What is Savoury? Types, Dishes, Service

  • Post last modified:28 June 2023
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What is Savoury?

Savory food has a salty or spicy flavor rather than a sweet one. The savory course of a meal may have meat or fish and vegetables. Savory dishes can be served hot, warm, at room temperature, or chilled. They can be spicy, mild-flavored, or plain.

A savory as the term indicates is a savory item served on varying shapes of toast; in tartlets (round) and banquettes (oval); bouchées; flan rings or as an omelet or soufflé.

On the lunch and dinner menu, the savory is generally served as an alternative to a sweet, whilst in a banquet it may be a course on its own, coming between the entremets (sweet) and the dessert (fresh fruits and nuts). In a la carte menu, the savories are listed in a section of their own.


The term savories cover a range of items served either as:

  • Savory Course: It is served as part of a traditional meal where the item is highly tangy and refreshes the palate after the sweet and before the serious business of dinner drinks.

  • Cocktail Savories: These consist mainly of various canapés and are eaten:
    • as appetizers served with drinks before the meal.
    • during a cocktail party.
  • Sandwiches: these are sometimes categorized as savories particularly hot-sandwiches.

  • Small items: are eaten snacks in bars, coffee shops, and cafés.

Types of Savoury

There are eight main types of savory:

  • Savories using a sauce – these are usually “salpicon” based using béchamel, curry sauce, and devil sauce.
  • Grilled items
  • Shallow fried items
  • Shallow poached items
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Short pastry items
  • Savory soufflés
  • Puff pastry items.

Savory Dishes

The following are the popular savory dishes:

Savories on Toast

Welsh RabbitRarebit, Welsh rarebit, or Welsh rabbit is traditionally a sauce made from a mixture of cheese and butter, poured over toasted bread which has been buttered. In current popular use, cheese on toast is simply slices of cheese placed on toasted bread and melted by the heat from above in a grill or salamander.
Buck RabbitA Welsh rarebit garnished with a poached egg.
Moelle on ToastChilled marrow is sliced and poached gently in a little white stock. Drained well and dressed on hot buttered toast. Seasoned and coated with beurre noisette, sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Haddock on toastPoached haddock and flake mixed with cream sauce. Spread on toast and decorated to serve.
Anchovies on toastBreads are toast and anchovy fillets are laid side by side. Finished with the heated oil from the anchovies. Decorated with a sieved hard-boiled yolk of egg and chopped parsley.
Sardines on toastSardines are split and the backbone is removed. From head to tail is laid on the toast. Finished with the oil from the sardines.
Roes on toastRoes are shallow fried and dressed on toast. Sprinkled with lemon juice, coated with beurre noisette, and served.


Generally, canapés are small, decorative pieces of bread (toasted or untoasted) that are topped with a savory garnish such as anchovy, cheese, or some type of spread.

Canapé BaronGarnished with slices of fried mushrooms, grilled bacon, and poached bone marrow.
Canapé RitchieCreamed Haddock, garnished with slices of hard-boiled eggs.
Canapé Quo VadisGrilled roes garnished with small mushroom heads.
Canapé NinaHalf small grilled tomato, garnished with mushroom head and pickled walnut.
Garnish with shrimp bound with a curry sauce.
Angels on horsebackShucked oysters wrapped in bacon, though sometimes scallops are used in place of the oysters. This is then baked in the oven and quite often served on toast.
Devils on horsebackContains a pitted prune (dates are sometimes used) stuffed with mango chutney and wrapped in bacon. This is then baked in the oven and quite often served on toast, with watercress. Hot pepper sauce is often added.


These are shaped pieces of bread approximately ¼ inch thick and shallow fried.

Croute DerbySpread with ham puree and garnished with a pickled walnut.
Croute WindsorSpread with ham puree and garnished with small grilled mushrooms.
Croute DianePartly cooked chicken livers (fried) wrapped in streaky bacon and grilled on a skewer.
Scotch wook cockScrambled egg garnished with a trellis of anchovy and studded with capers.

Tartlettes (Round) or Barquettes (Oval)

These are normally made from unsweetened shortcrust pastry.

Charles VSoft roes mixed with butter, covered with cheese soufflé mixture, and baked in the oven.
FavoriteFilled with cheese soufflé mixture and slices of truffle. Garnished with slices of crayfish tails or prawns.
HaddockFilled with diced haddock bound with a curry sauce, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and cooked au gratin.


These are small puff pastry cases. A small edition of a vol-event. They have various fillings: shrimp, lobster, prawn, and haddock.

IndieeneFilled with curried shrimp and chutney.
OmelettesTwo / three-egg omelets with various flavors such as mushroom, spinach, sardine, anchovy, haddock, cheeses, etc.


These are made from unsweetened shortcrust pastry.

Quiche LorraineFlan is made from unsweetened shortcrust pastry and filled with rashers of streaky bacon and slices of cheese. Covered with a savory egg custard mixture and baked in the oven.


These are made in soufflé dishes. Various flavors such as mushroom, spinach, sardine, anchovy, haddock, cheeses, etc. are used.

Service of Savouries

  • The following cover should be laid for savories:
    • Hot fish plate
    • Side knife
    • Sweet fork
  • The accompaniments are to be set as follows:
    • Cayenne pepper: placed on the side plate on the table
    • Cruet: to be replaced if previously removed when clearing the main course
    • Peppermill: placed on the side plate on the table
    • Worcester sauce: only to be offered with a meat savory
  • If a variety of hot and cold sweets are being ordered by a party of people then the cold items must be served first followed by the hot items. One must ensure that the fish plate is hot for the savory. The correct cutlery and flatware are laid before serving and the necessary accompaniments are all on the table before service commences.
Article Reference
  • Deborah Madison (1990), The Savoury Way, Bantam Press.

  • Cordon Bleu Cookery School (1973), Cheese and Savouries, Macdonald.

  • Theodora Fitzgibbon(1982), Savouries, Century.

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