13 Popular Welsh Foods You Need To Try At Least Once

I don't consider myself much of an Anglophile — ask me a question about the royal family, and I can only tell you what I know from watching "The Crown" — but when it comes to British cuisine, I'm a big fan. British cuisine gets a bad rap, from the savory pies to the mushy peas, and while I understand that blood sausage and scones with clotted cream aren't for everyone, I find comfort in them. In December 2023, I made my first visit to Wales, a country I feel people forget when thinking about the geography of the United Kingdom. However, with Americans purchasing Wrexham AFC and the subsequent "Welcome to Wrexham" documentary, Wales is, in my opinion, finally receiving the attention it deserves.

Whenever I visit a new place, I first create a to-do list. I learn a few essential words and phrases in the native tongue — after living in Slovakia for three years as an American, I found it more than crucial to pick up, at minimum, "hello," "goodbye," "please," and "thank you" — list out the sights I want to see, and most importantly for me, I look into the local cuisine. With this visit to Wales, I already knew I was in for some of my favorite treats — meat pies and afternoon tea, for starters — but upon further research, I came across many dishes I'd never heard of. I fell in love with the fare, from local cheese and fruit-filled breads to hearty stews and fresh delicacies from the sea. If you're lucky enough to visit this coastal country, don't forget to try their traditional dishes, and as the Welsh say, mwynhewch eich bwyd (bon appetit)!

Welsh cakes - pice ar y maen

Warm and sweet, a traditional Welsh griddle cake is the item I most looked forward to trying when my husband and I arrived in Cardiff. Made on a flat-top grill, Welsh cakes are best enjoyed when they're still warm and freshly sprinkled with caster sugar, giving them a sweet, satisfying crunch with every bite. Welsh cakes are most often enjoyed during tea time since the second half of the 19th century. According to Museum Wales, Welsh cakes get their names based on the regional name for the bakestone, including pice bach, tishan lechwan, or tishan ar y man

Made with a simple recipe of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda, and buttermilk, the cake itself is light and buttery, and the addition of raisins or chocolate chips provides a nice textural contrast. Most importantly, after you get that hot cake from the bakestone, split it in half and spread it with a thick swipe of salted butter.

Laverbread - bara lawr

Described by the bubbly manager at our hotel in Cardiff as "Welshman's caviar," laverbread is a delicacy rooted in history and tradition. Made from cooked laver, or seaweed, from the Welsh coastline, laverbread is a fresh and salty bite, tasting of the sea, and is most often served as part of a traditional Welsh breakfast. I was lucky enough to enjoy this briny treat spread on a piece of toast and topped with cockles and bacon, which is a way that I highly recommend, but I also saw it fried up into a sort of sausage patty and served alongside eggs and bacon.

Business Wales says laverbread is known as a "high energy food source particularly crucial for hard-working pit workers in the South Wales mining valleys where it became a staple breakfast food." I can't recommend this dish enough, whether you enjoy your laverbread spread on toast or roughly chopped for more texture. It's simple, classic, and packed with so much memorable flavor that I ate it several times during my five-day visit.

Lamb cawl - cawl oen

Visiting Wales in December meant blustery cold days and big bowls of hearty, meaty stews, like lamb cawl. The term cawl, says National Geographic, is both highly specific and difficult to define. In its simplest terms, it's a slow-cooked meat and vegetable soup closely related to stew. However, the word cawl also has a more cultural significance, possibly coming from the Latin "caulis," which means stalk or cabbage, or "calidus," a cawl-like soup made in Spain. Wherever its origins begin, lamb cawl is probably one of the most satisfying meals I enjoyed in Wales, especially on the days when the rain never seemed to let up even for a moment, and it never once disappointed. 

Rich and comforting, the lamb was perfectly tender and came with chunks of potato, onions, and carrots for extra heartiness. A piece of Welsh cheddar also accompanied each bowl, a tangy bite to counter the rich meatiness of the cawl, and of course, a big piece of bread to sop up every last drop.

