Whenever I visit a new country, I love trying the popular local foods because I think traditional cuisine can tell you a lot about a country’s culture. Since moving to London just over a month ago, I’ve tried lots of the most popular British foods, and I’ve narrowed down the top 10 that you should try when you visit the United Kingdom! A lot of these dishes are traditional “pub foods” that you’d find on practically every pub’s menu in any city in the UK. If you’re not into fish and chips and pies, don’t worry- the food scene in the UK is super diverse, and I’ll be covering my favorite restaurants in London (spanning everything from dim sum to Indian to Mexican food) very soon!
Check out my list of the top foods to try in France for more foodie travel inspiration!
Top 10 Most Popular British Foods
Full English Breakfast
A full English breakfast is a great (and hearty) start to any day in the UK. The components of a full English breakfast can vary, but it normally includes eggs (scrambled or fried), sausage, bacon, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, toast, baked beans, and sometimes, black pudding. Black pudding is another traditional British food, usually made of pork blood, fat, and oats. A full English breakfast is probably one of the most popular British foods for breakfast, so it’s worth a try if you’re visiting the UK!
Another classic UK breakfast option is the bacon roll, also referred to as a bacon bap, bacon butty, or bacon sarnie, depending on where you are in the UK. A bacon roll is a simple sandwich, usually made of bread + bacon (and sometimes served with a sauce). The concept of a plain bacon sandwich was so funny to me when I first came to the UK because I’d never seen something like this in the US (even though we have plenty of other breakfast sandwiches).
Savory meat pies are a staple of British cuisine, and you can find them at most pubs throughout the country. These pies often have a meat filling surrounded by a flakey pastry crust. There are several types of pies available in the UK, including steak and ale, lamb, and chicken pies! You can even find vegetarian and vegan pies!
Chicken Tikka Masala
Indian food is a staple in the British diet, as evidenced by the hundreds of Indian restaurants throughout the UK. Chicken tikka masala is one of the most popular dishes in the UK, and you can find it in Indian restaurants as well as classic British pubs. This is probably my favorite dish on this list of the most popular British foods because it’s the perfect way to warm up on a cold, rainy day in the United Kingdom.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips is probably the most iconic British dish, consisting of fried fish and french fries (and sometimes mushy peas). Cod and haddock are the most popular fish used in this dish, but you can find variations of the dish including other types of white fish. The fish and fries are often topped with salt and malt vinegar for a tangy flavor.
Cornish Pasties and Sausage Rolls
If you haven’t already noticed from the examples on this list, British cuisine is very meat and bread heavy. I like to think of Cornish pasties and sausage rolls as an on-the-go version of a meat pie. Cornish pasties are little pastry snacks filled with a savory meat filling, and sausage rolls are baked pastries filled with a sausage. Although they’re not the healthiest snack option, these meat pastry snacks are super popular in the United Kingdom.
Bangers and Mash
If you thought you had seen the last sausage dish on this list, you’d be mistaken. Brits love their sausages, also referred to as “bangers.” Bangers and mash is a traditional British dish consisting of sausage and mashed potatoes!
Cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are two famous dishes that consist of minced meat and vegetables topped with a mashed potato crust. Even though some people use these names interchangeably, shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, and cottage pie is normally made with beef.
Afternoon tea is probably my favorite part of British food culture. There are several components to a traditional afternoon tea. Basically, a traditional afternoon tea will consist of savory snacks, sweet pastries, and scones with jam and clotted cream. The savory snacks normally include finger sandwiches made with ingredients like cucumber and smoked salmon.
Tea, of course, is the beverage of choice for afternoon tea, but many restaurants also offer champagne or prosecco for their “tea”. Looking for a lighter afternoon tea experience? Try a cream tea, which usually consists of tea and scones with jam and clotted cream. For those who have never had it before, clotted cream is a decadent, thick cream that I would say is somewhere between butter and whipped cream in flavor and consistency.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
What would a list of the most popular British foods be without dessert? Sticky toffee pudding is a traditional dessert found throughout the UK. This pudding is a cake made with dates and topped with a toffee glaze, and it’s often served with vanilla cream. Other popular British desserts include trifles, sweet fruit pies, and shortcakes.
Most Popular British Foods – Which Will You Try?
Although it’s not the most diet-friendly food in the world, classic British dishes like meat pies and fish and chips are the perfect comfort food, great for warming up on a cold, British day. These dishes are some of the most popular British foods, and they’re definitely worth trying for a taste of traditional British food culture.
Which of these most popular British foods would you like to try? If you’re from the United Kingdom, what British foods would you add to this list?