No trip to Scotland is complete without sampling some of our traditional cuisine. From the meaty meals like haggis and black pudding to the sweet treats such as tablet and shortbread, Scotland has rich culinary traditions that the locals are proud of. Below we have listed some of Scotland’s most traditional foods everyone must try at least once!
Haggis is perhaps Scotland’s most iconic national dish that is often served on special occasions like Burns Night and St Andrew’s Day. A few myths and legends surround haggis, the main one being that haggis is a wild four-legged highland creature. Haggis is in fact made of sheep’s heart, liver, lungs and stomach, mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices. Some people who enjoy haggis prefer to not know what they are really eating! This dish is traditionally served with the classic sides of ‘neeps and tatties’ – Scotland’s way of saying turnip and potatoes. Nowadays, restaurants have experimented with delicious ways to enjoy haggis and serve haggis in the style of bon bons with whisky sauce or even haggis pakora.
Made from Scotland’s main crop, oats, Porridge has been a staple food here since the Middle Ages. Previously, porridge was part of a farmer’s staple diet and eaten no matter the time of day. Nowadays, porridge is a common breakfast dish that is served as a hot cereal. Despite being a stodgy dish, porridge is part of a hearty, healthy diet that keeps you feeling fuller between meals as they stabilize blood sugar levels. Most people like to add a bit of flavour to their porridge by topping it with some fruit and honey.
There’s nothing better for a sweet tooth than traditional Scottish tablet. This sweet treat is similar to fudge in appearance but differs slightly in taste as tablet is a little grainier and melts in your mouth. Not only is tablet incredibly tasty, it’s very easy to make too. Just boil the three main ingredients: sugar, condensed milk and butter. However, the key to getting it right is the temperature – most bakers will say 115 to 120 degrees is the magic temperature. If you do fancy making your own tablet, be sure to use a sugar thermometer to get the temperature exact. Scottish tablet always makes a lovely gift or souvenir.
Black pudding is another traditional Scottish dish that is very similar to haggis as they are both made with the same ingredients: onions, pork fat, oatmeal and spices. The key difference is that black pudding is made from pigs’ blood, which holds all the ingredients together. The key ingredient may not sound so appealing but black pudding is considered as a ‘superfood’ as it’s loaded with protein, potassium, calcium and iron, making it an ideal breakfast dish.
This delicious buttery biscuit has been enjoyed in Scotland ever since the 12th century onwards but it’s thought that Mary, Queen of Scots refined it to become what we know as shortbread today. Shortbread quite literally comes in all shapes and sizes – circles, squares, rectangles, hearts and stars – and is a lovely accompaniment to tea. Like tablet, shortbread also make a lovely gift and is commonly given at Christmas and Hogmanay and there are several world-renowned Scottish shortbread companies who put together lovely traditional gifts. Or, if you fancy baking your own, all you need is plain flour, butter and caster sugar!
Full Scottish Breakfast
Nothing beats a full Scottish breakfast on a Sunday morning! A typical full Scottish breakfast is complete with bacon, potato scone, square sausage, fried egg, beans, black pudding, mushrooms and toast. Not as nutritious as porridge but definitely tastier! If you find a café in Scotland that serves an all-day full breakfast, you’ve found yourself a winner.
We love hearty homemade soup here in Scotland, especially when it’s Cullen skink. Cullen skink is a thick soup made from smoked haddock, potatoes and onion. Traditionally, Cullen skink is served as a starter at former Scottish dinners like Burns’ Suppers or Ceilidhs, but it’s also served as an everyday dish across the country, mainly in the northeast in a town called Cullen in Moray where the soup is a local speciality. In need of a winter warmer? Why not make your own Cullen skink?
Sample the best flavours of Scotland through our Flavours of Scotland package. Choose any meal, any course and there are ingredients to inspire – from delicate seafood starters to soft-fruit dessert. There are distilleries set in inspiring scenery, Lowland farm shops, seacoast smokehouses, as well as restaurants, bistros and hotels, some of the places to encounter Scotland’s finest flavours.