Queen Elizabeth II's Favorite Dishes

For years the secret of the Queen’s and Philip's longevity has been under wraps. But royal sources, especially former palace chefs, have some revelations to share on the couple's eating habits.

Of course, royals have perks which some of us don’t have. They have access to the best health care in the world and well taken care of by a team of health professionals. But apart from this, it could be their healthy lifestyle and eating habits that made a difference.

It’s no rocket science but consuming dishes that are naturally grown is really beneficial. The royal couple's meals are sourced from the Queen’s estates, Sandringham and Balmoral, organic and prepared fresh by their staff.

The Queen, according to her former personal chef, Darren McGrady, always preferred locally produced sources and her diet consists of vegetables, fish and organic meat only. She rarely consumes starchy foods like rice and pasta.

Darren McGrady served for 11 years as a personal chef to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and used to travel with them on official overseas tour. He then moved to Kensington Palace in 1993 to work as a personal chef to Diana, Princess of Wales, and her sons, until Diana's death in 1997.  

So what's on the Queen's dining table?

This is a Royal Gourmand Trip feature. We will take you to the Queen's dining table, explore her favorite dishes and find out how the royal meals are prepared, her sweet indulgences and other royal things.

Information and notes here are largely based on Darren McGrady’s interviews and food videos and Paul Burrell's book, "A Royal Duty".
The Queen’s Meal
The Queen has four meals in a day. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. She enjoys a modest diet and likes to keep herself healthy. While her husband favors eating meat, she has little interest on fatty food (though she likes creamy stuff). However, she loves chocolates especially during tea time.

The Queen eats to live according to Darren McGrady, while the Duke of Edinburgh lives to eat. Though they have differences in food taste, they seem to agree on barbeque party. They both love grilled meat! And when it comes to grilling, the Queen trusted no one but her husband.
Her Majesty regularly starts her day with a freshly brewed Earl Grey Tea in a china teacup, no milk, no sugar, just pure tea. And she sticks with the English brand, Twinings, which holds a royal warrant. Her breakfast consists of cereal from Kelloggs with fruits or yogurt and maple syrup. On some days, she prefers toast with marmalade.

The Duchess of Bedford, one of the ladies-in-waiting of Queen Victoria started the tradition which would become quintessential among English customs.

So while the rest of us never take tea time seriously, others may even dismiss it as nonsense, in the British royal family it's an enduring royal tradition. The Queen even organized tea parties at the Buckingham Palace garden during spring and summer.

The Queen takes her afternoon tea at 5:00 p.m and this is where she indulges on sweets. Her favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake or Chocolate Perfection Pie is usually served at this hour, and often accompanied with another tea food, either scones or sandwiches.

Apart from chocolates, she likes other sweet treats, Jam pennies for example, which are pieces of bread topped with butter and jam and cut into small circles. Even late mother and sister, loved Jam pennies.

However, it is in sandwiches that the Queen goes meticulous, so the palace chef will throw himself into an elaborate sandwichy preparation. Her Majesty, just like her sister, Princess Margaret, and mother, Queen Elizabeth, does not like crust in bread, so it is always removed.

The loaf is always cut lengthways, buttered on both sides before adding the filling, either tuna mayonnaise mixture and sliced cucumber with a crack of pepper, or ham, egg, mustard and smoked salmon. The sandwiches then folded in two lengths, removing the crusts, then cut into eight identical triangles.

Dinner time is when the Queen gets fancier. Her meal sometimes consists of grilled pheasant or venison (deer meat) hunted from Balmoral or Sandringham estate. If she is dining with Prince Philip, staples are usually salmon, grouse, lamb, mutton or beef.

But whatever meat is available, she prefers her steak to be cooked “well done” according to McGrady. “One of the things that really amazed me was that the queen actually likes her meat well done. [But chef] we cook medium-rare all the time”.

Her dinner sometimes accompanies with martini aperitif or a glass of champagne, most likely Champagne Bollinger and Krug because these brands hold royal warrants. However, her favorite tipple is reportedly a gin and a dubonnet with a piece of lemon.

The Queen is very old school in her meals, when she does not have visitors or dignitaries coming to the palace, her typical meal just consists of meat, vegetables, shepherd pie, fresh fruits, fish and chips. But even if it sounds very ordinary, the kitchen staff made effort to prepare her food in style. For example, mushrooms are often added with a smidgen of marmite.
Simple Eating Habits
Darren McGrady revealed that Her Majesty eats the same dishes the palace chef regularly prepared all season, but when she wants a new meal, her personal chef will prepare a new menu book, a week ahead, then will be sent to her. She will approve the items she likes and cross out the ones she does not like.

Born into opulence and privileges, the British royal family members, however, surprisingly have normal eating habits just like the rest of us. Prince Philip likes to grill and cook. Before his retirement, he always takes charge of the barbeque parties at Balmoral castle during summer.

