Scottish food is quite unlike any other food in the world. Hearty, unique, and downright delicious, great food and drink are an integral part of experiencing Scottish culture. Many traditional dishes we’ll cover today have been perfected over generations and use natural, local produce from earth, air, and sea. If you want to attune yourself deeply to Scotland, there’s no better way to do so than trying these Scottish foods and dishes.
So, from haggis, neeps, tatties, Cranachan, and many more funny-sounding words that we assure you taste delicious, look out for the following traditional dishes while visiting Scotland.
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Our first traditional Scottish dish is also the national dish of Scotland! Haggis is the iconic national dish that you’ve likely heard about at one point. It is made from animal innards, usually sheep, which are mixed with fresh onions, oatmeal, seasonings, beef suet, and dried herbs.
These ingredients are brought together and cooked inside the lining of a sheep’s stomach — delicious, right? Traditionally served with neeps and tatties, haggis is the meal every Scottish child grew up with and learnt to savour, even if it doesn’t sound as appetising from an outsider’s perspective.
Scotland’s national dish takes a real adventurous spirit to try, but rest assured that once you get over your initial apprehension you’re in for an authentic Scottish delicacy.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips are likely another delicious Scottish food that you’ve heard of. It’s not only a famous food in Scotland but is beloved throughout the rest of the UK as well. You’ll see it referred to as a fish supper in Scotland, and you can find this scrumptious meal abundantly in fish and chip shops throughout the country.
If you can get fish and chips near the coast, then you’re in for a real treat! Freshly caught and fried fish, and triple-cooked fluffy chips, all smothered in salt and brown sauce, is a heavenly meal after you’ve spent a day exploring attractions. And while this may be a controversial opinion, Scottish fish and chips are the king amongst the fish and chippies you can find throughout the UK — don’t believe us? Why not try it for yourself?
While it’s not a meal you should have every day, a proper fish and chips is a rite of passage for anyone coming to Scotland.
In the northeastern corner of the country, the delicious Cullen skink was created in the Scottish town of Cullen. Cullen skink is a thick Scottish soup usually made with fragrant smoked haddock or another smoked fish, potatoes, onions, and a creamy broth to die for. Add in a toasted slice of bread and you’ll be asking for another bowl in no time.
Cullen skink is quite close to American chowder or French Bisque but is considered to be smokier and heartier than either. It is an unrivalled comfort meal on a cold day that can be found throughout Scotland — although Cullen is the true home of this Scottish cuisine staple.
Deep Fried Mars Bars
While many of Scotland’s dishes originate from home-cooked meals cooked by generations of Scottish families, the deep-fried Mars bar is a relatively new addition. John Davie invented this union of deep-fried goodness and sweet chocolate while running the Haven Chip Bar in Stonehaven (a town near Aberdeen).
He battered a Mars bar with flour, eggs, and milk before dunking it in the deep fryer. The result was a crispy battered coated that held a melted chocolate centre. As you can imagine, the deep-fried Mars bar was an instant hit and can now be found in ‘chippies’ all over Scotland. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the opportunity to deep fried goodness!
Only a few people know that porridge originated in Scotland, although the Scottish porridge has a slight twist compared to the porridge you know and love. Instead of sugar, Scottish porridge has salt added to it. You get a hot, savoury breakfast meal that is cheap to make and delicious to eat.
If you want a little sweetness when trying Scottish porridge, don’t worry — many places offer this breakfast meal with fresh raspberries, strawberries, and more to instil some natural sugars into the traditional Scottish dish. Scottish porridge has been a staple for Scottish locals for centuries, so why not embrace this filling breakfast before you start a day of sightseeing in the Highlands?
Neeps and Tatties
Neeps and tatties are the adorable Scottish terms for turnips and potatoes, a coupling that has accompanied the best food in Scotland. The turnips and potatoes are traditionally boiled and then mashed, creating a creamy and flavourful pairing to roasted meat you can’t help but dig into.
Although they’re traditionally served with haggis — creating the ‘Burns Supper’ — you can find this healthy and hearty set of sides in many Scottish menus, from the Borders to the Highlands.
