The best British foods: discover the unique cuisine of the UK

Despite being written off by food critics as inferior to the cuisines of the continent for many years, British foods is starting to enjoy its day in the sun. While not as dainty as French or Italian cuisine, its down-to-earth flavour profiles are equally deserving of respect.

Planning a holiday to the United Kingdom in 2018? Make sure you find time to tuck in to these popular British foods during your stay:

Sunday dinner

Sunday roast lamb dinner - one of the most popular British foods

If there’s one dish you can’t miss out on during your trip to the UK, Sunday dinner is it. Served in countless homes and pubs on Sunday evenings, it is a meal that British families have bonded over for generations.

A traditional Sunday roast dinner consists of roast beef, chicken, pork or lamb, served with crispy roast potatoes or ‘roasties’, roast parsnips and fresh vegetables. Depending on the meat it’s served with, the dinner may be served with additional sides or condiments, such as a Yorkshire pudding to accompany beef, stuffing with chicken, apple sauce to compliment pork, and mint sauce to go with lamb. To top it off, the dinner is coated in a rich, hearty gravy made using the meat stock. It’s easy to see why this is one of the most treasured British foods!

If you aren’t lucky enough to have an ‘in’ to attend a local’s Sunday dinner, just go along to any pub or restaurant across the country on a Sunday, and you can tuck into a traditional roast with all the trimmings.  

After polishing off your roast dinner, don’t be surprised if you find yourself falling into a food coma. Many Brits love to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon going for a leisurely stroll to walk off their dinner, watching movies on Netflix, playing online gaming or browsing social media – it’s the perfect opportunity to upload your roast dinner snaps to Instagram!

Fish and chips

Close-up shot of battered fish and chunky homemade chips

Fish and chips is a simple yet scrumptious dish that’s loved all over the UK, consisting of battered cod or haddock served with thick-cut chips fried in rich fat, often served with a side of mushy peas, a lemon wedge and a dollop of tartare sauce.  

Served everywhere from dingy corner shops and street food stalls to gourmet restaurants, this tastebud-friendly meal won’t do your waistline any favours, but on a dull, drizzly day, there is no better comfort food in which to indulge. If you’re planning a visit to the seaside, fish and chips is a must – just watch out for those sneaky seagulls – they may try to pinch a chip or two for themselves!

Ask a local where to find the best fish and chip shop, or browse online reviews to find out where’s popular in the area. In my opinion, the best fish and chip shop in Cardiff is Albany Road Fish Bar. Named one of the UK’s top ten fish and chips shops by The Independent, this popular fish and chip shop celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. There’s nowhere else I’d rather go for fish and chips in Cardiff!

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Despite being part of the United Kingdom, the Scottish march to a distinctly different drummer, and nowhere is this more exemplified than in their de facto national dish. Haggis, neeps and tatties sounds like a peculiar meal based on the name alone, and once you dig into the details, the going doesn’t get any easier for squeamish eaters.

Haggis is formed by mincing a sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver  together with oatmeal, onions, suet, salt, pepper and various spices. This mix is then boiled in the sheep’s stomach for several hours (although its casing is more commonly used nowadays). Once cooked, the haggis is served with neeps (turnip) and tatties (potatoes).

Rhapsodised in poem by Robbie Burns, this dish is often served at pubs and restaurants throughout the UK on Burns Day (25th January), but you shouldn’t have trouble finding this meal at restaurants around Edinburgh. If you can’t get to Scotland and have access to self-catering accommodation, you can pick up boil-in-the-bag haggis at most UK supermarkets.

Full English breakfast

Large Full English breakfast with two eggs, baked beans, bacon, toast, black pudding and sausages

No visit to the UK would be complete without tasting a full English breakfast, often simply called a ‘full English’ or a ‘fry-up’. A Full English breakfast usually includes pork sausages, bacon, eggs (fried, poached or scrambled), baked beans and/or tomatoes, fried mushrooms, black and/or white pudding and fried potatoes or hash browns. More often than not, the breakfast will also be served with a choice of fried bread or buttered toast, and tea, coffee or orange juice.

