Background Kidneys from non-white donors have inferior outcomes, but it is unclear if ethnicity matching between donors and recipients achieves better post kidney transplant outcomes. Methods We undertook a retrospective, population cohort study utilising UK Transplant Registry data. The cohort comprised adult, kidney-alone, transplant recipients receiving their first kidney transplant between 2003–2015, with data censored at 1st October 2016. We included 27,970 recipients stratified into white (n = 23,215), black (n = 1,679) and south Asian (n = 3,076) ethnicity, with median post-transplant follow-up of 1,676 days (IQR 716–2,869 days). Unadjusted and adjusted Cox regression survival analyses were performed to investigate ethnicity effect on risk for graft loss and mortality. Results In unadjusted analyses, matched ethnicity between donors-recipients resulted in better outcomes for delayed graft function, one-year creatinine, graft and patient survival but these differed by ethnicity matches. Compared to white-to-white transplants, risk for death-censored graft loss was higher in black-to-black and similar among Asian-to-Asian transplants, but mortality risk was lower for both black-to-black and Asian-to-Asian transplants. In Cox regression models, compared to white donors, we observed higher risk for graft loss with both south Asian (HR 1.38, 95%CI 1.12–1.70, p = 0.003) and black (HR 1.66, 95%CI 1.30–2.11, p<0.001) donated kidneys independent of recipient ethnicity. We observed no mortality difference with south Asian donated kidneys but increased mortality with black donated kidneys (HR 1.68, 95%CI 1.21–2.35, p = 0.002). Matching ethnicities made no significant difference in any Cox regression model. Similar results were observed after stratifying our analysis by living and deceased-donor kidney transplantation. Conclusions Our data confirm inferior outcomes associated with non-white kidney donors for kidney transplant recipients of any ethnicity in a risk-adjusted model for the United Kingdom population. However, contrary to non-renal transplant literature, we did not identify any survival benefits associated with donor-recipient ethnicity matching.