The Best Scottish Food to Try in Scotland

The 15 Best Scottish Foods: What & Where to Eat and Drink in Scotland

Hearty meals of haggis, neeps, and tatties, bountiful broths of Cullen skink and Cock-a-Leekie Soup, and delectable desserts of tablet and cranachan all make Scottish food one of our world favorites. 

If it’s your first time in Scotland, though, we’ll forgive you for not knowing what any of those dishes are. But rest assured, foodie-loving travelers – you’re going to love Scotland’s moreish culinary traditions!

We know you won’t have long to explore Scotland, but we don’t want you to miss out on any sensational culinary delights when you’re visiting. To help you have the best foodie adventure possible, we’ve put together our list of the top 15 traditional Scottish foods and beverages to eat and drink when you’re in Scotland. 

To make things even easier, we’ve also added our favorite places and destinations in Scotland to try each of these items!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Scottish Foods

The 15 Best Scottish Foods & Drinks – and Where to Try Them!

1. Acquire a Taste for Haggis

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Haggis

As the story goes, the legendary “haggis” is a small Scottish creature with two legs longer than the other two, a morphological feature that allows the haggis to run around the hills in the Scottish Highlands. At least, that’s the story that’s been told to unwitting first-time tourists since time immemorial. 

You’ll soon discover that the reality is somewhat different. Scotland’s national dish isn’t a small hop-along creature but is, in fact, a hardy Highland staple that’s prepared from all the leftover parts of a sheep. Haggis is effectively a type of offal, and it’s a mishmash of the stomach and other innards, all mixed with oatmeal and onion. 

Haggis features heavily in Scottish culinary history, and you may have read the famous Address to a Haggis composed by Scottish poet Robert Burns. While it doesn’t sound particularly appetizing, it’s surprisingly addictive, and can be prepared in a number of different ways (boiling, frying, baking, etc.). 

It’s best served the traditional way, with a heavy serving of neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes).

Where to Eat Haggis in Scotland

You’ll find haggis on menus across Scotland, and especially so in hotels and pubs catering to the culinary demands of tourists wishing to try this curious Scottish dish. One of our favorite places to eat haggis is in Edinburgh, where the Arcade Haggis & Whisky House serves up award-winning haggis alongside an incredible selection of whiskies.

2. Fill Up With a Full Scottish Breakfast

Scotland Foods to try list: Full Scottish Breakfast

When you’re traveling anywhere in the United Kingdom, always be prepared for a heavy breakfast. No matter if you’re in London, Cardiff, or Edinburgh, the traditional breakfast of choice is hearty, filling, and heavy, and it’s guaranteed to set you up for a full day of sightseeing.

In Scotland, you’ll be tempted by the Full Scottish Breakfast, although after a week of eating this monstrous plate of breakfast food, you might need to climb Ben Nevis a few times over to work off the calories. Even still, the Full Scottish Breakfast is a must-eat in Scotland.

The Full Scottish Breakfast will vary from one pub, hotel, cafe, and restaurant to the next, but there are several basic staples you’ll always find served. First up, you have the sausages. 

These could be the usual rounded sausages you’re probably used to, or they could be the more traditional Lorne sausage, which you’ll find are square-shaped rather than cylindrical. 

Next, you have the bacon. The sausage and bacon will then be served alongside white pudding (a type of black pudding minus the blood) and tattie scones, a type of potato cake. The plate might be full, but the ingredients don’t end there. 

A Full Scottish Breakfast might also feature baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, toast, and eggs (fried, scrambled, or poached). Wash it all down with a glass of orange juice and tea or coffee, and you’re all set until dinner!

Where to Eat a Full Scottish Breakfast in Scotland

A Full Scottish Breakfast is commonly served in hotels, pubs, and cafes across the country. If you’re looking for things to eat in Edinburgh and you want to give the Full Scottish Breakfast a try, the Edinburgh Larder or Southern Cross Cafe are particularly popular for their Full Scottish Breakfasts. 

In Glasgow, Scran or the Wilson Street Pantry are both excellent choices. In the Scottish Highlands, Cafe Eighty2, close to Loch Ness, serves up a huge Full Scottish Breakfast with veggie and vegan options. 

3. Get Your Day Started With Scottish Porridge

What to eat in Scotland: Scottish Porridge

If you’re looking for a light breakfast that’s still going to keep you fully charged for a morning of hiking in the Scottish Highlands or a day of sightseeing in Edinburgh, then why not try Scottish porridge?

