Does Britain have a sweet tooth?

Transcript item

This week, we're talking about special occasions and how we celebrate them in the UK with special food. But before we get to that, we need to talk about something really important. Sweet things. People in the UK love puddings or desserts, cakes and biscuits. Listen to the people we interviewed talking about their favourite sweet food. Which one sounds best to you?

No, I can't answer that. There are so many. Right, sweet tooth, what do I like? Everything. There is not a sweet thing I will not have. So, I like fruitcake, I like a nice Genoa cake, I like your big, fat, Christmas really rich, I like biscuits. My biscuits, I like Garibaldis, I like bourbons, political ones obviously. Fig rolls I could eat by the dozen. Biscuit.

Yeah, I do have a sweet tooth. And it's actually more my family kind of insist on having something sweet after a meal, so if I cook a meal and there's no pudding at the end of it, I do get complaints. So, yes.

We usually have something sweet after the meal, ice cream or a steamed pudding or rice pudding. Or tonight I'm making clafoutis, which I think is actually a French pudding with eggs and flour and sugar and prunes soaked in brandy.

Biscuits, cakes, baklava I like, in India we like gulab jamun. I like lassi, you know, rasmalai.

Yes, we do. We often have stewed fruit which we have gathered in the correct season, like picking blackberries or elderberries and then cooking them and freezing them. So over the winter we can just collect them out of the freezer and then put some breadcrumbs or crushed biscuits on the top so that you have a fruit crumble. And so we often have that after a meal.

I like for Christmas. What else do we like? We like Christmas cakes, yule logs. When I was in Slovakia going over to Vienna, sachertorte. There is not – a torta della nonna, a plum tarte aux prunes is absolutely gorgeous.

So again, if I'm home, I almost inhabit this more kind of Indian lifestyle where we will go to town and we'll definitely have something sweet. My family have a huge sweet tooth. And yeah, that can be things like gulab jamun, which is these kind of like dough balls that are soaked in sugar and my granddad loves making them. So there's always some of those. Or it might be, my dad likes making this dish called semiya that he knows I love and he'll make it especially when I'm home. Which is to do with milk and like these vermicelli noodles that you like cook in milk for a long time with cardamom and things.

Bread and butter pudding, rice pudding. There is not a thing I will not eat. I love sweet things, so yeah. And savoury. A cheese board, a wonderful cheese board to finish off with.

Do you have a sweet tooth?

If you have a 'sweet tooth', it means you enjoy sweet things – and a lot of people in the UK do. As you saw in the video, people often eat something sweet after a meal. It could be something small, like a biscuit, or it could be something cooked or prepared.

Dessert – or pudding?

In the video you heard several different words to talk about sweet things. A sweet dish, served after a meal, has different names. In restaurants you'll see 'dessert', and you might be asked 'Would you like to see the dessert menu?' However, when eating at home, people might say 'pudding', 'sweet' or 'afters'.

To make things even more confusing, 'pudding' has several meanings. It can be sweet (like sticky toffee pudding or rice pudding) or savoury (like Yorkshire pudding or even black pudding).

Britain's favourite desserts

Take a look at the top ten most popular desserts in the UK – results of research done by Breville in 2019. There's also a map of the UK, showing the most popular desserts in each region – according to the research.

Check out these recipes for great British puddings.

Over to you

  • Have you tried any British desserts? What did you think?
  • What is the most popular dessert in your country? Do people have a sweet tooth?


Educators are active on this topic

Submitted by jerryrichardsi on Sun, 04/12/2022 - 11:00


In our country, we do have the habit of drinking tea or coffee made out of milk. Sometimes people go for curd with sugar after their lunch.

Submitted by Casin on Wed, 23/11/2022 - 09:40


Definetely, I'm having a sweet tooth and it continuosly demands some sweeties. Never forget the Italian desserts, they are delicious, espesially jellato, it's unbelievably good, it's a best dessert when you are enjoying it in the mid of the hot summer day, It's gorgeous, now one word could describe this pleasure

Hi @Casin
Which sweets do you like? And do you have a favourite flavour gelato or icecream? I prefer savoury food but if I do need a sweet fix then I'd go for a salted caramel ice cream!

Tina ☺

Submitted by Mariagrazia Pegolo on Tue, 22/11/2022 - 19:01


I do agree with Geotta. I was going to say "tiramisu" me too (that's one of the most typical Italian dessert) but I would add "crostata" which is a sweet filled with marmalade or chocolate. I think that everybody has a sweet tooth in general 😋

Hi @Mariagrazia!

I think a crostata is something like a 'jam tart' or 'custard tart' that my mum used to make when I was a kid. A sweet pastry case filled with something like you suggested. You mention marmalade, in English, marmalade is made with oranges or limes, is that the same in Italy?

~ Tina ☻
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Geotta on Sat, 19/11/2022 - 10:29


I love cake, dessert and other similar things. I'm Italian and the most popular dessert in my country is Tiramisu or "Torta della nonna", but we have a lot of kind of dessert.
when I've been in Uk I 've eaten a lot ok different sweet, very good, but I don't like pudding...
In general I have sweet tooth.

Profile picture for user Kirk

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 19/11/2022 - 14:20

In reply to by Geotta


Hi Geotta,

Oh yes, tiramisu is so popular and so tasty I think you can get it almost anywhere in the world!

LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tsunami _Rei on Fri, 18/11/2022 - 18:18


I did try some type of crumble. I don't remember what he was made from but it was good.

Submitted by carlaacosta78 on Tue, 15/11/2022 - 10:46


i haven't tried british dessert, but i would love eat it! i love sweet things!

the most popular dessert in my country is milk pudding, but i dont like it, i prefer cakes, pies, ice cream, mousse, etc.. i have sweet tooth!