluffy, mashed potatoes,​ and gravy.

4. Grain-Free Toad In the Hole w Onion Gravy – Traditional English Food

4. Grain Free Toad In the Hole w Onion Gravy

This rustic Toad in the Hole recipe is Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Grain-free, and sure to make your mouth water! A freezer-friendly dish for everyone. Everyone loves this traditional English recipe dish but finding a recipe for one with special needs is a bit of a task.

Luckily for us, I’ve made up for any missed toad in the hole opportunities and then some. What’s different about this recipe, you ask? As well as being gluten-free, this one is also grain-free.

So if you have trouble eating grains, now is the time to celebrate. Oh, and one more thing: if you truly want to take this meal up to the next level,

I’d massively suggest making the onion gravy. It’s amazing. Right, that’s enough waffling about food – go put one in the oven and let us know what you think!

5. Crunchy Beer Battered Fish and Chips – Traditional English Recipes

5. Crunchy Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Traditional English Recipes

Crunchy Beer Battered Fish and Chips is a favorite traditional English food! Who doesn’t like chunks of white flaky tilapia dipped in a beer batter and fried to golden perfection? Season with sea salt and black pepper with a side of ketchup.

Sometimes you can smell or taste a particular food and it opens up a whole library of memories. Beer battered fish and chips are my ticket. A visit to a psychologist would end up with his couch being covered in crumbs, and maybe some ketchup bombs.

Because you just can’t have beer-battered fish and chips without ketchup and vinegar, don’t even try.

6. The PERFECT Yorkshire Pudding – Traditional English Food

6. The PERFECT Yorkshire Pudding

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding Consistently ranked as one of the most beloved icons of British culture, Yorkshire pudding captures all the warmth and charm of old-fashioned English cooking. This traditional Yorkshire pudding recipe includes all the tips & tricks you need to create the BEST, the crispiest, most flavorful Yorkshire puddings EVER!

What is known as “Sunday dinner”, aka “Sunday roast” is one of the most traditional English recipes handed down through generations, in the UK (roast beef, roasted potatoes, veggies, and Yorkshire pudding) is believed to have originated during medieval times and has remained a strong-held tradition for centuries.

The British concept of the Sunday roast dinner would go on to greatly influence the food culture of the English-speaking world at large.

7. Vegetable Wellington with Mushrooms and Spinach – Traditional English Recipes

7. Vegetable Wellington with Mushrooms and Spinach

Beef wellington is a gourmet meal for any special occasion. Tender and juicy filet mignon steaks wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. Each individual portion is served with a delicious red wine mushroom pan sauce.

When a craving for beef Wellington strikes, you have two options: You could indulge and spend the rest of the night in a food coma, or you could try our lightened-up veggie Wellington instead. And with the help of store-bought puff-pastry sheets.

This twist on a comfort-food classic couldn’t be easier to make. You will love this traditional English food and make it more often than you probably think.


Now that you are checking out the 14 Favorite English Recipes, what’s next? Let’s learn more about Surrounding Country’s Top Recipes.

10 Best French Comfort Food Recipes

Our 10 Favorite Spain Recipes To Make At Home

10 Best Traditional Dutch Recipes From Holland

21 Great Greece Recipe Options From Our Trip

Our 10 Best German Recipes To Make At Home


8. A Traditional British Breakfast ( Why You’ll Never Be the Same Again )

8. A Traditional British Breakfast ( Why You'll Never Be the Same Again )

We lived in England for 2 years and I became pretty familiar with the traditional English recipes such as the “English Breakfast” also known as a “fry-up”. My roommates taught me quickly that if it’s not done right, don’t do it at all! So they took me out for breakfast, knowing that I had yet to discover what a proper fry-up was all about.

Their upturned lips and sly laughs gave it all away – they knew something that I didn’t.

It was too late to turn back and I, their hostage, became anxious with what lay ahead of me. And then there it was before me. There was NO way I was going to finish all this, right? Where do I start? I hovered over my plate looking at all of this traditional English food, strategizing the best way to not embarrass myself.

9. English Country Bread – Traditional English Food

9. English Country Bread - Traditional English Food

This traditional English meals recipe is amazingly simple — it’s quite possibly the easiest bread I’ve ever made. Putting the bread dough together takes only 5 minutes.

By combining boiling water and cold milk, Lizthechef creates an ideal temperature for the yeast to get to work and the dough rises in less than an hour.

The recipe is so fast that I even made it twice to test the difference between active dry yeast and instant dry yeast. I preferred the results with instant, but the active yeast also worked.