Cockles - cocos

Being a coastal country, Wales has many briny delicacies to be proud of, including the famed cockles. Cockles are small bivalves that most remind me of clams, and for being so tiny, they seriously burst with the beautifully salty flavors of the sea. Throughout Wales and across the internet you'll find cockles in various preparations, from a breakfast fry-up with bacon and onions to a slightly more luxurious preparation with laverbread and white wine sauce.

I had mine in what seems to be the most traditional way, on toast with a thick spread of laverbread and a piece of smoked back bacon on top, and I cannot recommend this way enough. All the flavors and textures work perfectly together, and a good slice of toast is the perfect vehicle to hold up under the weight of it all. Most restaurant menus that served any Welsh dishes featured at least one with cockles.

Shepherd's pie - pastai bugail

If you've never enjoyed the luxurious, deeply satisfying comfort of a shepherd's pie, it is high time you get to your local pub and order one as soon as possible. While the dish's origins seem a little foggy, with some saying it's Irish and others saying it's Scottish, all I know is that when I tucked into my pie packed with Welsh lamb and creamy potatoes at a pub in Cardiff, it was peak Wales. Shepherd's pie is the dish I see in my mind when I hear the words "hearty" or "comfort food" because it's all of those things and more. It's savory and rich, and despite being a hot casserole of meat and potatoes, it manages not to sit in your stomach like a brick.

I enjoyed mine with a side of steamed greens, the perfect slightly bitter, zingy bite to counter all that meaty richness. This isn't a dish for those who are only feeling slightly noshy; come prepared with an empty stomach and maybe an eating partner who can help you polish off this divine dish.

Faggots and mash - ffagadau

I'm not crazy in the least bit about the traditional word used here but since it's the name of a meatball, I'm willing to use it in this context only. Made from minced pork and offal (usually liver), faggots are best enjoyed with a side of thick and creamy mashed potatoes and a silky onion gravy on top. According to Wales.com, faggots became a staple meal in South Wales in the 19th century for miners because of how filling they were and their inexpensive ingredients. 

Nowadays, you can find these tender, hearty meatballs on just about any Welsh pub menu, and if you order a plate of these, you will not be disappointed. Because they are made with liver, they have a richness that can seem like a bit much but combined with buttery mashed potatoes and a side of freshly steamed green peas, it's the perfect bite. If you're a fan of a good old-fashioned plate of liver and onions or are partial to a fancy plate of foie gras, this is undoubtedly a dish worth trying.

Bara brith

I've eaten a lot of food across the United Kingdom, and the one thing I see more often than anything else is dried fruit in every way imaginable. You'll find some form of dried fruit in savory dishes and sweet pies, cakes, and breads of all kinds. It may be a simple addition, like in the Welsh tea cakes, or made into mincemeat and used as the filling for mincemeat pie, which leaves the untrained believing they're biting into a pie with actual meat, only to be met with sweet fruit and nuts. When I learned what bara brith was, a traditional Welsh sweet bread with dried fruit, I thought I would be disappointed; honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of dried fruit in my baked goods.

However, upon digging into a warm slice of bara brith with a side of vanilla cream sauce, it went above and beyond my expectations. The bread was light and moist, sweet but not cloying, and the little pockets of dried fruit were the perfect juicy burst to tie it together. Topped with a drizzle of that vanilla-laden sweet cream, this was one of the most beautiful desserts I had all week.

Caerphilly cheese

The other side of the pond is known for its delightful cheeses, and the Welsh should be proud of what they've added to the mix. Hailing from Caerphilly, about seven miles north of Cardiff, this cheese is easy to buy anywhere around the UK, but to appreciate this cheese and get the entire eating experience, you need to try it in Wales. Moist and creamy, I found it similar to a not-too-strong cheddar, with the right mild tang and bite to it to pair nicely with a quince paste for a contrast of sweet and salty or a bowl of hearty stew to cut through the richness of the meat. 

As someone who spends a lot of my time going to farmers' markets and mulling over which cheese wedge to bring home that day, I found myself sampling Caerphilly cheese throughout Wales, whenever the opportunity presented itself. During your visit, be sure to try some of this lovely cheese however you see fit, and if you have time, visit a Caerphilly cheese factory to see how they make it.


