Old and Traditional Recipes of Lancashire, England

by Veronica

The traditional food eaten by people in the North West of England was shaped by poverty and an Irish influence from across the water.

When the Industrial Revolution forced country cottagers into the towns of North West England for work, they were obliged to set a basic meal cooking so they could eat when they got home. Irish workers escaping the famine and looking for work came in their thousands to the North West of England and brought their influence to local food.

I have a huge respect for how people all over the world have done their best to feed themselves and their families with what was around them and survived against the odds with their own ingenuity. They used economical ingredients and nothing was wasted.

With a world recession like we have had in recent years, maybe it is time to go back to the old traditional foods that kept people going centuries ago.

I have chosen a few traditional foods from Lancashire, my birth location.

The foods had to be very warming because of our climate in North West England. In a nutshell, warming, tasty foods developed out of poverty and climate.

Lancashire hotpot NIgel Haworth
Lancashire hotpot NIgel Haworth
Butter Pie
Butter Pie
Google image


 Butter Pie ( eaten mainly in North Lancashire )


225g/8oz Plain flour

50g/2oz Butter,

50g/2oz Lard,( Shortening )

Ice cold water


3 Large potatoes 

1 Large onion

50g/2oz Butter


1. Make the pastry blending the ingredients together, add the water and chill the pastry I the ridge for 20 minutes before using

2.  Peel the potatoes and onion, cut the potato into thick slices, Boil the potatoes for 8-10 minutes. Cook the onions,, in the butter until soft, .

3. Line a pie dish with pastry and put in the potatoes, onions and butter flakes, season with salt and white pepper and top off with the rolled remains of the pastry

 4. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an until golden, and serve immediately.


Lancashire Rag Pudding  (so called because it was eaten by raggedy people  in East Lancashire )




1lb mince beef

1 onion finely chopped

Beef stock

Dessert spoon cornflour

Seasoning to taste


8 ozs self raising flour

4ozs  beef suet

Cold water

Leave to rest in the fridge for 1/2 hour



1. Put the onion and  mince in a pan and  fry for a few minutes, add stock and seasoning . Cook for 1 hour slowly add the cornflour mixed with water then add to the meat to thicken slightly cook another 10 minutes.

2. Place the flour, suet and salt in a bowl bind it with enough water to form a dough, rest for half hour in the fridge.

3. Roll out the pastry and make a square pie full of minced (ground ) beef mixture. Top with pastry.
4. Bake for 30 minutes in the oven on 180C degrees  
Lancashire Hot Pot  ( All Lancashire )
Lancashire hotpot is a dish made traditionally from lamb or mutton and onion, topped with sliced potatoes, left to bake in the oven on a very low heat in a heavy pot and so became a " hotpot "
1 lbs mutton or lamb chops
3 lbs potatoes in slices
1 onion
water to cover the meat
optional ( 2 table spoons of pearl barley )
Brown the meat and onions and layer in a dish, add barley if using.Place slices of potatoes on top and pour over the seasoned water and leave it to cook for over 3 hours on a very low heat about 140C.
Eccles Cakes ( all over Lancashire )
1lb flaky/ puff pastry
1 oz butter
8 ozs currants
4 ozs sugar
spice to taste
Roll out the pastry
Melt butter and sugar in pan
add currants
Cut out circles in the pastry and pout a spoonful of mixture in each one . Fold over to cover.
slash the top to let steam escape. Sprinkle top with sugar .
Glaze with beaten egg and cook for 15 to 20 mins on high , about 200C
Lancashire Favourites
Lancashire Cheeses are my favourite cheeses. There are many local cheese farms making such individual cheeses as Parlick Fell, Inglewhites. The larger cheesemakers include Garstang Blue , Lancashire Cheese in 3 types Creamy, tasty Crumbly. Lancashire Cheese even features in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island where Ben Gunn who has been marooned on an island has craved for a Leigh Toaster, the traditional name for Toasted Lancashire Cheese.
Bury Black Pudding
This is a type of blood sausage filled with oatmeal, barley, suet and meat. Bury in Lancashire is home to the best Black Pudding . In Lancashire it would be boiled.
Egg dropped in cheese
And for the very poor in South Lancashire, because nothing could be wasted, when the bits of cheese had gone hard and unusable, they would be chopped and slightly melted in a little milk with an egg dropped in and poached in the cheese mixture. This Lancashire cheese mix would be eaten in a bowl.



Eccles cakes
Eccles cakes

Lancashire Pan Hagerty

Pan Hagertys are from across the mountains in Northumberland but this is a Lancashire version .


  • Minced beef - suitable quantity for number of people you are feeding
  • Onions
  • Beef stock -
  • herbs of choice
  • Salt and pepper
  • White potatoes - peeled and finely sliced
  • crumbled Lancashire cheese

Heat he oven to 180C

Fry off the mince and onions in a pan, add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes

Slice the potatoes finely and layer on the bottom of an ovenproof dish , layer the beef mixture on top and finish with a layer of potatoes.

Crumble the cheese over the top

cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.


Pan Hagerty
Pan Hagerty

Chorley cakes

These little dried fruit pastries are traditionally eaten with a piece of Lancashire cheese to accompany them.


