I do love good food! British food is probably not the first cuisine you would choose when deciding what to eat, especially with dishes like mushy peas. England (or Great Britain for that matter) is not known for its food. But after spending more time in England, there are a few British foods that I think we could use more of here on this side of the pond.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more information.
- British Food vs American Food
- British Food #1: Clotted Cream
- British Food #2: Fish Pie
- British Food #3: Black Pudding
- British Food #4: Yorkshire Pudding
- British Food #5: Bread Sauce
- British Food #6: Christmas Cake & Christmas Pudding
- British Food #7: Black Currants
- British Food #8: Mincemeat Pies
- Expert Tips for Trying British Foods
British Food vs American Food
I think, in general, traditional British food is simpler and heavier than American food. It reminds me of American comfort food with interesting ingredients and sauces.
The British love their sausages, pies (both meat and fruit), and fried foods like fish and chips. They also love their curry and some now say it is the British National Dish. I have also found that the British have more different types of desserts than we do in the US.
There is a lot more to British food than I expected, as I keep learning about new dishes all the time. You could take an online cooking class to learn how to make some British dishes at home. If you are in the US, you will be able to find some of these foods on Amazon or you can also try British Corner Shop.
You might also enjoy reading more about other European delicacies.
British Food #1: Clotted Cream
First of all, let me just say that clotted cream is not the same as butter. I know the name sounds less than appealing, but if you have never tried it, you should! Clotted cream is made by indirectly heating full-cream cow’s milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. Unfortunately, it has a very short shelf life so virtually none is exported.
I have seen some clotted cream in the US and even found some British foods online on Amazon (pictured below). It is not the same as what you get in England (The clotted cream I got from Amazon is pasteurized). You will need to whip it before serving and it will separate (you can just pour off the liquid).
Clotted Cream is as essential to an English afternoon tea as proper etiquette. It is most commonly used as a spread on a scone like we might spread butter on a biscuit and then topped with jam. Although there is a very passionate debate about whether you should put the cream on first or the jam. (I believe the cream should be first, but according to this study, I may be in the minority.)
The texture and flavor of clotted cream is creamier and sweeter than butter. I could just eat it by itself, it tastes that good. I also found clotted cream ice cream at Tesco’s in England, which I had to try and it was good too.
You can also make clotted cream at home. Try this recipe.
British Food #2: Fish Pie
Savory pies are a quintessential British Food. A fish pie is sort of like shepherd’s pie but with fish instead of beef. A mixture of different kinds of fish are poached (or baked) and then combined with a cheese sauce and vegetables. Then you top the mixture with mashed potatoes and little more cheese and bake in the oven. Traditionally it also has a hard-boiled egg in it, but I requested that mine didn’t.
Russell made it for me for the first time New Year’s Eve 2015 and it was amazing. It is not easy to make but definitely worth the effort. Now we typically prepare it together and I have decided the hard-boiled eggs actually work well in the fish pie.
British Food #3: Black Pudding
Don’t ask what is in black pudding, or you will never want to eat it. It is not pudding like we would think of in the US, the British use the term much more broadly. I was scared to try it until my boyfriend made it for me, and now it is one of my favorite things.
Black Pudding is served as part of a full English Breakfast along with eggs, toast, sausage, bacon (well Canadian bacon), tomatoes, and mushrooms. Baked beans are also part of a full English breakfast, but we usually leave that out.
British Food #4: Yorkshire Pudding
The best way I can describe this is that it is kind of like what we would call a turnover. It is a hollow muffin. Yorkshire pudding is traditionally served with roast beef, but it is also served at Christmas dinner or with any roast dinner. I tried it for the first time at the Dabbling Duck Pub in Norfolk, and it was delicious, especially when dipped in gravy.
British Food #5: Bread Sauce
Bread sauce is a milk-based creamy sauce that can be served warm or cold and is thickened with breadcrumbs. We had some bread sauce with our turkey for Christmas Dinner. Bread sauce can be traced all the way back to medieval times when cooks used bread to thicken sauces. The idea to use bread this way probably comes from cooks wanting to use up stale bread and discovering the breadcrumbs could be added to sauces to make them thicker.
Here is a recipe for bread sauce that you can try at home.
British Food #6: Christmas Cake & Christmas Pudding
These British Christmas desserts are similar but not the same as the fruitcakes you would get here in the US. The cake is baked weeks in advance and then “fed” a little bit of brandy each week. Then there is a layer of marzipan and it can be decorated, usually white frosting and then a Christmas theme. The cake can have anywhere from a ¼ to ½ bottle of brandy in it. The alcohol does not get cooked off, so perfect for a party dessert.
The pudding doesn’t get decorated and you can also buy it on Amazon. Instead, a little bit of warmed brandy is poured on top and then it is set on fire (be careful, it will flame up). You serve it with a custard sauce which is sort of like a creamy vanilla sauce.
