The most popular dinner in the UK just has to be the roast dinner, of course, but there’s also all those other traditional dinner dishes in Britain that simply everyone loves too, like Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips and, erm, Spaghetti Bolognese.
There’s plenty more where they came from, as you’ll find out below. But if you’re new to British cuisine, or haven’t had a banger with mash or a toad with a hole before, you might first want an answer to this entirely valid question: what is a typical British dinner?
A typical (or traditional) British dinner is a meal that’s filling, hearty and comforting, in other words, one of the classic British dishes such as Pie & Mash or Cottage Pie. But as of around the year 2000, there really hasn’t been such a thing as a typical British dinner.
In this day and age of modern British food, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people eat for dinner whatever they darn well please, with the UK being one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. But traditionally, there’s something somewhat typical about what’s eaten by the British people for dinner (otherwise known as “meat and two veg.”)
On that note, let’s take a look at some of these typical and traditional British evening meals that we Brits call and eat for dinner, tea, or supper (we’ll get to that shortly too, when we answer all those pressing British dinner questions below, including what the Queen eats for hers).
Traditional British Dinners
Let’s face it, there’s no better way to end a day than with some quintessentially British food, or more specifically, a classic British dinner. So, without further ado…
Here’s some examples of the most traditional British dinners:
The ultimate British dinner is of course the Roast Dinner; is just on another level. Your choice of meat (or non-meat substitute) accompanied by roast potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, gravy and loads of other treats, is sheer British perfection.
Pie & Mash
A traditional British pub food classic, Pie & Mash is a particularly warming and filling dinner; you just can’t go wrong with a classic British pie and mashed potatoes, served alongside gravy and vegetables.
Probably one of the most famous British meals, Shepherd’s Pie is an especially scrumptious yet sophisticated lamb and mashed potato dish that personifies the perfect traditional British dinner.
If you can tell the difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie, then you’ll know that Cottage Pie is also a very typical and traditional dinner in the UK.
Toad In The Hole
Toad in the hole is quite simply, one of the best British foods out there, not to mention a great British dinner choice. Sausages cooked amongst Yorkshire Pudding batter is what we’re talking about here folks, usually served with vegetables and gravy.
Sausage & Mash
Also known as ‘Bangers & Mash’, sausages and mashed potatoes is one of the most traditional British foods still eaten today, being easy to make at home and available on most UK pub menus.
Fish & Chips
The famous Fish & Chips has to be one of the best but also the most versatile British dinners around; it can be ordered as a typical British takeaway, eaten in both pubs and restaurants, or you can cook Fish & Chips at home.
Beef Wellington might be a somewhat old-school retro English dish, but you know what they say, class is permanent. And there’s nothing more classy than eating a traditional English Beef Wellington for dinner.
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
There’s few more traditional dinners to eat in the UK than one of Britain’s national dishes, Haggis, alongside neeps and tatties. This delicious sheep offal dish served with mashed potatoes and swede is definitely the one to go for if you’re visiting Scotland.
Stews and casseroles are generally popular all over Britain, these often being served with suet dumplings. A good Irish stew in particular is the traditional British dinner of choice when eating in Ireland.
Welsh Lamb Shank
Making sure we stereotypically cover each part of the UK, traditional Welsh cuisine is particularly well known for the quality of its lamb and the shank is especially good when slow cooked in a sauce, for dinner of course.
All Day Breakfast
It’s a fact that the Full English Breakfast is so good that we make it available all day in Britain, even for dinner. Sometimes there’s just the urge to eat sausages, bacon, eggs and all the other great ‘Fry Up’ items of an evening in the UK.
Classic British Dinners From Afar…
As we mentioned, nothing is really off limits when it comes to food in modern Britain, but certain dishes in the UK are more traditional than others.
Here’s some more dinner dishes, originating overseas, that we Brits have most typically and traditionally enjoyed over the years:
We can’t even tell you how much we love curry in Britain, especially what we call British Indian curries. Ok, we can tell you. We love them so much that the Chicken Tikka Masala in particular is another one of the UK’s national dishes.
Thanks to the Italians, Britain has enjoyed Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner for years. We’re so familiar with the dish that we usually refer to it as just ‘Spag Bol.’
Burger and Chips
Although British beef is a wonderful thing, we’re crediting our American friends’ cuisine with this one. Burger and chips is yet another popular dinner choice in Blighty.
Stereotypical British food traditions dictate that we have to include Chinese food on this list of traditional British dinners too.
British Dinner FAQ
Why Is Lunch Called Dinner In The UK?
Lunch is usually called ‘dinner’ in the UK when one is referring to a Roast Dinner, also known as a Roast Lunch, Sunday Lunch, Sunday Roast, or just a Roast. Otherwise, lunch is normally just called lunch and dinner is called dinner. Or ‘tea.’ Or ‘supper.’
What Does The Term ‘Tea’ Mean?
The term ‘tea’ means two things, in Britain at least: 1. Tea is one of the UK’s favourite drinks, namely the cup of English Breakfast Tea; and 2. Tea is also a word that’s used by many Brits instead of the word ‘Dinner’ or ‘Supper.’
What Kind of Word is Supper?
Supper is a ‘posh’ word traditionally used by some Brits (typically the upper class) rather than the term ‘dinner.’ So you might say supper is what you call a posh dinner, or, just what posh people call dinner. Either way, the word supper is still used today.
Is High Tea The Same As Dinner?
High Tea is essentially the same thing as dinner, but it’s typically eaten earlier in the evening, often around 5pm. Instead of the word ‘dinner,’ High Tea is a term traditionally used by the working class of Britain, where cups of tea would accompany the evening meal.
What Does A British Dinner Consist Of?
Whether you’re eating in a British home, ordering from a traditional British pub food menu, or dining at one of the UK’s best restaurants, a British dinner will generally consist of up to three courses (i.e. starter, main course and dessert). Fancy pants places like the UK’s Michelin star restaurants may do things slightly differently (e.g. more courses, tasting menus etc).
What Time Is British Dinner Served?
British Dinner is typically served between the hours of 6pm and 8pm. Although, this clearly depends on individual lifestyle and the occasion. The duration of a British dinner could be anything from a quick five minute sit-down at home in your underpants, to several hours with family and friends at one of the most iconic London restaurants 😉
What Does The Queen Eat For Dinner?
Queen Elizabeth eats a variety of foods for dinner, as you’d expect, including meat, fish and vegetables. It’s reported that the British sovereign particularly enjoys steak (especially venison), Gleneagles pâté, smoked salmon, trout, mackerel and halibut; mainly British and French style dinners.
(That’s according to Hello!)
Winner Winner, British Dinner.
Naturally, what the average Brit eats for dinner today won’t all be Fish & Chips and Pie & Mash, nor is it all curry and Chinese food.
Britain has the most diverse and the best cuisine in the world, remember.
And that means it’s not all about traditional British dishes. 😉
So there you go. That’s traditional British dinners for you.
Now, all that’s left to do is get yourself to Blighty and find some bloody good places to eat yours.
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