Chorley Cakes

4 oz self raising )wholemeal flour 
 4 oz self raising  flour
  5 oz butter
  1 oz light muscovado sugar 
finely grated rind of 1 small orange
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp Mixed Spice 
4 oz  currants, 
1  beaten egg white
1. Lightly grease two baking sheets  

2. Put the flours into a bowl and rub in half of  the butter .

3. Add enough cold water to make a stiff dough.

4. Cream the remaining butter  with 1 oz sugar.

5. MIx in the grated citrus rinds and spice, then add the currants.

6. Divide the dough into 10 balls and roll each into a circle about 4 inches across.

7. Put a heaped teaspoon of the currant and spice filling in the centre of each circle.

8. Bring the edges together over the filling and seal them by pinching firmly together.

9. Turn the pastry rounds over and roll out to a round about 3 inches across.

10. Place on the baking sheets and score the top of each cake with a knife. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with some extra sugar.

11. Bake at 200°C / mark 6 for 20 minutes. Eat when cold .

Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps

This is an 18th Century Lancashire recipe. Shrimps have been fished off the Lancashire coast for centuries.

Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps

1 lb shelled shrimps

6 ozs butter

salt and pepper  to taste


Oven Gas 3 or Elec 325 F

Cut the shrimps in half

Melt the butter in a pan with seasoning

Put the shrimps in an ovenproof dish dish and cover with the butter mixture. Put a lid over the dish. Cook for 15 minutes.

Put the shrimps in warmed jars and pour butter over them.

Melt another 2 ozs of butter and pour over the shrimps to seal them.

Put a lid on and refrigerate.

Serve these with fingers of toast.  


Lancashire Foots

These are pastries which were popular with the field workers and miners. They are filled with savouries and were taken to work and eaten cold. They are always eaten in twos and are never called " Lancashire Feet " it is always Lancashire Foots.


Lancashire Foots

1lb shortcrust pastry

6 ozs Lancashire cheese

6 ozs cooked ham or bacon

1 onion finely chopped

seasoning of choice

egg/milk glaze


Pre heat the oven to 375F or Gas 5

Roll out the pastry and cut in to two equal pieces but leave one end of each piece unrolled out to be the heel of the foot

Mix the bacon, cheese and onion and divide equally between the two foots.

Turn the sides  of the pastry up and gather at the top.

Brush with egg or milk and bake for 25 mins until Foots are golden

Eat hot or cold.


Wet Nelly

Wet Nelly
Wet Nelly

Wet Nelly Recipe

Today I had a day out and saw this old Lancashire recipe for Wet Nelly. It is a moist tea bread and as with everything in old Lancashire was borne out poverty and not wasting anything at all. Wet Nelly hails from Liverpool, the land of The Beatles. Wet Nelly is a moist poor man's version of Nelson Cake hence it is called Wet Nelly. It is made from left over bread and pastry and soaked overnight to make it moist.


Wet Nelly

1 loaf of old bread cut into chunks

3 ozs butter  of butter

5 ozs brown sugar

1.5 pints of milk

1lb dried fruit

3 eggs

cinnamon to taste


Soak the bread and fruit in warmed milk for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When soaked add the other ingredients and mix together.

Pour into a greased deep sided tin.

Bake Gas Mark 3 Elec 160C for 75 minutes until cooked.


Lancashire Harcake ( Soul-mas cake )

A Halloween treat

Here is a treat for welcoming the deceased souls, remembered at this time of year. Halloween. This was traditionally a ginger cake eaten on Hallowe'en. It is like a Parkin.


Harcake  ( Soul-mas cake )

2 ozs soft butter

1lb fine oatmeal

12 ozs golden syrup

1 oz ground ginger

1 large egg beaten

a little milk to bind

Bake on Elec 350F or Gas 4


Grease a tin 10 by 8 inches

Rub butter into oatmeal and add syrup and ginger. Mix well

Add the egg and then add just enough milk to make a smooth mixture and put it all in the tin .

Cover the top with paper and bake for 90 mins.

Store for 5 days before eating to allow time to mature.


Lob Scouse and Scouse butties

Lob Scouse

Lob Scouse came to Liverpool through Scandinavian sailors and the dish is known elsewhere in Old Europe as Lapskaus in Norway, Labskaus in North Germany, and Labskojs in Sweden.

Whilst there are national variations all use carrot, onion and potato, just like  Liverpudlian scouse Blind scouse has  no meat, but is still  scouse. It also has elements of the Irish Stew traditional and Liverpool is full of Irish people from over the water of course.

The word Scouse became used to refer to anyone from Liverpool. Scousers as they are called .

This is a traditional dish borne out of poverty and full of cheap, filling ingredients and what the poor of Liverpool had.  It can be made with diced lamb or diced beef and is a favourite in our household.    

Lob Scouse


  • 2 onions large
  • 5 large potatoes cut into varying sizes large to medium
  • 1lb of  lamb or beef diced
  • water to cover
  • salt
  • 2 carrots cut into varying sizes large to medium


Put the meat, salt  and onions in a large pan and cover with water . Cook for 1 and a 1/2 hours on low.

