If you’re travelling to Scotland for the first time, you might not know much about the country’s food culture (aside from the famous haggis, of course). But, Scotland is home to an incredible range of traditional dishes and peculiar delicacies with interesting stories behind them. Check out our list of must-try foods before you leave the country.
10 Must-try Scottish Foods
A Full Scottish (with Black Pudding)
You may have heard of a Full English or even a Full Irish, but a Full Scottish is made different by the presence of black pudding (British blood sausage) and 'tattie scones' (potato cakes). Make sure that when you're buying breakfast, you get these Scottish delicacies with your bacon, sausage eggs and beans.
Scotch Whisky Bottle. Photo credit: Piotr
Whisky is so important in Scotland that the distilling process is protected by law. All Scotch whisky has to be left to age in an oak barrel for at least three years and there are strict rules about labelling whisky too. It's no surprise then, that Scottish whisky is some of the best in the world. Check out some of these whisky distillery tours before you leave the country.
Haggis, Neeps and Tatties
Haggis, neeps and tatties. Photo credit: thespruceats
We couldn’t talk about Scottish food without discussing Haggis. Haggis is Scotland’s national dish which is featured in menus around the country. Traditionally made from heart, liver, lungs, onions, suet and spices boiled in a sheep's stomach, it's true that Haggis isn't for everyone but it's so typically Scottish that you simply have to try it.
Neeps and tatties
Simply put, ‘neeps and tatties’ are mashed potatoes and swedes (a root vegetable common in Scotland). If you’re trying haggis the traditional way during your trip, you’ll definitely come across ‘neeps and tatties’ too.
This buttery biscuit was first mentioned in a Scottish print recipe in 1736 and is now one of the country's favourite treats. While you can eat shortbread in Scotland at any time of year, it is most often associated with Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year's Eve). If you're looking for a gift to bring back to your family, there's nothing better than a tin of Scottish shortbread.
With a coastline thousands of miles long, it's no surprise that Scotland is famous for a number of fish dishes. One you'll definitely come across is Cullen Skink, a milky Scottish stew made from smoked haddock and potatoes. This warming soup is normally served as a starter alongside a crusty bread roll and is the perfect treat on a winter's day.
The Scottish competitor to giants like Coca Cola and Fanta, Irn Bru is a carbonated drink that is known for its bright orange colour and peculiar flavour. The drink was first introduced in 1901 as a way to stop steelworkers drinking too much beer on the job and is now so popular it's known as the country's second drink (after whisky, of course).
Deep-Fried Mars Bar
Caramel, nougat, chocolate and... deep-fried batter? After it's creation in the early 2000s, the deep-fried Mars Bar has become a staple of chip shops around the country, and while it may not be the healthiest snack, it is the perfect indulgent treat.
Scottish salmon is famous around the world for its fresh taste and perfect texture. In recent years, however, overfishing has led to depleted fish stocks which pose a real threat to the Scottish fishing industry. If you're buying salmon while you're in the UK, check that the fish is organically certified to make sure it's been caught sustainably or read more about choosing sustainable fish at the Good Fish Guide.
A traditional Scottish dessert that was originally a celebration of the raspberry harvest, Cranachan is a wonderful combination of fresh berries, cream, oats and whisky. The best thing about this summery treat is that it's very easily made at home, which you can find out how to do with this simple Cranachan recipe.
Want to learn more about food culture in the UK? Check out these traditional British foods or learn what's in a British Christmas dinner. Want to travel to Scotland and improve your English at the same time? Find out about our English school in Edinburgh city centre.