Ploughman’s lunch is a traditional British meal that is perfect idea for your next party.  Fill a large, rustic platter with cheese, bread, meat, pickled and fresh vegetables, chutney, boiled eggs, and fruit.  Guests can enjoy a wonderful sandwich with a side salad.  It’s a simple but brilliant dish for entertaining!

Prep Time: 40 minutes
ploughman's lunch on a wooden cutting board
Sandwiches

How to Make a Ploughman’s Lunch

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Looking for a unique twist for a special lunch?  Serve a traditional ploughman’s lunch. 

dipping bread into a bowl of chutney for ploughman's lunch

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Why is it called a ploughman’s lunch?

This type of lunch was originally packed for ploughmen to take out in the fields in the English countryside.  All the ingredients can be served cold and is meant to be hearty enough to satisfy the ploughman’s large appetites. 

holding bowl of chutney for ploughman's lunch

Where did the ploughman’s lunch come from?

The beautiful English countryside where farmers or ploughmen would work out in their fields.  Each man needed to pack a lunch for the day, so bread, cheese and pickles were commonly used.  A book entitled Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott dated 1837 had mentioned a ploughman’s lunch. 

After the rations from World War Two had lifted in England, the Cheese Bureau made the ploughman’s lunch more popular in the 1960’s in order to increase cheese sales.  Local pubs would put their own spin of a ploughman’s lunch on their menus for local patrons and tourists to enjoy.

holding apple slice for ploughman's lunch

What’s in a ploughman’s lunch?

  • Bread: crusty rustic white, artisan, baguette or nutty multigrain
  • Cheese: hard or semi hard English cheeses: Cheddar, Lancashire, blue cheese (Stilton)
  • Basic Meat: Baked ham cut into thick slices
  • Additional Meat: British sausage roll, scotch egg, hand raised pork pie, pâté
  • Chutney: Branston pickle, ploughman’s pickle, tomato chutney, or piccalilli (pungent, vinegary, earthy)
  • Pickled Vegetables: pearl onions, gherkins
  • Additional Protein: boiled eggs
  • Salad: watercress or arugula, radishes, celery, tomatoes
  • Fruit: a thick slice of Lincolnshire plum bread (see related posts) and a sweet, crisp apple
  • Condiments: English mustard, softened salted butter

How do you serve a ploughman’s lunch?

  • The best way is on a large wooden platter or cutting board. 
  • Slice the bread and boiled eggs.
  • Have the pickled ingredients, chutney, onions, gerkins, and English mustard in serving bowls.
  • Make sure the salted butter is spreadable.
  • Cut the cheese in wedges.

closeup of ploughman's lunch platter

Pro Tips for Making Ploughman’s Lunch

  • Pick something sweet (apple), sour (chutney and pickles), and salty (cheese and meat)
  • Have enough choices so every guest can graze happily.
  • Include all seven ingredient categories: bread, cheese, meat, pickled veggies, additional protein, salad, fruit, and condiments.
  • Artfully arrange it on a large wooden platter.
  • Serve all the ingredients cold or at room temperature.
  • This is lunch idea is also perfect for rustic outdoor or barn wedding and summer party buffets.

If you have never tried an English ploughman’s lunch, I encourage you to.  It’s fun to prepare and artfully arrange the ingredients, and it tastes amazing.  Don’t be fooled–British food is anything but boring!

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Ploughman’s Lunch

Looking for more tasty treats to add to your ploughman’s lunch?  Try these ones.

person holding a sausage roll person holding a white plate of baked scotch eggs cut in half slice of Lincolnshire plum bread with tea and loaf

The pleasure of a 5-star review for this ploughman’s lunch recipe would be greatly appreciated.

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ploughman's lunch on a wooden cutting board

How to Make a Ploughman’s Lunch


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 56 minutes
  • Yield: 3 servings 1x

Description

Ploughman’s lunch is a traditional British meal that is perfect idea for your next party.  Fill a large, rustic platter with cheese, bread, meat, pickled and fresh vegetables, chutney, boiled eggs, and fruit.  Guests can enjoy a wonderful sandwich with a side salad.  It’s a simple but brilliant dish for entertaining!


Scale

Ingredients

Key Ingredients

  • 4 thick slices of white crusty bread (167g)
  • 2 wedges aged English cheddar (140g)
  • 2 thick slices baked ham (121g)
  • 1/2 cup strong chutney, like ploughman’s pickle (136g)
  • 6 gherkins (77g)
  • 10 sweet silverskin onions or cocktail onions (54g)

Secondary Ingredients

  • 2 boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 sweet apple, sliced and brushed with lemon juice
  • 2 thick slices of Lincolnshire plum bread
  • 1 1/4 cup watercress
  • 2 large radishes, thickly sliced (84g)
  • 2 celery stalks with leaves, rinsed and patted dry (71g)

Condiments

  • 2 teaspoons Colman’s mustard
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, at room temperature (14g)

Instructions

  1. Put the butter, mustard, chutney, onions, gherkins, and watercress in separate bowls.
  2. Boil the two eggs by placing them in a saucepan full of cold water.  Bring to a boil, then cook for 6 minutes.  Immediately plunge the eggs in a ice water bath for 10 minutes.  Crack the shells all around, then gently peel them and rinse off any tiny shells.  Blot them dry with paper towel and cut in half lengthwise.  If desired, sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.
  3. Wash and dry the radishes and celery, then cut the radishes into thick slices.  Cut the celery into 2 inch pieces.
  4. Cut and core the apple, then brush each slice with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  5. If desired, cut the ham slices into pieces that are 1 1/2 inches in length.
  6. Store all the ingredients, except the butter and the bread, in the fridge until needed.
  7. Half hour before serving, take out the cheese so it can warm up to room temperature.
  8. When ready to serve, artfully arrange the ingredients on a large wooden cutting board.  Serve immediately.

Notes

  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this ploughman’s lunch would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: British

Keywords: traditional, platter, sandwich

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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Ploughman’s Lunch

  1. The pictures are great. I think that it is neat how you can customize the lunch. You can take what you want and arrange it how you like it.

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