Food and Drink in Regency England
Published on June 21, 2012 by lahilden | Views: 8107

There are many books covering the subject of food in the Regency Era, but when I’m in the middle of writing, I don’t want to stop my flow of thought to look them up. When you write history and you are conveying a sense of what it would have been like to live during the Regency Period, I believe accuracy is important and it can only aid you in selling.  To make it easier on the writer I composed a list that you can easily access when you’re in the middle of your story.


Water was not really considered safe to drink and milk was only drank by children or invalids.

Tea, coffee, hot chocolate were popular breakfast drinks.  Due to the fact that the water was boiled to make these drinks, they were considered safe to drink.  Tea was often offered after dinner as well.

Lemonade, orangeat or barley water, were often served in the day. (Orgeat – is an orange and almond flavored syrup that was used in beverages.  Ratafia is also a syrup, but it was flavored with fruit kernels or almonds.  Both of these syrups were infused in beverages.)

Alcohol consumption

Fortified wines - such as Madeira, port, and sherry.  These are wines that are often bolstered with brandy.  Port is strictly an after dinner drink and was usually only drank by men.

Champagne, hock, burgundy, claret were all wines consumed at the time.  Warm rum punch could be served when it was cold outside.  Sweet liqueurs and ale were also consumed.  The lower classes tended to drink gin.  The English did not have a tradition of inventing cocktails, but they were introduced to a new drink from India in the early 17th century, therein introducing the drink we all know as punch.

A plate of Fried Songbirds.  Ugh, Yuck!  I'd pass.

Foods consumed were largely made up of meat.

Pork products like bacon, sausage, and ham were made into stews and pies.  Ham was also sliced paper thin and served at Vauxhall.

Beef, venison, lamb, rabbit.

Chicken, duck, wild fowl, goose, pigeon, pheasant, partridges, plovers, pullets, turkey, capons.

Fish - cod, haddock, salmon, herring, sole, flounder, turbot, sturgeon, smelt, carp, plaice, skate, thornback, pike.

Shellfish – oysters, cockles, mussels, jellied eels, prawns, crab, lobster.


Cabbage, sprouts, broccoli, leeks, onions, beets, endive, spinach, celery, potatoes, garlic, turnips, parsnips, lettuces, kidney beans, peas, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, herbs.


Apples, pears, grapes, nuts, strawberries, cherries, melons, green apricots, gooseberries, currants, nectarines, peaches.

Of course, having a wide variety of food would depend on your income.  The rich could afford grow houses and so they could partake in fruits and vegetables that the lower classes would not have had due to the seasons and harvest.

Breakfast Drinks: Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate  Food: Muffins, Plumb Cake, Eggs, Toast, Meat

Lunch This was usually a light meal.  Ladies often shared this meal together as a social custom but the men did not partake, thus introducing the luncheon.  The lower classes referred to this mid-day meal as nuncheon.  Men usually would have had a sandwich or pasty at a club, coffee house, or tavern.

Drinks: Tea, Barley Water, Wine, Coffee.  Food: Usually consisted of cold dishes.  Bread, Meat, Cheese, and Fruit.

Dinner Considered the most important meal of the day and by far the most complex.  Multiple dishes were served in several different courses.  Meat made up a large portion of the Regency diet.

First Course: Soup, vegetables, Oyster Sauce, Fish, Fowls, Roasted or Boiled Beef, Spinach, Bacon, Turbot with lobster and Dutch sauce, Sweetbread au jus, Lamb cutlets, Asparagus, Peas, Venison, Mutton, Salad, Beet Root.

Second Course: Pastry Cream, Cauliflower, Game meat, Turkey, Duck, Goose, Celery, Ragout a la Francoise, Macaroni, Plover’s eggs in aspic jelly, Marasquino jelly, Chocolate cream, Sardines, Salad, Anchovies, Butter, Cheese.

Dessert:  Walnut, Raisins, Apples, Cakes, Pears, Almonds, Oranges, Ices, Cherry water, Pineapple cream, Fruit in season.