Top 10 foods to try in Scotland

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.

Scottish highlands coastal view

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. 

Discover even more delicious destinations and local travel guides in our travel hub, and check out our top 10 travel destinations for 2019

Don't leave Scotland without trying... 

1. Haggis 

Baked haggis cut open
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

Discover everything you need to know about haggis, including how it's made, cooked and best enjoyed. If you’ve never had it before, it’s best tried the traditional way, alongside neeps and tatties.
 

2. Fresh fish

Whole trout with lovage on plate
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.

Try our trout with lovage, pea purée & crisp spring onions
 

3. Lobster

Whole lobster being prepared
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. 
 

4. Grouse

Roast grouse with blackcurrant sauce on plate with cutlery
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.

Try our roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce for your own taste of the wilds, and check out our top tips for buying and cooking game
 

5. Cullen skink

Haddock, potato and sweetcorn soup in bowls
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

Smoked venison with melon on plate
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
 

7. Gin

Gin and tonic selection with garnishes
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.
 

8. Whisky

Whisky in glasses
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.

Do your research before you head off and sample our best bottles of whisky, taste tested by experts. Try your hand at mixology with our 5 easy whisky cocktails
 

9. Porridge

Porridge in bowls with brown sugar, apple and sultanas
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.

Start your day off with our favourite porridge recipes or jazz up your standard bowl of oats with our best ever porridge toppings

Discover how to make the perfect bowl of porridge and the health benefits of oats
 

10. Shortbread

Shortbread biscuits with tea
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. 
 

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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…

 

Comments, questions and tips

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johnnyheron
28th Nov, 2019
Item 3: that’s not Squat Lobster in the photo. It’s a completely different shellfish to the one in the picture. Tiny and juicy - and needs a special thumb technique to take off their shell. Maybe check the article with Tom?
loveleith
12th Nov, 2019
Thanks to Tom Kitchen for a good list of Scottish foods to discover. I would add a few extras including some unique of Scotland's amazing cheeses, unique bakes like Ecclefechan Tart and Selkirk Bannocks, Finnan Haddock from Ian Spinks and Stornaway Black Pudding. and then there's a host of puddings like Cranachan .... all delicious and very memorable.
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