Add the potatoes and carrots and simmer for another one and half hours .


Leftovers ; Scouse Butties

Leftover scouse was put between two slices of bread and eaten as a  SCOUSE BUTTY.


The traditional dsh of Lancashire witches

This dish was traditional amongst Lancashire witches

MALKIN PIE ( an extra dish )

This is an addition that I recently found since writing the above. It is believed to be the traditional dish of the Lancashire witches and eaten at the Malkin feasts although my own feelings are that they wold have been too poor to afford this.

it is a layered pie with a shortcrust base infused with thyme .

Then layer 1 cooked ground mince lamb
layer 2 braised leek carrots and celery
layer 3 cooked diced beef and onions
layer 4 cooked diced bacon

a suet crust on top . bake on high for 20 minutes or until golden brown

Everton Toffee Recipe

There are several versions of Everton toffee but this seems to be the one I preferred when sifting through recipes.

Everton football club in Liverpool was nicknamed " The Toffees " after this delight. A cook named Molly Bushell invented it and it was usually eaten around UK Bonfire Night on November 5th.

It is important to use a cooking thermometer for toffee making

Everton Toffee

1lb brown demerara sugar

1/2 pint of water

8 ozs unsalted butter

5 tbsps. golden syrup


  • Oil a square baking tine 8 inches by 10
  • Put sugar and water in to a pan on a low heat and dissolve
  • Stir in butter and sugar and cook until the mix is a golden brown colour
  • Check temp on a cooking thermometer
  • When it reaches 270 - 280 degrees F  pour it into a tin and leave to cool ,
  • During cooling mark it in to squares
  • Cut when cold or break into pieces


Blackburn Cracknells

savoury biscuits

Cracknells were known as far back as the 15th Century and are a thin flat biscuit which was eaten with cheese.

This is an easy recipe and could have several herb additions for flavour.

Blackburn is a town in North Lancashire.

Blackburn Cracknells  ( serve with cheeses )

1/2 lb plain all purpose flour

2 oz butter or lard ( shortening )

1/2 tsps. of cooking bicarb of soda powder

1/4 pint of warm milk

pinch of salt.

  • Rub the fat into the flour and bicarb powder.
  • Add salt and mix it all in.
  • Add the warm milk and stir it all together.
  • Roll the dough out thinly and cut into rounds.
  • bake Elec 325F or gas 3 for about 30 minutes
Updated: 09/07/2017, Veronica
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
Veronica on 09/08/2017

TY Frank,

I am seeking some rather old and unusual Lancashire recipes . This page generates so much traffic and visitors that I like to keep it updated.

The biscuits are like a very plain cracker and therefore accompany cheese very well.

frankbeswick on 09/07/2017

You are doing a good job in finding old recipes.

Veronica on 09/07/2017

Blackburn Cracknells
I have found a very old recipe for a savoury biscuit known as Blackburn Cracknells. This is traditionally eaten with Lancashire cheese. They are very easy to make.

I have added it above.

frankbeswick on 09/03/2017

The original account of the witches' trial is still held at Chetham's Library, in Manchester, which is open to the public, though the documents are so precious that you have to be locked in while you are studying them. It is sited in a mediaeval building. I have never visited it, but my mother researched the trial account as part of her personal study for her history course. She came to the conclusion that the physical descriptions of the witches suggested that they might have had a deficiency disease due to inadequate diet. I don't know which one and mother''s study document is now lost.

Veronica on 09/03/2017

The Lancashire witches should be a post in itself. The trials were during the reign of King James 1st when Scottish kings ruled England . He was OBSESSED with a fear of witchcraft and the entire nation went into an anti witchcraft frenzy during the early years of the Stuarts.

However, this could be an entire post in itself.

frankbeswick on 09/02/2017

The Lancashire Witches were scapegoats for social pressures. They probably cast charms, but what else could such landless, impoverished people do. As for Alice Nutter, the person who gave evidence against her bought her land after her execution. . Is any comment needed?

Veronica on 09/02/2017

Regarding Soulmas cake.

This cake keeps vey well and is similar to Parkin which is often eaten around Bonfire Night in November.

Veronica on 09/02/2017

Strange because here also we have had a drop in temperatures. I am sitting here in bed sox as I refuse to put the heating on until October.

Malkin Pie is linked to the famous Lancashire " witches ". They weren't really "witches" at all but desperately poor, starving and simple English people who begged and cursed people. Their trials were a farce. This pie was made and called Malkin Pie. I maintain that these sad women were too poor to afford these ingredients.

DerdriuMarriner on 09/02/2017

Veronica, July and August stand this year as unseasonably in the high 90s. The drop in temperatures yesterday and today tell me that your hearty recipes are welcome, particularly the soul-mas for Hallowe'en. Were the Malkin witches bad or good?

Veronica on 07/30/2017

Yes it is basic food of the people and it helped them to survive very harsh conditions.

You might also like

Irish Christmas traditions and Christmas foods

If you want some traditional Irish Christmas foods to add to your table this ...

Speke Hall, Liverpool

Nestled next to the runway of John Lennon airport, Liverpool, and near the es...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...