There's nothing quite like a ploughman's lunch. This simple, yet delicious cheese platter is the perfect meal for hot summer days when you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen cooking food.
A traditional ploughman's lunch is basically a cheese board served with cheeses, fruit, salad, pickled onions, bread and pickles.
It's easy to put together and can be made with any type of cheese you like and you can add more British food to it, like scotch eggs and pork pies.
In this blog post, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to make cheese ploughmans that your whole family will love!
It can be served anytime of the year but our favourite is when it is too hot to cook!
With nothing to cook or heat up, and only ten minutes of prep time you will be feeding the family a satisfying meal in minutes.
What is a Ploughman's Lunch?
A ploughman's lunch is a British dish a traditional combination of bread, cheese and pickles. It can be served as a light lunch or dinner and is perfect for hot summer days.
Cheese sales had dropped drastically following the conclusion of World War II, owing to wartime rationing.
The Cheese Bureau, a trade organization formed in the 1950s to promote sales of cheese, came up with the name "Ploughman's Lunch" as a marketing phrase to encourage serving this cheese and beer meal as a public house lunch.
It quickly became a popular dish and can still be found on a British pub menu, served as a traditional lunch or dinner.
The history of the ploughman's lunch is said to date back further than that as referred to as a 'ploughmans luncheon' (what a ploughman would eat for lunch in the field) in the book Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott.
Cheese Ploughman's Ingredients
Making a ploughman's lunch is very easy, only takes a few minutes of food prep time with no cooking required.
You will need a combination of the following, make it your own by changing ingredients to your taste.
Cheddar and blue cheese is the most popular cheese for a good ploughman's, but you can use more cheese and any type of cheeses that you prefer (I like to add a creamy brie).
Cut the cheese into slices, wedges or cubes.
You can add cold meats, such as ham or chicken, to your cheese ploughman's lunch. Buy good quality thick cuts of ham or cook your own baked ham, gammon or chicken to cut slices off.
The bread is typically a baguette stick, but you can use any type of crusty bread that you like. Slice the bread into thin or thick slice.
Use thick slice bread to make a ploughman's sandwich.
Use pickled onions or shallots to add some tang to your ploughman's cheese platter.
We like to add cornichons or small gherkins too.
If you prefer use finely sliced red onion or salad onion.
The ploughman's pickle can be store-bought or homemade, and they add a delicious tangy flavour to the dish.
Branston Pickle is a well-known brand for the UK you can buy a chunky or smooth pickle.
You can also use Piccadilli, English Mustard or try using chutneys instead.
There are many different types of chutneys that you can use for a ploughman's lunch, but we recommend using a sweet onion chutney or tomato chutney.
You can also add hard-boiled eggs to your ploughman's lunch. Or another British favourite is scotch eggs.
Scotch Egg consists of hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage meat and then breaded and fried. You can make your own or buy them premade.
A pork pie is a traditional British dish made with pork and pastry. It is not the most calorie friendly and is very high in fat so skip it if you are watching your weight!
It can be served hot or cold and makes a great addition to a ploughman's lunch platter.
A salad is typically served with ploughman's cheese platter. If you do choose to include a salad, we recommend using a simple green salad with some cherry tomatoes, cucumber and radish.
Fresh fruit, such as grapes or sliced apples, is also a popular food addition served with cheese ploughman lunch.
How to prepare a Ploughmen's
Now that you know all the recipe ingredients that you need is time to assemble the Ploughman's lunch it really is very simply a case of placing all the ingredients onto a board or platter.
You can make a sharing platter for everyone to help themselves or use smaller boards to portion into 4 individual portions
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Ploughman's Lunch Cheese Platter
Ploughman's Ingredients - can be changed to suit your taste
- 150 g Cheddar
- 150 g Brie
- 150 g Blue Cheese
- 1 bunch Grapes
- 2 Apples
- 4 thick slices Ham
- 100 grams Cornichons / Small Gherkins
- 110 grams Pickled Onions
- 2 large Scotch Egg
- 1 large Pork Pie
- 150 grams Pickle
- 150 grams Piccalilli
- 1 Stick Baguette
- ¼ Cucumber
- ½ Lettuce
- 2 Radish
- 9 Cherry Tomatoes
- Roll up the thick slices of ham.4 thick slices Ham
- Cut the cheeses into wedges/ slices or cubes.150 g Cheddar, 150 g Blue Cheese, 150 g Brie
- Drain the juice from the pickled onions and cornichons and place into small serving bowls100 grams Cornichons / Small Gherkins, 110 grams Pickled Onions
- Transfer the pickle and piccalilli into small jars.150 grams Pickle, 150 grams Piccalilli
- Cut scotch eggs in half.2 large Scotch Egg
- Cut large pork pie into quarters and slices of bread.1 large Pork Pie, 1 Stick Baguette
- Cut fruit into thin slices or wedges. (Don't cut until ready to serve to prevent going brown)2 Apples, 1 bunch Grapes
- To assemble the ploughman's lunch platter, get a large chopping board and place all prepared ingredients onto it including the salad items.¼ Cucumber, ½ Lettuce, 2 Radish, 9 Cherry Tomatoes
- Alternatively use smaller boards or plates and make single portions of the ploughman's lunch.
And that's it! Your cheese ploughman's platter is now ready to be enjoyed.
Can I make ploughman's lunch ahead of time?
Yes, this cheese ploughman's lunch recipe can easily be made ahead of time.
Simply prepare all of the ingredients and store them covered in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat.
Don't cut the apples until ready to serve as they will go brown.
This ploughman's lunch will stay fresh in the fridge for at least two days.
Serve this British meat and cheese platter on a hot summer's afternoon with a cold glass of milk, or a cup of tea.
Or for the evening like you would in the pub, with a nice cold glass of beer or a pink gin fizz.
More British Recipes
If you enjoyed this cheese ploughman's recipe, then you might like some of these other British recipes:
Do you have a favourite food addition to your Ploughman's Lunch Cheese Platter? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and happy cooking!