Ploughman’s Lunch is a a very British and extremely popular pub lunch item. A meal consisting of cold meats, cheeses, bread, pickle and of course, beer. It’s like a picnic on plate. This is a fun way to eat. A little of this, a little of that. Make it gourmet or casual.

A classic Ploughman's lunch. A board with bread, meats, pickle, cheeses and beer.

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…

Where does the name Ploughman’s Lunch come from?

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 of a good Ploughman’s Lunch: The components are quite specific. There must be a couple of semi-hard cheeses, English of course.

Cheese wedges and sliced bread

Secondary, optional items could be sausage rolls or a Scotch egg (a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, breaded and fried).

Scotch eggs cut in half showing the yellow yolk and sausage inside

Bread, ham and some pickle elements like pickled relish and pickled onions. 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.

A bowl of pickle relish and pickled onions

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!

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!

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Yield: 4

Ploughman's Lunch

A very British and extremely popular pub lunch item, the Ploughman's lunch is a meal consisting of cold meats, cheese, bread, pickle and of course, beer. It's like a picnic on plate. This recipe, the fabled Ploughman's lunch, completes my British recipes week.

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



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 225Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 25mgSodium 369mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 1gSugar 4gProtein 9g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.