Traditional Welsh Food

November 17, 2019  - by 
a welsh family eats dinner together.

Many claim that the best way to experience a culture is through local cuisine. The same can be said of your heritage. The best way to experience a piece of your ancestors’ lives is through the food they ate.

Use to find family recipes that your relatives have shared, or start recording the family recipes you have saved.

Welsh Food Traditions

In many cultures, the cuisine reflects the tastes and trends of the higher classes. However, the wealthy and educated in Wales who had the ability to record recipes often followed English cooking styles. Consequently, they did not represent true Welsh cooking. 

Instead, traditional Welsh food largely represents working class in Wales. Welsh cuisine focuses on what the working class could produce or afford, and recipes were passed down orally in the families of the working class. As a result, you can learn a lot about your heritage through food if you have Welsh ancestors.

Lambs in wales being fed. lamb is a traditional element of Welsh food.

Wales is well known for its lamb and beef. The Welsh people relied heavily on their livestock to provide for their families, and winter cuisine often featured meats and dairy from the livestock. 

While meats and cheese were traditionally a highlight of Welsh foods, vegetables and herbs were less readily available. The most widely used vegetables and herbs were cabbages, leeks, thyme, savory, and mint. Over time, more variety was introduced as it became more accessible.

Variations in Traditional Welsh Food

Because Welsh food was historically limited by the availability of ingredients, there are variations in traditional dishes based on what could be grown in different regions. Higher elevations relied more on oats, while lower elevations used wheat and barley. Coastal residents often used seaweed to supplement their meals.

Interestingly, the Gower Peninsula features a flavor profile different from the rest of Wales. The peninsula was difficult to access by land and developed unique cuisines as a result of its isolation. 

Welsh Recipes

Welsh food represents the lives of the common people of Wales. Try the recipes below to get a taste of what life was like for your Welsh ancestors.

An image of welsh rarebit.

Welsh Rarebit Recipe

Also known as Welsh Rabbit, this traditional dish features a spicy cheese sauce over toast. You read that right—no rabbit is found in this dish!

a pile of welsh cakes.

Welsh Cake Recipe

Similar to a sweet biscuit or thick pancake, Welsh cakes rose to popularity as a tea-time treat. They’re delicious fresh and warm or on the go.

A shepherd's pie.

Shepherd’s Pie

This hearty dish was originally intended to repurpose leftover meat. It’s a meat pie, often made with lamb and topped with a mashed potato crust.

Your Welsh Heritage

a beach in wales.

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  1. This makes a lot of sense, my mother’s side is part English / Wales. You see the Celtic Irish tribes and Viking tribes all settled in these areas where these foods were grown. They ain’t meat from lambs cows pigs and harvested vegetables and herbs like cabbage leek thyme savory and mint well eating lamb meat. Then later as the tribes traveled they bagan sharing different ways to grow food and raising Farm animals. So they grew oats wheat an barely and because of the different regions of east west & north an south of europ.

  2. Thank you Allison for your work on this article. Mom was an imigrant
    in 1951 to Canada from Bangor North Wales. Shepherd’s pie and biscuits with currants tickled my memory. I enjoyed the short vid of the lady making the biscuit and learning about the variations of similar foods in the areas of Wales. Well done.