The bread only takes 25 minutes to bake, but that’s plenty of time to fill the house with the wonderful aroma of baking bread. I’d recommend the recipe as an easy way to bake bread when you are short on time.

You could whip it up in the morning and have it warm with a little butter and jam for breakfast. Be sure and put this one in your box of traditional English recipes.

10. Traditional Lancashire Hotpot – Traditional English Recipes

10. Traditional Lancashire Hotpot - Traditional English Recipes

Any traditional English food that still remains popular nearly 200 years after it’s creation is going to be a damn good meal.

I grew up in the North of England, so this Traditional Lancashire Hotpot is one of my staple dinners and this recipe has been tried and tested hundreds of times!

The History of Traditional Lancashire Hotpot

Lancashire Hotpot is thought to have originated during the cotton industry in the 19th century. It’s a simple meal that would have been left to cook slowly all day, ready for the hungry cotton workers at the end of their shift.

It was probably more likely to have contained mutton in those days, and would invariably have been left to cook with a lamb bone still in the dish – for added flavor. The meat was often bulked out more with oysters – which were very cheap in the 19th century.

11. English Christmas Trifle – Traditional English Food

11. English Christmas Trifle - Traditional English Food

Trifle is a classic traditional English recipe dish usually made for the holidays. with layers of pound cake, Creme Anglais, fresh fruit, and whipped cream. This holiday trifle uses raspberries and poached pears, making it as delicious as it is beautiful.

Essentially, a trifle needs a sponge cake soaked in sherry (for adults) or fruit juice (for a nonalcoholic version), a thick layer of creamy custard, and a deep layer of lightly whipped fresh cream. The rest is all about personal preference.

Can trifles be made the day before?

Do not assemble your trifle too far in advance as the soft jelly, custard and cream will blend into the sponge cake. An hour in the fridge is ideal.

If you have time, you could make your own sponge cake the day before preparing the trifle. You could also make your own custard, rather than using store-bought.

12. Baked Potatoes the British Way – English Jacket Potatoes

 

12. Baked Potatoes the British Way - English Jacket Potatoes

I knew absolutely nothing about the glories of a good baked potato until the day I ordered one at a local restaurant in my town that was known for them. Before that, my primary “baked” potato experience involved a microwave.

What I tasted was so revelatory I still remember it: ridiculously crisp on the outside and oh so fluffy inside. I realized what we’d been doing at home was very, very wrong.

English Jacket Potatoes Are the Best Baked Potatoes

If you jump across the pond to England, you’ll find baked potatoes just about everywhere, but you might not recognize them at first. That’s because they’re called jacket potatoes (which, TBH, is just about the cutest name there could be).

The difference isn’t just the name, however. The Brits take great care when it comes to their potatoes — and the results really are much crispier on the outside and fluffier on the inside than the typical American variety.

A few years back, Joanna Goddard, of Cup of Jo, called out just how gloriously perfect English baked potatoes are and shared some tricks, straight from her aunt in Cornwall. Ever since trying them, my baked potato game has gotten a lot better.

13. Traditional Spotted Dick (English Steamed Pudding) – Traditional English Recipes

13. Traditional Spotted Dick (English Steamed Pudding) - Traditional English Recipes

Spotted Dick Recipe what can that be? A quintessential traditional English food, Spotted Dick represents everything that is delicious about traditional English cooking.

Tender steamed pudding dotted with succulent currants is drizzled with a luxuriously rich and creamy vanilla custard. It’s heaven! The name may not be appetizing to some people but the foods great taste cannot be denied.

What is the Origin of Spotted Dick?

While “spotted” seems simple enough (i.e., the “spots” throughout the pudding from the dried currants), “dick” is the more puzzling of the two terms. Was it referring to the nickname of someone named Richard?

Some have wondered if comes from an old English corruption of the word pudding to “puddick.” But who knows? The mystery of Spotted Dick goes on.

14. Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake – Traditional English Food

14. Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake - traditional English food

If you’ve never had sticky toffee pudding cake, what are you waiting for? A super moist date cake is smothered in a buttery, sweet, toffee sauce and drizzled with a touch of cream. Beautiful and delicious!

I always try to create a special international holiday dessert for my dinners. Today I rummaged in my box and chose one of my favorite traditional English recipes and one you will never forget after you try it yourself.

Cranking out holiday recipes is great (jealous of all those bloggers who can post every day!), but my life and time this year hasn’t been conducive to that plan, and honestly, it’s made me focus much more intently on giving you the best of the best recipes this holiday season.

This Sticky Toffee Pudding is just that. The best of the best.

Wikipedia [1]

Wikipedia [2]