Vintage recipes from old cookbooks

Karen Burns-Booth 30 November -0001

As a recipe developer and food writer, I have a big love affair with old cookbooks. Their egg and flour-spattered pages seem to resonate with me on a very personal level. Here are some of my favourite vintage recipes for you to try out at home. 

If old cookbooks once belonged to family, then the connection is particularly strong, as I remember my grandmother and mother using the same books for tea time treats and comforting meals.

My favourite vintage cookbook is in a collection of Be-Ro cookbooks.

vintage cooking

Despite featuring such un-PC suggestions such as “teach your daughters to cook and they will become the perfect housewife”, the honest and simple recipes still fascinate me after all these years.

I hope you enjoy these vintage recipes as much as I did, and maybe this list will inspire you to dig out your own vintage cookbooks for some heritage cooking.

Ten heirloom recipes:


Melting moments

melting moments
Image via Lavender and Lovage

These delicious and buttery biscuits taken from an old Be-Ro cookbook were always the mainstay of my mum’s “biscuit tin baking”, and each week she would make a double batch for snacks and lunch box treats.

These are very easy to make, so you could even convince the kids or grandkids to help you with them!

Get the melting moments recipe from Lavender and Lovage



Image via Chesnuts and Truffles

This tasty recipe for gnocchi is taken from an old Italian cookbook called La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene (that translates as: Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well) by Pellegrino Artusi.

It was first published way back in 1891.

Get the gnocchi recipe from Chestnuts and Truffles


Polish meatballs

polish meatbals
Image via The Brooklyn Cook

These Polish meatballs were inspired by memories of the writer’s Polish grandmother making them for family meals and special gatherings.

The recipe was taken from her grandmother’s old notebooks, with her scribbled handwriting, which are precious reminders of her culinary heritage.

Get the Polish meatballs recipe from The Brooklyn Cook


Plain scones

plain scones
Image via Viva Blancmange

This recipe for plain scones was taken from The Parkinson Cookery Book of 1947, and when served with jam and cream alongside some freshly cut sandwiches and a pot of tea, there is nothing plain about them at all!

Get the recipe for plain scones from Viva Blancmange


Fat Rascals

fat rascals
Image via Lavender and Lovage

This recipe for Fat Rascals was adapted from my grandmother’s hand-written cookery notes; the richly fruited rock cake-cum-scones, are topped with cherries and almonds to form a cakey type of smile, which certainly puts a smile on the face of all who try them.

Get the recipe for Fat Rascals from Lavender and Lovage


Shooting party chutney

shooting party chutney
Image via Lavender and Lovage

A fabulous way to use up a glut of green tomatoes, and the perfect accompaniment for any cheese platter, this is a reader's recipe that appeared in an edition of Farmers Weekly in 1934. 

Get the recipe for shooting party chutney from Lavender and Lovage


Fanny Craddock mini egg and meat pies

mini egg and meat pies
Image via Keep Calm and Fanny On

One of my favourite blogs is Keep Calm and Fanny On, where all of the infamous Fanny Cradock recipes are featured directly from her cookbooks.

Here we have some of Fanny’s pies made using up leftover meat with boiled eggs. These pies would be perfect for a summer picnic.

Get the recipe for mini meat and egg pies from Keep Calm and Fanny On


Dripping cakes

dripping cakes
Image via The Glamorous Glutton

This fabulous recipe for dripping cakes was taken from a text book from 1910, written for King Edward’s School in Birmingham. The title of the cakes may not appeal to modern tastes, but just look at how delicious they look!

Get the recipe for Dripping Cakes from The Glamorous Glutton



Victorian epiphany tart

ephiphany tart
Image via Lavender and Lovage

A beautiful tart which comes from one of the best vintage cookbooks of all time, Food of England by Dorothy Hartley.

Plus, this tart uses up all those different jams, curds and marmalades you might have lurking in the back of the fridge.

Get the recipe for Victorian epiphany tart from Lavender and Lovage


Cream of potato soup

cream of potato soup
Image via Recipe Vintage Blogspot

This homely soup recipe is taken from a 1960's Marguerite Patten Recipe Card and was sponsored by the Potato Marketing Board. It looks and sounds wonderful.

Get the recipe for cream of potato soup from Recipe Vintage Blogspot


Karen Burns-Booth is a freelance Recipe Developer, Food and Travel Writer and is a member if the Guild of Food Writers. She writes for her own blog Lavender and Lovage.

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