Traditional Welsh Food Recipes

Welsh lake

Wales, to the West of England, has lush countryside, mountains, and lakes and produces the finest lamb, seafood, and cheeses. Here are some traditional Welsh recipes for you to try.

Wales is actually two countries; North Wales and South Wales. In the north, farmers rear sheep and grow oats, and the climate can be very hostile. Down south, where the climate is not as harsh, there is beef, lamb, dairy produce, leeks, and oats.

These ingredients feature heavily in Welsh cooking. Wales has several really good local cheeses; Welsh goat cheese has become very popular all over the British Isles, along with other long-neglected types of cheese such as Llanboidy and Caws Fferm.

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh rarebit

This popular snack has many myths about its origins. One story goes that the farmer tried to catch a rabbit but failed, so instead of a rabbit, the farmer had rarebit for dinner! Serves 4.

230g mature Cheddar or other full-flavoured cheese, grated
15g butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons plain flour
4 – 5 tablespoons brown ale
4 slices of bread, toasted on one side only
Paprika and finely chopped chives

Put the cheese, butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and flour into a heavy-based pan and heat gently. Add enough of the brown ale to moisten the mixture, mix well and allow to melt. It should form a fairly thick paste.

Spread the cheese mixture on the untoasted side of the bread, dust with some paprika, and put it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Garnish with the chives.

Glamorgan Sausages

Glamorgan sausages

These are more like little croquettes than sausages. Made with potatoes, leeks, and cheese then rolled in crispy breadcrumbs, these are so good you won’t miss the meat. Makes 12.

140g Caerphilly or Lancashire cheese, finely grated
110g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped leek
3 medium egg yolks + 1 egg
1 heaped tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon grain mustard
Salt and pepper
White breadcrumbs for coating
Oil for shallow frying

Mix together the cheese, breadcrumbs, and leek in a bowl. Blend the egg yolks with the herbs, mustard, and seasoning then add to the breadcrumb mixture. Mix well to bind everything together.

Shape the mixture into 12 small ovals, about 5 cm long. Pour the beaten whole egg onto a plate and tip the breadcrumbs onto another plate. Dip the sausages first into the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs, making sure they have an even coating.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the sausages for about 10 minutes, until golden brown on all sides. Serve hot with a salad.

Honeyed Welsh Lamb

Joint of lamb

Welsh lamb has an exceptional flavour. This is a favourite way to cook it, with honey and herbs; it creates a tasty crust for the cooked meat. Serves 6 – 8.

One 1.6 – 1.8kg leg of Welsh lamb
170g runny honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
280 ml dry cider
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
Salt and pepper

Put the lamb joint into a roasting tin lined with foil. Rub the salt, pepper, and ground ginger into the meat then make small slits all over with a sharp knife and push in a few rosemary leaves. Spread the honey over the top and pour the cider around the meat.

Cook in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to gas 3/170C/325F and cook for a further one and a half hours to one and three-quarter hours, basting the meat occasionally with the cider. Remove the meat from the tin and cover with foil. It will keep warm for up to an hour.

Pour the meat juices from the roasting tin into a saucepan and spoon off the excess fat. Boil the mixture until thickened and almost syrupy. Add a little more cider if necessary and stir in the redcurrant jelly.

Serve the meat carved into thick slices with the gravy poured over. This goes well with garlic and rosemary new potatoes (see recipe below.)

Garlic and Rosemary New Potatoes

This dish makes the most of the new season’s crop of potatoes. The flavours of garlic and rosemary go well with the potatoes. Serves 6.

1.3kg new potatoes, washed
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled
100g butter
Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in a pan of salted water for 15 – 20 minutes, until tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Drain them in a colander and tip them back into the hot pan.

Mix the garlic with the softened butter and add half of the rosemary, finely chopped. Add the garlic butter to the hot potatoes and stir until thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs.

Welsh Cawl

This hearty stew of meat and vegetables is often handed down through the family, and the recipe varies from one town to another. It tastes even better if left for 24 hours and reheated. Serves 6.

1kg middle neck or shoulder of lamb
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 leeks, washed and sliced, white and some of the green parts
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Put the meat in a large pan, cover it with water and bring to the boil. Simmer on a low heat for 2 – 3 hours until the meat is very tender. Leave to cool overnight.

Cut the meat off the bone and return it to the pan of stock. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion and parsnips and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the leeks and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Serve the cawl ladled into warm bowls, accompanied by fresh crusty bread and a chunk of Welsh cheese.

Treacle Tart

This is not actually made from treacle – golden syrup is used instead. But golden syrup and treacle were the same things in times gone by. This tart was invented in the late 19th century by Mary Jewry and it’s just as popular today as it was then. Serves 6.

