There is nowhere on Earth like Scotland. Its rugged terrain and gorgeous summers make it one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in all of Europe, but what truly makes Scotland so unmissable is the amazing Scottish food.
In touring Scotland, you are sure to see plenty of wonders, from castles in Edinburgh to mountains to seas, but nothing will excite you as much as the sumptuous local Scottish cuisine.
What’s Special About Scottish Food?
Scotland is a beautiful country with a landscape like no other. The people here are warm, and the food is full of complex and comforting flavors. The food here is made to fill you up even on the roughest of Scottish days, so there are lots of hearty and comforting dishes here.
Historically spices may have been hard to access in Scotland, but the bounty of local natural ingredients helped classic Scottish cooks to craft a cuisine that centers on what is fresh and available.
Scottish food is all about local flavor and traditions and getting to know their food is a great way to get to know more about Scottish culture. The food in Scotland takes influence from other European nations and the United Kingdom, but it is unique to itself.
Modern-day Scottish cuisine still focuses on local ingredients, but in a more refined way. The dishes here elevate the simple into sometimes show-stopping.
Most Famous Food In Scotland
One simply cannot talk about Scottish foods without talking about shortbread. This is a quintessential treat in Scotland. Shortbreads are eaten on their own, used in crusts, or paired with tea.
These biscuits have been baked in Scotland for centuries, and their buttery flavor is mimicked by other cookies around the world. A traditional Scottish shortbread biscuit uses butter, sugar, and flour, but no leavening agents. This makes for a texture that is rich and crumbly.
Try them with afternoon tea or with some dark chocolate. Shortbread has been bringing some sweetness to Scotland for centuries, and once you try it you will be in love, too!
Traditional Scottish Food
Scottish cuisine is driven by its beautiful landscape and rich local foods. Cullen skink is very much a representation of that. It is a velvety rich celebration of Scottish bounty.
This delicious traditional Scottish food will keep you warm even in the harshest parts of the Highlands. Cullen skink is a hearty soup made up of potatoes, onions, and local Haddock. It has its roots in the Northeast and truly celebrates all the rich and rustic flavors of the Scottish sea.
This is a truly special local soup that brings brightness to the sometimes harsh landscape that is Scotland. This cheering soup warms you right away with its fun name, a nickname for chicken and leeks. The trick to this tasty soup is the complex flavor of the leek.
This satisfying food of Scotland is made by stewing leeks and chicken broth with barley making this soup rich, smooth, and comforting.
This iconic food from Scotland may not be for the timid, but it is a true Scottish classic. For those brave enough to try this rustic dish you will taste the delicious Scottish commitment to using the whole animal.
Haggis is a traditional pudding-like dish made from sheep organs spiced and combined with oats and suet then cooked in the sheep’s stomach. It is a unique dish, but it’s a true bite from Scottish history.
This food is of the many things that Scotland is famous and known for.
The locals in Scotland love to delight in the riches of the local oceans. One Scottish food that is sure to win you over is the Arbroath smokie. These tasty fish are a product of the local seas and have a special place in Scottish cuisine.
This smoky snack is made up of local Haddocks that are salted, dried, and hung over a hardwood fire to smoke. The end product is a deliciously salty and smoky tender haddock. This fish can be enjoyed on toast for breakfast, as a sandwich for lunch, or even served as part of dinner.
Breakfast Foods In Scotland
This beautifully simple local dish is the perfect way to start a great Scottish morning. The rustic Scottish dish uses just a few simple ingredients to make a satisfying breakfast.
What makes Scottish Porridge so special is the addition of salt to the base of oats. The salt brings a little savory bite to the heart grains. Top this rich porridge with berries and syrup for a sweet and satisfying Scottish breakfast.
Full Scottish Breakfast
You simply cannot visit Scotland without having this hearty local classic. This dish is a bounty of breakfast foods that will start you out right. This show-stopping sampler varies across Scotland, but some parts are pretty standard.
A full Scottish breakfast typically includes fried tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, eggs, sausage patties, sausage links, bacon, and black pudding or haggis. This hearty Scottish dish will hold you over through a full day of exploring the picturesque Scottish scenery!
While these are the most common dishes for breakfast in Scotland, there are many other Scottish breakfast foods available for a delicious start to your day.
Snack Foods In Scotland
Scotch Pie (Mince Meat Pie)
This savory treat is a favorite for sporting events or eating on the fly. The traditional Scotch pie is a standard grab-and-go snack for Scots, and it’s easy to taste why!
Scotch pies are a wonderful example of simple but delicious Scottish foods. They pack in tons of rich flavors from a filling of hearty minced local meats. The perfectly crispy crust on these pastries allows you to eat them anywhere, so have a Scotch pie as you wander the streets of Edinburgh.
These flakey delights have many local names including Aberdeen Rolls, Rowies, and Butteries, but no matter what you call them you have to try them! This perfect pastry has a flakey and rich texture that will get your mouth watering!
Aberdeen rolls are croissant-like rolls that are layered not just with butter, but lard too. This makes them extra rich and crave-able. Aberdeen rolls can be enjoyed plain or with some local jam.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Side Dish and Appetizer Foods In Scotland
Neeps and Tatties (Turnips and Mashed Potatoes)
One of the best things about Scottish cuisine is all of the fun names! Neeps and tatties is a true Scottish dish with a true Scottish name. This satisfying side consists of rutabaga (neeps) and potatoes (tatties).
