Cornwall has a rich history of producing sensational food and drink - with some local dishes going on to become international icons with their own museums!
Seafood, pasties and ale are all synonymous with the county, while celebrity chefs, including the likes of Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein and Nathan Outlaw, have all set up restaurants in the region in recent years.
Our guide details the fabulous and famous Cornish cuisine, tempting you to try some tantalising local titbits on your holiday.
The Cornish Pasty
The most famous delicacy to originate from Cornwall is the pasty, which has been given protection by the European Commission. Cornish pasties are shaped like a ‘D’ and must be only crimped at the side. The traditional ingredients include beef, potato, onion and swede which are seasoned with salt and pepper. Today you’ll find many varieties on the pasty including cheese and onion, steak & stilton, chicken & vegetable and pork & apple amongst the modern variations that have become popular. You’ll have no trouble finding a Cornish Pasty while in Cornwall with plenty of pasty shops scattered across the county all serving what they claim to be Cornwall’s best pasty. Why not sample a couple when you visit Cornwall and make your own mind up?
- Did you know? The pasty is actually really popular in Mexico! It was taken to the country, along with football and technology, by Cornish miners in 1824. There's even a Cornish Pasty Museum there!
Other local cuisine
Another famed dish from the region is Stargazy Pie where the heads of sardines poke through the pasty as if they were gazing at the stars. Cooking the pie like this ensures that the oils that are released during cooking soak into the pie giving fuller flavour and a moist texture. Stargazy Pie is still served at many restaurants in Cornwall today.
Another product that Cornwall is famed for producing is dairy-based products such as Cornish fudge and Cornish ice cream. Perhaps the most recognisable export from the dairy product range is Cornish clotted cream with the major producer being Rodda’s. Clotted cream is part of the makeup of a traditional Cornish cream tea. In Cornwall, it's served on a sweet white bread roll (scone in other places) with a serving of strawberry jam topped with clotted cream and will be found in many cafés and tearooms in Cornwall. In fact, our guide has highlighted some of the best places to get a traditional cream tea in Cornwall
Restaurants run by celebrity chefs are commonplace in Cornwall with Rick Stein owning four in Padstow alone. These are amongst the best restaurants in Cornwall and Stein also owns a pub in St Merryn and a seafood restaurant in Falmouth. Nathan Outlaw has restaurants in the county with Restaurant Nathan Outlaw holding two Michelin stars, the only seafood restaurant in the UK to hold any Michelin stars. Jamie Oliver also has an Italian themed restaurant in the region with his Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay.
It’s not just the celebrity restaurants that have a fantastic reputation in Cornwall with many incredible independent family run restaurants across the county. You can enjoy a stunning meal while overlooking one of Cornwall’s picturesque harbours or while at the heart of the county on the Bodmin Moor with views over the rolling countryside.
There are numerous dog-friendly pubs in Cornwall meaning your four-legged friends haven’t got to miss out on a good meal while on holiday in Cornwall. With Cornwall being a largely rural county there are plenty of welcoming country pubs where you can tuck into your meal next to a log fire during the winter months or eat al-fresco on an outdoor terrace during the summer season.
Why not combine your trip to the pub with a lovely walk? Our handy guide showcases some of Cornwall's best pub walks
The major breweries in Cornwall are famous for producing a fantastic range of local stouts and ales along with others types of beer and cider. While tucking into your meal at the pub why not wash it down with a pint of Tribute, Proper Job, Korev or Doom Bar. If you don’t fancy drinking a brand name why not try some local ale or the seasonal ale that the Cornish pubs always have on offer. Cornwall isn’t famed for its wine but there are still a handful of wineries that are producing aromatic wines that are rich in flavour.
A great way of experiencing the best of Cornish food and drink is to head along to one of the many food and drink festivals that run in the county. The biggest festival of them all is the Cornwall Food and Drink Festival that takes place every September in Truro. Other major festivals that run in Cornwall include Porthleven Food Festival, Looe Festival of Food and Drink and the Cornish Pasty Festival (shown above). Also, the World Pasty Championships are held at the Eden Project each year bringing the finest pasty makers from around the globe for an exciting day of baking and prizes.
You can read about them all in our handy guide to Cornwall food festivals.
For more information about Cornwall, be sure to take a look at our guide to Cornwall beaches, our map of Cornwall, our extensive things to do guide and our Cornwall guide.