Planning a trip to Scotland? Don't leave without sampling these top 10 must-try dishes and drinks, including haggis, fresh lobster and a dram of whisky.
Whether you're exploring picturesque lochs, rolling hills of heather or the bustling inner cities, make sure you take time to dine on Scotland's very best food and drink. Try traditional haggis with neeps and tatties or sip a refreshing G&T from a brand-new distillery. Top Scottish chef Tom Kitchin, founder of Edinburgh's The Kitchin, has compiled a list of his top 10 absolute must-try Scottish delicacies.
Treat your tastebuds to something special on your next holiday in the highlands, or make a feast at home using our top-notch recipes.
Don't leave Scotland without trying...
Haggis represents the best of Scottish cooking, using every part of the animal and adding lots of flavour and spices. Of course, it has so much tradition attached as well; across the world, people associate haggis with Scotland. It's traditionally made from 'sheep's pluck' – the finely chopped liver, heart and lungs – mixed with oatmeal, suet, herbs, spices and seasoning, packed into a natural casing (traditionally sheep intestines) and boiled or baked.
2. Fresh fish
The fish and seafood that Scotland’s waters have to offer are just sensational. There's a variety of fresh fish to sample, including Atlantic salmon, trout and pollock, not to mention an abundance of mussels and oysters.
One of my favourite holiday moments in Scotland was sitting on a beach on the west coast on a beautiful sunny day, eating squat lobster with my wife. This sweet and succulent seafood is delicious served straight from the sea, slathered in melted butter. It can be boiled or grilled and makes a great addition to simple pasta dishes.
Try our best lobster recipes, from luxurious lobster Thermidor to casual lobster rolls.
Scottish game is distinctive and versatile, and grouse is a particularly treasured ingredient for its beautiful flavours. During its shooting season (usually from the beginning of August until the end of December), you can get plump birds straight from the Scottish moors. Each bird is normally enough to serve one person and they're delicious roasted or stewed in casseroles.
5. Cullen skink
This classic Scottish soup with smoked haddock, potatoes and leek should really be made with Finnan haddie, a cold-smoked haddock from Aberdeenshire. I remember trying it for the first time at a cosy pub down the road from my parents’ house when I was about 12 years old. This classic, comforting soup is a hug in a bowl.
Serve up a satisfying bowl of our chunky sweetcorn, haddock and potato soup.
6. Cured meat and cheese
Scottish producers offer a fantastic array of cured meats and cheeses, from venison and sausages to moreish smoked cheddar. My wife and I like to work our way around the farmers' market in Stockbridge and source great bread, delicious cheese and cured meats from Peelham Farm.
Whip up your own impressive starter of smoked venison with melon salad.
Gins created in Scotland are plentiful and it’s wonderful to see so many producers perfecting the careful craft of distilling, from Edinburgh Gin to the Isle of Islay's The Botanist. I am also a great fan of the new Fidra Gin, which is a Scottish dry gin made from locally foraged botanicals in East Lothian, just outside of Edinburgh.
Want to experiment with the classic serve? Try our five ways with gin & tonic for simple cocktails you can make in minutes.
You can't come to Scotland without having a wee dram. It’s wonderful to see new whiskys being launched so more people can enjoy and discover it – more than any other spirit, the flavours are incredibly diverse. Whether you're partial to something light and fruity or a full-bodied smoky sip, there's something for everyone.
Porridge is a staple of the Scottish diet, ideal for staving off the winter chill. Some like it sweet, some salty; my version is a little bit of both, with sea salt and grated apple. Try giving it some texture by adding walnuts or sunflower seeds.
Shortbread is a great addition to a celebration or a Burns Night supper. Try serving it with raspberry and local honey, alongside cranachan or with teas and coffees to end the evening on a sweetly Scottish note. Try a whole host of flavours, from chocolate and caramel to delicate rosewater with our ultimate shortbread collection.
Make our simple, three-ingredient shortbread biscuits for the perfect pairing with your cuppa.
Enjoyed these foodie tips? Discover more must-try local foods and restaurant hotspots...
Tom Kitchin is the chef and founder of Michelin-starred restaurant The Kitchin, and has recently opened sister venues Southside Scran and The Bonnie Badger.
Are you a fan of Scottish cuisine? Share your must-try dishes below…