There are many lists of dishes to try in Scotland that I had pulled from, and got my ideas of foods to try while traveling the country. A lot of these lists are just that, lists of foods with a description. I am not sure if the writer had even tried them before.
I am not saying my list is better, but this is my personal recommendation list. I have titled this write up of Scottish dishes “Recommended” because they are just that, dishes that I have tried and recommend.
There are a lot of crossover dishes from England, which makes sense because Scotland is just north of England. Meals like fish and chips, a full breakfast, and scones do blur the lines between both regions of the United Kingdom. It is all still so delicious though!
I found Scottish food to be very hearty and caloric rich, as well as down right delectable. The heaviness of the dishes can be attributed to the country’s history, what was available, and the brisk weather to keep the body content. Traditional dishes in Scotland are great especially for those who like to feast without shame, like me!
Scottish Full Breakfast
One of my favorite things when I visit the United Kingdom is waking up to a full breakfast. Whether it is be Scottish or English, their breakfasts are a very important, and an impressive way to start the day.
A full plate of rashers, sausages, mushroom, eggs, grilled tomatoes, beans, and a lot of toast will either weigh you down, or give you a good morning boost. Typically a Scottish breakfast will also include Lorne (square) sausage, tattie scones, and black and white pudding.
Breakfast blog – English, Scottish, and Irish Full Breakfasts – Love a Good Fry-Up!
I do love a dram of whisky, and Scotland does have wonderful whisky. Scotch as it is commonly referred to is a malt or grain whisky (can be blended), and is made in Scotland. There are close to 140 distilleries operating in Scotland, and you can take a Scotch trail tour or go to a larger city, like Edinburgh, to try different types in a tasting room.
Traditionally all Scotch must be aged for at least three years in oak barrels, which gives it that rich and oaky flavor. It is a stiff drink with a minimum strength of 40% alcohol by volume.
If you enjoy whisky or Scotch, I do recommend spending some time exploring the different distillery brands. One of my favorites that I tried was, Bruadar, meaning “Dream”. Bruadar is a Scottish malt whisky liqueur with the flavors of sloe berries, and a smooth taste of honey. I enjoyed it because it went down very nicely, and had a good finish. I bought a medium sized bottle, and several small ones to bring home. I am sad that I drank it all, so I guess I will go back to Scotland for more!
Deep-Fried Mars Bars
Never say never! The first time I heard about deep fried Mars Bars was back in the 90s, and was appalled by the thought of it. I convinced myself that I would never eat such a greasy thing. Well fast forward 25+ years later, I am in Edinburgh destroying a gooey deep fried candy bar.
The deep fried Mars bars started in a chip shop in Edinburgh back in the 1990s. It is exactly what you think, a Mars candy bar that is battered, and then deep fried in oil. It is not the most healthiest of foods to try, but to just try it once while in the city where it originated, is all one needs.
Cullen Skink is a hearty and thick soup made with smoked haddock, onions, and potatoes. It is a delicious local specialty, from the town of Cullen, along the northeast coast of Scotland. This soup is often served at the start of a formal Scottish dinner, but it is also enjoyed as an everyday dish along the northeast of Scotland.
It took me three visits to Scotland to locate a bowl of Cullen Skink, and I found it in the city of Inverness, which is in the same region as Cullen, about 60 miles west. This creamy and chunky chowder is terrific, especially if you enjoy seafood.
I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this dessert. You would think this traditional Scottish dessert, Cranachan, would be easy to find but it really is not. This hearty sweet dessert is primarily prepared with whiskey, berries, cream, and oats.
I found this heavenly slice of cranachan at the Elephant House in Edinburgh. It is a lovely café where JK Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter, and is known as the Birth Place of HP.
Scones are typically known as being an English classic, but Scotland does have their style of this delicious quick bread. The slight difference between them is that a Scottish scone is similar to an American style biscuit, as opposed to an English scone which is more heartier and crumbly. With either style of scone, they are both lovely with a slater of clotted cream and house made jam.
If you make it up to the Orkney Islands, which are an archipelago in northeastern Scotland, you must try the dairy. That is what I was constantly told by the locals. With the area’s rich landscape of green pastures, the cows of Orkney churn out high quality milk. There are around fourteen dairy farms in the area, that produce solid dairy products.
While I was in Kirkwall, I stepped into a shop and picked up a package of Orkney ‘Highland Whisky’ Smoked Cheddar, and a scoop of honeycomb Orkney ice cream. Both were incredibly rich and creamy, very delicious. If you are keen to food texture, then you will certainly be able to taste the difference.
Tunnock’s Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers
Tunnock’s is a Scottish brand of sweets that was founded in 1890, and are well known for their Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers. I have tried both, and certainly love them both.
Their Tea Cakes are little shortbread biscuits that are covered with a dome of Italian meringue. Then topped with a whipped egg white concoction, which is similar to a lighter marshmallow. It is finished off by being dipped in milk chocolate.
The Tunnock’s Chocolate Coated Caramel Wafer Biscuit is also a nice sweet treat. Think five layers of light wafers, all separated by four layers of caramel. Then coated in milk or dark chocolate.
Fish and Chips
Who does not enjoy fish and chips? I know that I certainly love a good chippy. Throughout the United Kingdom, you will find all sorts of chip shops from the casual take-away, to a formal sit down establishment.
My suggestion when looking for a chippy in Scotland is to steer away from the casual take-away. For some reason I have not found them as good as the take-aways in England. If possible find a high quality fish and chip shop, or eat it in a nice pub or restaurant. Trust me, you will thank me later.
For more Fish an Chips – Fish and Chips | The Love of a Good Chippy
Haggis (Bon Bon)
Haggis is a Scottish dish containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs that are minced with oats, fat, onion, and spices. It is then cooked inside an artificial casting, but when cooked traditionally it is encased inside the animal’s stomach.
This was my first try at haggis, and it was during afternoon tea at the Balmoral in Edinburgh. I was told by others that I did not actually have the full haggis experience by eating a “posh bon-bon” during afternoon tea. I beg to differ, this was Haggis.
Scottish Fishy Pie
I do love this hearty Scottish dish, fishy pie or Fisherman’s pie. It is similar to a Shepard’s pie, but uses fish instead. Fish pie is said to of originated in Scotland, although this can be considered a British meal. It is just one more crossover dish between England and Scotland.
I have tried Fish Pie in the UK and Ireland, and it is one of my favorites. Think fish (typically smoked), mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese (optional), and a few other ingredients- it is a very flavorsome and hearty dish. I had this delicious cheesy fishy pie at The Elephant House in Edinburgh, which is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter.
Afternoon tea is another crossover from England, although the afternoon tea tradition has certainly crossed over worldwide. While I was in Edinburgh, I dipped into the luxurious Balmoral Hotel to have a first-class Scottish style afternoon tea.
I enjoy having afternoon tea when I travel because each country adds their own flair to it with traditional foods. In Scotland, I was offered Scottish scones and a haggis bon-bon, which is unique to the area.
As a solo traveler, partaking in Afternoon Tea is quite a big deal, and you have to be fine with enjoying your own company. I never felt alone having tea at the Balmoral, the servers and staff were all lovely and kind. The Palm Court itself is gorgeous and refined, with a live harpist who sets an elegant tone for the room.
I do enjoy afternoon tea, and the one offered at the Balmoral in Edinburgh has remained one of my top favorites. For my complete blog on the Balmoral, please read: Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh – Scottish Style
🍽 Additional Scotland food blog – What I ate in SCOTLAND – A Food Journal
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