British Holiday Foods


Like many other countries around the world, Great Britain has its own food traditions for the holidays. Many of these foods have been passed down over the years and are still enjoyed today. Others have developed and changed over the years. Many food traditions become part of families, continuing for many generations to come.

Figgy Pudding

  • Perhaps one of the most well-known British holiday food tradition is figgy pudding, also known as Christmas pudding. The pudding is a thicker consistency than what most consider pudding to be. Dried fruit, nuts, spices and black treacle are among the ingredients of the pudding. The pudding is generally topped with liquor, such as brandy or sherry. When made in the home, each family member takes a turn at stirring the pudding while making a wish. Some Brits hide a coin or other trinket in the pudding as a gift for whomever finds it.

Christmas Goose

  • Just as in the story of "A Christmas Carol," a Christmas goose is sometimes the main dish at a British Christmas dinner. More families now have turkey instead, but the goose has been making a comeback. Potatoes are often served with either bird, along with a vegetable, typically brussels sprouts or parsnips, and stuffing with gravy. The meal is typically preceeded with smoked salmon or prawns.

Mincemeat Pie

  • Mincemeat pie is a British Christmas favorite. Unlike the name, the pie actually contains no meat. Instead, the pie is made with a mixture of dried fruits, such as raisins and candied peels, nuts, apples, spices, suet and sugar. Brandy or sherry is sometimes used to add a little moisture to the mixture.

Hot Cross Buns

  • Served during the entire Easter season in Great Britain, hot cross buns were initially baked for consumption on Good Friday only. The buns are small and are made with yeast and slightly sweetened. Raisins or currants are typically used inside of them. Other chopped candied fruits can also be used. The shape of a cross is cut into the tops of the buns prior to baking them. After baking, powdered sugar is sprinkled into the cross on top of the buns.

Simnel Cake

  • Simnel cake is often made for both Mother's Day and Easter. According to, the cake is said to have been discovered by a couple that was looking to use up the figgy pudding from Christmas and the unleavened dough from lent. They used the dough to cover the figgy pudding and then argued over whether to bake or steam it. They ended up doing both, glazing the dough with egg. This cake was traditionally used to end the Lenten fast, which coincides with the British Mother's Day.

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