A Scottish tablet is not an ancient inscribed stone but rather a delicious crumbly treat similar to fudge. A traditional Scottish tablet is made from butter, condensed milk, and sugar, which is then crystallised to form yummy hard candies. They make for fantastic road snacks, and if you want to know where you can find the best Scottish tablets then look no further than the Isle of Skye.
Best of all, they come in various flavours, from standard cream and vanilla to smooth whisky. If you don’t drink but want to experience the diverse whisky culture of Scotland, then a flavoured Scottish tablet may be the next best thing. Add this sweet tooth special to your food tour as a dessert you can enjoy.
Guests coming to Scotland during the holidays should try Cranachan, a traditional Scottish treat that was originally a harvest time celebration. Historically, Cranachan was served after June’s raspberry season but now can be eaten during holidays throughout the year — especially Christmas.
The dessert is made from whipped cream, whisky, fresh raspberries, oat groats, and honey and served in a tall glass. The ingredients are layered one after another, forming a dessert that is almost too pretty to eat… almost. Some places even allow guests to layer their Cranachan, letting them create the perfect dessert for themselves.
Cranachan is considered the ‘uncontested king of Scottish dessert’, but we’ll let you decide if that’s true.
Full Scottish Breakfast
Scotland is known for their whisky, gin, and rum. And after a night of sampling the finest liquor that Scotland has to offer, there’s nothing better than indulging in a full Scottish breakfast the following morning.
A Scottish breakfast has all the delicious staples you expect, from sausage meat, fried eggs, baked beans, tattie scones, black pudding, fried tomatoes, toasted bread, and hash browns. What more could you want? Places throughout Scotland also offer local twists on this Scottish staple, with no breakfast the same wherever you go.
If you need energy to explore the attractions that Scotland has to offer, a full Scottish breakfast is the ideal start to your day.
Stovies are a delicious starter that can fill you up quite quickly if you’re not careful. Made primarily from potatoes along with onions, carrots, fat, and meat, stovies are stewed and served to accompany a meal — usually with oat cakes for some crunch.
There’s nothing better than a stovie on a cold day so if you see this scrumptious starter and side on the menu while in Scotland make sure to pick it.
The far-flung Outer Hebrides of Scotland have a wide selection of regional Scottish food that you should not miss — most of all, black pudding. This treat is made from pork blood, oat groats, oatmeal, pork suet, and a number of spices. The amount of oats in Scottish black pudding separates it from the other kinds of blood sausages you’ll find worldwide.
While black pudding may stoke the same fears as haggis, you should take the leap and try this tasty piece of Scottish cuisine with a part of a full Scottish breakfast. And if you want the real stuff, grab a bit of Stornoway black pudding during your culinary trip to Scotland.
A slight departure from food, but we can’t mention famous Scottish foods without throwing in something to wash it down with. Scotch Whisky is locally produced in many parts of Scotland, each adding its own flair to the smooth and flavourful alcohol. The Isle of Islay, Campbeltown, the Scottish Borders and the Highlands are all prime places to indulge in a wee dram after a hearty meal!
If you’re just as much of a lover of Scottish drinks as you are food, you should also pay a visit to the wide selection of Edinburgh gin distilleries as well.
Scotland’s favourite savoury treat, you can’t go wrong with Scotch pies! These decadent mini treats are most commonly found throughout the British Isles as a double-crust meat pie. You know you’re biting into a good Scotch pie when the crust is crispy and flaky, with rich minced mutton meat in the centre. Best of all, you can eat them whether they’re hot or cold!
Scotland takes its Scotch pies very seriously and hosts the World Scotch Pie Championship every year, elevating the heights this humble treat can reach.
We can’t talk about traditional Scottish foods without mentioning Cock-a-Leekie Soup. This traditional Scottish soup is also the national soup of Scotland, and for good reason! The soup dates back to the 16th century and has been a warm staple for a Scottish winter night ever since!
