While there are plenty of things to see and do in Scotland, one of the most underrated experiences is exploring Scottish foods.
Think Scotland only has steak pie, haggis and Irn Bru to offer? Think again.
Scotland has a rich cultural heritage. And its largest city, Glasgow, was once the second city in the Empire and the Clyde has ferried in immigrants from across the world.
Walking any Scottish city centre, you can find Indian, Italian, French, Spanish, Lebanese, Chinese, Polish, Greek and Indian cuisines.
Indeed, Glasgow is where one of the most popular ‘Indian’ dishes, chicken tikka tasala, was invented.
With that being said, let’s have a look at the top 30 things to eat in Scotland that you may not find anywhere else in the world.
30 Scottish Foods You Don’t Want to Miss
Scotland’s iconic national dish may sound weird to visitors. Yet it is a divine dish that everyone should at least try once.
Haggis is made from every part of a sheep. Traditionally, it’s made from what is called sheep’s pluck – finely chopped liver, lungs, and heart.
It is mixed with lots of flavours and spices – oatmeal, herbs, suet, spices, and seasoning. The meal is packed into sheep intestines and baked or boiled.
Not everyone may like the idea of eating sheep intestines. But you may put the intestinal casing aside and enjoy the stuffing just fine.
One of the most decadent Scottish foods is a lobster served straight from the sea.
Boiled, steamed or grilled and then slathered in melted butter, a Scottish lobster can bring a whole new experience even to veteran lobster connoisseurs.
Try the luxurious lobster Thermidor or the more down-to-earth lobster rolls. Lobsters also make a great addition to pasta dishes.
If you are doing the North Coast 500, make sure to stop in at the Seafood Shack in Ullapool for fresh caught ‘spineys’.
Neeps and Tatties
To get started with basic lingo for Scottish foods, you should know that neeps are turnips and tatties are potatoes.
In Scotland, neeps and tatties combine like carrots and peas in some other cuisines.
Neeps and tatties are usually served with haggis, but they can be seen in many other Scottish dishes.
Thanks to their fairly modest nature, neeps and tatties can indeed suit many other local and non-local dishes.
And if you add chives and butter, you get clapshot, a dish that offers richer flavor without making things too complex.
The staple of a Scottish diet and cuisine culture, the Scottish porridge isn’t nearly as weird-sounding as haggis.
Whether you are trying a gourmet restaurant porridge or one from Scott’s Porage Oats, you will surely understand what the appeal of this Scottish dish.
You can play around with the flavour and texture of the porridge by adding more salt or sunflower seeds.
Speaking of salt, the Scottish porridge is made with plenty of salt, so you may need to tone it down a little if you don’t like too salty dishes.
No list of Scottish foods is complete without this!
A traditional Scottish breakfast is similar to a full English or Irish breakfast, except that its dish list is very different.
Traditionally, a full Scottish breakfast comes with tattie scones, black pudding, and lorne sausage.
Sometimes, haggis is included along with white pudding (which is similar to black pudding but with fat instead of blood). Tattie scones are also sometimes mixed with butter or lashings.
Such heavy breakfasts aren’t typical in many areas outside Scotland, so expect to leave the morning table unusually full.
And in spite of being a breakfast, this dish can be found all day long in most places in Scotland.
Black pudding may seem like some kind of a dessert, but this dish actually is counted in the same category as haggis.
One of the savoury Scottish foods, black pudding involves pork fat or beef suet along with cereal like oatmeal or barley groats.
If this doesn’t sound unusual to you, then add pork blood to the mix to get the black pudding in all its glory.
This again is a fairly strange dish for those who aren’t familiar with the Scottish cuisine, but it’s very popular here.
You could easily find the black pudding in the menu of the best cafes and chippies alike.
Fresh fish is another strong suit of Scotland. Among the fish offered by the Scottish shore waters is the Scottish salmon.
Scottish salmon is a local dish, you can find it in many high-end restaurants or supermarkets around the world.
Thanks to its unparalleled flavour and texture, the Scottish salmon is highly valued by fish lovers beyond the borders of Scotland.
The Scotch pie is a small double-crust meat pie usually made with minced mutton. However, other meat may be used as well.
This pie can be served hot or cold according to your taste.
You can actually find Scotch pie in other parts of the United Kingdom. But it’s particularly popular to eat in Scotland, perhaps because it’s believed to have originated there.
Notably, every year butchers and bakers from all around Scotland and abroad participate in the World Scotch Pie Championship.
If you are feeling bold, try a scotch pie in a roll with butter. I promise you, it will not disappoint!
Bangers and Mash
Bangers and mash is a classic supper dish in any British household. You can find this Scottish food throughout the United Kingdom.
Yet the Scottish style may be the most to your taste since local bangers (sausages) are second to none.
After all, Scottish bangers are made with locally raised meat of the highest quality!
While the key ingredients in this dish are bangers and mashed potatoes, you may also come across more exotic flavors mixed in (like apple or venison).
