Chilly weather and cosy nights bring the desire to settle down with a warming, hearty meal in the evenings. With Tiktok views on the hashtag #CosyRecipes up by +233% in the past 30 days, Ocado has conducted a survey to find out which meals Brits find the most comforting, along with some recipe suggestions to switch up your usual favourites.
It’s no surprise that the classic roast dinner took the top spot with almost half (42%) of the vote. The hearty favourite is reinterpreted in so many ways across UK households, but it can often feel like a daunting task to prepare all the elements to perfection, along with the correct timing. If you’re short on time or want to reduce the hassle, try this All-in-One Midweek Roast Chicken Traybake that only requires six ingredients and one tray.
Other highlights in the top 10 include fish and chips, which Gen Zs actually voted for as their favourite, taking 41% of their vote. Bangers and mash also made the top five as nearly one in five (18%) said this was their ultimate comfort meal. Try switching up the usual flavours in this British staple, for example this Maple-and-Mustard-Glazed Sausages with Mushroom Gravy.
As for sweet dishes, apple pie or crumble was crowned the winner by a landslide with 46% of the vote. This warming dessert is perfect for wintertime, and if you can’t decide between the two variants, why not combine them together like this apple crumble pie?
Making up the rest of the top three was sticky toffee pudding and bread and butter pudding, and while these are loved for their familiar, comforting flavours, you could consider adding a festive twist. Try out this Bay and Chestnut Sticky Toffee Pudding, or this tempting Eggnog Bread and Butter Pudding.
Why do we find certain meals comforting?
While everybody has a personal preference when it comes to their favourite comfort meal, it turns out there are a few motivations we share when it comes to our cravings.
A whopping 68% of Brits said that they choose a comfort meal because they know they’ll feel cosy and warm after eating it, and 36% claimed that they find nostalgic meals, such as ones they had as a child, the most comforting.
To reveal the science behind why we find meals comforting, Ocado spoke to Alice Williams, Nutrition Coach at Origym:
Why do we find it comforting?
Alice explains: “ Evolutionarily, our brains associate familiar foods with safety and survival, triggering a comforting response. Additionally, the sensory experience – textures, flavours, and smells – evokes nostalgic memories, linking the food to positive emotions.”
What makes us choose certain comfort food?
Alice adds: “When faced with stress or nostalgia, our brains crave the familiar. Exactly what comfort food we crave is often determined by childhood memories, family gatherings, and cultural ties, which is why it’s common to crave a warm home-cooked meal that you often ate growing up.”
Why do we choose ‘heartier’ meals in wintertime and why do we consider them hearty?
Alice concludes: “The colder weather causes our bodies to crave warmth and sustained energy. Hearty meals, like a steaming bowl of beef and ale stew or a comforting plate of shepherd’s pie, deliver that cosiness and robust satisfaction. The term “hearty” captures the essence of these dishes – they’re substantial and rich and that’s a primal instinct to seek out calorie-dense options in winter.”