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Ranking: British Food Around the World

Do fish and chips really reign supreme for the UK? Or is another British dish the world’s favourite? And, what countries actually associate the UK with food?

tombola have crunched the numbers and studied the search volume of the 12 most popular British dishes in 28 countries to divulge the globe’s most searched for UK meal.

Revealed: The top 5 most searched for British dishes

We might be crowned the country that ‘eats the fewest vegetables in Europe’ but British food has a well-deserved reputation. Over half (56%) of people from around the world believe Britain is a good place to try local specialities. Likewise, 91% of Brits love to eat their national dishes. But there is one traditional meal that reigns supreme around the world.

Fish and chips is the most searched for British meal - with £1.2 billion spent annually on the meal in the UK

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Fish and chips claimed the top spot for the most searched for British dish, with 256,405 searches a month across the globe (excluding UK searches). The popular dish far outstrips searches of any other British meal with, surprisingly, the majority (75,937) coming from our Australian cousins.

But, it’s not just Australians that enjoy a plate of true British food. South Africans are also some of the biggest fans of the dish, with 6,581 monthly searches, showing the global popularity of the traditional British meal.

In the past year, a record £1.2 billion was spent on fish and chips in the UK, with 382 million meals served. That’s 10 servings each for every tourist that visited Britain in 2019.

The Ploughman’s lunch is the least searched for British dish

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When it comes to Google searches, unfortunately, the Ploughman’s lunch languishes in last place. Traced back to the 1300’s, the Ploughman’s lunch is a mainstay in the UK of pub dinners. However, the same cannot be said for other countries. The only countries searching for the dish - aside from the UK - are the United States and the Netherlands with only 318 worldwide monthly searches.

Pie and mash is also the second least popular dish according to Google data, with just 843 searches around the world each month. 

Top 5 British meals according to the UK

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It appears the rest of the world and Britain might have similar tastes in food.

Fish and chips is the most searched for meal in the UK - recently being voted into the God Tier by a YouGov poll. It turns out that it’s also the most popular dish for people aged 65+, with 1 in 3 (38%) stating they would opt for the meal above all other takeaway options. Google Trends data has also recorded a staggering 87% increase in searches since 2004, with most interest recorded in Australia and New Zealand.

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Bubble and squeak also makes an appearance in the most searched for meals by Brits.

Americans search for British food more than any other country

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When it comes to British meals, Americans are huge fans. The US are the biggest searchers for British meals around the world.

While 69% of Brits ‘love’ chicken tikka masala, it’s the US who are searching for the dish more than anywhere else in the world. With 70,417 searches per month compared to just 30,000 in the UK. This is even more surprising because the curry as we know it today is thought to have originated in Britain.

Fish and chips and bangers and mash are the second and third most searched for British meals. Surprisingly, the Google searches for bangers and mash are 82% higher in the United States than they are in the UK.

But South Africans associates Britain more with food

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While the United States are searching more for British meals than any other country, 36% of South Africans (1 in 3) associate the UK with food, according to Visit Britain. That’s more than any other country in the world.

That’s not surprising as South Africa is fast becoming a popular holiday destination for Brits, with 430,000 UK holidaymakers visiting the African capital each year. Their most searched for dishes, of course, include fish and chips, but also cottage pie.

90% of Indian holidaymakers believe British food is good quality

A staggering 90% of travellers from India believe British food is good quality. Additionally, more than three quarters (76%) of Chinese holidaymakers agree with the statement.

41% of tourists say food is an attraction for visiting the UK

While there is no denying some of our dishes confuse visitors, 41% said the food and drink is a reason to visit the UK. A further 56% believe that Britain is a good place to try local specialities.

When asked to rate countries on the food and drink offering, 29% of worldwide residents opted for Britain. Only Italy, France, Spain and the United States placed above the UK. This could potentially be due to record numbers of overseas residents visiting Britain. In August 2019, the UK noted a 7% increase in worldwide tourists than the previous year.

Plus, London has recently been crowned a Michelin-starred restaurant hub, with more located in the capital than in Rome, Berlin and Madrid combined. 

Younger tourists have better perceptions of British food

When asked if they believed British food products are good quality, 69% of 18-34 worldwide residents responded with yes. This is compared to 59% across the whole sample of age groups.

Additionally, a staggering 72% of the 18-34 age group said they are interested in visiting Britain for the food. However, only 35% of 35-54 year old worldwide residents stated they were interested in a trip to the UK, and only 19% from the 55+ age group.

Likewise, it’s women that are more likely to try new food when travelling to the UK. With 83% stating they would, compared to 80% of men.

49% of visitors to Britain want to try the full English

Fish and chips might be the most searched for British dish across the globe, but it’s the full English visitors are looking to try when they are here.

Almost half (49%) of people said they would like to try a full English when in the UK. Yet, worldwide searches for the dish have dipped by 17% since they peaked in April 2014, suggesting that the classic breakfast could be losing its popularity.


To reveal the most and least searched for British dishes, tombola analysed Google search data from Searchmetrics for 12 British meals. tombola studied the average monthly searches from February 2019 to February 2020.