Every year on 25 January, Scotland raises a glass in patriotic celebration of national bard, Robert Burns. If you’re attending a traditional party, expect poetry readings, dancing and even the odd toot of piped music, but central to the revelry is a hearty supper.
Check out our guide to the top 10 foods to eat in Scotland if you’re making a trip to the highlands for this special celebration.
1. Plan your Burns Night menu
Starter: Seared salmon with heather honey dressing
Whip up something with a pop of colour, like our light seared salmon with heather honey dressing. The armoatic honey, zingy fresh fruit and delicate fish go perfectly together, and you can substitute for smoked salmon if you want to keep cooking time to a minimum. This delicate starter is enough to whet your guests’ appetites, but will leave plenty of room for haggis and neeps & tatties.
Main course: Baked haggis
Love it or loathe it, haggis is the dish at the heart of Burns Night. Follow our guide to buying and cooking the perfect haggis. If you’re not lucky enough to live near a traditional Scottish butcher, you can get your hands on good-quality haggis online. It can be baked or boiled, and there are different versions, from vegetarian to venison. Our baked version gives the meat a light, mealy flavour that’s pure indulgence. Serve your haggis with our silky smooth whisky cream sauce for an extra dose of decadence.
Side dish: Neeps & tatties
Our neeps & tatties recipe has quite a coarse finish and roasts the potatoes as well as boiling them. Others prefer to mash the two together to make a smooth purée, which works beautifully with the rough, oaty haggis. It’s best to keep it simple – just add seasoning and a good knob of butter.
Side dish: Buttered leeks
Add some indulgent greenery to your plate with our buttered leeks. You need just three ingredients to create this delicious, buttery side dish. Cooking the leeks slowly and gently in their own juices, with a few thyme sprigs, brings out their subtle, onion-like taste. The simplest recipes are often the best, and it doesn’t get simpler than this.
Dessert: Raspberry cranachan trifle
No Burns Night supper would be complete without a light and creamy bowlful of cranachan. We’ve upgraded this simple recipe to serve a crowd and turned it into an epic cranachan trifle. It serves 10, so you’ll have two portions leftover to enjoy the next day, hosts’ perks! More whisky is called for in this traditional dessert of cream, fruit and oatmeal. Layer up crunchy flapjack-style toasted oats, smooth mascarpone and fresh raspberries for a tasty twist on the traditional.
2. Choose your drinks
Make sure you have a respectable dram to help you celebrate, with our guides to the best Scotch, 10 best whiskies from around the world and top craft whiskies. Whether you’re after something peated and smoky or a delicate fruity flavour, we have something for everyone.
Don’t fancy straight spirits? Break out the bartending kit and mix up one of our best ever whisky cocktail recipes. Sip a sophisticated old fashioned with a twist of orange or a simple whisky highball with a touch of mint.
3. Added extras and alternative menu ideas
Many flavourful soups originate from Scotland, so kick-off proceedings with a smoked haddock soup (also known as cullen skink), cock-a-leekie, or barley broth.
For veggies, try our ridiculously smooth neeps & tatties soup, made with swede and potato – just leave off the haggis topping or swap for a veggie version. This is truly Burns Night in a bowl.
If the meaty version isn’t for you, try our delicious vegan haggis, filled with savoury lentils, mushrooms and plenty of seasoning. Serve with a heaped spoonful of neeps & tatties. This mixture of swede and potato is the mandatory Burns Night accompaniment to haggis.
For an indulgent meaty main, try our take on Scotch broth. January is prime stew season, so this rich, slow-cooked saucy option is perfect.
If you fancy breaking with convention, try our crispy neeps ‘n’ tatties cake, which is a take on a potato rosti that’s served in wedges. For traditionalists, try our skirlie mash recipe. The added oatmeal (or ‘skirlie’) provides a unique texture, and the onions and parsley make it not dissimilar to champ.
Selkirk Bannock, a delicious fruit loaf, can be toasted and buttered or baked into bread & butter pudding, while traditional shortbread biscuits are easy to make and can be given to guests as a gift to take home.
Fill your bowl with something warm and fruity in the form of our clootie dumpling. This traditional steamed pudding is packed full of dried fruit and plenty of ginger, cinnamon and our favourite wintry spices. Serve with your favourite dram and custard or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Enjoyed these menu suggestions? Check out our other guides to entertaining…
Our ultimate easy entertaining collection
Simple finger food ideas
Top 10 dinner party tips
Do you celebrate Burns Night? What do you like to serve up? For more inspiration, take a look through our recipe collection.