21 Victorian Recipes Fit for Royalty

a white plate with an individual raspberry summer pudding and whipped cream
Raspberry Summer Pudding, a classic English dessert. Photo: Kim's Cooking Now

The Victorian era introduced many food traditions, including afternoon tea, three-course meals, and a treasure trove of cakes and puddings that we still cherish today. From Battenberg cake to treacle tart, feast on this specially compiled collection of Victorian-style recipes that are fit for a Queen!

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Curried foods became popular throughout England after Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1876, with kedgeree being a great example. It's a breakfast dish made with rice and smoked fish, flavored with curry powder and garnished with sliced hard-boiled eggs.

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English Crumpets

Although the Victorians did not create crumpets, they were the first to use baking powder in the recipe, transforming them into the thick and spongy rounds (with their characteristic holes) that are adored to this day. They would often be served as a treat for the kitchen staff, topped with lemon curd.

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Lancashire Hot Pot

The hot pot was born out of the need for a warm, nourishing meal after long shifts in local textile mills. It involved simmering scraps of mutton, oysters (which were cheap at that time), onions, and sliced potatoes in stock. Some historians suggest that local bakeries cooked the hot pots for families to collect on their way home.

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Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup in a green bowl

Indian influences introduced this creamy curry soup to English homes, and it's versatility soon became popular. Victorian cooks in wealthy homes added leftover mutton to the soup, while poorer households would have meatless versions.

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Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding in a large black cast iron skillet
Yorkshire Pudding II. Andrew Kerr

Yorkshire pudding, in the early Victorian years, was cooked in a pan under a joint of beef that was roasting on a spit. This way, the drippings from the meat would cook and color the batter. As a rule, it was always served with gravy first, in an attempt to have some meat leftover.

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Roast Goose with Stuffing

Following their Queen, and her husband Prince Albert's lead, Victorians celebrated Christmas Day in style, serving elaborate centerpieces like this roast goose with herb stuffing. Even those less well off would save for weeks to buy a turkey or goose, and pay the local baker to roast it.

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Sophie's Shepherds pie

Victorian cooks would have made this familiar crispy potato-topped pie to use up leftover lean mutton and gravy from a previous dinner party. For those who couldn't afford to make roast dinners, housewives would have used canned beef and created the gravy with stock.

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Classic Lard Two-Crust Pie Pastry

Warm lard was used to make savory pastry in Victorian times to make the dough more manageable, and shape into the ornate metal and ceramic baking molds that had became the norm. Pie fillings would be made up of layers and layers of game meat, and jellied stock, creating elegant 'raised' pies to impress guests.

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Treacle Tart

This classic British tart has an extremely sweet filling made with butter, eggs, cream, and a thick, light-colored treacle, known as golden syrup. The syrup would have replaced jam and marmalade in many Victorian desserts since its creation in 1883, including sponge puddings and ginger cakes.

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Raspberry Summer Pudding (English Style)

Not wanting to waste anything, Victorian cooks would have arranged slices of stale bread around the surface of a bowl, and filled it with over-ripe berries and their juice. The pudding would be left overnight to allow the juice to soak through the bread and become a beautiful shade of pink. Before serving, it would be turned out on to a plate and decorated with whipped cream.

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Vanilla Blancmange

Hosting dinner parties became more common for the middle and upper classes in Victorian times. French desserts, like this blancmange, would often be made in decorative molds and garnished with edible flowers in an attempt to impress guests.

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Battenberg Cake

This distinctive cake with it's checkered pattern and wrapping of marzipan was reportedly made for Queen Victoria's granddaughter when she married Prince Louis of Battenberg. It's mass produced now in the U.K., and available on every supermarket shelf for an afternoon treat with tea.

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Bread and Butter Pudding

a slice of bread and butter pudding with raisins
Bread and Butter Pudding. Diana Moutsopoulos

This dessert existed before the Victorian era since it was an economical way to use up stale bread, but it was more likely that they used beef marrow instead of butter. Victorian cooks enriched the pudding with sugar, butter, and spices (as well as a little booze), making it more like the dish we still enjoy today.

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Traditional Bakewell Tart

The Victorians modernized the dense, rustic-looking Bakewell pudding into the beloved Bakewell tart, with its distinct layers of rich shortcrust pastry, jam, frangipane, and sliced almonds that we know today. For an even sweeter version, top with white glossy icing.

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Traditional Victoria Sponge

In Victorian times, a rich sponge cake would be baked in a deep, rectangular pan, then sliced into squares and sandwiched with strawberry jam to serve with afternoon tea in the garden. This cake is probably still the most popular cake in England today, but is more commonly cooked as two round cakes and sandwiched with jam and whipped cream.

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Syrup Sponge Pudding

Victorians loved their puddings, and both rich and poor homes would finish off a meal with a steamed pudding. This glorious sponge pudding was easy to make with minimal ingredients. It's sweetened with golden syrup which was mass produced in the late 1800s, making it affordable to all.

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Jam Tarts

Jam tarts, known as open tarts in Victorian times, were a common way to use up scraps of pastry. They were filled with any type of jam, then cooked until the jam had set. They were the perfect portable treat for a family picnic, no matter what class you belonged to.

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a wooden bowl of homemade mincemeat
Mincemeat. Allrecipes

Mincemeat evolved from a way of using up old meat, or meat stock by mixing it with dried fruit, apples and booze. Nowadays, the mincemeat used in Christmas mince pies isn't savory in the slightest.

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Christmas Plum Pudding

Plum pudding isn't actually made with plums — plum was simply the old term for dried fruit. A traditional Christmas pudding in the Victorian era would have had tiny silver charms baked in (generously wrapped in greased paper, of course): a coin represented wealth, a wishbone signified luck, and a bell implied you would be wed that year!

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English Trifle

trifle with layers of raspberries, cream, and cake
A proper English trifle. neve

Victorian trifles were a very elaborate affair based on a clever way to use up sponge cake and custard. In those days the filling was a layer of jam and candied fruit, doused in brandy and sherry. A thick syllabub-style cream was spooned on top, and decorated with crushed nuts or crystallized flowers.

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Christmas Cake

a traditional round British Christmas cake before being iced, cooling on a wire rack
Christmas Cake. Melxantia

Traditional fruitcakes already existed but the Victorians embellished it at Christmas by adding dried cherries, nuts, and candied fruit. They fed the cake with brandy for months, then covered it with marzipan and royal icing, before writing a Christmas message on top — just like many households still do to this day.

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More Inspiration

Caramel Shortbread Squares
Caramel Shortbread Squares | Photo by Allrecipes Magazine.

Obsessed with all things sweet and savory from across the pond? Check out our collection of Great British Baking Show-inspired recipes and our entire collection of recipes from the UK and Ireland.

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