Downton Abbey recipes so you can eat like the aristocracy in your own home (2024)

From dinners, salads and co*cktails fit for the upper classes, to a meal the servants (and us!) would devour, discover some traditional 1920s recipes that wouldn't be out of place in the Downton Abbey movie.

The first is chicken stuffed with pistachios, a showpiece meat dish.

These were a mainstay of the aristocratic table, but unless they were roasted and destined for expert carving at the sideboard, they also needed to be easy to cut up and serve.

One solution was to bone them and stuff the gap with a rich forcemeat (that’s a mixture of ground, lean meat mixed with fat by grinding, sieving, or puréeing the ingredients), which meant the meat could then be easily sliced and served with the obligatory sauce.

This recipe has a particularly fun stuffing inspired by Arabian Nights and with flavours reminiscent of the Middle East, and is typical of the fresher flavours becoming fashionable in the 1920s. It can be served hot or cold.




1 whole chicken, about 6 lb (2.7 kg)

For the stuffing:

60g ground veal

115g butter, chopped

60g pistachios, chopped

15g ground almonds

1/4 apple, such as Granny Smith, finely chopped

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 egg, lightly whisked

For the sauce:

2 tbsp butter

30g flour

480ml homemade chicken stock

White pepper

Handful of pistachios, for garnish


For the stuffing…

Combine the veal, butter, pistachios, almonds, apple, lemon zest, coriander, allspice, salt, pepper, and eggs in a bowl and mix well.

Sauté the stuffing mixture in a frying pan over medium heat until the sausage is no longer pink, for about 3–4 minutes.

Let cool, then loosely stuff the chicken cavity.

Put the chicken, breast-side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

Add 120ml stock to the pan, then roast it in a 165°C oven, basting occasionally with the juices, until a thermometer registers 74°C for the chicken and the stuffing, which should be about 21/2 hours.

Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes.

For the sauce (which is served hot)…

First make a roux.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour until smooth.

Reduce the heat to low and stir for 2–3 minutes to cook off the raw flour flavour.

Add the stock, little by little, stirring constantly to avoid lumps (you’ll need to add about 240ml of the stock, with some extra just in case).

You should finish with a smooth sauce. Season with the white pepper (you can use black, but you’ll have specks in your sauce) and keep warm for serving.

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or slice in advance.

Garnish with pistachios and lemon zest, and serve with the hot sauce.

Recipe note:

At shooting lunches, generally served in a marquee, or tent, some distance from the house, it was hard to keep poultry or roasts warm, so serving them cold with a hot sauce was a good solution for hungry shooters who wanted a hot meal.

Vacuum flasks, which were invented in 1898, were much in use for this kind of thing.


The 1920s brought a significant change in women’s fashion.

While corsets and body-shaping garments were by no means discarded completely, the prevailing shape was less sculpted and more apparently natural.

Slender boyish figures were favoured, and the new flapper-style dresses, with their dropped waists and casual necklines, meant that a few daring women with exactly the right kind of body were able to wear less heavily boned undergarments.

Others found the need to flatten one’s bust and disguise protruding stomachs took just as much effort, but with more strong elastic and slightly less whalebone.

Additionally, calorie-controlled diets appeared on the scene, including the Hollywood diet, which largely revolved around coffee and grapefruit.

Salads became popular, and authors of cookbooks promoted new ways with vegetables.

This very simple salad is typical of the era.


6 tbsp double cream

Zest (in long, fine strips) and juice of 2 lemons

2 tbsp ground almonds

Salt and black pepper

12 well-drained canned or jarred globe artichoke bottoms or hearts, halved

24 asparagus spears, trimmed, cooked, and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces

2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted (optional)


Stir together the cream, lemon juice, and ground almonds in a small bowl.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Combine the artichokes and asparagus in a serving bowl.

Add the cream mixture and mix gently to coat.

Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, if using, and lemon zest and serve.


No breakfast at Downton would be complete without a dish of kedgeree, kept warm on a burner on the sideboard.

The name and concept come from an Indian recipe called khichri, a mixture of dahl and rice that was adopted and altered to suit the British palate.

Modern versions often use smoked fish, and the dish is especially associated with finnan haddie, a lightly smoked fish from Scotland that was popularised in Britain once the Victorian railway boom made it possible to transport it to London without spoiling.



