There’s more to Yorkshire than the rolling hills, glorious coastline, and quaint villages that attract over a million visitors every year. Yorkshire food epitomises the Best of Britain. Traditional Yorkshire food is a wholesome, comforting, and diverse gastronomic treat that showcases the best of this great English county’s exceptional produce.
This Yorkshire food guide reveals the best traditional Yorkshire food products, plus precisely what you should seek out to eat and drink when visiting Yorkshire, for an authentic taste of this part of England.
Everything about Yorkshire food and drink is connected to the remarkably fertile land and the North Sea, which produce some of Britain’s best food. Some things are internationally well-known, some famous thanks to animated movie characters, others may be less familiar.
Here is a round-up of the most traditional, delicious and tempting Yorkshire food
Best Yorkshire Food – Savoury Treats
Ask any Brit to name one food item that’s synonymous with Yorkshire, and it’s a fair bet that the first thing they’ll mention is the eponymous batter pudding. Light as air and deliciously crispy, this much-loved home cooked Yorkshire food is most traditionally served to accompany a roast dinner, with lashings of proper gravy.
Today though, you can eat Yorkshire puddings (aka Yorkshire puds or Yorkshires) as a starter, a pudding (dessert), or even in giant form, filled with tasty meat and gravy.
The recipe for the perfect Yorkshire pud can provoke heated debate. Still, the one thing all purists will agree on is that ready-made frozen “Yorkshires” are the work of the devil.
Here’s a tried and tested Yorkshire Pudding recipe for you to try for yourself – just make sure the oven is scorching hot!
Best Yorkshire Food – Treats from the Ocean
The cold waters of the North Sea are home to an abundance of fish, caught and landed daily by fishing boats up and down the Yorkshire coast.
Fish and Chips
There’s no better place than Yorkshire to eat the best fish and chips in the world – from quaint towns and villages to the great cities across the four separate counties that make up Yorkshire; you’ll feel spoiled for choice. The business of fish and chips is taken very seriously in Yorkshire!
Many “chippies” proudly let you know exactly which farm supplies the potatoes for their chips, and which fishing boat caught the fish you’ll be enjoying.
Grimsby was once the largest and busiest fishing town in the world, but the Cod Wars of the 1970s took their toll. Today, Yorkshire smokehouses produce exquisitely flavoured kippers. You can choose ones with just the right degree of smoke to suit your palate.
Try Justin Staal’s Smokehouse in beautiful, historic Beverley for hot and cold smoked trout, Fortunes in Whitby for the ultimate kippers, and Bleiker’s: The Smokehouse in Ripon, for smoked salmon that’s better than you’ve ever tasted.
Bridlington in East Yorkshire is where hardy local fishermen land some of the best crab and lobster in Europe. While much of the lobster is exported to Europe, you’ll find dressed crab up and down the Yorkshire coast, and at independent fishmongers. Try the unpretentious beach kiosks in Scarborough for some of the best sea foods from Yorkshire!
Best Yorkshire Food – Delicious Dairy
Cistercian monks who settled in Wensleydale brought cheese-making to this part of Yorkshire in the 12th century. Still, it was Wallace and Gromit who put Wensleydale on the global map as a great cheese – particularly with Christmas cake.
Beyond Wensleydale, there are more than 85 cheeses made by artisan Yorkshire cheesemakers, from cows, sheep and goats milk. Love Cheese in the medieval streets of York is the ideal place to browse and discover the best Yorkshire cheeses. The Richard III Wensleydale is ridiculously good!
Yorkshire Dama Squeaky Cheese
Yorkshire Dama Cheese is a multi-award-winning dairy company, set up by Syrian refugee Razan Alsous. The delicious semi-hard squeaky cheese is a firm favourite in trendy restaurants, where it’s a popular accompaniment to gourmet burgers.
Best Yorkshire Food – Sweet Treats
Yorkshire Curd Tart
One of the hidden gems of Yorkshire food is the centuries-old Yorkshire curd tart. Little known outside of the county, Yorkshire curd tart is a little like a baked cheesecake. It’s traditionally made with shortcrust pastry, curd cheese (but never the evil monstrosity that is cottage cheese), currants and allspice. Some recipes include rosewater too.
Centuries-old Yorkshire Parkin is a splendidly sticky cake made with oats, dark treacle (molasses) and ginger. It’s one of the best-known foods from Yorkshire.
Parkin is traditionally made in November, with the first Sunday of the month known as “Parkin Sunday”! Parkin is as much a part of Bonfire Night (the fifth of November aka “Guy Fawkes Night”) festivities as baked potatoes and bonfire toffee.
