C16 English (Pre-Elizabethan) Food, Cooking and Recipes

When talking about cooking in sixteenth century England, it’s necessary to divide into pre-Elizabethan and Elizabethan. There were many more New World foods being introduced to England during Elizabeth’s reign, due to her sponsoring voyages of exploration. There are also many more cookbooks available during the Elizabethan period; the rise of a growing middle class provided a ready market for household manuals.

The pre-Elizabethan era is also different in one other significant way – during the reigns of Henry VII and Mary, and even for much of Henry VIII’s reign, England was Catholic. This means Catholic dietary rules, such as the observance of Lent and no meat on certain days, were in force.

Still, this was an interesting time food-wise. New World foods were coming into Europe, and England itself was becoming more important in world affairs. This is reflected in their food.



Basic Recipes


Vegetable Side Dishes


Tarts and pies






Henry VIII's kitchens at Hampton Court
Henry VIII's kitchens at Hampton Court - Roasting fires
Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court Palace. You can read more about these kitchens here.