Is there a better way to get to know a culture than through its food? Art and architecture are all very well, but the food and drink of a country is kept alive over the centuries, making it one of the truest ways to discover all the nuances of a culture. In Edinburgh, Scottish food is a part of culture and economy.
Populated by hillsides, fertile lands and seas, Scotland produces all kinds of fresh food that you can’t miss on your next trip in one of its most typical dishes. Join us on this gastronomic journey and let’s discover together the main exponents of Scottish gastronomy.
What to expect from typical Scottish foods?
If you’re about to travel to Edinburgh or Scotland, you can’t leave without trying one or two (at least) of its typical dishes. Whether you have an adventurous palate ready for new flavours, an eccentric food-proof stomach that can’t be shocked by anything, or a more classic taste for food with no intention of stepping out of its comfort zone, Scottish food is sure to have a good option for you.
We’ll tell you about these typical Scottish dishes to get your whisky mouth watering.
You could call this the number one Scottish dish, as it’s the national dish – even the poet Robert Burns dedicated a few words to it!
Old Scotland doesn’t want watery things,
That splash on little wooden plates;
But if you want her grateful prayer,
Give Scotland a Haggis!
Not suitable for vegetarians and/or vegans, this dish is composed of lamb offal mixed with spices, salt, onion and oats, all inside a bag made from the animal’s stomach. You should also know that the offal is usually the liver, lungs and heart.
It is usually served with mashed potatoes, turnips and a whisky sauce. If you can get away from the fact that you’re eating vital organs, go for it! It’s a truly exquisite dish.
Recommend restaurant in Edinburgh: Arcade Bar, Haggis & Whisky House – celebrating 20 years of serving The Best Haggis in Town!
The second dish on this list of typical Scottish food is a small, double-crusted pie filled with minced lamb or some other animal. It can be eaten hot or cold. It is the star of the annual World Scotch Pie Championships between butchers and bakers.
It is usually accompanied by chips and peas.
You’ll find Scottish salmon anywhere in the world for one simple reason: it’s delicious.
The cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean provide an unbeatable backdrop for salmon farming. The Loch Duart company is an independent company dedicated to the cultivation of salmon without the use of any chemicals, making them one of the best.
In this case, there is no single typical Scottish dish, but it is the raw material that is characteristic of Scottish cuisine.
Fish n chips
When we think of this dish it is usually associated almost exclusively with London, but the reality is that in Scotland you will find hundreds of establishments throughout the country dedicated exclusively to the preparation of this traditional dish.
The dish consists of fish coated in a crispy golden batter with a delicate and distinctive flavour, deep-fried and served with chips. You can’t go wrong.
Bacon and butter
It may not be the most elaborate Scottish meal you’ll find (the maybe is ironic, in case you didn’t catch that), but its simplicity goes hand in hand with its flavour. All you need to prepare this meal is a slice of the finest Scottish bacon on buttered white bread with a side of ketchup or brown sauce. Simple, easy and tasty, what more could you ask for in a meal?
Scotland’s close relationship with the sea and the sheer number of Scottish fishing villages that dot the length and breadth of the country make seafood another Scottish food worth trying if you visit the UK’s most northerly country.
Oysters, crabs, mussels, lobsters… the list is long and varied, so if you want to try some of these delicacies, start looking for your ideal seafood restaurant in Scotland now.
The kipper is another typical Scottish fish-based meal that you can find at lunch and dinner, as well as at a Scottish breakfast. In this case, it’s herring, which is cut in half from head to tail, gutted, salted and cold-smoked.
For breakfast it is usually grilled
Cullen is a small town in the north-east of Scotland and home to one of Scotland’s most famous dishes, Cullen skink. This typically Scottish meal is a hearty, thick soup, traditionally made with Finnan haddock (smoked haddock), potatoes and onions. It is often also made with haddock, a fish of the cod family.
This traditional Scottish cooking soup dates back to the 16th century and is eaten a lot in the winter. It is a soup of chicken stock, leeks, potato and butter. As you can see, it is a typical Scottish dish that will definitely warm you up.