British Food #7: Black Currants
Black currant is a berry that is a bit tart and sweet, maybe like a mix of passion fruit, raspberries, and blackberries? Currants (there is also the more tart red currant) were banned in New York and other parts of the United States for more than 50 years because they were thought to help spread a fungus that threatened the timber industry. Now, you may be able to find black current in the US but it is rare.
In the UK, you can find maybe black currant products. I love black currant jam and black currant desserts like crumbles or pies. My husband loves to drink a black currant flavored drink which is called squash.
British Food #8: Mincemeat Pies
In spite of the name, there is no longer any meat in mincemeat pies. Originally, it included minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Today’s mincemeat is a mixture of dried fruit and spices.
Mince pies are typically served during the Christmas season. In most cases, mince pies are made as individual portions and you can find them at most grocery stores and Christmas markets. Personally, my favorite mince pies are from Marks & Spencer’s.
So yes there is more to traditional British food than fish & chips or curry. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I love British food and British sweets!
Do you have any favorite British foods that didn’t make my list?
Pin For Later
Expert Tips for Trying British Foods
- Keep an open mind and try some of my favorite British foods, but stay away from mushy peas!
- Also be sure to try some of the best British cheeses.
- Here is a recipe if you would like to make fish pie at home.
- You can also try making a Christmas cake using this recipe.
- Luckily, you can buy British food online even if it is not available in stores in the US. Click here to see what is available on Amazon.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we will receive a small commission for some purchases made using links in our blog with no additional cost to you. Please be assured we would not promote any product unless we believe that our readers will also benefit. The commission does not influence the editorial content of this site.
Two Traveling Texans is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
Last Updated on June 10, 2021
Yes to all of them – specially Yorkshire Puddings, a Sunday roast is not complete without them!!!
I hope you stocked up on proper Cadburys chocolate whilst you were here? Real chocolate not Hershey rip off stuff!
Oh and pork pie and sausage rolls (I believe they originated in England) – do you have them in America? have you tried them? Perfect with brown sauce (HP).
No wonder obesity is increasing over here, it appears that everything that is yummy is bad for you 🙂
Oh yes, cadburys is much better from England. I have not tried pork pie so will put that on the list for my next trip. I did try game pie, which I debated adding to this list but decided to try to keep it short. I haven’t had sausage rolls either while in England although I think that is similar to what we call pigs in a blanket except we use a pancake instead of puff pastry. I did try English pigs in a blanket and those are good! And agree why does everything that tastes so good have to have so many calories!
Oh pigs in blankets – yes. I hate that traditionally you should only have them on a Christmas dinner, I could literally eat them on any and every meal. How can sausage and bacon together taste so good?!?! I can’t believe you didn’t like mushy peas 🙂 fish, chips and mushy peas – mmmm
Maybe it was the version of mushy peas I tried, although I did try two. Do you have a good recipe for mushy peas?
I’m afraid not, I’m very lazy when it comes to mushy peas – they come from a tin 🙂
Haha. Yes the ones I tried came from a tin. I thought that might have been the problem.
A good Melton Mowbray Pork Pie is a must! Cornish pasties as well. I’ve not given Anisa either of those yet. I’d take some across to New York with me, but you can’t take meat products through customs.
I used to go to the Half Moon pub in Skidby when I lived in Hull (that’s near you I think). They served the most amazing yorkshire puddings that were light, fluffy and the size of two house bricks on top of each other, filled with roast beef and gravy. Delicious! I’ve not been for years, so I don’t know if they still do it.
Oh what a shame. next time Anisa is over in England put those to the top of the list, it’s amazing how many things can be made from meat and pastry 🙂
I’m from Hull and went to school in Cottingham which is the next village to Skidby so had/have lots of friends who lived/live there (small world eh?) Half Moon is still there but I haven’t eaten in there for years. Yorkshire puddings from Yorkshire – you can’t beat them 🙂
Marvelous! Thank you for including Yorkshire pudding, which always reminds me of childhood Sundays at my English grandmother’s house, and for not including marmite, which always reminds me of my need to amend the statement “I’ll eat anything.”
Tim – haha! I have not tried marmite yet. My boyfriend loves it. I am a little scared to try it after my experience with vegemite.
Oh Tim – that comment started so well! No Marmite!!! Don’t listen to him Anisa. Marmite is great – particularly on toast.
I have never heard of bread sauce before. I’m not sure it looks that appetizing, but I’d certainly be willing to try it!
Corinne – I hadn’t heard of it either. And I agree it doesn’t look that appetizing but everyone else seemed to really like it, so I tried it and it was pretty good. You should try it if you get the chance.
Oh no! I have not tried any of this food. I went once to London but the visit was brief and we ate international food (which is supposed to be good in London). I would like to try this (the sweets first!).