Cock-a-Leekie is similar to a French chicken soup, which makes sense considering how many gentry arrived in Scotland from France. It’s a traditional dish made with peppered chicken stock, thickened with rice and barley, and then imbued with aroma thanks to onions and leaves.
Mull Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar cheese from the Isle of Mull isn’t your ordinary cheese. It is one of the finest Scottish delicacies you can try and is exclusive to this small island in the Inner Hebrides. The secret to its rich and creamy texture with a boozy tang is the cow’s milk the cheese is made from.
Isle of Mull cows feed on the fermented grain produced by the nearby Tobermory Distillery, creating a cheese that is quite unlike you’ve ever tasted anywhere before (and potentially some boozy cows). Whether you’re planning to use it for Scottish cooking or to enjoy on a cracker, we’ll bet you’ll love this unique Scottish cheese.
Specific kinds of beef are the cream of the crop: Wagyu beef, Brahman beef, and Aberdeen Angus beef. This hornless breed of cattle is found in Aberdeenshire but can be seen regularly throughout the North East region of Scotland.
The beef is excellently marbled and tender, making it one of the must-try Scottish foods if you love a good steak.
Bangers and Mash
A combination of sausages and mashed potatoes, bangers and mash is the height of comfort Scottish food. You’ll see this creamy and hearty meal as a regular staple throughout bars and restaurants in Scotland, with some versions also offering a thick gravy.
More adventurous bangers and mash may even have apples and venison sausages instead of local pork sausages. Before you leave Scotland, ensure you try this easy-to-find Scottish food.
The morning after a night of tasting excellent Scottish whisky can be tough, but don’t fear — the bacon butty is here to save the day! While not a lavish and refined meal, the bacon butty is a typical Scottish food you’ll be able to find throughout the country.
Picture this: a delicious soft buttered bun with hot and crispy bacon piled in and drizzled with ketchup. Doesn’t that sound like heaven after a night of knocking back drams? The bacon butty is one of the top Scottish foods to try after a night out.
Scottish Ice Cream
When the elusive sunny day arrives in Scotland, you bet there are numerous delicious ice cream parlours and cafes open selling local ice cream. And for a nation that spends most of its year underneath clouds rather than the sun, Scottish ice cream is absolutely divine.
A particular ice cream flavour that represents Scotland well is Scotch whisky! The mixture of smooth vanilla or milk chocolate with a distinctive whisky aftertaste is mouth watering.
Sticky toffee pudding is a traditional Scottish dessert that can be enjoyed throughout the UK. Consisting of a moist sponge cake base, drenched in toffee sauce and accompanied with a vanilla custard or ice cream, sticky toffee pudding is the ultimate dessert treat after a filling meal.
Those coming to Scotland with a bit of a sweet tooth will likely consider this the best dessert Scotland offers.
Scottish salmon are considered to be of the finest quality in the world and can be found throughout Scotland’s snaking rivers and expansive lochs. You’re always close to a smoked salmon meal in Scotland, a blessing considering how succulent this fish tastes when paired with the other dishes we’ve mentioned on this list.
Whether you’re having it as part of a full seafood spread at coastal towns like Portree and North Berwick, or grabbing a delicious smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, you should absolutely try this amazing seafood option.
From one delicious seafood to another, why not pair your smoked salmon with hand-picked West Coast Scottish scallops? Many of Scotland’s towns offer an abundance of delicious seafood options, and these refined and ethically sourced scallops are the best of the best. You’ve never had seafood quite like this!
Rumbledthumps are a whimsical-sounding and delicious traditional food in Scotland that can exclusively be found in the Scottish Borders. The dish combines butter-sauted cabbage with onions and mashed potatoes. Atop the delectable filling, cheddar cheese is spread, giving it a golden brown coating that makes your mouth water.
When Scottish fishermen would travel out to score a catch long ago, they would bring with them Arbroath smokies to take along the journey. The most famous version of this fisherman’s tradition is the Arbroath smokies, which consisted of haddock salted and dried overnight and then smoked in a barrel.
This traditional Scottish food is deeply embedded in Scotland’s history — one more reason to try this smoked haddock snack.