This ubiquitous Scottish breakfast food has been consumed in Scotland for centuries, and its simplicity, low cost, and high energy content ensure it continues to be a favorite Scottish comfort food today. 

Scottish porridge is prepared using oats, which are mixed with water and milk, and a dash of salt. It’s that easy, although it takes practice and skill to get the consistency of the porridge just right (you don’t want it too watery or too stodgy).

Scottish porridge originated in the Scottish Highlands, where the harsh climate ensures that few crops can survive. Oats, however, are a hardy crop, and they are one of the few that survive on the mountainsides. 

Where to Eat Scottish Porridge in Scotland

Scottish porridge is best enjoyed in the Scottish Highlands, where this simple breakfast food originated. It’s a great way to set yourself up for a day of hiking or mountaineering, and you can easily spruce the dish up with a bit of jam, some sugar, or sliced fruit. If you’re in Fort William, ready for an action-packed day outdoors, then the Wildcat is known for serving up an energy-filled Scottish porridge. 

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4. Warm Up With a Bowl of Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Cock-a-what? You might be asking yourself if you’ve never delved into the delightful comforts of a Cock-a-Leekie Soup in Scotland. This tasty mixture of leeks and chicken is considered to be Scotland’s national soup. The epitome of Scottish comfort food, it’s perfect for a cold winter’s day when you just need a hearty, warming bowl of goodness. 

“Cock” refers to the chicken, while “Leekie” is, of course, the leeks. The two main ingredients of Cock-a-Leekie Soup are complemented by other ingredients such as carrots and bacon, and the broth might be thickened using oatmeal. 

Vegetarian versions will remove the chicken and use vegetable stock as a base. Importantly, a traditional Cock-a-Leekie Soup recipe should always include prunes, which make for a sweet addition to the broth! If you’re looking to sample all of the best foods in Scotland, be sure to order up at least one bowl of Cock-a-Leekie Soup!

Where to Eat Cock-a-Leekie Soup in Scotland

The Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh serves up a hearty Cock-a-Leekie Soup as well as many more traditional Scottish dishes and drinks. You’ll also find it on many pub menus across the country, often as a fresh Soup of the Day.

5. Snack on a Scotch Pie

Local Foods to try in Scotland: Scotch Pie

Scotch pie is one of the most popular Scottish snacks, and it’s one of the tastiest ways to satisfy your hunger pangs when you’re out sightseeing. 

The traditional Scotch pie is made by preparing a mutton filling (often mixed with salt, pepper, and other seasonings) that’s then placed inside a crust, baked, and eaten by hand. Scotch pie is unique in the pie world because of its pastry, which is known as “hot water pastry,” and which forms a solid outer layer that can easily be grasped by hand by the eater!

While mutton is the most authentic filling, many different types of Scotch pie may be found across Scotland, including lamb or beef fillings. They’re so popular that once a year, Scotland hosts a World Scotch Pie Championship!

Where to Eat Scotch Pie in Scotland

Head to The Piemaker for the most interesting Scotch pies in Scotland. This Edinburgh takeaway eatery not only bakes the original Scotch pies but has an impressive selection of pies with fillings ranging from haggis to chicken tikka masala!

6. Fuel Up On Stovies

Hearty food is what the Scots do best, and we know you’re going to love trying stovies, one of the most traditional Scottish foods. 

Every household, kitchen, and chef will have their own special recipe for stovies, and the beauty of this dish is that it’s highly customizable. It’s a great way to use things up, although the must-have staple ingredients that make it stovies and that must be included are potatoes and onions. 

Stovies is essentially a type of stew. You take your potatoes and onions and slowly, slowly stew them in a pot with butter or dripping until they are super soft. You might stew them with meat or other vegetables, making this a great one-pot meal and a must-eat in Scotland. 

Where to Eat Stovies in Scotland

Stovies will be found in humble restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. One of Scotland’s best restaurants is the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow, for example, and they always have stovies on their menu!

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7. Treat Yourself to Fresh Lobster

What to eat in Scotland: Fresh Lobster

What could be better than a fresh, juicy lobster caught just hours ago in the cold waters of the North Sea? Not much, if you love your shellfish, and the fresh lobster (and other seafood) is one of the reasons we love eating our way around Scotland’s islands. 

The Scottish blue lobster is found along much of the Scottish coastline, and you’ll love how seafood restaurants and fine dining establishments serve this delicacy up not long after it’s been hauled in from the pots. 

