Food in the 15th Century

Here is a list of foods that would have been available in Europe in the late 15th Century.

For peasants it was most often dark, coarse, and made from wheat mixed with rye or oatmeal. Fry breads were popular on market days and at fairs. Biscuits, scones, and cakes sweetened with honey were popular fare.

On most lists of provisions, ale and beer are second only to bread. Water was often unsafe and ale/beer could comprise up to 20% of a peasants caloric intake.

Is one of the most common and basic of dishes. May or may not contain meat. It is a thick stew that could contain any or most of the following: cabbage, onions, oatmeal, beans, peas, bread crumbs, or virtually any other types of grains or vegetables. Resources (economic and otherwise) determined quantity and quality of ingredients.

Rice, barley, wheat, rye, oatmeal, maislin (wheat/rye mix)

Butter, Olive Oil

White Meats
Cream, cheese, milk, butter

Vibrant trade in wine. Often watered down. French wine was popular.

Garbanzo, fava, white

Bacon, beef, chicken, fish, pork, sausages, wild game (in some areas), rabbits, mutton

Other Common Drinks

Mead, cider, milk (usually reserved for the old or infirm)

Bread, cheese, eggs, honey, mustard

Almonds, asparagus, chestnuts, currants, dates, figs, pinolas, prunes, raisins, walnuts, apples, apricots, cherries, grapes, melon, pears, plums, pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, lemons, oranges, gooseberries

Cabbage, carrots, cress, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, turnips, peas, radishes, spinach, winter squash, beets, eggplant, olives, rutabagas, cucumbers, artichokes, celery

Red wine, white wine, apple cider

Aniseed, basil, bay, canel, caraway, celery seed, chervil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, mace, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, black pepper, poppy seed, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sesame seed, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, salt, grains of paradise, cubebs

It is interesting to note that while corn (maize) is a product of the “New World” and as such is not to be found on the above list, the word “corn” was known and used to mean any cereal crops such as wheat, rye, oats and barley. The association of the word “corn” with the grain maize is a relatively new development of the last 400 years.

Notably absent are potatoes and tomatoes. These are once again both New World crops and though known later than 1495, they were considered poisonous.

11 thoughts on “Food in the 15th Century

  1. Super helpful
    Doing a small Rennassianse fair as an opening event to an outside production of Canterbury this helps us a great deal re foodstuffs.

  2. My family creast has “corn” in the centre. I always thought it was oats or barley but many web info sites says it is wheat. Still confused. It was cattle counrty though.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for publishing. You may want to specify where you are writing about. The foods people at in the 15th century varied a lot by geography. For example, people in Bohemia ate differently than people in Portugal and they are differently than the Dutch. Your list seems to come from the British Isles, but I’m not 100% sure. Just an idea…

    Thanks again

  4. I am writing a story for my medieval project, and thid was really helpful! I almost lost hope on the food. I am really thankful you making this list!

  5. Thanks for making this list. I’m writing a story set roughly in the Middle Ages and this was a big help on making it look a bit more authentic.

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