There are endless reasons to visit Scotland, a country which boasts one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. A great reason to add Scotland to your itinerary is to sample the local cuisine. Comforting, hearty, and satisfying, Scottish cuisine is shrouded in history and tradition and offers more than just Scotch!
Some of the more traditional dishes might be a little confronting to foreigners, particularly if you’re picky about what kind of meat you eat. But traveling is all about leaving your comfort zone! Keep reading to find out what 10 dishes you have to try when you visit Scotland.
10 Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It: Haggis
A lot of travelers develop opinions about haggis before they’ve tried it. Although it doesn’t sound like it would be everyone’s cup of tea, you should at least give it a go before you decide that you hate it. After all, this dish is probably the most adored in Scotland.
So what is haggis? It’s a pudding that contains the heart, liver, and lungs of sheep, that is mixed with spices, oatmeal, onion, and stock. You can also get vegan options now if the sheep’s pluck really is too much for you to stomach.
9 Thick Soup: Cullen Skink
The Scots do have a knack for making soup! Cullen skink is an old favorite. The main ingredients that go into this one are smoked haddock, onions, and potato. The consistency is thick and hearty—perfect for the Scottish weather! Some versions use milk or cream instead of water, making it even creamier.
People widely eat Cullen skink in the northeast of the country, as it comes from the northeastern town of Cullen. While it is eaten as an everyday dish, it is also usually served as a starter at formal dishes.
8 Delicious Pastry: Forfar Bridie
Across the United Kingdom, you’ll find various savory pastries that are stuffed with meat. A bridie is a Scottish invention that dates back to the 19th century. It can be compared to a pasty, except it doesn’t contain potatoes. Instead, it is stuffed with steak that has been ground, butter, sometimes onions, and beef suet.
You’ll easily be able to differentiate between a bridie and a pasty or a pie because of the triangular shape. Sometimes they are also fashioned into semi-circles, but they also come in triangular shapes with crimped edges.
7 Old Favorite: Mince And Tatties
There’s nothing fancy about mince and tatties, but that doesn’t mean that this dish is any less beloved in Scotland. The essence of the dish is very simple—it’s just ground beef (known as mince in the United Kingdom) and mashed potato (tatties). You might find some versions with other vegetables, such as carrots and other similar root veggies, but the basis of the dish is just in these two ingredients.
This is almost like the sloppy joe’s of Scotland because it’s one of the most popular meals served at schools. Definitely one to try!
6 Meat Pie: Scotch Pie
In the United States, pies tend to be sweet rather than savory. The idea of a pie filled with meat might be a little foreign, but this is how things are done in the United Kingdom. And they’re delicious! While in Scotland, you’ll likely get the chance to sample a Scotch pie, sometimes called a mutton pie. You should take it!
This is essentially a pie that’s filled with ground mutton. They’re usually served with accompaniments and garnishes such as gravy, baked beans, potatoes, brown sauce, and even egg.
5 Veggie Fix: Clapshot
A lot of Scottish dishes are heavy on the meat. If you’re looking for a veggie alternative while in Scotland, look no further than clapshot, which is normally served as a side dish. It’s basically a super delicious version of mashed potatoes, as it contains potatoes and turnips that are flavored with butter, chives, and seasoning. Delicious!
Often, you’ll find clapshot served alongside other famous Scottish dishes. You might get it along with your mince, or sausages, or haggis. In the cold Scottish winter, it’s the ultimate warming comfort food!
4 For Sweet Tooths: Dundee Cake
You’ll want to go to Scotland if you have a sweet tooth. There are quite a few cakes and other treats to sample, most of them being highly addictive. One of the yummiest, in our opinion, is Dundee cake. This fruit cake is usually made with sultanas, almonds, currants, and fruit peel. Reportedly, the Queen enjoys Dundee cake at tea time. If it’s good enough for the Queen!
Legend says that another Queen also enjoyed Dundee Cake. Mary, Queen of Scots, is said to have disliked glacé cherries in her fruit cakes, and so an early version of Dundee cake was brought to her using almonds instead of cherries.
3 Yummy Fish: Finnan Haddie
You can get fish and chips widely throughout Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. But one of the best seafood dishes in the country is known as Finnan haddie, or Finnan haddock. This is cold-smoked haddock that comes from the northeast of Scotland and has a very unique flavor.
Finnan haddie is sometimes served during special occasions, but it is also served as an everyday meal. Exactly how far back the Scots were eating Finnan haddie is debated. Some historians say it was being consumed as early as the 16thcentury.
2 Breakfast Treat: Lorne Sausage
If you see this served in Scotland, you might not immediately recognize that it’s a sausage. Sausages are typically associated with a long and cylindrical shape, but lorne sausage is square. It is sliced before serving so it just looks like meatloaf.
Lorne sausage is sometimes made with pork or beef, or a combination of the two, as well as other ingredients to enhance the flavor. According to The Edinburgh Address, it is often served at breakfast time and appears as another addition on a full plate brandishing a traditional Scottish breakfast.
1 Ultimate Comfort Food: Deep-Fried Mars Bars
If you’ve got a stomach that’s sensitive to sugar or grease, then this may not be the right Scottish delicacy for you to sample. But otherwise, you have to give it a shot! Chances are, you’ll probably fall in love.
A deep-fried Mars bar is self-explanatory. It’s a Mars chocolate bar that is deep-fried. Yes, it’s divine. No, it’s not good for you. Thanks to the booming popularity of the fried Mars in the 1990s, now you can get other deep-fried confectionary around the world. The American answer to this is the deep-fried Snickers.