best yorkshire food and drink

The Best Yorkshire Food & Drink Not to Miss

Yorkshire’s dales, moors, and shores offer rich ground for some of the best food, fruit, and vegetables in the UK.   The county of Yorkshire is centered around the city of York, which has an amazing foodie culture.  And when it comes to food from Yorkshire, I imagine the first thing you think of is Yorkshire Pudding (I know I do!), but Yorkshires are just the start.   There are some great growing areas here in Yorkshire and some fabulous food specialties that the county is famous for, welcome to the best Yorkshire food and drink



Yorkshire Food

Small Group Foodie Tour of York

This small group foodie tour of York takes you well off the beaten track to small eateries that focus on traditional Yorkshire food with a difference. There are just 8 people on this tour, and you’ll get 3 full hours of tasting and food history experience.

The Best Yorkshire Food and Drinks

Here you’ll find the fruit and vegetables that Yorkshire is famous for, and homemade goodies like Yorkshire curd tarts, and black pudding, there’s also sweet stuff too – and a fabulous chocolate heritage.  But let’s start with the most famous of the lot.

The most famous Food from Yorkshire – Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire Pudding is essentially a savory batter made of eggs, milk, and flour.  Yorkshire puddings are traditionally served with meat and vegetables as part of a Sunday lunch.  In years gone by the batter was kept under the meat that roasted on a spit over a fire, which allowed the meat and oils to drip into the batter, when it was called “dripping pudding”.  (It’s still said that if you cook Yorkshire pudding in beef fat it tastes better).  It was renamed Yorkshire Pudding in 1747, by Hannah Glasse in her book “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy”.  If there wasn’t enough meat to go around the table, then children would get the batter, the Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire Pudding was originally made in one large dish and served in slices, it’s only more recently that individual puddings have become the norm.

Yorkshire Pudding

The best cooks in Yorkshire compete in regional Yorkshire pudding contests; thus, the standards are usually high. They go well with a roast dinner, but they also work well as a starter or dessert with jam and cream. And every Yorkshireman eats them on Yorkshire Day (1 August). Yorkshire pudding is perfect for a pub meal, loaded with onion sauce and premium sausages. Go for a freshly made pudding over a frozen one. Try a few of the “best” Yorkshire pudding recipes until you find one that suits you.

If your experience of Yorkshire Puddings has been from the famous brand, Aunt Bessie, then it’s actually the Butlins Holiday camps that you have to thank for this.  It was in 1974 that the seaside resorts asked the William Jackson Food Group, who then owned Aunt Bessies, to supply frozen Yorkshire Puds for the holiday camps.  Aunt Bessies now produces 900 million puddings a year!

York Ham

York Ham comes from Large White Pigs that are traditionally meatier than other pigs and is a traditional dry-cured ham from Yorkshire.  The process of dry-curing takes about three months and has a saltier and drier flavor than other hams from England.  When dried the ham is rubbed with brown sugar and salt, then smoked over oak, and only then aged for between two and four months. York Ham is then boiled, sliced thinly, and served.  It can be glazed or roasted.

Breaded Yorkshire Ham

Try a British Burrito in Yorkshire

The British Burrito was invented in Halifax, by James Dempsey of the Long Can Hall.  It’s the Yorkshire take on a burrito.  Take one large Yorkshire pudding and roll it flat.  Fill with roast beef, homemade chips, coleslaw, and gravy and roll.  The idea came about as customers asked for sandwiches rather than a traditional Sunday roast.

Try Yorkshire Rhubarb from the Rhubarb Triangle

Not all rhubarb comes from Yorkshire. Yes, it may be found all over the globe. However, a variety of Rhubarb known as “Forced Rhubarb” originated in Yorkshire. The popularity of Forced Rhubarb, grown out of season and under unusual conditions, has led to the designation of an entire region of Yorkshire as the “Rhubarb Triangle.” This procedure goes back to 1877 and was popular due to the availability of inexpensive coal for powering the forcing shed. Today, rhubarb crumble with custard is still a popular dessert in many Yorkshire homes. There isn’t much that can compete with a nice crumble, which tastes both sweet and somewhat sour. 

Rhubarb Crumble

Eat Seasonal Yorkshire Asparagus

Yorkshire grows the best asparagus in the world, it’s a common line you’ll hear throughout the county. However, once you’ve tried freshly cut and simply presented Yorkshire asparagus, you’ll never return to the imported, out-of-season kind. More land is being set aside to grow asparagus to meet the expanding demands of both chefs and home cooks. The season for picking Yorkshire asparagus begins in mid-April or early May, depending on when the soil warms enough to initiate the growth of these delicate stems and lasts until Midsummer’s Day. Visiting a local farmer in anticipation of the first harvest is a fantastic treat for devoted foodies.

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Eat a Yorkshire Fat Rascal

If someone in Yorkshire invites you to eat a fat rascal, they’re not insulting you; they’re referring to one of the tastiest afternoon tea delicacies you’ll discover. These fruity pleasures, which are like rock cakes or rock buns, are best served fresh with lots of butter, and they’ll quickly brighten your day. Partly because they’re so tasty, and partly because they come garnished with a glacé cherry and almond smile.

