If exploring the UK’s sights has left you a little low on energy, fear not: despite popular belief, and low expectations from other countries, the UK has some of the most filling and delicious food in the world! From pastry-wrapped treats, to delicious desserts, you’re bound to find something to satisfy all your cravings. So, what are you waiting for? Get to your nearest café, pub, or bakery, and start ticking some of these dishes off your foodie bucket list!
1 | A Full English Breakfast
Also known as a fry up, a full English breakfast traditionally consists of bacon, pork sausages, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, egg (usually fried), baked beans (beans in a thick, tomato sauce), toast, and black pudding (a type of blood sausage, often mixed with oats or grains). Many restaurants and cafés also add items such as hash browns or fried bread, just in case your plate wasn’t full enough already! It’s thought that the Anglo Saxons were the first to test out this style of breakfast, having grown bored of the gloopy oatmeal, or soggy toast Brits traditionally ate to start their day. The fry up is just as popular as ever, with many trendy cafés introducing twists on the classic, such as adding avocado, or using vegetarian sausages and bacon. Whichever variant you go for, be sure to wash it down with a nice cup of English breakfast tea!
2 | Pie (and Other Pastry Delights)
From steak and ale to chicken and mushroom, you absolutely must try a pie during your British vacation! What could be better than a meat, fish, or veg-filled pastry parcel, usually drowned in gravy, and served with mashed potato? If you truly want to enjoy all British pastry has to offer, why not have a savory pie for your main course, followed by a sweet pie (the most popular flavors include apple and cherry), for dessert?
If you’re not hungry enough for a main course, pop into a local bakery for a pastry-wrapped snack. From sausage rolls to Cornish pasties, no one does flaky, buttery treats quite like the Brits! If you’ve just got a little gap to fill, try a pork pie, which originated in Leicester, and are celebrated by an annual pork pie contest in Yorkshire!
3 | Roast Dinners
Traditionally eaten for Sunday lunch, roast dinners are a weekly occurrence for many British families. The first step to a roast dinner: pick your meat! Will it be beef, chicken, or pork? A Christmas roast dinner typically features turkey, while lamb is usually eaten at Easter. Next stop: potatoes. Roast potatoes (ideally cooked in duck fat for extra crispiness) are an absolute must, but some families add mash, too. Craving more carbs? Don’t forget your Yorkshire pudding! This cup-shaped side is made from a batter consisting of egg, flour, and milk. Fill the center with gravy and you’re good to go!
The rest of the roast dinner is really up to you. Many families eat stuffing with their roasts, while others add some pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), though these are typically reserved for Christmas. And of course, there’s the vegetables. There’s no set guide when it comes to greens, but common additions include carrots, parsnips, brussels sprouts, and peas.
4 | Sausages
Many classic British dishes feature sausages. I’ve already mentioned the fry up, but that’s just the beginning! Be sure to try toad in the hole: this is effectively a massive Yorkshire pudding, with sausages (typically pork) cooked into it. Of course, there’s also the traditional ‘bangers and mash’: sausages, served with buttery mashed potato, usually some seasonal vegetables, and, of course, drowned in gravy. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, pick up a sausage roll from a local bakery. This tasty snack, which can be eaten hot or cold, features sausage meat, wrapped in flaky or shortcrust pastry. Trendier establishments have recently started to serve more inventive creations, adding various unique herbs to the meat, or using chorizo, chicken, or beef sausage, instead of the traditional pork mixture.
5 | Fish and Chips
A Friday night in the UK would be incomplete without fish and chips. While many pubs and restaurants feature this classic dish on their menu, the best ones come from ‘chippies’ (a slang term for a fish-and-chip shop). This classic meal dates back at least a few hundred years, with Charles Dickins mentioning fried fish in his famous novel, Oliver Twist. Typically, the dish consists of battered cod, with a side of thick-cut fries. Some Brits also add mushy peas to their meal. Do with the chips what you will: many people drown them in malt vinegar, whilst curry sauce and gravy are more traditional toppings in the North of the UK. If you’re not a fish fan, fear not: most chippies will also serve you battered sausage, which is just as delicious!
6 | From Cakes to Crumbles
If you’re craving something sweet, you’re in the perfect place: Brits have a whole host of delicious desserts for you to round off your meal. Try a fruit crumble: typically made with apple, berries, or rhubarb, and finished with a sweet, breadcrumb topping, this dessert is perfect served with either cream or custard. Sticky toffee pudding is another must-try. This moist, steamed sponge typically features dates, and is served with a toffee sauce, and, if you fancy it, ice-cream, cream, or custard. Served as either a dessert, or a mid-afternoon snack, Brits also love a slice of Victoria sponge. This cake consists of strawberry or raspberry jam and fresh cream, sandwiched between two or more tiers of vanilla sponge, topped with icing sugar. The best Victoria sponges also include fresh berries in the filling!
If your sweet tooth has left you wanting a little more, why not try fudge or toffee? These small, sweet treats are perfect for a bit of a sugar kick. Alternatively, snack on some British biscuits. From chocolate-topped to jam-filled, there really is a biscuit for everyone. Eat them straight from the packet, or dunk them in your cup of tea, like a true Brit!