These hearty vegetables are boiled and mashed into a rich and delicious side dish. Neeps and tatties are traditionally served with haggis, but this gorgeous dish goes with all sorts of Scottish meats.
Due to proximity and influence naturally, some British dishes have been adopted by the Scots and turned into their own local tradition. Mushy peas are a British dish that has been fully adopted by the Scottish people.
This deliciously simple dish is made up of marrowfat peas that have been cooked with baking soda to encourage the peas to burst and create a satisfying mushy texture. Mushy peas go well with local fish or meat dishes.
Rumbledethumps (Potato Casserole)
This amazing Scottish food is as fun to say as it is delicious! Locals love this dish, and so many variations on this favorite exist across Scotland. This dish marries great vegetables that are easy to find regardless of season, so it’s always easy to find rumbledethumps.
This rich baked dish combines cabbage and onion, tops them with a mash of potatoes and turnips, and finishes it off with a layer of rich baked cheese. Rumbledethumps will make you smile when you order it, and when you eat it!
Meat-Based Foods In Scotland
Wild grouse thrive in Scotland, so this fowl is a commonplace protein to find on a Scottish table. Grouse is a lean type of meat with a rich gamey flavor.
The bird is beautifully roasted to bring out all the rustic flavors of this lean meat. The whole bird can be cooked, including organs, so it is common to see grouse liver served as a pate on bread.
Whole roasted grouse pairs wonderfully with traditional Scottish sides, like neeps and tatties. This interesting food of Scotland is a must-try for meat lovers who wants something unique.
Black Pudding (Blood Sausage)
Scotland’s rich country supports so much livestock, and their cuisine focuses on using those animals as thoroughly as possible. Black pudding is a traditional Scottish blood sausage.
This rich and rustic Scottish food is made from pork or beef blood, fat, and oats or grains. It’s common to see this sausage as part of a full Scottish breakfast or served with neeps and tatties.
The Scottish seas give so much to the cuisine of Scotland. The ocean provides tons of tasty local fish to enjoy in Scotland. One treasured fish in local cuisine is the Scottish salmon. The frigid waters off the coast of Scotland are the perfect habitat for this hearty fish.
Salmon here grow large, fatty, and strong, which makes for a full-flavored fish dish. Scottish salmon pairs beautifully with mushy peas or fresh salad.
Mains and Entree Foods In Scotland
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips is a dish that is beloved not just in Scotland, but the whole United Kingdom. It is a favorite dish among food in London.
Access to great fish makes this fried favorite an absolute mainstay among Scottish foods. Locals in Scotland love to use fresh haddock because it is flakey and flavorful!
The haddock is lightly breaded, fried, and served with chips (American fries). It’s sometimes garnished with lemon wedges and served with malt vinegar. You will taste the sea in every delicious fried bite!
Scottish Beef Stew
Scotland’s unique and diverse terrain sustains many special local breeds of animals, including highland cattle. This amazingly hardy breed produces low-cholesterol and great-tasting beef.
One excellent food in Scotland that makes use of this delicious local beef is Scottish beef stew. This stew is a pretty standard beef stew, but the emphasis on local ingredients is what makes it so luscious and special. You simply must try a bowl of this fulfilling stew!
Stovies (Potato and Meat Dish)
Scottish food features meat and potatoes in the richest and most creative ways. Stovies are the perfect accompanying dish or delicious on their own.
This traditional Scottish dish is as varied in preparations as the Scottish countryside. However, it has some basic elements that stay pretty consistent across the cooking process.
For stovies, potatoes are boiled in liquid enriched with animal fats and combined with onions, bits of meat, and other vegetables. Stovies go great with pickled veggies or some Arbroath smokies.
Dessert Foods In Scotland
These are just a couple of desserts in Scotland to try. Be sure to check our list of delicious Scottish desserts and treats for more options to satisfy your sweet tooth.
One highlight of the summer in Scotland is the decadent dessert that is cranachan. It is a lovely layered dessert that will certainly catch your eye before you eat it.
This sweet Scottish food celebrates the summer harvest with layers of tart raspberries, hearty oats, cream, and the famous Scottish whisky. (One of the many fun facts of Scotland is that the Scot Whisky is spelled without the ‘e’ rather than “Whiskey”)
The final dish has a beautiful layer look from the berries and cream, making it almost as nice to look at as it is to eat! This dessert tastes like the highlands in the summertime, and it will make you wish that Scottish summer went on all year!
Deep Fried Mars Bars
Frying foods just makes them better, and the only way to make fried foods even better is to add candy into the mix! This over-the-top treat found its start in a chip shop in Scotland, and now it’s a national favorite.
It’s a classic Mars candy bar dipped in batter and deep fried. The candy bar comes out with a crispy exterior and melted chocolate inside. Yes, it sounds sinful and really is. This Scottish food is not for the calorie shy, but it is certainly worth the cheat day!
Discovering Traditional Scottish Food
Scotland is a diverse country with so much to offer. There is beautiful countryside, high mountains, and the coast. The food here is reflective of that diversity. The heart of Scottish cuisine is the local bounty offered by the Scottish landscape.
The food in Scotland is unpretentious and full of warmth and comfort. Eating here is the easiest way to get to know more about the culture, not to mention the tastiest!
While you are touring the landmarks of Scotland, don’t forget to also have fun exploring all the bold flavors Scotland has to offer!