This gut-busting breakfast will keep you going right through until lunch, and also makes for a popular brunch choice. My favourite place for a full English breakfast in Cardiff is Milk and Sugar at the Old Library on the Hayes – their full English is a mountain of a meal!

Welsh rarebit

Welsh rarebit with wholegrain mustard, with coleslaw and side salad

If the hilly countryside of Wales is set to figure into your travel plans, make time to indulge in some Welsh rarebit. This cherished Welsh take on cheese on toast sees buttered toast topped with a mixture of ale, cheddar cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Although basic in nature, this dish is utterly irresistible to many once tried for the first time, and makes for a lovely lunch or light supper.

The best Welsh rarebit I’ve ever tasted was at the Eden Tea Rooms in Llandudno five years ago, pictured above. Their version included grainy wholegrain mustard and I can still remember how good it tasted to this day!

Welsh cawl

I may be a little biased, but another Welsh dish which should definitely be on your bucket list of British foods to try when you visit the UK, is that of cawl. Often referred to as the national dish of Wales, cawl is a slow-cooked broth containing lamb, potatoes, leeks and veg. Traditionally, it’s served with a side of Caerphilly cheese and crusty bread for dunking.

You can get a bowl of cawl at traditional Welsh restaurants – try asking locals for their recommendations. If you’re visiting Cardiff, the best cawl I’ve come across is at Madame Fromage, a fromagerie-turned-cafe nestled in the corner of one of the city’s old Victorian arcades.

Welsh lamb cawl served with cheese and bread; one of the most comforting British foods

Tell me your favourite British foods in the comment box below, and I’ll get back to you ASAP 🙂 I love to hear from my readers and I respond to each comment individually.

The best British foods

This is a collaborative post.

18 Comments

    • February 5, 2018 / 2:05 pm

      I’m a sucker for a traditional Sunday roast dinner too!

    • February 5, 2018 / 2:04 pm

      I love black pudding, and I have family in Ireland. When I was a kid, they used to bring Irish sausages, bacon and black and white pudding with them, when they visited. We would all sit down together and have a delicious breakfast with it all, and it tasted miles better than the stuff we have in Wales and England!

  1. February 4, 2018 / 9:27 pm

    You can’t beat a Sunday dinner in my eyes, it’s my favourite dish of all time and one I would eat every single day if I could!

    • February 5, 2018 / 2:02 pm

      I agree – Sunday dinner is the best! <3

  2. Renna
    February 4, 2018 / 11:51 pm

    Full English is always a winner, then the roast. But I’d have to add in Afternoon Tea as that’s British through and through

    • February 5, 2018 / 2:00 pm

      Oh yes, very true! I love afternoon tea.

  3. February 5, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    My family and I love a good Sunday roast (roast potatoes essential), followed by a relaxing afternoon playing boardgames or watching a good film!

    • February 5, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Oh yes – the roasties are the best bit!

    • February 6, 2018 / 11:56 am

      I love comfort food 🙂 I bet your local cafe does a lovely breakfast!

  4. February 5, 2018 / 10:04 pm

    I’m not a big fan of many traditional British foods, but I do love a good vegan shepherds pie – especially during the winter! 🙂 xx

    • February 6, 2018 / 11:56 am

      Oh that sounds like perfect comfort food!

  5. February 6, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    I love all of them. I’d also add Welsh cakes, a traditional cream tea, Cornish saffron cake and some of our great British puddings – Eton Mess, Apple Crumble….

    • February 6, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Oh, I love Eton Mess! That’s my favourite dessert after sticky toffee pudding.

  6. February 6, 2018 / 6:41 pm

    Aww, I do love a good fish and chips, especially from by the seaside.

    • February 7, 2018 / 12:56 pm

      That has to be the best place to eat fish n’ chips 🙂

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