Ruth – It’s understandable, I’ve learned about these foods from my British boyfriend. Most tourist probably have not tried these. Just another reason for you to go back!
clotted cream and the Christmas cake yes, and Yorkshire pudding isn’t bad but I don’t like the rest:) I like their breakfast bacon and many sweet stuff:)# the weekly postcard
Tanja – Understandable, its not for everyone. When you say breakfast bacon do you mean the stuff that is similar to what we call Canadian bacon? Or something else?
I guess. I mean they call it bacon,we would call it ham, because our bacon is actually pancetta:)
Yes, yes, YES to clotted cream! Like you I can happily eat all of it with a spoon. People in America don’t know what they’re missing.
You hit the nail on the head on five of the six, and I’ll add Ribena blackcurrant syrup (blackcurrant anything!) and Cadbury flake bars. The one I’ll disagree with is black pudding. I’ve tried it and think it’s disgusting. The texture of congealed blood was so awful I had to spit it out before I gagged. Yuck. I’ll take mushy peas over black pudding any day of the week, lol.
Thanks for sharing this great post on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Thanks Linda. I did have blackcurrent syrup in Ireland and it is delicious! And yes I love all the different Cadbury chocolate candies. So yes I agree we could use more of both of those. As far as black pudding goes, I was surprised I like it but definitely understand it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
I think it depends on which black pudding you have. Good quality black pudding, cooked well is delicious, served with a poached or fried egg. Poor quality black pudding is terrible. My recommendation – never ever buy cheap black pudding!
Oh and mushy peas are just wrong.
This really made me giggle! I’m sure there are a few American specialities that we Brits could also do with. I hope you managed to try a Melton Mowbray pork pie with piccalilli too, always a winner.
Fern – so glad this made you laugh. I might have to right another post about American food for Brits. I will have to try the Melton Mowbray pork pie on my next trip. Thanks for the tip.
It’s funny reading articles about English food. In my experience (in the South East England) we hardly eat any fish and chips unless we have that as a treat when we go to the seaside. But we do (or at least my family do) eat a fair amount of curry at least once a month perhaps. Here’s some more classic British things you should try.
Beef stew and dumplings (dumplings have to be made with suet), shepherds (or cottage) pie, and last but not least a good quality full English breakfast with tinned tomatoes and baked beans. Lastly but by no means most Brits could practically survive on cups of good quality tea with nice biscuits to dunk in it.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I love shepherds pie, we do have that here as well. I need to try the beef stew and dumplings. Chicken and dumplings was one of my favorite dishes growing up but its hard to find it here (I live in NYC now). I love tea and do drink my fair share (I’m not a coffee person). I have had a full breakfast with beans (sorry not a fan of the beans) but I will have to try the tinned tomatoes. I might have to write a follow up blog post on these!
P.S Oh and if you do have fish and chips at the sea side ask for onion vinegar & get a pickled egg to go with it. Yum.
I love fish and chips by the seaside! I went to Aldeburgh (one of my early blog posts), they have the best fish and chips. I always have vinegar but I think it is just malt vinegar? So I will have to ask about onion vinegar and the pickled egg next time. Thanks again for all the suggestions!
That black pudding has made me curious. I like the spread here, most of all is the fish pie. 🙂
Indrani – Try the black pudding, I was really surprised how much I liked it. And yes, love fish pie!
A few more classic British dishes to add: Beef Wellington. Salmon Wellington. Rabbit Stew with dumplings. Roast rabbit with red currant sauce.
Yes, Wellington is a dish that is popular in the US too. I haven’t had rabbit in the UK, but I did have it in the US, never with red currant sauce, will have to try that.
Just read your article , really enjoyed it . Just one comment , proper mushy peas are one of life’s little pleasures , I must agree tinned pins are an abomination . I make mine by soaking dried peas overnight in water and a tblspn of bicarbonate of soda . Next day, drain , rinse and put in a pan with just enough water to cover by about an inch . Bring to the boil , then simmer on the lowest heat possible ,stirring so they don’t stick. When they are at the mushy point ( personal choice ) they are ready . Add more boiling water if they are too dry before mushy enough . I season after the desired mushiness is achieved .
Thanks for your comment. Maybe I will have to try making mushy peas at home.
I had to laugh at some of the comments on British food. We have our regional classics as you do in the US, Lancashire is known for its Lancashire hotpot, a lamb stew with a sliced potato top baked long and slow, or parched peas (a Preston snack served with vinegar sprinkled on the top) not like mushy peas.
My mother in law used to add white pepper, salt, a bit of sugar and butter to her mushy peas and they were divine. In some places you will find mushy peas serve at nearly every meal including our traditional Sunday roast alongside Yorkshire puddings, no good in my opinion. I could go on, as I really enjoy the cooking culture around the world and to hear about what you guys think of British food is really refreshing, thank you for posting it.
Clare – So glad you enjoyed the post and yes there are many local dishes I still need to try.