Cornwall's food and drink

Cath Coad 30 March 2023

As well as its world-renowned beaches and stunning natural beauty, Cornwall has in recent years also become a popular destination for foodies. This should come as little surprise as the county’s traditional foods, the increasing popularity of seafood and the number of top-quality restaurants basing themselves in Cornwall has made it a hotbed for food enthusiasts.

So if you are heading down and staying in one of our self-catering holiday cottages in Cornwall this summer, or at another point in the year, then you need to read on to see what traditional Cornish food and unique dishes you should try during your holiday. 

Why not stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in Cornwall? This way you can do an itinerary based on the best places to try Cornish delicacies all around the county. Click the button below to find your perfect holiday accommodation in Cornwall. 

The Cornish pasty

The Cornish pasty

Top of the list is a traditional, genuine Cornish pasty. No list of traditional food from Cornwall would be complete without the Cornish pasty as it is synonymous with the county. A traditional pasty is filled with sliced or diced potato, swede, onion, diced or minced beef, and seasoning to taste such as salt and pepper.

The pastry can be made from shortcrust, rough puff or puff pastry, and can be glazed using milk or egg. Crimping is the traditional process of making a Cornish pasty and, to be a proper Cornish pasty, the crimped edge should sit to one side. Getting your hands on a Cornish pasty will not be hard, as almost every town and city will have a pastry shop selling this famous food. Just beware of those pesky seagulls as they also like a Cornish pasty now and again!

Cornish clotted cream

Cornish clotted cream

A must-try when holidaying in Cornwall is the famous Cornish clotted cream. It is made when milk is unpasteurised and is heated using steam. Once the cream is left to cool down, the cream starts to clot (hence its name) and the end result is a delicious thick cream that is usually used to spread on scones and is also commonly added to a bowl of strawberries. Some locals even add it to a cup of tea!

Cornish Yarg

Cornish Yarg

Cornish Yarg may not be quite as familiar as Cornish clotted cream or the Cornish pasty, but trust us, it is just as tasty! Made by Lynher Dairy in Ponsanooth, you can visit the dairy to buy truckles of this great Cornish dairy item.

Yarg is a Cornish cheese that is made from the milk of Friesian cows and it has a striking nettle coating that is supposed to protect the cheese from deterioration. The cheese is hugely popular across the world as cheese enthusiasts enjoy Yarg’s unique flavour, creamy texture and crumbly centre.

Cornish saffron bun

Cornish saffron bun

The Cornish saffron bun is a delicious treat for visitors to try and is certainly a traditional Cornish food. The bun is made using sycamore leaves during the baking process where it is flavoured with saffron and is made from confectioner’s sugar. Although the bun is now eaten all year round, it was traditionally only eaten on festive occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Cornwall also hosts a wide range of Christmas events during the festive season with a big focus on delicious, local Cornish produce, click here to read our top Christmas markets and events to visit here.

If you have a sweet tooth, you could also try a Cornish fairing which is very similar to a ginger nut biscuit flavour-wise but looks more like a cookie. Cornish fudge is a popular souvenir to take home for friends, too - it is so moreish, be careful you save enough to share with your loved ones!

Cornish ice cream

Cornish ice cream

Cornish ice cream is made with clotted cream and whole milk and its velvety smoothness and creamy flavour are why millions of people every year buy Cornish ice cream. Most Cornish ice cream companies try to use milk from local Cornish farms and local Cornish cream during the making process. There are so many brands of Cornish ice cream, all delicious, and you can sample many of the tasty treats directly on the farm or straight from the shop where it's made.

Stargazy pie

Stargazy pie

Stargazy pie is a quirky Cornish dish prepared using baked pilchards (sardines) that poke their heads out of the top of the pie's pastry crust.

The pie is believed to have originated in the village of Mousehole in Cornwall in the 16th century. It is traditionally consumed during the festival of Tom Bawcock’s Eve. Tom Bawcock was a local fisherman and the festival is celebrated to acknowledge his efforts to relieve the village from famine by going out to fish in a violent storm one winter. You can buy the pie as a cooked dish at several pubs in Cornwall; it's hard to come by as a pre-cooked item.