Lobsters can be found in Scottish restaurants grilled, boiled in bouillon, or even barbecued, and there will be plenty of sauces and butter to accompany your seafood treat. No matter which way you order it, fresh lobster is easily one of the best foods in Scotland.

Where to Eat Lobster in Scotland

We recommend traveling as far north as you can for the best lobster. The Shetland Islands are well known for their lobster hauls, while the Orkney Islands have a dedicated lobster hatchery that keeps population numbers topped up and lobster-potting sustainable.

8. Seek Out the Best Fish and Chips

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Fish and Chips

There’s nothing quite like British Fish and Chips, and in Scotland, you can find some superb restaurants and takeaways serving up this fried specialty. Fish and Chips is exactly what you’re expecting. It’s fish served with chips. But despite the simple concept, it takes a lot to get this dish absolutely perfect. 

The chips need to be slightly crispy, but they’re not French fries. They’re thick, sometimes hand-cut, and they’re fried in oil and served with salt and vinegar. The fish should be a long filet, and while cod was traditionally the favored choice, stock shortages mean that you might find haddock or plaice on the menu instead. 

Regardless of the species, the fish needs to be covered in a thick layer of batter that’s deep-fried until it’s crispy and crunchy on the outside, with soft fish meat in the middle. The Fish and Chips are then served alongside your choice of chip shop sides, and you can try mushy peas, tartare sauce, curry sauce, gravy, and much more in Scotland! 

Where to Eat Fish and Chips in Scotland

The title for Scotland’s best Fish and Chips is one that’s hard-fought over, and everyone you ask during your travels will have their personal favorite. You might have to go out of your way to find the best because trust us when we say the best aren’t going to be in the touristy destinations. Award-winning Fish and Chip shops include Catch Fish and Chips in Glasgow, The Plaice To Be in Kilmarnock, and Lows Traditional Fish and Chips in Aberdeen. 

9. Try Scotland’s Chicken Tikka Masala

Must Try Foods in Scotland: Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala is a dish that’s found in curry houses the world over, but did you know that it was invented in Scotland? 

As the local story goes, chicken tikka masala is said to have been first cooked in a restaurant in Glasgow when a customer told the chef that their chicken was too dry. The chef took the chicken back into the kitchen, where they added a tin of tomatoes and unwittingly concocted what is now a classic British-Indian dish and one of the best foods in Scotland!

While the story may or may not be true, it’s true that chicken tikka masala did evolve from Indian and Bangladeshi cooking brought to Britain in the 1970s. It’s a wonderful dish that highlights the ever-changing nature of food and that shows how the food we eat absorbs different influences from different cultures. 

Where to Eat Chicken Tikka Masala in Scotland

The best place to eat chicken tikka masala in Scotland is, without a doubt, Glasgow. After all, the city is where the dish is said to have been invented. In fact, you can dine at Shish Mahal, the very restaurant which is said to be where this iconic dish was first created!

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10. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Tablet

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Tablet

If you’ve got a sweet tooth to satisfy, then find yourself a bag of tablet as soon as you set down in Scotland. This sweet delight is sugar, sugar, and more sugar, and while you might be left with a toothache after one too many squares, you’ll be left with a soft spot for these sweet Scottish snacks for the rest of your life.

Tablet is prepared using just three ingredients. Sugar, butter, and condensed milk. It’s sort of similar to fudge, although rather than being soft, tablet is much more brittle and crumbles very easily. 

Where to Eat Tablet in Scotland

You’ll find tablet for sale in all the good sweet shops and supermarkets across Scotland, where it tends to be on sale for much cheaper than in the souvenir shops at tourist attractions. For a novel tablet experience, you could travel to the small town of Kirriemuir in eastern Scotland, where The Star Rock Shop claims to be the oldest sweet shop and tablet seller in the country!

11. Sip Whiskey at Scotland’s Best Distilleries

What to eat in Scotland: Whiskey

No trip to Scotland is ever complete without a tour of the best Scottish whisky distilleries and, if you’re thirsty, a few wee drams of the good stuff at the end. Scotch whisky needs very little introduction, but rest assured, the rumors are true. Scotland, the birthplace of whisky, is the best place in the world to drink this fiery spirit. 

Whisky has a long history in Scotland, and each of the different whiskey distilling regions has evolved its own distinct tastes, aromas, and distillation styles over the centuries. There are six distinct whisky regions that you could visit. These are Speyside, Lowlands, Highlands, Islay, Campbeltown, and the Islands. 

