Eating Royally: The British Royal Family's Favorite Dishes

Here’s something for the palate. 

A gourmand trip to the palace kitchen. A list of sumptuous recipes from the menu book of former royal chef, Darren McGrady, to try while home quarantining.

Let us explore the royal kitchen of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and discover the royal family's favorite dishes prepared by McGrady. And learn how these dishes are prepared.

Is it fancy? Regal? Splendid?

The royal family - privilege, wealthy, stately, have access to the best perks in the world and employed personal chef, butler, footmen and kitchen staff who wait at their table and prepare their meals according to their caprices. We might think their dining style and food recipes are fancier and majestic.

Surprisingly, it is not.

According to several royal sources including former palace chefs, the royal family, even though born to opulence and splendor of the royal court, in fact, has simple eating habits. It’s not always as extravagant as we often thought, in fact, we can even cook their favorites dishes while isolating at home.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh

The Queen herself is very traditional in her meals. She prefers meat and vegetables, shepherd pie, fish and chips. Her dinner is usually served at 7:30 in the evening and if she is dining with Prince Philip, staples are usually smoked salmon, grouse, lamb, mutton or beef.

She has martini aperitif to stimulate her appetite, but she never drinks wine while eating dinner, it is always served after meal if she prefers to have one. Though she likes a glass of champagne at times, her favorite tipple is reportedly a gin and a dubonnet with a piece of lemon.
Eating Like Royalty
In his Gourmet book, Eating Royally, Darren McGrady shared the favorite recipes he previously prepared for the royal family and revealed that while Prince William and Prince Harry loved to indulge fast food, they liked the traditional Cottage Pie when they were still young.

Darren McGrady

The senior royals like Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince Philip, preferred home-cooked meals, and usually locally grown in their estates and served fresh.

In the video he recorded at his Dallas Test Kitchen, McGrady revealed that Prince Charles likes Italian dishes, especially Risotto with wild mushrooms. Prince Philips indulges on Salmon Coulibiac, a savory Russian pirog (known as pie to other languages). The Queen likes Gaelic Steak. Prince William and Prince Harry both adored Cottage Pie with coated with thick melted cheese.

The Queen, known for her very frugal lifestyle when it comes to dining, never wasted anything. Staff in the royal kitchen are instructed to reuse left-overs. And she always maintained self-control in her eating habit. While her husband loves to indulge in meat, she prefers vegetables.

Cottage Pie
Prince William and Prince Harry are modern royals who loved McDonald’s food, but when they were still young, McGrady revealed that the princes loved Cottage Pie apart from Caramel Banana Cake. He would cook it on weekends when the boys come home from boarding school.

William and Harry would burst to the kitchen to help him prepare the pie or just simply running around. Diana would sometimes go to the kitchen to check the menu, which McGrady fondly recalled as simple moments of joy in life because the Princess of Wales loved the ordinary thing. It was heartwarming.

Cottage Pie

This is how this recipe is prepared

This is a pretty simple recipe which everyone can do at their kitchen. Prepare a mashed potato, add butter and cream, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside. In a pan, sautee onion and a little garlic in oil, then mix the ground beef, sprinkle salt and pepper and add chopped carrots, a little gravy brownie, soy sauce. Add all-purpose cream and mix well.

Take out the ground beef from the pan and transfer to a tray. Put the mashed potato in a bag piping and lather the ground beef on top. Cover with a grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella then put in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven then sprinkle with silantro.

Pretty easy right? According to McGrady, the royal brothers preferred their Cottage Pie to be smothered in melted cheese.
Diana's Favorite, Bread Pudding
According to McGrady, when he served as personal chef to Princess Diana at Kensington Palace, meals are always home cooked, and Diana was not a picky eater. She loved everything he cooked and would often go to the kitchen to watch him cook, sometimes with her sons in tow. But there was one recipe that the Princess of Wales loved to devour, the Bread Pudding.

Bread Pudding

Here’s how to prepare this recipe

In a bowl, whisk five eggs, add white sugar and vanilla bean paste. Then pour fresh milk. Set aside. In a separate bowl, lay down cube breads (crusts remove), add raisins soaked in Amaretto (an Italian brandy made from Almonds).

In another bowl, whisk 3 eggs and butter. Then dip squared bread without crusts and put on top of cube breads. Pour the fresh milk and eggs mixture (the one earlier prepared). Make sure it reaches the rim of the bowl. Put in the oven until golden brown.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Pan-fried Lamb
Prince Charles, an environmental advocate, prefers organic dishes locally sourced from his Duchy of Cornwall, and from his Highgrove estate, but the future King of England also has other favorite dishes. He particularly likes to devour Italian food according to McGrady.


One of Prince Charles's most favorites according to McGrady is this intricate but sumptuous authentic Italian dish, Risotto in Porcini mushroom. McGrady presented the recipe with pan-fried lamb which the Prince of Wales liked also.
Risotto actually is a creamy rice dish originated in Northern Italy. It is made by mixing rice, broth of any kind - chicken, beef, fish, vegetables - white wine, parmesan cheese and some spices. Risotto is one of the popular traditions of cooking rice in Italy.

Risotto with Lamb

It is just rice and why it sounds so complicated? It's an Italian way but actually, the preparation looks simple, it is on how everything is concocted that makes the whole process a bit complex. A lot of patience and hardwork to create this sumptuous dish but we can try this at home.

Here’s how this dish is prepared

In a pan, heat oil then add lamb. Fry until golden. Set aside to cool a bit. Usually the next step for this procedure is to put the lamb in the oven in 400 degrees but McGrady chose to apply a different cooking method, sous vide, it’s a French word for "under a vacuum".

Get a plastic bag and slip the lamb inside. Suck the air out of the bag by placing it in a machine for zipping plastic bag. For ordinary kitchens, just slip the meat inside a plastic bag and tighten the lock to take out the air. The next procedure is to soak the plastic bag into a water bath for an hour or until the lamb is super tender. Set aside.

In a separate pan, heat butter. Pour the rice, then stir. Add chicken broth, but just two to three cups. Stir and gradually pour another portion of the broth, but just enough to reach the desired creamy consistency. The purpose of this recipe is to come up with a cooked rice in creamy texture.

After reaching the desired consistency, add Porcini mushrooms, stir the mixture. Then add the heavy cream and white wine, continue stirring. Take the pan out of the stove and transfer the Risotto in a bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place the lamb on top and enjoy the meal.

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