Ploughman’s Lunch is a a very British and extremely popular pub lunch item. A meal consisting of cold meats, cheese, bread, pickle and of course, beer. It’s like a picnic on plate.

An array of bread, meat, cheeses, pickles and beer served on a board


All week I’ve been bringing you the recipes that make up the Ploughman’s lunch. First this week was English pickle relish, then English pickled onions. As you can see, there’s been a lot of pickling going on around here! Now, it’s time to learn about what makes a Ploughman’s lunch and where it came from…

What’s in a name?

First, a little history lesson. In typical British fashion, the origin has much been debated. Only dating back to the 1960’s (which is really new by British standards!), it is said that it was devised as a marketing tactic by the English Cheese and Milk Marketing Board to promote the sale of cheese in pubs. However, it was also mentioned in the 1837 book Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott by John G. Lockhart, but it was a very vague reference as ‘a  lunch for a ploughman.’ So nothing really ground-breaking for the history books, but historic nonetheless.

All the components to a good Ploughmans lunch. Hard cheeses, bread, ham, radishes,pickled relish and British pickled onions

The necessary components

The components to the lunch are quite specific, there must be a couple of semi-hard cheeses, English of course. Bread, ham and some pickle elements like pickled relish and pickled onions. Secondary, optional items could be sausage rolls or a Scotch egg (a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and fried). Peppery radishes add a nice fresh crunch as well as celery and cherry tomatoes for a sweet colorful bite. You could also add English mustard.  To drink? A nice, foamy ale or stout beer, of course. It is English after all.

Lunch is served in a rustic way on a board ready for picnic


The Ploughman’s lunch is a perfect meal to eat on a warm Summer day sitting outside of the pub on picnic benches enjoying the rare warm sun and drinking a nice cold (yes, we do drink it cold) beer to wash it all down. Cheers!


Pouring a nice cold beer to go with the Ploughmans lunch

If you’ve tried this Ploughman’s Lunch or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!

You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see daily recipe updates.

Yield: 4

Ploughman's Lunch

Ploughman's lunch

A meal consisting of cold meats, cheese, bread, pickle and of course, beer. It's like a picnic on plate.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 4 ounces (113 grams) ham
  • 2 ounces (56 grams) English stilton cheese
  • 2 ounces (56 grams) English cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices good quality crusty bread
  • English pickled onions
  • English pickle relish
  • 4 whole radishes
  • 2 ounces (56 grasm) cherry tomatoes
  • 2 sticks celery cut into bite size pieces
  • English mustard
  • 2 bottles British beer


  1. Arrange all the meat, cheese and vegetables onto a wooden cutting board.
  2. Put the pickled onions, pickle and mustard in small bowls.
  3. Pour beer into beer glasses, serve and enjoy.

Nutrition Information



Amount Per Serving Calories 291Saturated Fat 7gCholesterol 43mgSodium 648mgCarbohydrates 2gProtein 13g