The Queen, apart from her favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake and sieved vegetables, loved a Gaelic Steak which McGrady prepared “well-done” in creamy sauce with Irish whiskey and often serve with baby carrots and mashed potato.
Do British royals eat Shellfish?
It has been a popular belief that the British royal family, especially the Queen, never consumes Shellfish and certain types of seafood. However, this was contradicted by McGrady in an interview with Food Network in 2018. He said that it's not true that the royal family never indulges on seafood. Actually, they eat shellfish and seafood.

In fact in 1986, when he handled the food preparation for Prince Andrew's wedding reception, one of the dishes McGrady prepared was Eggs Drumkilbo, a type of cocktail dish, and it is lobster. It was also served during the silver wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinbrugh and the Queen Mother loved it.

The only time the Queen declines to eat some of its kind, especially mussels, is when she is on a foreign trip, it's due to the danger of food poisoning. Her Majesty does not want to get sick in a foreign land, so she would avoid Shellfish, but when she is at home, she and her family members indulge on seafood especially lobsters. So now we know the fact.
The Royal Chocolate Birthday Cake
The royal family has a traditional birthday prepared by the palace chef. Each royal birthday celebrant receives this heavenly luscious chocolate cake. The recipe was perfected by Queen Victoria's chef and was never modified by succeeding palace chefs. So it is an authentic taste of a classic Victorian chocolate dessert recipe.

Traditional royal birthday cake

According to McGrady, the recipe is fantastically lip-smacking and the delicious moist of chocolate ganache and the dark chocolate frosting sent some heavenly feeling to sweet treats lovers, no wonder it is a darling dessert for the chocoholic Queen of England.

However, although it is intended for a royal birthday celebrant, it is made without any fanfare, no elaborate details, no fancy decorations, no candle, not even a name of the birthday celebrant.

The palace chef only puts a "Happy Birthday" message on it. And never mind if the birthday celebrant is Her Majesty. According to McGrady, they never add the name of the Queen or any reference to her title when they make a birthday cake for her, just "Happy Birthday" on top, and without a candle.

This chocolate birthday cake is made of three layers of marvelous chocolate sponge coated with chocolate ganache then finished off with dark chocolate frosting. All dark chocolate goodness! It's so delectable the cake never sets longer in the ref.

McGrady shared how the cake is made: A thick and gooey custard out of eggs and sugar then flou and cocoa butter are sifted into the custard mixed with melted butter by hand then the batter is transferred to a springform cake pan and baked. Watch below video of McGrady baking this royal goodness
The Cake That the Queen Can’t Live Without
The Queen is known to her staff as a chocoholic and loves everything about chocolate goodness. This sweet treat even goes with her when she is on official overseas tours. Darren McGrady traveled with the Queen on official visits to cook her meals and her ultra-favorite cake that she seems cannot live without, the extra decadent Chocolate Biscuit Cake.

According to McGrady, “This cake is probably the only one that is sent into the royal dining room again and again until it has all gone. If there is anything left when she has it at Buckingham Palace, it then goes to Windsor Castle so she can finish it there”.

Chocolate biscuit cake

Another family member who is a great fan of this cake is Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. In his wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, the prince personally requested this cake to serve at the reception. According to McGrady, Prince William started liking it when he got a taste of it during an afternoon tea with his grandmother when he was still a young boy.

Just how this rich chocolate cake tastes?

McGrady revealed that this luscious chocolate cake has a crunchy texture due to the addition of English cookies called Rich tea biscuits. The cake has a finishing touch of decadent chocolate frosting.

Source of the recipe, Darren McGrady's website The Royal Chef

  • CAKE
    • 1/2 teaspoon butter, for greasing the pan
    • 8 ounces Rich tea biscuits or sweet cookies
    • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
    • 4 ounces granulated sugar
    • 4 ounces dark chocolate
    • 1 egg
    • 8 ounces dark chocolate, for coating
    • 1 ounce chocolate, for decoration


  • Lightly grease a 6-inch-by-2½-inch cake ring with the butter and place on a tray on a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Break each of the biscuits into almond size pieces by hand and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar until the mixture starts to lighten.
  • Melt the 4 ounces of the dark chocolate and add to the butter mixture, stirring constantly.
  • Add the egg and beat to combine.
  • Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all of the gaps on the bottom of the ring because this will be the top when it is un-molded.
  • Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  • Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it stand.
  • Meanwhile, melt the 8 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler or saucepan on the stove top over low heat. Slide the ring off the cake and turn it upside down onto a cake wire.
  • Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and smooth the top and sides using a palette knife.
  • Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature.
  • Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where the chocolate has stuck it to the cake wire and lift it onto a tea plate.
  • Melt the remaining 1 ounce of chocolate and use to decorate the top of the cake.

That's it, all things about Queen Elizabeth's meals and favorite treats. 

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