Food could not be transported, nor could it be frozen. The Tudors therefore relied on fresh food. The menu below shows what the rich people would have eaten. Poor people would have eaten a herb-flavoured soup called pottage which would be served with bread.

A Sixteenth Century Dinner

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First Course

  • Brawn (boar meat)
  • Roast Tongue
  • Leg of Pork
  • Roast Beef
  • Roast Venison (deer)
  • Meat Pie
  • Vegetables in season
  • Bread
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Second Course

  • Roast Lamb
  • Rabbit
  • Bread
  • Tarts and Custard

Facts About Tudor Food

The Tudors could keep the animals they used for food alive, so meat was available all year round.

Fruit and vegetables could only be eaten when they were in season.

Potatoes were not introduced to the UK until Elizabeth’s reign and then would only have been available to the rich.

The Catholic religion of the early Tudors meant that they could not eat meat on a Friday and often not on a Wednesday. On these days fish was eaten instead.

There was no fresh drinking water and so ale was drank with a meal. The very rich may have wine.

Three-quarters of the Tudor diet was made up of meat – oxen, deer, calves, pigs or wild boar. They also ate a lot of chicken and other birds – pigeons and sparrows. Peacocks may have been eaten by the very rich.

Meat was roasted, boiled or made into pies. Fish was baked, fried, grilled or boiled.

Tudor food was served in a sauce flavoured with herbs and spices.

Bread was always served with a meal.