10 Traditional British Foods

posh fish and chips with salad served on newspaper

Cuisine can be an excellent insight into a country’s history and culture and British food is no exception. Before you head to the UK, check out these traditional British foods and discover where to find them on your next trip.

Traditional British Foods and Where to Find Them

1. Shepherd’s Pie

Two shephreds pies photographed from above on a grey table

A wholesome and classic British meal, Shepherd’s Pie originated in Scotland and the North of England and is primarily made from minced lamb and potatoes. Many families will make this dish using beef, but then it should actually be referred to as Cottage Pie, as shepherds only herd sheep (duh). 

Where to find it

Most Brits would agree that Shepherd’s Pie is best eaten at home with your family and, in fact, the dish is not often served in restaurants. But, if you’re desperate to try an impressive Shepherd’s Pie then the most iconic can be found at the Ivy in London. 

 2. Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington is a fillet of steak coated in patê and then rolled in pastry. Although the dish shares its name with the famous Duke of Wellington, it actually shares no link with the British nobility. In reality, it is thought that Beef Wellington was based around the French dish filet de bœuf en croûte (fillet of beef in pastry).

Where to find it 

Beef Wellington is served in posh pubs and restaurants up and down the country, but if you’re looking for something really special, then try it at the House Restaurant in Brighton’s Lanes. 

3. Fish and Chips 

Fish and chips served on newspaper

Perhaps nothing is more synonymous with British food than fish and chips. But, unfortunately, this dish can often be a bit disappointing if you don’t get it in the right place. A top tip is to look for chip shops that cook their fish fresh to order- avoid a chippy that displays stacks of precooked fish behind the glass! 

Where to find it 

Although there are fish and chip shops all over the UK, we find that this dish is always at its most delicious when eaten by the sea. That’s why if you’re looking to experience a true British seaside delicacy it’s best to try it somewhere coastal. If you’re studying at our English language school in Brighton we recommend checking out the Melrose by the seafront. 

4. Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Massala close up

Although it may have South Asian roots, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Chicken Tikka Masala was first created in Britain by Bangladeshi chefs newly arrived in the country. Nowadays, it’s considered one of the country’s most popular dishes and is served in curry houses all over Britain.

Where to find it 

Alongside a stunning array of British-Asian cuisine, some of the best curries in the UK can be found on Manchester’s curry mile. If you’re studying at BSC Manchester, you might also want to check out our guide to Manchester’s halal restaurants. 

5. Steak and Kidney Pie 


Photo credit: TripAdvisor

Or any kind of pie for that matter. Whether they’re covered in pastry or covered in potato, pies feature heavily in British cuisine and are the perfect antidote to the harsh British winter. 

Where to find it 

For the home of pies, it’s best to head to the North of England to Manchester or York where you can find delicious homemade pies in local markets and restaurants. For those based in the South, Pieminster offers an incredible range of pies and has branches all over the UK.

6. Eton Mess

Plate of Eton Mess captured from above

The perfect treat on a summer’s day, Eton Mess is a dessert made with meringue, a variety of berries, and cream. The dish was first served at Eton College in the late 19th century at school cricket matches and is now popular all over Britain. 

Where to find it 

Eton Mess is so simple and delicious that it’s best made at home or brought on a picnic. Find out how to make this traditional British dessert with this Eton Mess recipe.

7. Afternoon Tea

Bone china tea cup with tea being poured

Scones, finger sandwiches, cake and tea- what could possibly be better? Although we Brits are famed for having afternoon tea every day at 5pm- that’s really a bit of a myth. Afternoon tea is a rare treat that is generally taken at around 3-4pm.

Where to find it 

For a traditional afternoon tea, there’s no better place than the infamous Betty’s Tea Room in York. 

8. Cornish Pasty 

close up cornish pasty on white and blue plate

A pastry stuffed full of meat and vegetables, Cornish pasties first became popular among tin miners as they were easily transportable and eaten without a plate or cutlery. Nowadays, the humble pasty plays an important part in British food culture. It’s even thought that there were the inspiration for the South American empanada.

Where to find it 

In Cornwall- obviously! But if you can’t make it that far down the country, you can find delicious Cornish Pasties at most markets and bakeries. Or grab one on the go from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. 

9. Full English Breakfast

Full English Breakfast pictured from above featuring eggs bacon beans sausages hashbrowns mushrooms and black pudding

Also known as a ‘fry-up,’ a full breakfast is made up of eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, toast, tomatoes, and sometimes black pudding (blood sausage). This hearty breakfast is popular all over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and is often consumed on the weekend.

Where to find it 

You can find fry-ups at greasy spoons (cafes a bit like diners) all over the UK, but if you’re studying at our English language school in Edinburgh we particularly recommend the Quick and Plenty cafe

10. Roast Dinner

Roast-Pork-Potatoes-Veg

The humble roast dinner began as a meal that was eaten after the Sunday church service, as the meat and vegetables could be left in the oven to cook while the family was out at worship. Today, a Sunday Roast is still an important part of British life with around one-fifth of British people sitting down to a roast every week. 

Where to find it

Every self-respecting pub will have a roast dinner menu on a Sunday and nowadays, it’s not just beef and dripping. Do a little research and you can find yourself just about any kind of roast you like! Head to Rudie’s in London’s Shoreditch for a mouthwatering Jamaican roast or check out one of these Vegan Roast Dinners in Brighton. 


Want to learn more about British food culture? Check out our guide to a Traditional British Christmas DinnerIf you want to discover more about British culture and traditions you can also check out our English language courses in the UK and Ireland. 

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About Beth

Beth is a language enthusiast and former EFL teacher. After studying Modern Languages at university, her love of adventure led her to travel all over the world. Now settled in sunny Brighton, she loves writing blogs to encourage people to visit her native England.

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