450g skin-on firm white fish fillets, such as turbot, haddock, or cod

240ml milk

60g butter

775g cooked white or brown rice, cold

60ml fish or chicken stock or water, or as needed

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper

2 eggs

160ml double cream

For the garnish:

1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced


Put the fish into a saucepan with the milk and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cook the fish until it flakes and is opaque at the centre.

Remove the fish from the pan and discard the milk.

Let the fish cool until it can be handled, then remove and discard the skin and break up the flesh into large flakes, removing any errant bones. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a high-sided frying pan over medium heat.

Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter.

Add the stock and continue to stir, adding more stock if necessary to prevent the rice from sticking, until piping hot.

Add the cayenne and the salt and black pepper to taste and stir well.

Add the fish, turning it gently with the rice to mix it in.

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream, and mix roughly with a fork.

Keeping the heat very low, add the egg mixture to the pan and cook very gently, turning occasionally, until the egg is just cooked through but remains slightly runny, 5–6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and serve on warmed plates, garnished with the parsley and hard-boiled eggs.


The servants’ hall table at Downton is usually laden with batter puddings, potatoes, stews, and vegetables that are cheap and filling.

Rather than being carefully moulded and garnished, the dishes are typically served in the vessel they were cooked in, and while some of them take a long time to simmer or bake, the effort and time involved in making them is minimal.

Toad-in-the-hole was typical of servants’ fare in the early 20th century, as it was cheap, easy, and versatile.

The name dates back to the 18th century, though it’s unclear why the meat was called a toad – possibly because it peeps from the batter like a toad from its burrow.


240 ml milk

115 g flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

Butter, lard, or pan drippings, for preparing the pie dish

450g (1lb) bulk sausage meat or chopped raw sausages

Onion or meat gravy, for serving


To make the batter, whisk together the milk, flour, salt, and eggs in a bowl until thoroughly mixed.

Set aside for 15–30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-inch (23-cm) pie dish.

Scatter the sausage over the bottom of the prepared dish.

Put the dish into the oven for 10 minutes to render some of the fat and brown the sausage lightly.

Remove from the oven, pour the batter over the sausage, and return to the oven.

Bake until the sausage is cooked through and the batter has puffed up and browned, about 45 minutes.

Serve hot with gravy.

Recipe note:

Batter puddings like these can be used with any filling, including fruit for a sweet version.

Toads were frequently recommended for eking out small amounts of leftover meat and vegetables.

During the food shortages of WWI, one author suggested adding chopped tomatoes and onions to bulk out the ‘minced meat of any kind’.

If you are using leftover cooked sausage or small meatballs for this recipe, there’s no need to brown them before adding the batter.

And for a pre-dinner tipple, we say co*cktail like the Crawleys...


A very old style of drink, flips call for a whole egg (sometimes just the yolk), creating a hearty, fortifying mixture that tastes much better than it sounds.

Any of the dry sherries – fino, manzanilla, amontillado – work here.

Makes 1 co*cktail

75ml dry sherry

20ml simple syrup (combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar fully dissolves. For rich simple syrup, use two parts sugar to one part water)

1 egg

Ground or freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish


Combine the sherry, simple syrup, and egg in a shaker.

Add ice, shake hard for 8–10 seconds, and strain into a chilled co*cktail glass, wine glass, or coupe.

Sprinkle with the nutmeg.

Libation note:

You can use a sweeter or heartier sherry, such as an oloroso, for more intensity, but be sure to dial back the amount of simple syrup (or eliminate it entirely) if you use a cream sherry or anything sweetened.


Do not cross Violet, matriarch of the Crawley family, whose skill at disarming opponents and getting what she wants is supreme.

Like the Dowager Countess of Grantham, do not underestimate this co*cktail.

It may read like drinking a floral arrangement, but it’s both potent and balanced.

Makes 1 co*cktail

20ml gin

20ml maraschino liqueur

20ml crème de violet

20ml fresh lime juice

Lime wheel, for garnish


Combine the gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violet, and lime juice in a shaker.

Add ice, shake hard for 8–10 seconds, and strain into a chilled coupe or co*cktail glass.

Garnish with the lime wheel.

Libation note:

Crème de violet is a liqueur version of violet candies, with a floral sweetness that turns this drink into a purple and powerful potentate.

NB: From The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray (£25, White Lion Publishing) and The Official Downton Abbey co*cktail Book by Annie Gray and Julian Fellowes (published 13 September, White Lion Publishing). Available for pre-order through and all good bookshops.
Downton Abbey recipes so you can eat like the aristocracy in your own home (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 5701

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.