Hearty and filling, parkin is the ultimate comfort food – you have to taste it to believe it! It also needs to be eaten with a mug of proper Yorkshire tea! One last thing, which is almost as important as the ingredients – the ageing of the parkin. No matter how tempting it may be, it’s important not to eat parkin on the day you make it. The cake needs time for the deep flavours and stickiness to develop, so you need to store it in an airtight box or tin for at least three days before tucking in.
Cut and Come Again Cake
An absolute staple from my early childhood in East Yorkshire was the incredibly moreish Cut and Come Again cake. My late mum baked at least one of these cakes every week – a proper belly-filling treat for four ever-hungry children! This easy-bake cake simply bursts with plump fruit and spices and makes a hearty tea-time treat.
Here’s a proper Yorkshire recipe for Cut and Come Again Cake.
For the authentic Yorkshire experience, serve cut and come again cake with a wedge of Wensleydale Cheese and a pot of tea! It’s a firm family favourite food from Yorkshire – one I’ve enjoyed for more than 50 years.
Yorkshire Brack (aka Yorkshire Barm Brack)
A frugal, but delicious tea loaf, Yorkshire Brack is another favourite Yorkshire food traditionally served with piping hot Yorkshire tea and a good slice of Wensleydale cheese. Dense, flavourful Yorkshire Brack is fat-free, apart from the fat that occurs naturally in eggs, and the fruit is steeped overnight in tea to ensure that the dried fruit is plump and luscious. Add in a good slug of whisky for special occasions!
The great Yorkshire cities of Leeds and Bradford expanded rapidly during the Industrial Revolution thanks to the mills which wove fine Yorkshire wool into high-quality cloth.
The City of York, however, grew wealthy on chocolate, with around 14,000 people working in its chocolate factories in their heyday. Some of the most well-known products which originated in York include Terry’s All Gold and the eponymous Chocolate Orange, plus Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Fruit Gums. Finding out about the story of chocolate in York (and tasting some too) is one of the things you can do on a visit to York.
It’s not only Yorkskshire food that’s outstanding. There are dozens of talented Yorkshire brewers, wine-makers, and distillers making artisanal drinks – found in select bars and stores countrywide.
Vineyards have started to spread across the county too, with ten already producing high-quality wines. The award-winning Heart of Yorkshire vineyard, which offers splendid wine tours and picnics among the vines, is Britain’s most northerly vineyard. The award-winning Seyval Blanc sparkling wine, with its white blossom & biscuit overtones, is worth visiting for alone.
Gin and Whisky
Yorkshire is rather good at making gin, perhaps thanks to the abundance of natural spring water from the Yorkshire Dales. The first gin distilleries appeared here in the 1500s, and today there are about 45 producing some of Britain’s best gins.
Here’s how you can visit Whittaker’s Distillery for a superb tour and tasting.
Best Yorkshire Food – Home Grown Goodness
Did you know there is a “rhubarb triangle“? It lies between Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford and it’s where you can go to hear rhubarb grow!
The highly-prized tender pink stems, which are grown in forcing sheds, creak in the dark as they grow! Visit a rhubarb festival in Wakefield to listen to the rhubarb growing! Once you’ve had a taste of proper rhubarb from Yorkshire you’ll be turning your nose up at inferior bland offerings in the supermarket!
Yorkshire asparagus is the finest in the world – it’s a bold claim, but anyone from Yorkshire will tell you there’s no going back once you’ve tasted the delicate flavour of freshly cut Yorkshire asparagus! It’s in season from mid-Spring until Midsummer’s Day.
Can you imagine Yorkshire without sheep? It would be a bit like Buckingham Palace without the Royal family!
Almost everywhere you go in Yorkshire, you’ll see fluffy white sheep grazing the hills and dales. While much of Britain’s wealth derived from wool from the Middle Ages well into the 20th century, today’s sheep farmers focus on producing quality meat for discerning consumers.
You’ll find locally sourced Yorkshire lamb in butcher’s shops and on restaurant menus throughout the county. Choose mature lamb, rather than spring lamb as the flavour is so much more robust!
Yorkshire Tea – Britain’s Best Brew
Last, but by no means least – no round-up of the best Yorkshire food and drink would be complete without mention of Britain’s most popular brew.
A lovely tea blend that’s packed with flavour, seriously refreshing and kind to the people who grow it. Try a cup, and you’ll soon see why it’s such a favourite.
Find out how to make a proper cup of tea (a brew) here. (It has nothing to do with heating up water in a microwave!)