Dining out in Cornwall

Dining out in Cornwall

There are plenty of great restaurants in Cornwall, although sometimes many of the smaller ones may get overshadowed by the big names of Jamie Oliver, Nathan Outlaw and Rick Stein, who all have restaurants on the north coast. Other places to eat worthy of mention include The Olive Tree, St Merryn, Warne's Bar & Restaurant in Wadebridge and Little Kahuna Restaurant in Newquay - we've rounded up the very best Michelin-starred and fine dining restaurants in Cornwall in our guide.

Great places to dine out in Cornwall

Cornwall's wines and vineyards

Cornwall's wines and vineyards

The climate is milder here than anywhere else in the country, allowing grapes to be grown and glorious wine to be made. You can enjoy a tour of many of the vineyards and let a sommelier tell you all about their favourite wines and the grape's journey from vine to bottle. 

Trevibban Mill Vineyard & Orchards, near Padstow

Located about a 5-mile drive from Padstow, a trip to Trevibban Mill is a must for anyone visiting the area. The stylish wine bar and tasting room enjoys stunning views across the valley and is the perfect place for lunch or simply relaxing and sampling a glass or two of award-winning Cornish wine. If you are visiting Trevibban or visiting nearby Padstow, read our guide to the top restaurants in Padstow 

Bosue Vineyard, near St Austell

Visit Bosue Vineyard on their organised open days for wine tastings and tours. After a walk through the vines and an explanation of how they make the wines, you can then taste their Cornish wines overlooking the vineyard in the beautiful setting of the Cornish countryside.

Camel Valley Vineyard, near Bodmin

Tasting wines and seeing how they are made is great fun at Camel Valley Vineyard. Their unique tours are relaxed and friendly and the location is stunning - sitting on the terrace sipping Camel Valley wine on a summer's afternoon is magical.

Knightor Winery and Restaurant, near St Austell

Fun and informative in a traditional Cornish farmstead. Gain an insight into the world of wine at the Knightor Winery. If you have been exploring sustainability in agriculture at the Eden Project, you will be able to see how a commercial operation works with it.

Polmassick Vineyard, near St Austell

Polmassick Vineyard offers Cornish wines of many varieties - dry, medium dry, dessert, and sparkling. Try Polmassick Murayn, Kea Plum Dessert Wine, Gwynkemysky White Wine, Shute Suent and White Seyval Blanc with a flowery bouquet.

Cornwall's beer and cider

Cornwall's beer and cider

There are many great breweries based in Cornwall and you can even enjoy a tour of the facilities in some cases. From Cornish Rattler with its distinct pump head of cobra to mascots like Skinner's Betty Stoggs, if you love beer and cider, in Cornwall you can't go wrong. From national powerhouses like Sharpes to pub-based wonders like Driftwood Spars in St Agnes, there's something a-brew just for you.

St Austell Brewery, St Austell

Take a tour around Cornwall's oldest independent family brewery, St Austell, established for over 150 years. Many original traditions and skills remain at the heart of their brewing process - follow it from raw ingredients through to sampling.

Skinners Brewery, Truro

Situated in the beautiful cathedral city of Truro, Skinners is a working brewery and runs tours for groups or individuals. Sample their award-winning range of famous Cornish cask-conditioned ales, each of which is named after characters from Cornish folklore.

Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm, near Perranporth

All visitors are welcome to take a free, self-guided tour of the press house, bottlery and jam kitchen. For a complete experience at Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm, enjoy a full guided tour by one of their knowledgeable members of staff.

Sharp's Brewery, Rock

Home of the national favourite Doombar, Sharp's is based in Rock (just over the River Camel from Padstow). The Doombar ale is named after its namesake, a sandbar in the Camel Estuary.

Driftwood Spars, St Agnes

At this north coast microbrewery, you can find all kinds of delicious quandaries with names such as Bolster's Blood, Blue Hills and Lou's Brew! Driftwood Spars is a 400-year-old pub which also serves food, and is just up the hill from Trevaunance Cove.

Enjoy a foodie holiday in Cornwall

Cornwall has something of a reputation for fine food and dining. With fresh, quality ingredients attracting top-class chefs, unique products like Yarg cheese, clotted cream and pasties (not forgetting Cornwall's fine fresh fish!), it's easy to see why Cornwall is a foodie paradise. 

Discover your perfect self-catering holiday cottage in Cornwall so you can enjoy fun-packed days out to remember. From traditional fishermen's cottages to more modern accommodation, you’ll soon find a characterful retreat for your next escape to the South West.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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