British cuisine has, fairly or not, been the butt of countless jokes. Its critics insist that the food in the U.K. is too gloopy, too bland, too boring to earn a place in the pantheon of haute cuisine in the same way that, say, Japanese and French food have. But, in recent months, the dishes of the British Isles are finding a new crop of fans, thanks to the TikTok algorithm.
I first noticed British cuisine’s arrival in my TikTok feed via videos from creator Brittany Miller. Miller frequently shares the heaping Sunday roasts she prepares for her family on her account, which has racked up nearly 2 million followers and 67 million likes. Frequently, you’ll see her pouring loads of Bisto brown gravy on classic Sunday dinner staples, like Yorkshire puddings and roast chicken, goose-fat-drenched roast potatoes, and cauliflower cheese. Miller’s enthusiasm is infectious — while tapping on the crisped skin of a humble jacket potato, she uses adjectives like “gorgeous” and “unreal” — and that enthusiasm has clearly transferred to those of us on the other side of the pond.
Inspired by these “plate-ups” from Miller and other British TikTok creators, most of whom aren’t professional chefs, just regular folks making their dinner at home, American creators are making their own jacket potato videos, painstakingly sourcing the Heinz-brand beans that are ubiquitous in the U.K. to layer on top. They’re making cheese toasties and sandwiches slathered with butter and piled high with crisps (or, as we might call them, chips). I have not been immune to the trend. After watching videos of shatteringly crisp “roasties,” I’ve been boiling and tossing my own potatoes in duck fat before throwing them in a ripping hot oven for an hour. I was also recently inspired by Millie Hart, an expat creator who now lives in the United States, to start using HP Sauce on my breakfast sandwiches, a recommendation that has turned me into a permanent brown sauce devotee.
Why is British food having a moment on TikTok, though? I have a couple of theories. The first is that much of the food that is popular on the platform — Sunday roasts, jacket potatoes — is easy and relatively cheap to prepare. You might have to hunt down a can of beans or a bottle of brown sauce, but you can find those online if you’re willing to pay a small mark-up. You don’t have to have impressive cooking skills to roast a chicken or make Yorkshire puddings, and you still have something stunning to show off in your video when these dishes come out of the oven.
Most of these dishes are also comfort foods, and that’s a trend we’re seeing more broadly in cooking right now. Maybe it’s because it’s winter — or maybe it’s because we live in a swirling hellscape of war and inequality — but so many of us are looking for comforting meals, and what’s more comforting than a gravy-slathered roast? Who among us doesn’t want to drown their existential horror in a perfectly fluffy Yorkie pudding?
Not all British foods have fared well on the platform. Think back to summer 2023, when the region’s iteration of Chinese food, frequently doused in curry sauce or bright-red sweet-and-sour sauce, became the target of joke online jokes. It may still be true that most Americans aren’t exactly convinced that mushy peas and beans-on-toast are the delicacies that those in the U.K. believe them to be. But thanks to TikTok, many of us are finally realizing that British food deserves a little bit more respect than we’ve been giving it, and that by completely dismissing an entire country’s cuisine, we’ve been missing out.