Leek and Tattie Soup
This modest style of Scottish soup is the kind of dish that your grandma may serve you for lunch.
In spite of its simplicity, the leek and tattie soup is served at Burns night Suppers.
This is an important cultural event celebrating Scottish poet Robert Burns and his brilliant works.
Shortbread is perhaps the most famous snack and side dish from Scotland.
This treat is a favourite well beyond Scotland – it has built a name around the whole world!
This snack/dessert option has been around since 1736.
Although the world saw the first printed recipe of shortbread in that year, while the food itself probably has been known well before.
This buttery goodness comes in all shapes and sizes. Shortbread makes for a perfect gift for any occasion.
However, it is usually associated with Christmas, Hogmanay (Scots’ word for the last day of the year) and weddings.
Is it really a surprise that you can find haggis-flavoured crisps in Scotland? It’s the perfect way to enjoy the taste without eating parts of a sheep that you don’t want to try.
Local haggis crisps allow you to enjoy the flavour in a product of more casual form.
Yet another Scottish snack aka dessert is the Scottish tablet. It is a sweet fudge-like food made from sugar, butter, and condensed milk boiled to a soft-ball stage.
While the Scottish tablet is similar to the fudge, it’s not the same. Fudge has a soft texture, whereas tablets have a brittle and grainy texture.
In spite of being a little more rustic than fudge, tablets still offer plenty of creaminess.
Perhaps most importantly, the Scottish tablet contains unusually high amounts of sugar.
And so it definitely isn’t the healthiest snack out there. But due to this, it serves as a great treat for special occasions!
An oatcake may be a simple snack, but it’s the staple of a true Scot’s diet and a common Nova Scotia food.
In spite of its simplicity, this snack can work greatly with other foods. For example, you may mix it with butter, cheese, peanut butter, or chocolate spread.
An oatcake may be a simple snack, but it’s the staple of a true Scot’s diet. In spite of its simplicity, this snack can work greatly with other foods.
For example, you may mix it with butter, cheese, peanut butter, or chocolate spread.
With a little bit of imagination, you can also transform an oatcake into fancy canapes with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Not surprisingly, you can also find them in Nova Scotia, Canada.
As you can see, the true value of oatcakes lies in that you can make absolutely everything with them. You only need the desire and the ingredients.
Not only that, but this rustic piece of snack can perfectly serve as a side dish.
One of the most popular Scottish foods, chips around here differ drastically from French fries.
In Scotland, chips are made from big and proud Scottish tatties and fried at local chip shops. The key feature of Scottish chips is that they go with salt and plenty of sauce.
Depending on where you are in Scotland, you will be served different kinds of sauce. And so you can’t really get bored with this simple snack while traveling around the country.
Of course, being a snack, chips are best served as a side dish to deep-fried haggis, smoked haddock, or other meats.
An insanely iconic treat from the north, Tunnock’s Teacakes are likely to make many people in Scotland nostalgic.
This Scottish dessert treat is made of a small round shortbread base topped with a marshmallow-like Italian meringue.
All this is encased into a thin layer of dark chocolate and milk and then wrapped into the iconic red and silver foil paper.
Appearing similar to other sweets, the Tunnock’s Teacake can still amaze you with its delicate chocolate layer flaking off as you bite into it.
Scottish for sour plum, the sharply flavoured Soor Plooms have been the favorite snack of school children and adults alike throughout Scotland.
One of the more tart Scottish foods, it originated in the town of Galashiels in Borders. The green boiled sweets of Soor Plooms seem to commemorate a battle that raged in the town in the 14th century. In the battle, English raiders were fought off with a bunch of unripe plums.
Whether this is how things went in reality or not, make sure to try out Soor Plooms while in Scotland if you like sour things.
Edinburgh Rock, not to be confused with its English counterpart, is a soft confection made with sugar and cream of tartar. It also includes colorings and flavorings.
This treat is also sometimes called Edinburgh Castle Rock. With a soft and crumbly texture, Edinburgh Rock is quite different from conventional rock confections that are much harder.
Edinburgh Rock is thought to have been first made by Alexander Ferguson, who is also known as“Sweetie Sandy”.
He learned confectionery trade in Glasgow, then Ferguson moved to Edinburgh to set up his business. Additionally, thanks to the success of Edinburgh Rock, Ferguson retired a very rich man.
Deep Fried Mars Bar
Have you ever thought to deep fry a Mars bar? Probably not.
Well, the Scots have thought about it, and no matter how crazy their idea was, it turned out to be one of the most popular Scottish foods.
The deep fried Mars bar isn’t the first dessert of its kind. There also are things like the fried ice cream, which is a few decades older.
But it’s spectacular how someone has thought of deep-frying specifically a Mars bar.
The preparation of the deep-fried Mars bar is simple. A regular Mars bar is battered and placed in a deep fryer.
A little bit later, what comes out is a chocolatey, melted and sweet dessert.
Thanks to its simplicity, you could actually make the deep-fried Mars bar at home!
