Variety Is the Spice of Great Britain’s Cuisine

A symbol of the troublesome topic of the fishing industry in the Brexit deal between the EU and the UK.

This region offers a variety of diverse cuisines as it includes Scotland, England, and Wales. The cuisine contains influences from many other cultures. While each region has its own culinary traditions, a common theme of hearty and savory dishes are seen across each country due to the area’s rainy, cool climate. Dishes such as stews and meat pies are often consumed with warming spices like black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon not only for their flavoring, but their medicinal properties as well. Because so much of the area has extensive coastline, seafood is an important part of the cuisine.

Black pepper on wooden spoon

Black pepper

A common spice used throughout cultures, black pepper may be used medicinally to help alleviate pain from headaches, menstrual pain, and arthritis. In Great Britain, black pepper can be seen added to most dishes like the popular fish and chips as it pairs well with other commonly used herbs and spices. In Scottish cuisine, black pepper and sea salt are simple staples used as the primary spices in the region.

Fresh Chives / Siniklav or Frenk Sogani on wooden surface.


Chives may be used medicinally for the common cold and flu, to help to lower blood pressure, and may even have anticancer properties because of their unique antioxidant compounds. In the kitchen, chives have a taste profile similar to onions. Chives are often added to meat pies, stews, egg dishes, potato dishes, and sauces to provide a hearty and flavorful taste.

Scented spices background: Cinnamon powder, cinnamon sticks, star anise and cloves

Cinnamon (Cassia)

If you have diabetes, cinnamon might be good seasoning for you to try as it has been used medicinally to help regulate blood sugar when consumed at high levels for this purpose. In Great Britain, cinnamon may be added to provide a sweet flavor to baked goods such as scones or served on toast, commonly eaten for breakfast or with afternoon tea.

Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) in a bowl, dark rustic wood


Found on the black elder tree, elderberries may be used medicinally to support the immune system and help treat the common cold and flu. They have potent anti-viral properties. Elderberry is a slightly sweet but tart berry, making it perfect to add to jams and sauces. Elderberry sauce is often used in cuisines around the Great Britain region because it pairs well with hearty meat dishes such as lamb and venison. They’re often incorporated into crumbles, cakes, and pies as well for a traditional dessert.

Fresh orgaanic horseradish or Horse-radish root on wooden cutting board. top view


A root from the cruciferous family (like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts), horseradish may be used medicinally due to its potential anti-cancer effects. Horseradish is known for its unique hot and spicy flavor that actually acts as a palate cleanser. It is often added to sauces that are drizzled on top of fish and meat dishes. Though the classic dishes found in the United Kingdom aren’t generally spicey, you’ll see horseradish used on sandwiches or served alongside a roast.

Dried ground oregano or marjoram


Marjoram is a close relative to oregano and may be used medically to treat infections and viruses. In Great Britain, marjoram is often used dried, in place of oregano, when a sweeter flavor is desired. It is used in many dishes from meatballs to soups and stews, and as a flavor for roast meats. It pairs well with other common herbs to this cuisine such as black pepper and chives.

A bouquet of nettles on a dark background with copy space.


Also known as stinging nettles, this herb has been used medicinally for thousands of years due to its anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant properties. Nettles are rich in minerals like iron and calcium. Nettles grow in cool, forested climates and they must be handled with care and cooked to remove the stinging aspect that is found in the fresh plant. In the kitchen, nettles are used to make nettle soup, which combines nettles with vegetable stock, a variety of vegetable dishes, potato dishes and can even be made into a nutrient-rich tea.

Nutmeg seeds and ground nutmeg shot on rustic wooden table.


Made from the seed of the nutmeg tree, this spice may be used medicinally to treat stomach issues such as nausea and gas. While nutmeg is not native to the UK region, this sweet and nutty spice is often used in cuisines across Great Britain because it provides a unique flavor in a variety of sweet and savory dishes including in mulled cider or wine and in Scottish haggis.


Natural Medicines Database. Black Pepper.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=800. Updated 8/27/20. Accessed 11/21/20.

Natural Medicines Database. Chives.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=403. Updated 4/02/19. Accessed 1/03/21.

Natural Medicines Database. Cassia Cinnamon.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=1002. Updated 10/02/20. Accessed 1/03/21.

Natural Medicines Database. Elderberry.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=434. Updated 12/16/20. Accessed 1/03/21.

Natural Medicines Database. Marjoram.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=563. Updated 11/3/20. Accessed 12/20/20.

Natural Medicines Database. Nutmeg.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=788. Updated 10/08/20. Accessed 12/21/20.

Natural Medicines Database. Stinging Nettle.,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=664. Updated 2/16/2015. Accessed 1/11/21.

The Spruce Eats. Horseradish. Updated 7/09/20. Accessed 1/11/21. Britannica. Great Britain. Accessed 12/30/2

About Ginger Hultin, MS RDN CSO

Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, CSO, LDN, is a health writer and owner of Champagne Nutrition specializing in integrative health and whole food-based nutrition. She serves as Immediate Past President for the Chicago Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chair-Elect of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and is a Media Representative for the Illinois Academy. Read Ginger's blog, Champagne Nutrition, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Ginger Hultin MS RD CSO LDN | @GingerHultinRD Chair-Elect, Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group  
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