Made from beef or pig’s blood mixed with barley, oats or oat bran, Black Pudding is a Scottish black pudding whose intense flavour has as many lovers as detractors. It can appear on your plate if you order a typical Scottish breakfast or as a garnish for various dishes.
A winter staple, this Scottish dish is a simple but delicious stew made with meat, potatoes and onions. The origins of this dish lie in the typical ‘pottage cooking’: it was originally made from leftover Sunday roast, mixed with potato and onion to provide a meal for a couple of days.
If you’re looking for a calorific (that’s why it’s typical of winter) and very hearty dish, stovies are perfect for you.
Kedgeree or Haddock
A fish dish, usually haddock, served with boiled rice, egg and butter. You can find it whole or served in small pieces seasoned with different spices.
Moving on to soups, we come to the famous Scotch broth. This broth has been mentioned in various literary texts dating back more than 400 years, and its popularity has crossed many borders, even reaching the United States. There the recipe appeared in an 1881 American publication called ‘The Household Cyclopedia’.
The popularity of Scotch broth has become so widespread that you can even find tins of this typical Scottish food in supermarkets.
The term ‘broth’ is a little misleading, because rather than a liquid to be sipped from a spoon, Scottish broth is a thick, hearty soup, really more like a stew than a stock. It is usually eaten as a main meal.
Traditionally, Scotch broth is made with whatever vegetables are in season, but usually includes swede, carrot, turnip, cabbage and leek. The meat can be lamb or beef.
A characteristic bird of boreal Europe, capercaillie is a highly prized Scottish food. About the size of a quail, its flavour is mild and juicy, with a tender texture that appeals to almost any palate.
As you can see, Scottish cuisine is very soup-friendly. In this case, it is a crab soup. To make it, the crab meat is boiled in liquor and then mixed with rice, milk and cream to make this thick, hearty soup.
Scottish Tablets! If you have a sweet tooth, this kind of candy is for you. Made from sugar, condensed milk and butter, they come in a variety of flavours, including whisky-flavoured tablets. If there’s no haggis flavour yet, patent the idea!
This is a traditional dish found in the Western Isles of Scotland. It is made of boiled cabbage, carrots, turnips and potatoes. This dish is a cross between a soup and a stew.
If you’re looking for a typical Scottish dessert, cranachan is it. This delicious dessert is made from crowdie, a soft cheese of Scottish origin, mixed with whipped cream, oats, some whisky (because we are in Scotland, and in Scotland it’s whisky all the way), raspberries and a drizzle of honey.
This typical Scottish dessert/food was born in the old days after the raspberry picking in June (the best time to try it) as a celebration of the harvest.
The butter, flour and eggs trinomial has another great example of what you can get in Scottish shortbread, a very tasty Scottish biscuit that you can use for breakfast, as a snack between meals or to accompany your tea.
Battered Mars Bar
We close our list of typical Scottish foods with an almost insane sweet madness. The process is simple: you take a bar of chocolate mars (similar to a snicker, if you’re not familiar with it), coat it in batter and put it in a deep fryer. The result is hot, melty and almost pornographically delicious.
Frequently asked questions about Scottish food
What is a typical Scottish breakfast?
Full Scottish is almost certainly Scotland’s most traditional breakfast. It’s a great way to start the day if you’re happy to eat breakfast food that you’re likely to save for a dinner (or two). Why? Because such a breakfast includes black pudding, sausage and potato scones; and sometimes… HAGGIS!
If that sounds like a heavy breakfast, but you’re dying to try this Scottish staple, don’t worry, it’s served at all hours of the day.
How do you eat haggis?
There are different ways to eat this Scottish dish. In some cases it is sliced and served with various side dishes, while in others it is cut open, the filling removed and served with mashed potatoes, the most popular side dish. It is also often served with a typical whisky-based sauce, but can also be eaten on its own.
What are Neep and Tatties?
Neep and Tatties is another of Scotland’s most popular traditional dishes which, being simply mashed potatoes and turnips, is a hearty and intensely flavoured meal, although its main function is as a side dish (to haggis, for example).
So much for our review of Scotland’s top drinks and foods. If you’re planning your trip to Scotland, you’ll know what to order at the first restaurant you enter.