Scottish Food

Scotland has one of the worst national diets in the world! At one point we were voted the unhealthiest nation in Europe, with the largest percentage of heart disease and diabetes in the entire continent, caused in large part by what we eat! If you are visiting the country however, you can’t leave without tasting some of the unique Scottish food! It’s never going to reach the culinary heights of France or Italy, but it is distinctly Scottish. If you want to find out more about the Scottish culture, be it good or bad, then food is a good place to start.

Haggis, neeps, and tatties!


Almost everybody who comes to Scotland knows about haggis, although most have never tasted it until they come here. Internationally it is seen as the national dish, but in reality most ordinary people only eat haggis on Burns night, or a particularly special Scottish themed occasion. I personally hate haggis. It is essentially sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt. Now I’m no vegetarian, but you couldn’t pay me enough to eat this stuff! That being said, there are many people who love it so don’t let the description put you off if you want to try it. If you do eat it though you must have it with neeps, and tatties! Neeps is basically mashed turnip, and tatties are just Scottish for potatoes. In Scotland you would never eat haggis without the neeps and tatties. It’s just part of the tradition.

Mince n Tatties!

This is my favourite ever Scottish dish, and if you want a taste of what a typical Scottish meal is – then this is it. Mince n tatties is simply just mince and potatoe, mashed up with gravy. This meal has been a favourite of many Scottish people since war time Britain. It may be simple, but I don’t know one Scottish person (other than a few veggie friends) that doesn’t have this in their top 3 favourite meals of all time! There is nothing that makes me feel at home more than a plate of my mum’s home made mince n tatties, and that is the way it is best served…cooked by somebody’s mum! Mince n tatties is not a dish that should be consumed in a restaurant, although there are many Scottish restaurants that offer it. I sometimes cook it if I’m traveling and share it with my hostel buddies. This is a dish to make you feel at home.

Square Sausage

Many people across Britain have a traditional fry-up breakfast in the morning. It is definitely not healthy for you, but it is something which a lot of people eat. The Scottish fry-up however has some distinct differences to the rest of the UK. Most notably is the square sausage! The square sausage is basically what the name describes – a sausage compressed into a flat square. It tastes different to a normal linx sausage, and I think the reasoning for its shape is something to do with it being easier to put in a sand which. Usually I don’t like to eat this, but reserve it for hangovers only! I truly believe it has healing qualities for the drunk! 🙂

Tottie or Tattie Scones

Depending on which side of Scotland you come from (east or west) depends on whether you call a potatoe a Tattie or a Tottie. I was born on the west and grew up in the east, so I tend to fluctuate between the two. Tottie Scones are very simply bread like food, usually cut into the shape of a triangle. Not to be confused with the English Scone, a tottie scone looks, and tastes very different. Like the square sausage, a tottie scone is usually served as part of a traditional Scottish fry-up, and is best served fried in my opinion, although you can eat it cold with some kind of spread.

Tunnocks Tea Cakes

I wouldn’t usually include a branded product in a food post, but this was too good not to include! Tunnocks factory to Scotland is a bit like Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. There is a waiting list of up to a year to get a tour of this place. Tunnocks sweets/biscuits/wafers/cakes have been around since before war time Britain. The tea cakes however, are the best of them all! It is essentially a soft biscuit, topped with filled bubble of the most amazing cream like no other I have ever tasted anywhere else, and then the whole thing is covered in milk chocolate. I’ve never really seen anything like this being sold outside of Scotland, although I’ve heard there is something similar being sold in Belgium.

Scotland is by en-large an affluent country, with a good general standard of living. Most of its food and dishes however, were created at a time when the people were not so well off. A lot of it was created during the World Wars, when people were limited to what ingredients were on offer, or could not afford to diversify their palette. Regardless of whether you like the taste or not, all of the food above is distinctly Scottish, and it can be fun to try it out and laugh at our terrible diet! Like most developed countries, we have many international restaurants now serving everything from Indian food, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, French etc. So even if you hate it, you can always find something nice to eat to wash away the taste!

10 Responses to “Scottish Food”

  1. I’ve been living in Scotland for 9 months and I loved tattie scones! (can’t say the same about haggis, lol)
    I attended the University of St Andrews for 1 academic year thanks to a scholarship, but I’ve traveled around Scotland other times before and after.
    I love Scotland! I love Edinburgh! I love it all…

  2. Keith says:

    Gotta say, I love all of these dishes. Mmmm, Scottish comfort food.

  3. ayngelina says:

    I’ve only had haggis and only on Robbie Burns day (I have a Scottish friend in Toronto) but I was surprised how much I loved it.

  4. I just love Haggis, neeps and tatties with some oat cakes and beetroot…it is delicious. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I found a butcher that sold the real McCoy down here in London. When I was living in Barbados before I moved to London, I took some over for family members and they couldn’t get enough of it.

    Mince and tatties is something that I haven’t had for about 10 years, I truly hate it. I doubt if even Gordon Ramsay could make that taste good

    I even learned how to make Scotch Broth, Stovies and Cranachan recently because I was craving them so much. Not all Scottish food is unhealthy!

  5. Matt says:

    I’m going to have to wholeheartedly disagree with you on the haggis write up.

    As a mater of opinion, I’ll say that haggis is outstanding! I spent about ten months in Edinburgh and regularly ate the delicious dish! Not only with neeps and tatties, but with my full fry, on baguette, on a roll for a quick breakfast, and of course – deep fried after a night out at the pub. If I wanted to feel a bit more classy, I’d have a haggis stuffed chicken breast. So no, haggis is not only eaten with neeps and tatties.

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say haggis is only consumed on Burns Night in Scotland. It’s a traditional dish that is commonly eaten by Scotts.

    • jane says:

      I know a lot of people who love Haggis in Scotland, but by enlarge most people I know or grew up with don’t eat it regularly. We do eat, but it’s much more of a tourists thing. Something like fish and chips or mince n tatties is much more commonly eaten. I’m not saying it’s any better, as that’s just down to personal taste, but these two dishes are what ordinary families and people would eat. I’ve never had Haggis as my ordinary dinner at home, and most of my friends don’t eat it too.

  6. Lauren says:

    Im with Matt on this one, I and a lot of my friends eat haggis regularly. Either at home as a main meal (makes a change from mince) or from the chippy. i wouldnt say that its a tourist thing – why would you try and make money out of something that sounds so repulsive lol

  7. decoda lovell says:

    i havent been there but it is one of my dreams

  8. Alastair says:

    As a part of a Scottish family in United States, I have enjoyed the traditional homemade Scottish food since I was a kid. Of course haggis are one of my favorite dishes!

  9. john mcmillan says:

    Born and bred in Scotland mince and tatties is my all time fav since i was a boy still is at 61 as for haggis i love that too wi tatties and neeps also sliced haggis fried wi bacon eggs tattie scone blackpuddin beans and tomato i know we had the worst diet in europe but it’s our comfort food ask Scots nearly everone says mince and tatties in fact that’s what i’m having for dinner tonight lol


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