Where to drink whisky in Scotland

Where to start? There are countless distilleries across the country and hundreds of different brands, malts, and varieties – all offering a taste of Scotch to travelers. A good place to begin is The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, where you can learn about the history of whisky and the distillation process. Excellent distilleries also include The Famous Grouse, Talisker, Laphroaig, and more!

12. Get Refreshed With Irn Bru

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Irn Bru

The first thing you’ll notice in Scotland is the bright, vibrant, lucid orange liquid that the locals seem to consume on an almost constant basis.

This bright orange liquid is Irn Bru, and it’s a modern fizzy staple that’s more popular than Coca-Cola. Millions upon millions of liters of Irn Bru are sold every year, and the drink regularly outsells all other soda brands – such is its popularity. 

It’s difficult to describe the taste of Irn Bru, so you’ll need to give it a go yourself and see if you like it. Irn Bru is often described as Scotland’s “other national drink” (after whisky, of course), and increasingly, you’ll even find it used in cocktail bars as a mixer!

Where to Drink Irn Bru in Scotland

Find the nearest shop, supermarket, or vending machine, and you’re guaranteed to find Irn Bru for sale. In fact, there are very few places in Scotland that don’t stock or sell Irn Bru. It’s a Scottish institution, after all!

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13. Indulge in Cranachan

Scotland Foods to try list: Cranachan

Dessert lovers rejoice because in Scotland, you’ll quickly fall for the sweet tones and flavors of cranachan. Don’t worry, this delectable Scottish dessert sounds harsher than it is. The reality is that this is a beautiful mix of raspberries, whipped cream, honey, oats, and, if you like, a dash of whisky!

Traditionally, cranachan was served as breakfast. This is because it was always a seasonal dish, and it would be prepared when the raspberries were ready to be picked. These days, raspberries are available year-round, and cranachan has instead become Scotland’s national dessert.

Where to Eat Cranachan in Scotland

Any restaurant claiming to serve Scottish food should have cranachan on the menu. If you’re in Glasgow, there’s even a cafe named Cranachan you can check out. In Edinburgh, try the restaurants along Rose Street, where there’s an abundance of Scotch restaurants and pubs. 

14. Sample a Bowl of Cullen Skink

Scotland Foods to eat: Cullen Skink

If you love a hearty broth, then you’re going to love Cullen skink. This is the heartiest of Scottish broths, and it’s the perfect Scottish comfort food on a cold, dark winter’s day.

Cullen skink is a thick blend of potatoes, onions, and haddock. Traditionally, a specific type of smoked haddock named Finnan Haddie was always used in the soup, but you’ll find all sorts of haddock, other types of fish, and other variations of the dish today. Some chefs will use cream to thicken the soup, for example, while others will stick to a more watery recipe.

Cullen skink is best when it’s smoky, as this is the authentic way to prepare the soup. Think of it as a sort of Scottish seafood broth or haddock chowder! If that sounds good to you, you’ll love this traditional Scottish dish!

Where to Eat Cullen Skink in Scotland

Cullen skink originated in (and is named for) the village of Cullen, so there’s no doubt that this is the best place in Scotland to find the most authentic Cullen skink. The village of Cullen is located on the coast in Moray, in northeast Scotland.  

15. Try a Deep-Fried Mars Bar

Best Foods to try in Scotland: Mars Bar

Deep-fried what now? This one’s an acquired taste, and it’s certainly not one for anyone on a diet either, but if you want to try a truly Scottish dish, then you’ve got to ask for a deep-fried Mars Bar. 

The Mars Bar is a type of chocolate bar with a soft and gooey center of chocolate and caramel. It’s packed full of sugar and calories already, but for some reason, it was decided that the Mars Bar would be even better if it was deep-fried. 

One of the most indulgent Scottish snacks, the Mars Bar will be covered in a thick layer of batter (the same batter used to coat fish) and then deep-fried until the outside is crispy and the chocolate in the middle has melted. Try it. We dare you!

Where to Eat Deep-Fried Mars Bars in Scotland

You can find deep-fried Mars Bars in takeaway shops across Scotland. It’s often served in Fish and Chip shops, where it’s easy to batter and deep fry the Mars Bar. It’s said that the deep-fried Mars Bar was first pioneered in Aberdeen, so why not give it a try there? 

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There you have it! The 15 best foods in Scotland. What are your favorite things to eat and drink in Scotland?

Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


About the Author:

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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