The Great British Bake Off can be a portal into a magical world of British food shows. My British television journey kicked off with years of Nigella and Sophie Dahl wandering through spiffy kitchens, making squidgy sweets, and introducing me to a universe of treacle and golden syrup and self-deprecating British humor.
Years later The Great British Bake Off stole my heart, and reminded me that there’s so much great British food programming that we don’t typically have access to on American TV. If you, like me, are done binge-watching GBBO and need a palate cleanser before you start it again (Netflix, we need more seasons, stat!), I’ve got the solution. Taste test these five completely scrumptious shows, where you’ll come across a few familiar faces.
The Hairy Bikers Cookbook
The Hairy Bikers are BBC superstars. They travel the globe, they cook, they bake, they diet, they do social good, and they cover it all in an astounding array of BBC shows. The dream team is David Myers and Si King, old friends who love food, adventure, and their own impressive beards.
The Hairy Bikers Cookbook was their first show in 2006, and since then they’ve had more than 15 different series. If you haven’t encountered these two yet, you have a lot of extremely fun catching up to do. Start with the original show. Watch them cook in wild locations, bike around on their motorcycles, and banter and joke as they make British food and recipes from all over the world. You can peruse a lot of full episodes on YouTube.
Nadiya’s British Food Adventure
Season six GBBO winner Nadiya Hussain is so completely delightful. In Nadiya’s British Food Adventure, she is somehow even more charming and funny than she was on GBBO. This show is a beginner’s class in British cooking, where Nadiya guides you through every recipe, honing in on the details and doing yummy twists on British classics like a flapjack apple crumble or an Eton mess cheesecake.
Want proof that devouring Nadiya’s videos can teach you how to become a baking pro? Nadiya taught herself how to bake by watching YouTube videos and now she’s a GBBO winner, BBC food show superstar, and she was personally commissioned to bake the Queen’s 90th birthday cake! She embraced zingy citrus and opted for an orange drizzle cake with orange curd and buttercream.
Here’s another familiar GBBO face, original host Sue Perkins! In The Supersizers Eat and The Supersizers Go, she and restaurant critic Giles Coren pretend to be a couple living in different time periods. They travel back to times ranging from Edwardian England to the 1980s, and eat the foods that were popular then. You get a serious taste of food history by watching them navigate the recipes and ingredients from each era.
The show gives you a way heartier serving of Sue’s wit, along with a fascinating glimpse into British food. And frankly, the costumes alone merit a binge-watch. Note: Even though the seasons have slightly different titles, it’s the same show.
The Big Family Cooking Showdown
Nadiya is back again! This time she’s the host of this spinoff of The Great British Bake Off, where families work as teams to gently battle it out for best family of cooks. They show off their favorite family dishes and create menus based on themed challenges. The contestants are super kind to each other and even though it’s technically a competition, it’s low on drama and high on general good cheer. Families laugh, share traditions, and show off the foods that are important to them. It’s warm and intimate, like being invited to hang out in a series of family kitchens. You can watch the entire first season on Netflix.
Nigella: At My Table
In 2017, Nigella made this series with BBC that’s inspired by her most recent cookbook of the same name. If you’ve ever watched one of her many, many fabulous shows, you know the drill. The recipes are simple and packed with flavor, and she seems so completely at ease and joyful in the kitchen. If you want to fall down a Nigella rabbit hole, she has over 10 shows that she’s made with the BBC, many of which you can watch on YouTube or buy to stream on Amazon.
What British cooking shows are you watching? What’s your favorite?