1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
280g golden syrup
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
Grated zest and juice of a large lemon
30g demerara sugar

Line a 20.5 cm loose-based flan tin with the pastry, making sure it’s pushed into the base and sides of the tin. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Mix together the syrup, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into the pastry case, levelling it with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top.

Bake the tart in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until the top is a pale golden brown. Remove from the tin and serve warm or cold. This goes beautifully with the honey and ginger ice cream below.

Honey and Ginger Ice Cream

Honey ice cream

This delicious ice cream is quick and easy to make and doesn’t need an ice cream machine. The ginger gives a subtle warmth and the honey is sweet and aromatic. Makes 600 ml (about 6 servings.)

170g clear Welsh honey
430 ml double cream
60g stem ginger (from a jar)
A little of the ginger syrup (about 1 tablespoon)

Pour the cream into a large bowl, add the honey and whisk with an electric hand whisk until thickened. Fold in the chopped stem ginger and the syrup and pour into a freezer-proof container.

Freeze the mixture for an hour then beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Return to the freezer. Repeat this once more then put a lid on the container and freeze until solid.

Transfer the ice cream to the fridge for 30 minutes so that it’s soft enough to scoop before serving.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh cakes

These are like a cross between a scone and a pancake. Usually served warm with butter and jam, they are still good when cold. Makes about 18.

230g self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
80g butter
85g caster sugar
60g currants, washed and dried
Half a teaspoon of ground mixed spice
1 large egg, beaten
A little milk to bind the mixture together
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar, currants and mixed spice. Add the egg and enough milk to make a soft but not sticky dough. Mix thoroughly.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out to about 3 – 5 mm thick. Use a biscuit cutter to stamp out rounds from the dough.

Oil a heavy-based frying pan and place over a high heat. Add the cakes, a few at a time, and cook over a low heat until lightly browned on both sides, turning once. Dust with caster sugar while still warm.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed finding out about the food of Wales. If you want to learn more about the food of the British Isles, go to English food recipes or easy Scottish recipes.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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8 thoughts on “Traditional Welsh Food Recipes”

  1. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into the culinary traditions of Wales. I have always wondered what was behind the name “welsh rarebit,” so thanks for sharing that story along with an easy-to-follow recipe. It sounds like a dish that would be really popular at our house! Looking forward to trying it out – sounds delish!!

    • Hi Aly, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found it interesting. Having been to Wales and sampled some of their local dishes I just had to write about them! Welsh rarebit is very tasty, it’s a bit like cheese on toast but richer. I think you will love it and will want to make it again and again. Happy cooking!

  2. Hi Karen, Some fabulous recipes of traditional Welsh food. I am particularly attracted to the Glamorgan Sausages, because I know how well leeks,  potatoes and cheese go together! I shall have fun making those. The Honey and Ginger Ice Cream and the Welsh Cakes appeal, too. Thanks for sharing this great blog post. Best wishes, Jenni.

    • Hi Jenni, thanks for your kind comments! The Glamorgan sausages are very tasty. I would dunk them into a bowl of sweet chilli sauce, that would make them even better.

      The ice cream is very easy to make and the flavour is wonderful, especially if you can get hold of some heather honey. You could have yourself a feast there, shared with loved ones or a private dinner just for you. Let me know what you think if you make any of these recipes. 

      I’m currently working on an article on Irish food, which has things like Irish stew, beef in Guinness and an unusual soup made from carrots, mint and strawberries! I hope to publish it tomorrow morning 

  3. Hi Karen

    The first dish’s story is quite interesting. As you have mentioned that the farmer failed to catch a rabbit, he had a rarebit which is made of bread and cheese without using any meat. Am I right Karen?

    Even the Honey and Ginger Ice Cream looks very delicious. Thanks for letting us know about traditional dishes and their recipes in Wales.

    Sujith 🙂

    • Hi Sujith, that’s how the story goes. Its something of a myth, so who knows how it really got its name! 

      The ice cream is very good, and easy to make. You should try it. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, more will follow 

  4. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for sharing these great recipes; I fail in love with the first one on the list, “Welsh Rarebit.” Although I am sure the other recipes are tasty as well, this one really caught my attention:) I also find the story of the farmer funny:)

    My daughter is vegan, and I am sure she will ask me to prepare this recipe with vegan ingredients. So, if you don’t mind asking. Is it possible to use tofu instead of Cheddar?

    I know it’s not a vegan website, but I thought I would ask anyway:)

    Thank you!

    • Hi Daniella, the Welsh rarebit does seem popular! I have a friend who is vegan so we spend time adapting recipes to make them vegan. Our attempt at a chocolate cheesecake was a winner! 

      Can you get vegan cheeses where you live? Tofu doesn’t melt and the appeal of rarebit is the creamy, cheesy sauce on top. Maybe a non-dairy soft cheese? I will be posting some vegan recipes on the website, with some help from my friend Kim, so there should be something there that your daughter will enjoy! 


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