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Scotland: 10 Foods to Try During Your Trip to Scotland

Some cities have the ability to take you back in time. When I landed in Scotland, I wasn't sure what to expect. Scotland (and the UK in general) isn't known for its amazing cuisine, but that intrigued me. I love trying traditional foods - popular or not - because there is almost always an interesting reason that the dish originally came to be. I love the history of food- and Scotland certainly has a lot of history. Around every corner is another beautiful old building, winding street, and hidden close (or alleyway).

It is truly breathtaking.

We all know it hasn't been easy to travel internationally recently but when my friend and editor, Anna McCarthy, moved there last year, I decided to make it my first international destination since the beginning of 2020. I was pleasantly surprised by all the good cold-weather food that is offered on rainy days. Plus, one thing we can all agree on: Scotland does whisky VERY well, and I made sure to do a lot of taste testing.

Below is my list of some traditional Scottish foods I tried while in town...

1. A Full Scottish Breakfast

(with Haggis & Black Pudding)

Nothing better than waking up to a full Scottish breakfast after the long trip over. It gave me all the energy I needed for my jet lag.

What’s a Scottish breakfast? It often includes…..

• Bacon

• Haggis

• Black Pudding

• Sausage

• Beans

• Fried Egg

• Toast

• Hash Brown

• Tomato

• Mushrooms


What is Haggis? Haggis is a mixture of sheep organs, onions, meal, and spices.

What is Black Pudding? Black pudding is pig blood and fat, often made into a blood sausage.

Restaurant Pictured: The Mash Tun

2. Tea, Scones, & Biscuits

I love taking afternoon breaks when I am traveling around a new city, and the UK makes it so easy! Tea time is essential as an afternoon stop, whether you’re visiting a cafe, bookshop, or strolling. Edinburgh has some great cafes.

Make sure to grab a delicious fresh scone too. Never tried a scone? It’s basically a crumbly warm baked good (pictured above) often baked with sweet fruits inside and served with jams and butters…..yum.

Cafes pictured: Bakery Andante, Platform 21 Cafe, Cowan & Sons, Abbey's Cafe, Hideout Cafe, Topping & Co.

3. Allll the Drinks!

Scottish Whisky, Hot Toddies, Edinburgh Gin, Cider, & Beer

Drinks, drinks, drinks! Essential in Scotland. Do you know the difference between Whisky, Whiskey, Scotch, and Bourbon? They are all varieties based on location and the process in which they are distilled. For example, for it be called Bourbon, is has to be made in the US with a certain percentage of corn. Scotch, or Scotch Whisky, can only hail from Scotland. If you head north, you will find some of the most famous Whisky distilleries in the world - and I highly recommend you do! We taste tested as many local whiskys as possible, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

Can’t do straight whiskey? Another personal favorite: a delicious Hot Toddy! (pictured below)

What is a hot toddy? It’s warm tea, whisky, honey, and lemon. Honestly, an amazing cold-weather drink. So easy to enjoy, that people sometimes drink it to help heal their cold. Feeling a little jet legged during the rainy Scottish days? Pop into a pub and grab one! I had a few at a gorgeous restaurant called Devils Advocate, hidden in Old Town.

Did you know that Edinburgh is also known worldwide for its Gin? Edinburgh Gin is definitely something to be tried when in town. One thing I had never seen before (maybe just me, though) is that they smartly serve the gin in a glass, with the tonic separately. That way, you can decide how much tonic you want to add to your gin & tonic drink based on your personal preferences. One night we grabbed some Edinburgh gin and Scotlands Mackies chips and headed up to the lookout to enjoy the sunset.

Finally, beer and cider. Sure, Ireland might have claimed beer, but Scotland doesn’t disappoint. I also tried some local cider that was fermented in Whisky barrels called Thistly Cross Cider. I loved it!

Okay, Okay, not an alcohol fan? A must try is Irn-Bru (above, bottom left): a famous ginger-colored carbonated soft drink hailing from Scotland that you’ll find in any store!

Restaurants pictured: Maggie Dickson, Devils Advocate, Piper's Rest

4. Smoked Salmon

I love some good salmon, so I was pleasantly surprised when I was told this is an incredibly common dish is Scotland. Makes sense- it’s an island. I had smoked salmon for breakfast a few mornings, and it was delicious. A lighter, healthy meal to enjoy that is fresh and delicious.

Restaurant pictured: Bakery Andante

5. Cullen Skink

Huh? What is Cullen Skink? I know you’re thinkin' it. It’s creamy soup with Haddock (fish) & onions

Don’t be deterred by the name, it an absolutely delicious creamy soup. I ordered a bread bowl of it as an appetizer one night and had to reel in how much I was eating to save room for the main course. Definitely try this warm meal on a rainy Scottish day!

Restaurant pictured: Piper's Rest

6. Bacon Butty & Meat Pie

More delicious meat, please! Lots of farms means lots of local meats. Like I said, it’s an island, so by local I mean all these meats are from within a few hours away (at most).

What’s a Bacon Butty?

A delicious breakfast sandwich if you’re feeling a bit hungover from the Scottish whiskey, and a perfect afternoon snack as you explore the city. As simple as can be- a bacon sandwich.

What’s a Meat Pie?

Yummy meat baked into pastry form. A great warm and filling dinner!

Restaurants Pictured: Cowan & Sons, Piper's Rest

7. Fish & Chips

How many different food lists have I mentioned this dish? At least a half dozen. And it’s because it’s always yummy and always a good choice. Fried cod and french fries are extremely popular in the UK - you can find it at most bars and casual dining restaurants. Fish & Chips is a great local choice is you want a cheaper lunch that’s greasy and good.

Restaurant Pictured: Maggie Dickson

8. Mull Cheddar Cheese

As mentioned- you’ll see farms wherever you go in Scotland, and that also means great local cheese. One in particular being Mull cheddar cheese- from the Isle of Mull.

Where we bought it: Valvona & Crolla

9. Deep Fried Mars Bar

Such a unique dessert, and one I was recommended time and time again! Mars bars are local to the UK, but the Scots take it a step further by deep frying them (and often adding some delicious ice cream). Ever tried a classic Mars bar? It’s delicious caramel, nougat, and chocolate. Need I say more?

Restaurant Pictured: Piper's Rest

10. Classic Scottish Sides: Stovies, Neeps & Tatties

Had to mention these, because the names alone can throw a traveler off. All so delicious and worth a try!

What are Stovies? traditional Scottish potatoes- "to stove" means "to stew."

What are Neeps & Tatties? Neeps are turnips and tatties are potatoes, mashed into two delicious side dishes.

Any more suggestions? Let me know!


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