The National Dishes of Britain and Ireland

Rare roast beef

LauriPatterson / Getty Images

In This Article

Each of the four countries, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, have their own specific food identity and, therefore, their own national dishes. These dishes are so familiar (and the countries are in close proximity), so they are eaten in all the countries to some lesser or greater degree. That said, each country clings fiercely to its dish, and some like England, even claim more than one because there are so many to choose from. The dishes are based on history, culinary heritage, native foods, and the landscape of each country. Most are hearty, meat-based dishes that use few and locally sourced ingredients. Learn more about the individual dishes, see which sounds most appealing, and try your hand at a classic and traditional British dish. Use this overview to pick your next recipe.

The National Dishes of England

There is much dispute about which is truly the English national dish. Number one on the list for many years has been roast beef and Yorkshire puddings followed closely by fish and chips. There is a vast multicultural diversity in Britain, much attributed to historical references of the British Empire and years of the British Raj (the rule of the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947). Hence, it is no surprise that chicken tikka masala is also included in the list of England's national dish. The reason for this dish being considered a national dish is because chicken tikka was devised for the British; it is not a traditional Indian curry. 


How to Make Classic British Fish and Chips

The National Dishes of Ireland

Irish Stew is a thick, hearty dish of mutton, potatoes, and onions and undisputedly the national dish of Ireland. Within the dish are many of the ingredients synonymous with the island, potatoes being one of the most recognized. There is debate about whether modern translations of the dish containing carrots and other vegetables are truly an Irish stew, but the original recipe is the winner of this accolade.


Traditional Irish Stew Recipe

The National Dishes of Scotland

Haggis is regarded as the Scottish national dish. It is a sheep's stomach stuffed with offal, suet, onions, and oatmeal. The result is a loose type of sausage. Though it was traditionally eaten only on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) and Burns' night, it is now eaten year-round. The haggis is celebrated in "Address to a Haggis," a poem by Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns.

The National Dishes of Wales

Cawl is the national dish of Wales. It is also a stew and made from bacon, Welsh lamb or beef, cabbage, and leeks. Traditional recipes for Cawl vary from region to region and sometimes even season to season. Cawl can be eaten in one bowl, though often the broth will be served first followed by the meat and vegetables hence the Welsh saying "Cystal yfed o'r cawl â bwyta's cig," which translates to "It is as good to drink the broth as to eat the meat."