Revealed: The Nation’s Biggest Lockdown Food Cravings

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We analysed Google searches to reveal the nation’s top food cravings during almost 100 days of lockdown.

With UK fast-food chains, restaurants and pubs set to reopen on 4th July, the anticipation is huge! After almost 14 weeks of home-cooked meals (and recipe fails), we're so ready for restaurants to take our money again.

Kitchens may have temporarily closed for business on 23rd March, but the food cravings lived on, with most Brits searching for their favourite chains and restaurants throughout lockdown on the off chance of finding a sneaky reopening date or a recipe to get their fix at home.

To find out who tops the nation's list of most-craved foods, we looked at daily search-demand around popular chains and ranked them from highest to lowest. Here’s what the country misses the most:


Kitchens are closed, but the cravings are real

A YouGov report showed 1 in 10 Brits orders a takeaway at least once a week, with more than half of us (54%) knowing exactly which restaurant we fancy before logging on to a food delivery app.

Pizza, burgers and sugary treats top the list of foods we miss the most, with more people searching for PizzaExpress, Burger King and Krispy Kreme than any other UK fast food-chain during lockdown. This is followed by Pizza Hut, Subway, Nando's and Domino's.

What we're craving:

1 PizzaExpress
2 Burger King
3 Krispy Kreme
4 Pizza Hut
5 Subway
6 Nando's
7 Domino's Pizza
8 Starbucks
9 Papa John's Pizza
10 Greggs
11 Wetherspoons
12 McDonald's
13 Harvester
14 Toby Carvery
15 Five Guys
16 KFC
17 Bella Italia
18 Wagamama
19 Itsu
20 TGI Friday's


Where we're missing our fast-food fix

Find out what everyone's craving, everywhere from London, Southampton and Bristol to Leeds and Liverpool.

Zooming in across the country, McDonald's takes the crown as the most-missed food in places like London, Belfast and Cardiff. According to Google searches, these are the McDonald’s dishes we hankered for most during lockdown:

1 Big Mac
2 McMuffin
3 Happy Meal
4 McNuggets

Cravings have been so intense, crowds headed out in droves to get their fix once drive-throughs started reopening. In some cases, police have been called in to assist, which might be a sign of things to come for the second-most popular food brand across all three areas, KFC.

In Liverpool and Manchester, Subway and Domino’s top the list of biggest cravings, and in Glasgow, Burger King and Subway dominate. In Newcastle, Greggs has everyone gagging for a grand reopening, and some vegan sausage rolls!


Famous recipes we tried to recreate at home

Thanks to brands publishing recipes of their signature dishes online, those of us who couldn't wait to get our hands on a takeaway during lockdown chose to recreate our favourite dishes at home. Here are the top 6 recipes we looked for:

Famous Recipe Winners
1 Greggs recipe
2 KFC recipe
3 Wagamama recipe
4 Nando's recipe
5 Ikea recipe
6 McDonald's recipe


When will the UK's food chains reopen?

As a nation of food-lovers, it goes without saying that one of the most common Google searches throughout lockdown revolved around when our favourite chains would reopen, typing the question into our search bars repeatedly during the weeks as we waited impatiently for news. Here are the brands we wondered about most often:  

1 is McDonald's open
2 is KFC open
3 is Burger King open
4 is Dominos open
5 is Subway open
6 is Nando's open
7 is Greggs open
8 is Papa John's open
9 is Five Guys open

Thankfully, with some restaurants, takeaways and drive-throughs having already opened, many of us have started crushing the cravings:  

  • McDonald's – Having opened thousands of drive-throughs in early June, McDonald's is set to open all high street, town and city centre restaurants across the UK by 24th June.
  • KFC – has already reopened 700 branches across the UK for delivery, drive-through or takeaway, with plans to roll out even more openings across the UK in the coming weeks.
  • Burger King

Around 52 branches have been reopened in the UK, with another 350 locations set to open for delivery and drive-through by the end of June.

  • Domino's – The pizza chain mostly remained open throughout lockdown for takeaways and has even added two new vegan pizzas to the menu.
  • Subway – The sandwich chain has already started reopening over 600 stores across the UK for takeaway and delivery, and will be reopening more locations in the coming weeks.
  • PizzaExpress – The restaurant opened 13 restaurants in London in late May to trial a limited menu and safety measures around takeaways, and is currently assessing plans to open others.
  • Krispy Kreme – Most stores are open for click and collect across the UK and the chain is also offering doughnut delivery by courier.
  • Pizza Hut – Much like Domino's, Pizza Hut remained open for deliveries throughout lockdown.
  • Starbucks – Around 150 Starbucks stores have opened in the UK, with most being drive-throughs, and plans to open other stores have not yet been announced.  
We sourced a list of the UK’s favourite restaurants from YouGov. Then we analysed daily search demand on Google Trends for each brand, between 23rd March and 23rd June. We then calculated an average score based on total search demand, ranking brands from highest to lowest for the period. We used the same formula for all other phrases analysed.

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