Traditional English Ploughman’s Lunch

Ploughman's Lunch Recipe

A traditional English ploughman’s lunch is a wonderful treat, best enjoyed in the beer garden of an old country pub, with a cold pint of cider or real ale. You can order a traditional English ploughman’s lunch in many English pubs, and you’ll never be disappointed.

Dating back to the 1930s, a traditional English ploughman’s lunch is comprised of crusty bread and butter, English cheese, pickled onions, pickles and chutney, and it might also include ham, apple, radishes, hard-boiled eggs or Scotch eggs, celery, cherry tomatoes, and other cold ingredients. Now you know why a traditional English ploughman’s lunch is so good!

Farm workers used to take their lunches out into the fields with them and eat it there, and a ploughman’s was a picnic-type lunch which was great for eating al fresco.

Ploughman’s Staples

You can take the following recipe and tweak it as you wish. As long as the main ingredients are the crusty bread, cheese and some kind of pickles, you can call it a traditional English ploughman’s recipe.

When to Enjoy a Traditional English Ploughman’s Lunch

Ploughman is of course the British spelling of plowman, and this is a typical English lunch which you can get in cafes, hotels, restaurants and sometimes rustle it up at home if the weather’s hot and you don’t want to cook.

Perhaps you have some cold meats and cheese to use up, and you want something hearty and delicious. Feel free to add in other ingredients.

Perhaps you have some tortilla EspaƱola (potato omelet) to use up, some olives, pasta salad, or anything else that would work on the plate.

Go ahead and add anything you want and enjoy a traditional English ploughman’s lunch whenever you like!


Traditional English Ploughman’s Lunch

Crusty bread with butter, cheese, ham, pickle, radishes, boiled eggs, apple…these are all wonderful ingredients to use in your ploughman’s lunch platter. This makes a hearty, energizing lunch.

  • Author: Victoria Haneveer
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Cuisine: English


  • 4 thick slices of crusty bread, 1/2 a French baguette or 2 big crusty bread rolls
  • 2 oz (60g) butter
  • 230g (8 oz) cheese (see note)
  • 4 big pickled onions
  • 2 small tomatoes or 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 green onions (spring onions)
  • 4 tablespoons Branston’s pickle, fruit chutney or other pickles
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Optional Ingredients

  • 1 Scotch egg, cut in half
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, cut in half
  • 4 radishes
  • 2 small wedges tortilla espanola (potato omelet)
  • Ham or another kind of deli meat, in slices
  • 1 cored apple, in wedges


  1. Butter the bread and put it on a platter.
  2. Chop or slice the cheese and add that.
  3. Add the pickled onions, tomatoes and green onions.
  4. Put the pickle, chutney or mixed pickles in a little container and put that on the platter.
  5. Add any of the optional ingredients to the platter.
  6. Serve with salt and black pepper on the side (and preferably a pint of real ale or cider!)


It is best to offer at least 2 different types of English cheeses. Choose from mature or vintage farmhouse cheddar, Stilton or blue cheese, Cheshire, Red Leicester, Gloucester, Wensleydale or Lancashire cheeses.

traditional english ploughman's lunch