Betty’s tearoom in Harrogate is a great place to try them (there is also a Betty’s in York and visiting it is one of the best things to do in York.) – as they own the trademark “Fat Rascal”, and their version has a face made from almonds and cherries and which was introduced in 1983.

Fat Rascals date back to the mid-19th century, the name seems to come from including cream and butter in the dough.  Originally they were flat buttery cakes that were made in a covered pan in the ashes of a fire.  They’re definitely a “sweet treat” today, but a 1987 book, “Traditional Food in Yorkshire” by Peter Brears revealed that they used to be served with ham and eggs!

Swaledale cheese

Swaledale Cheese is produced completely by hand and matures for about 3-4 weeks.  It is made from full-fat cows milk and comes in a cylindrical shape.  There’s a moist, creamy interior and a greeny-blue mold on the outside.  The taste is unique and comes from the soils and conditions where the cows graze.

Yorkshire Blue Cheese

Another favorite is Yorkshire Blue, a traditional blue English cheese produced by Shepherds Purse in North Yorkshire.  It’s semi-soft and made from cow’s milk.  Yorkshire Blue cheese is aged for 8 weeks.  It’s a cheese with a strong aroma, but the taste is buttery, creamy, sweet, and mild.

Sweets and Snacks from Yorkshire

Yorkshire isn’t just famous for food that tends to go on the dinner table, there are some pretty famous sweets and snacks that come from Yorkshire and I’m sure you’ll recognize lots of them!

Don’t Miss Liquorice from Yorkshire

This is one of my favorites. And, I get it, it’s not for everyone as it has an unusually strong flavor at first. The sweet, which is prepared from a variety of roots, is popular in Yorkshire. The first area where licorice was blended with sugar was in Pontefract, where it was also used to flavor tobacco. The rest is history – and the wonderful, unusual-tasting, and unusual-looking sweets continue and will most likely be successful in the coming years.

It was back in the 16th century that licorice was first recorded in the UK, although it was thought to have been brought back here in the 11th century. It’s thought that it was brought to the region as a medicinal plant from the Middle East, transported by Crusaders.  However, the soil conditions in Yorkshire were perfect and licorice ended up being grown in Yorkshire too!  Yorkshire was the first place in the UK to grow it.  Licorice was originally used for medicinal purposes, although it was at a monastery in Pontefract that it was recorded and first mixed with sugar to make a black sweet.  The annual Pontefract Licorice festival celebrates the person responsible for doing this!

Pontefract Cakes

The Pontefract Cakes – which are slightly different from regular licorice – the circular sweets that feature a print of Pontefract’s Castle are Britain’s oldest sweets and were created by George Dunhill, a chemist in the 1760s.  Licorice was thought to ease stomach upsets and get rid of bad breath and therefore was chewed for medicinal purposes.  Pontefract Cakes are now made by Haribo, but you can also find them in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, at the Oldest Sweet Shop.  There isn’t much licorice growing in Pontefract these days, but there is a plant in the grounds of the Castle.

Another famous licorice-based sweet was invented in Yorkshire, by Sheffield man George Basset, with his Bassets Licorice Allsorts.

Seabrook Crisps

You won’t see Seabrooks crisps much outside England, but this brand started back in 1939 when Charles Brook opened a Bradford fish and chip shop.  Only, when he saw a photo with his shop being labeled as Seabrook, he chose this name for this brand.  After the war, he expanded into more potato products, crisps (chips to Americans) and when he opened his first factory in the 1950s, they started the iconic crinkle cut crisp brand, Seabrooks.  Even today virtually all the potatoes that go into Seabrook Crisps are grown within 50 miles of the headquarters in Bradford.

Best Drinks from Yorkshire

Now after all that lovely grub, sweets, and snacks you need something to wash it down with.  Here are the most famous drinks from Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Tea

Now don’t get me wrong, Yorkshire Tea isn’t grown in Yorkshire (although there is some tea grown in Cornwall these days – check it out here) – but there’s apparently nothing better than a good mug of Yorkshire Tea (I’m a coffee drinker).  The Yorkshire Tea brand was established in 1886 in Harrogate and it was a specific blend created by Taylors of Harrogate to suit the local water supply.

Black Sheep Beer

Now, this is my favorite beer to drink, bar none.  Black Sheep is brewed at the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham – where you should take a brewery tour and sample it too.  The founder, and owner, Paul Theakston (yes you should recognize the name) was the managing director of Theakstons Brewery, also in Masham, after taking over there from his father. When Scottish and Newcastle took over Theakstons, he – after the appropriate amount of time outside the industry, started up Black Sheep.  And the beer is fabulous.

Travel Tips for Exploring England

Final Words on The Best Food from Yorkshire

There are so many of my favorites in here, I did grow up just across the border in County Durham, and on a diet of Yorkshire Puddings and treats of licorice.  Rhubarb and Asparagus are firm favorites and these traditional Yorkshire foods are not to be missed when you’re in the county. 

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

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