Sticky Toffee Pudding
This little pudding is sweetness galore! Well, have a look at what it’s made from – moist sponge cake topped with dates, toffee sauce, and vanilla custard.
The sticky toffee pudding is a delight of the dessert lover.
If you particularly like ice cream, then you may replace vanilla custard with ice cream. Of course, this is sometimes done with some recipes of this dessert.
Cranachan is a concoction of honey, fresh raspberries, toasted oatmeal, whipped cream and whisky.
Due to the presence of whisky, you could consider this a beverage, but it’s more of a dessert than a drink.
A traditional recipe of Cranachan implies crowdie cheese in place of whipped cream. Y
et some people find the cheese flavour a little bit weird and too contrasting with the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients.
Some recipes also don’t include whisky. You should try both variants, but we think that you will particularly like the whisky variety.
The Dundee cake is a famous Scottish fruitcake that has been made in Dundee and the eastern coastal areas of Scotland from around the early 1800s.
The origins of this Scottish food trace back to Mary, Queen of Scots. She is thought to have inspired this fruit cake after she made it clear that she didn’t like cherries in her fruit cakes.
A hugely popular dessert in its native areas, the Dundee cake is no less renowned across the entire country.
It is made with almonds which are a replacement for cherries. Also it has currants and sultanas, the Dundee cake is a rich addition to any table.
This rich treat in the form of a loaf is made with raisins, currants, black treacle, and subtle spice flavors.
One of the Scottish foods associated with an event. The black bun (sometimes called Scotch bun) was originally eaten on the Twelfth Night.
But it’s now strongly associated with Hogmanay. Aside from that, the black bun is part of the tradition of first-footing.
On the number one spot of Scottish drinks we, of course, have Scotch whisky, which is often referred to as Scotch.
Brewed since at least the 15th century, Scotch is widely considered as one of the finest whisky varieties in the world.
The making process of Scotch is carefully controlled by Scottish law.
Traditionally, Scotch is brewed from malted barley, though wheat and rye have been recently allowed as well. Then, the brew is aged in oak barrels for at least three years.
In the end, you get a brown liquor with complex flavour and bouquet that may be anywhere between honeyed and heavily smoked.
Cider is quite popular across the UK. But in Scotland, you should obviously look for local varieties made with Scottish apples.
Among local brands are Thistly Cross Cider, Waulkmill Cider, and Clyde Cyder.
Aside from looking for specific brands, you may ask the bartender to serve the most local kind of cider to you.
Drambuie is a liqueur that has been commercially produced in Edinburgh since the early 20th century.
This drink is made from Scotch, herbs, honey, and spices. In its turn, Drambuie is used to make the Rusty Nail cocktail along with its variations like the Bent Nail or the Coffin Nail.
Remarkably, in 1916, Drambuie became the first liqueur to be allowed in the cellars of the House of Lords.
Aside from that, Drambuie began to be shipped with the messes of British Army officers.
Beer has been brewed in Scotland for centuries. But the Scottish ale as a beer variety was first brewed fairly recently – to be more precise, in Edinburgh in the 18th century.
In spite of its young age, the Scottish ale is a very popular style of Scottish beer.
Its dark and sweet and smoky brew has met acclaim well beyond Scotland. Brewers in countries like Belgium or the US are currently serving this style of beer.
Gin has long been a big deal in the UK. Scotland is home to nearly 200 gin varieties. The number of local gin styles is growing quickly in Scotland.
With new artisan distillers appearing regularly, you are likely to find something new every time you visit .
The most known Scottish gin variety to non-locals is Caorunn. This goes really well with a slice of red apple plus cinnamon stick if you’re up to it.
With that being said, do make sure to try out other Scottish gin varieties. Perhaps the best way to do so is to attend the annual Speyside Gin Experience held in July.
Don’t miss this great opportunity to try a variety of Scottish gins!
The caffeinated soft drink Irn-Bru (“iron brew”) is often described as the country’s “other national drink” after whisky.
Within the borders of Scotland, this orange soda well outsells Coca-Cola and other competitors that are much more known around the world.
Part of the reason for Irn-Bru’s popularity was the producer’s innovative and often controversial marketing campaigns.
This soft drink is so popular that it’s sometimes recommended as a morning cure for hangovers caused by Scotch.
Originally, this soft drink was branded Iron Brew, and its current label was adopted in 1947.
And as you’ve probably guessed, the exact formula of Irn-Bru is kept in secret, just like it is with Coca-Cola.
Tea has been insanely popular in Scotland since its introduction to the country in the 17th century.
If you didn’t know, Thomas Lipton, the founder of the world-renowned Lipton tea brand, was Scottish.
He was a Scots Irish, to be more precise, but that doesn’t change the fact.
You don’t have to go out of your way to have a sip of Scottish tea. In whichever hotel you happen to stay, tea will likely be among the first things served in the morning.
You will also probably be offered tea throughout the day in other places!
What Scottish foods would you add to the list?