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14 Must-Try British Foods in the UK

UK foods are so misunderstood. British food is usually described as bland and boring and as gray as the weather. But that’s not true at all! I’m here to open your taste buds to the deliciousness of British food that you need to try the next time you travel to the UK.

The United Kingdom may not be the first place that comes to mind as a culinary destination, but there are actually plenty of British foods that will tantalize your taste buds if you give them a chance. From fish and chips to bangers and mash, these traditional British foods will satisfy all of your cravings.

This roundup of the best British food will have your mouth watering and have you dreaming of your next visit to the UK! Let’s dig in!

Haggis Burger, Edinburgh, Scotland

Best British Foods to Try in the UK

1. Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips, London, England

Fish and Chips is probably Britain’s most well-known food.

A traditional Fish and Chip dinner usually consists of a large piece of white fish, battered and deep-fried, with a side of chunky chips (that’s thick-cut or steak fries for us Americans).

Because Fish and Chips are so popular, you can find this classic dish everywhere, but not every chip shop, or chippie, serves worthy Fish and Chips. A good chippie is hard to find. It can take patience and a lot of Internet sleuthing to find the perfect chip shop. The ideal setting for enjoying this dish is seaside fighting off jealous seagulls.

2. Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast is a traditional British meal. The meal, which originated in England, consists of roasted meat, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy.

This is a family tradition where everyone gathers around for the feast. Traditionally, the Sunday Roast is the family’s big meal after going to church.

You’ll have no problem finding a traditional Sunday Roast on your visit to the UK. Most pubs will serve a roast during the day on Sundays.

3. Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and Mash is really a simple dish — just sausage and mashed potatoes.

They’re called “bangers” because during the meat shortages of WWI, the sausages were made with more water and were liable to pop, or bang, during cooking.

Bangers and Mash is a staple on pub menus all over the UK, so be sure to try it on your visit!

4. Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties

Haggis the national dish of Scotland. This traditional Scottish food is made of ground up sheep offal (lung, liver, and heart) cooked with onions, oatmeal, and spices. The authentic way of cook it is to boil it all in a sheep’s stomach. But these days, restaurants tend to use synthetic casings.

Haggis is usually served with Neeps (turnips) and Tatties (potatoes), and both are typically mashed.

I’ve even had Haggis on top of a burger (pictured above) and stuffed in chicken, which makes for a very filling meal, but very worth it.

You’ll find Haggis in almost any Scottish pub. Be sure to try some Haggis on your next trip to Edinburgh!

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware / That jaups in luggies: / But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer, / Gie her a Haggis.

from “Address to Haggis” by Robert Burns

5. Steak and Kidney Pie

Steak and Kidney Pie
Goddards Pies Ltd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Steak and Kidney Pie, or any meat pie really, is a classic British food.

These meat pies are made with a flaky crust outsides and hot gravy- and meat-stuffed insides. Steak and Kidney Pie is a British favorite made with diced steak, chopped onion, and pig or lamb kidney. The meal is usually served with mashed potatoes and plenty of gravy.

And if you’re not a fan of red meat, the Chicken and Leek Pie is another meat pie favorite.

You’ll find pies on the menu of almost every pub in the UK.

6. Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie
Oxfordian Kissuth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shepherd’s Pie is not like the other meat pies because it’s not really a pie at all, it doesn’t have the pie crust.

Instead, this dish is comprised of a bottom layer of minced or diced lamb cooked with vegetables, then topped with a thick layer of mashed potato. The dish is then baked to perfection.

When minced beef is used instead of lamb, it’s called Cottage Pie.

The origins of this “pie” are a little iffy. But one story goes that it was invented in Scotland where it was topped with pastry. When it made its way over to Ireland, the Irish subbed mashed potato for the pastry topping, and that’s the way the dish has been served ever since.

You’ll find Shepherd’s Pie on the menu of almost every pub in the UK and Ireland.

7. Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding is a traditional British food that you’ll find alongside a Sunday Roast.

This is a savory pastry that’s light and airy, made from eggs, flour, and milk or water. It’s usually served as a side dish alongside meat and gravy.

Look for Yorkshire Pudding on the menu at pubs all over the country, especially with a Sunday Roast.

8. Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast

Wake up to a Full English Breakfast, also sometimes called a “fry-up”. This morning meal will keep you stuffed until supper!

A Full English Breakfast traditionally consists of bacon slices (called rashers), sausages, eggs (either fried, poached, or scrambled), mushrooms, baked beans, tomatoes (fried or grilled), black pudding (a sausage made with blood and an oatmeal filler), and bread. And don’t forget a cup of tea!

For other variations, there’s the Full Scottish Breakfast served with Tattie Scones (potato scones) and a square Lorne Sausage; the Full Welsh Breakfast with laverbread (a Welsh bread made with edible seaweed); and the Full Irish Breakfast with white pudding (a sausage made with no blood).

Dig into your Full English Breakfast at your hotel or accommodation, or look for a pub offering all-day breakfast.

9. Black Pudding

Full English Breakfast with Black Pudding

Black Pudding is a main component of the Full English Breakfast, especially in the north of England.

This special type of sausage is made with blood and oatmeal, cooked long enough for it to congeal. It’s a very divisive dish, you either love it or you hate it.

Try it with your Full English Breakfast at your hotel or at a pub.

10. Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding is a staple of a traditional British Christmas dinner. This fruitcake (also sometimes called a Plum Pudding or a Figgy Pudding) is made of dried fruit, peel, breadcrumbs, alcohol, and spices.

Well, that’s what it’s made of today. The original 14th century Christmas Pudding also contained beef and mutton. But the recipe changed to the modern version by the end of the 16th century.

You’ll only find Christmas Pudding in the UK at Christmastime. You can find it on pub menus throughout December. Some places serve it the traditional way, by pouring alcohol over the top and lighting it on fire.

11. Mince Pie

Mince Pie

Mince Pie, like the Christmas Pudding, are another British holiday tradition. The small, bite-sized pies are made with fruit filling, spices, and suet (animal fat).

The original 13th century recipe actually called for mincemeat (a mixture of dried fruit, distilled spirits, spices, beef suet, and minced beef or venison). The meat, fruits, and spices ingredients were meant to represent the gifts delivered to Jesus by the Three Wise Men.

You’ll only find Mince Pies in the UK at Christmas.

12. English Tea

English Tea

The English love their tea. A good cup of English Tea consists of steeped black tea and milk.

You can add milk and sugar to taste, though you may get some judgement if the amount of milk you add makes your tea too light! But one thing is for sure, a bit of milk is required for a good cuppa.

The tradition of adding milk to tea came in the 18th century when tea leaves were brewed in teapots rather than right in the cup. Most people had cups that weren’t high quality, and they would crack when boiling tea was poured into them. So people started adding cold milk into the cup first so that when the hot tea was added, it wouldn’t shatter the cup.

You can get English Tea for as part of a Full English Breakfast or during Afternoon Tea.

13. Scones


Scones are a must with Afternoon Tea, the light meal served around 4 p.m. These delicious treats are a type of slightly sweet bread that look like an American biscuit (but they aren’t as light and fluffy as a Southern biscuit).

How do you pronounce “scone”? In Britain, it actually should rhyme with “gone”, whereas we foreigners usually pronounce it as rhyming with “bone”. Don’t worry about it too much, both pronunciations are acceptable.

You’ll find Scones accompanying any Afternoon Tea, usually served with clotted cream and a fruit jam (strawberry is a favorite).

14. Irish Stew

Dinner at the Guinness Storehouse

Irish Stew, which is my favorite dish, is traditionally made with lamb, potatoes, onion, and parsley.

It can also be made with goat or mutton or even beef, and may include carrots, turnips, and barley. A lot of places also add in some Guinness stout to amp up the flavor.

You’ll find Irish Stew at pubs all throughout Northern Ireland and Ireland.

More Things to Do in the UK and Ireland

Make the most of your trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland! Check out these itineraries to get an idea of more fun things to see and do in the British Isles.

Ready to visit the UK and Ireland? Plan your trip with these tips.



6 Foods You Must Try When Visiting the UK and Ireland

Have you tried any of these best British foods on your visit to the UK? Let me know in the comments!

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