As a lover of not just savory foods but foods wrapped in other foods, the oggie was a snack I was beyond excited for upon arriving in Wales. Similar to a Cornish pasty, the oggie is essentially the Welsh answer to that, filled with such Welsh ingredients as lamb, beef, potatoes, or leeks. Like a hand pie or a sausage roll, an oggie is the ideal snack for any situation you may find yourself in when visiting a new place. Need a quick nibble that you can eat on the go or during a walking tour of the city? Maybe you don't have time for a sit-down meal but still want something to fill you up for the next few hours. The oggie is the answer. 

I enjoyed a few oggies in Wales, and they're pretty easy to find, but my most memorable one was in Swansea at the Swansea Indoor Market. Jam-packed with lamb, potatoes, and carrots, the filling was rich and beautifully seasoned, and the thick, flaky crust that encased everything was delightfully buttery and able to hold up to a pretty hefty package within.

Welsh rarebit

Of all the traditional Welsh dishes, Welsh rarebit is one of the most commonly known outside of the UK, and after trying it myself, I can see how it earned such a well-known and delicious reputation. In its simplest form, rarebit is the perfect bar snack to accompany a pint of beer or a glass of red wine. Thick toast is slathered with a sauce made from cheese, mustard, beer, and Worcestershire sauce and then broiled for a few minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbling. It is everything you could want in a snack: salty from the cheese and the beer, with just the faintest bit of sweetness and tang from the mustard and a complex richness from the Worcestershire.

Alton Brown describes Welsh rarebit as "cheesy comfort food at its simplest," and after tucking into a plate of rarebit and a dark stout at a pub in Cardiff, I couldn't agree more. No matter what time of day you come across this on a restaurant menu, order a plate or two to share with your table.

Fisherman's stew - stiw pysgod

Because of its coastal location, the seafood options out of Wales are some of the best I've ever had, and one of the most famous fish-laden delicacies is fisherman's stew. Hailing from the Gower on the Bristol Channel in southwest Wales, Welsh fisherman's stew is packed — and I mean packed — with various fish and shellfish. Cockles, of course, as well as cod, plaice (a European fish related to sole and halibut), crab, and shrimp are combined with fish stock, mace, saffron, and various aromatics to produce an intensely flavored stew that tastes of the sea. If you're a cioppino fan, this is a dish worth trying.

Personally, I found this dish a little more difficult to track down than the others. It could have been the time of year or the seasonality of the seafood. But if you are visiting Wales and happen to come across it on a menu, don't hesitate to indulge in all that fishy, briny goodness.

Honeyed Welsh lamb - Oen Cymreig â Mêl

Lamb is one of those meats that, if you are an avid carnivore like me, you enjoy on special occasions, holidays, or when it pops up on a restaurant menu, and it seems like an absolute crime to pass it up. Welsh lamb, however, is unique in its own right; according to Welsh Food and Drink, it's bred by generations of families on the Welsh grasslands and is known for its sweet, melting texture.

Honeyed Welsh lamb is certainly a special occasion dish; it's an item I saw on many a Christmas Eve restaurant prix fix menu, and for good reason. Coated with honey and rosemary, roasted for about two hours, then served with a cider and honey gravy, it's a celebration in every sense. The honey contrasts the richness of the leg of lamb, and rosemary is the perfect herb to pair with it. Enjoy it with roasted potatoes and green vegetables, and don't forget to cover everything in that decadent gravy.

Glamorgan sausage - selsig Morgannwg

After all the meaty delicacies I enjoyed in Wales during my time there, when I came across Glamorgan sausages on a menu, I almost had to opt out for fear of carnivorous overload. Almost was the key word there. However, the Glamorgan sausage actually isn't a sausage at all; it is made with cheese, eggs, leeks, and bread crumbs, and then fried up for a delightful vegetarian treat. You can expect to see these cheesy goodies on many Welsh breakfast plates or served with high tea.

The history of this non-sausage sausage goes back to the Welsh county of Glamorgan during World War II, according to Wales.com, when meat was particularly scarce. Now, they can be found on restaurant menus not just in Wales but all around the UK and also in local supermarkets. So, that means you can take some home and fry them up yourself.