Britain’s 10 favourite foods

April 27, 2009 19 comments

UKTV recently took a survey of British people to discover their favourite recipes.

Maybe not surprisingly half of the recipes are foreign, but we think the British versions deserve to be defined as British dishes in their own right. Apparently, the new-found kitchen adventurousness of the British people is thanks to the influence of celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith.

Below is the list of Britain’s 10 favourite foods.

1. Spaghetti Bolognese

Originally from Italy, ‘spag bol’ has acquired a uniquely British taste of its own. According to the survey, 6 out of 10 British people can cook spaghetti bolognese without a recipe.


Image credit: Living to Eat!

2. Roast dinner

Good old meat and two veg is still high on the list.


Image credit: The Doughracle

3. Chili con carne

More foreign inspiration, this time from Mexico.


Image credit: Kittens in the Kitchen

4. Lasagne

Unlike in Italy, where there is only one recipe for lasagne, Brits feel free to mix it up with different variations on traditional lasagne – vegetables, meat, lentils and even fish!


Image credit: Dinner Diary

5. Cottage or shepherd’s pie

An old favourite – minced beef (for a cottage pie) or lamb (for a shepherd’s pie) with mashed potato on top.


Image credit: Dinner Diary

6. Meat or fish stir-fry

The origins are Chinese, but you won’t find anything like this in China.


Image credit: Dinner Diary

7. Beef casserole

Casseroles have made a comeback in British cooking and now feature on the menu of many gastropubs


Image credit: Dinner Diary

8. Macaroni cheese

Comfort food at its best. The macaroni are Italian, the sauce is pure British.


Image credit: Kitchen Monkey

9. Toad in the hole

Sausages in a type of batter called Yorkshire pudding. There are many theories, but no-one really knows where the name comes from.


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

10. Meat, fish or vegetable curry

Loosely based on Indian cuisine, the ‘curry’ is now a staple in the British kitchen. As a proof, it can even be served with chips.


Image credit: A Brit’s dish a day

Read more:
Festivals from around the World
How to tip in Britain and the USA
The cappuccino rule: when to drink cappuccino in Italy.

About the author

Lucy (Liz) Chatburn
Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.
Other 502 posts by

19 Comments

  • Domenico

    Hi,
    well I am an Italian guy who has been living n the UK for 1 year. About food I am always connected to my original country, Italy, althouogh I have tried some local speciality.

    I must let you notice that the picture of Spaghetti alla Bolognese actually does not show “spaghetti” pasta but “linguine” kind of pasta!

    Let’s not make these mistakes again, it sounds like a heresy to me!
    Domenico Caridi

  • Hi Domenico. Thanks for pointing that out! I am sorry for the mistake :-)

    Can you send us a picture of a real Spaghetti alla Bolognese? We can post it in our Food of the World post and correct the situation!

    What do you think of English food? Have you tried any of the favourites on this list?

  • eleanor smithy!

    I love Fish Pie ! why isnt that on here !!!!!!!!!!! im outraged! i also love cottage opp=

  • I’m surprised fish pie isn’t there too. It’s my favourite!

  • Popper

    A little suggestion: actually bolognese sauce or ragu are much better cooked with tagliatelle and there is a reason apart from tradition: the sauce’s fat tends to be absorbed better by tagliatelle, an egg based pasta. In Italy actually there is no such thing (at least in restaurants, at home people do it sometimes) as spaghetti bolognese. Proper made ragu (not bought in supermarkets) is not so easily done so 6/10 preparation statistics must refer to just buying pasta, possibly overcooking it as british do (on Italy this is a quasi crime) and throwing in sauce ready made….not the real thing probably tastes very bad to the average Italian food integralist (about 95% of Italians)

  • Alice, London

    Hmm, I know that many Italians have a passion for food and cooking and that is great, however please don’t assume that all British people do not cook proper food. My husband and I make bolognese sauce on a regular basis and therefore know how to make it without looking in a recipe book. The way we do it takes over an hour of very gentle simmering, and does not include any ready made sauces. It is delicious. Yes some people do use ready made sauces but there are lots of British people who enjoy cooking and eating good quality food!

    We always cook wholemeal pasta as it is more healthy. I know that’s not very authentic though. Do Italians use wholemeal pasta at all?

  • Interesting that this post was about British food and in the comments we are discussing Italian food!

    So here’s a question: do you think that the innovative versions British people cook at home now count as British food in their own right, or are they Italian recipes gone wrong, as our Italian friends suggest? :)

  • Well,Liz,I’m interested to know that fish pie is a favourite of yours.I don’t ever remember eating it as a post war child.
    I wonder why Bangers and Mash didn’t feature in the top ten.It’s certainly made a come back on pub menus.

  • Well, I never liked it until I discovered Jamie Oliver’s recipe. No offence to your cooking though mum :-)

  • Melissa

    hey whats up guys
    i like chicken

  • Where is Chicken Tikka?

  • Jamie

    This is great most of these i like exept i havnt tryed chilli con carne and i dont like spaghetti that much, but macaroni is my favourite. And ariane the tikka goes under the mea, veg and fish curry :D

  • curry is sick BECAUSE ITS NOT ACTUALLY ENGLISH GOD DAMNIT. i mean, a Roast Dinner isn’t ever going to be Pakistan’s top meal is it??

  • Hi Penelope. Good point :) Although the kind of curry we eat in the UK isn’t exactly Indian or Pakistani either.

  • james

    i like steak

  • connie

    Can’t believe you’ve never eaten chili Jamie-what planet are you from?

  • shrey

    i am not able to understand why chicken tikka masala is not in the list.it is the nation favourite

  • colette

    Fish and Chips anyone???

  • le critique

    I was led to believe by the British that curry was a British invention every time I watch the TV, chefs, mostly the English and British’ well ok even Irish and Italian ones are always cooking curry. The national dish is chicken Tikka Masala. As I shop in the shops nearly all the shopping baskets have a Korma, Tikka, or some curry sort of pre~packed curry, or curry cook in jar. With garam masala, coriander, turmeric, chilli becoming ubiquitous, even amongst the very anti immigration brigade, yet no mention of the Korma, or Tikka masala. Maybe it is like the immigration figures, seen but not mentioned.