The truth is, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint what precisely British appetizers are. The UK is a melting pot of flavors and cuisines, so there’s no one size fits all.
Go to any holiday party or gathering, and you’ll see a table full of finger foods, including sausage rolls, samosas, pork pies, and prawn toast.
Then, go to a restaurant, and you’ll see soup, a prawn cocktail, and even cheese on toast.
With all that in mind, I’ve gathered some of my favorites!
This list has some terrific snacks for your next party and some fantastic starters to serve before dinner.
1. Maple-Sriracha Devils on Horseback
This dish dates all the way back to the 1800s.
Though it’s not clear where the name comes from, what is clear is that these are insanely delicious and absolutely addictive.
If you’ve never tried bacon-wrapped dates before, I highly suggest you head to the kitchen right now.
The combination of crisp, salty bacon with the warm, chewy dates will have you reaching for seconds, thirds, and fourths.
But in this recipe, you’ll also get a hit of blue cheese and maple-sriracha.
Blue cheese is known to be quite strong, but you won’t use a lot in here.
Plus, it’s encased in dates and bacon and mellowed out by the sweet and spicy glaze.
2. Easy Homemade Sausage Rolls
Sausage rolls are probably one of the most beloved snacks in the UK.
You can get them almost anywhere, and you’d be hard-pressed to walk down the high street and not see someone devouring one straight from the oven.
Of course, they’re also sold as minis in the freezer sections of every supermarket.
Pop them in the oven, and you’ll have a tasty British appetizer in a matter of minutes.
Puff pastry is a must, but you can buy it from the store to make your life easier.
However, there’s a bit of a debate around the best sausage meat to use for these.
Some people will argue that Cumberland sausage meat is the only way to go because it’s “meatier” than other types because it’s chopped rather than minced.
But if you want your sausage rolls to be authentic, you’ll have to use pure pork sausages.
3. Yorkshire Pudding
Yorkshire puddings are typically served with a “Sunday dinner,” which (as you might guess) is a traditional family meal served on a Sunday.
It’s often accompanied by ham, beef, pork, or chicken (sometimes a combination of them all), roasted veggies, stuffing, and gravy.
Oh, and don’t forget the roasties!
The Brits take this meal quite seriously, and you can go to most restaurants for a “roast” if you don’t feel like cooking.
But since “Yorkshires” are so popular, people have started to serve them as appetizers, too.
In fact, something I like to serve are mini “toad in the holes.” You’ll cook the Yorkshire puddings with sausages inside and serve with onion gravy.
4. Scottish Potato Scones
Some traditional British breakfasts combine fried bread with bacon, eggs, beans, and cooked tomatoes.
But depending on how far north you go, “fry-ups” also include these lovely potato scones.
They’re pretty dense but wonderfully moist, and the best part is, you can eat them with everything from savory runny egg yolks and ketchup to butter and jam.
These are also great to serve on a platter with dips, as they’re pretty sturdy.
So, your guests can scoop and spread as much topping as they want.
5. Classic Prawn Cocktail
I think that the prawn cocktail is about as retro as it gets.
Where we have deviled eggs and cheese balls, our cousins across the pond have this light and tasty starter.
Again, you’ll find some debate around how to make this.
But generally, the sauce is a mix of mayo, tomato chutney or ketchup, Worcestershire (pronounced wuster-sher, or just wuster – yes, really) sauce, horseradish, and Tabasco.
This is easy to make, especially if you start with ready-cooked prawns.
I’ve seen it with both king prawns and mini-shrimp, so it’s just a matter of preference.
6. Scottish Leek and Potato Soup
Leek and potato soup is huge in the UK, and it’s one of my all-time favorites, too. I adore the sweet oniony flavor of leeks and that light garlic note.
It’s best served velvety smooth, but it’s still tasty if you leave it chunky.
Not only is this soup low-calorie, but it’s also vegan, gluten-free, and pretty cheap to make.
Go for Yukon gold or Russet potatoes to ensure you’ll get the right consistency.
Though the mustard is optional, I suggest you give it a try. It’s not enough to really stand out, but it does provide a lovely, slightly spicy finish.
7. Leeks In Cheese Sauce
Along with their Sunday roasts, the Brits are known to take cheese very seriously. Go to any supermarket over there, and you’ll see what I mean.
To start with, they have a grading system for their cheese.
So, if you pick up a block with a “2” on the front, you know it’s pretty mild. I like a good “5” because they’re super mature and flavorful.
It’s essential to know all this because in the States, we don’t typically use the same kinds of cheeses, and they’re not usually as strong.
So, if you’ve ever made a British dish and thought, this is kind of bland, it could be that you’ve grabbed an American cheddar, which just can’t give you the same boost of flavor as a British cheddar can.
I’d advise searching for either Cathedral City or Kerrygold Aged Cheddar for this recipe, which I’ve found in larger supermarkets.
8. Angels on Horseback
If you thought bacon-wrapped dates were good, just wait until you try these bacon-wrapped oysters.
I know oysters can be hit or miss, but if you don’t like the idea of eating them raw, this is a great way to try them.
Oysters have a buttery, and sweet yet salty flavor, which is enhanced when they’re cooked.
They’ll also become more tender, which makes them feel better in your mouth.
9. The London Particular Yellow Split Pea Soup
Split pea soup is a thick porridge-like dish that’s usually served with shaved ham for a boost of salty goodness.
It’s also made with ham hock right in the pot, so the whole thing has a smoky, meaty taste.
You’ve likely seen it made with green split peas, leaving the final dish to be an unfortunate green-grey color. I think I prefer this sunny version, don’t you?
Other than the ham hocks (which aren’t overly expensive), this is a pretty cheap soup to make.
Potatoes help to bulk it out, and dried yellow split peas are very reasonable.
10. Welsh Rarebit
I grew up on Welsh rarebit, and I crave it at least once a week to this day!
It’s like a revved-up version of cheese on toast, and after one bite, you’ll never go back.
Unlike standard cheese on toast, which is just grated cheese melted on bread, this recipe includes beer, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
In some cases, you’ll make a cheese sauce, kind of like you would with Croque monsieur. But this recipe keeps things simple.
Just combine all the ingredients and pile them up onto a thick piece of toast. Then, grill until it’s melted and bubbling.
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