Wondering which traditional Scottish food to try on your trip to Edinburgh? We bring you our favorites!
The beautiful capital of Scotland is a city that has both an amazing center with ancient architecture and hills with the views of the entire city. But the thing that sets it apart is the food scene. You can see quirky cafés and indie restaurants on almost every corner, so we thought you might need a little help with deciding on what to eat! Check out our guide on which traditional foods to try in Edinburgh.
Food you must try in Edinburgh
When somebody mentions traditional Scottish food and Edinburgh in one sentence, haggis is the first dish that comes to mind. Maybe it doesn’t sound that delicious, but once you try haggis you’ll end up wanting more! The Scottish national dish is made of liver, lungs and heart of a sheep, mixed with beef and oatmeal, then seasoned with cayenne pepper, onions and other spices. To many, the cringy part is that those ingredients are cooked inside a sheep's stomach.
The unusual dish is perhaps such because it dates back to the 15th century, and similar dishes are mentioned even by Homer. Today, however, haggis is one of the favorite local dishes. It's healthy and inexpensive — and the best part, it goes great with a glass of traditional Scotch whiskey!
If you do a research on "what food is Edinburgh famous for", you'll find out that there's one traditional meal similar to haggis — black pudding! The dish is also a blend of pork fat, onions and oatmeal, but it has pig's blood, too. This is why it's much softer in taste, rich in iron, and considered to be Scotland's superfood.
To prepare it, you have to mix the ingredients, make them into truffle-sized balls, roll them in bread crumbs, then deep-fry them. The original recipe, Stornoway Black Pudding, is so popular that the name is registered as a Protected Geographical Indication. You can serve it in a salad with blackberries and rustic bread; combine it with goat cheese, raspberries and dry-fried pine nuts; add it to coq au vin or go a little crazy and try it the Brazilian way with cod and banana.
If you have an Instagram account and are a foodie, chances are you've seen a modern version of porridge on your feed! You know those top view photos of delicious oatmeal bowls topped with fruits like blueberries, bananas, strawberries and chia seeds? Yes, those are all versions of classic Scottish breakfast, porridge!
Porridge - with blueberries, almonds and strawberries, Flickr
No wonder this is considered to be one of the best foods in Edinburgh — its main ingredient is oats, one of the best whole grains you can eat. That’s why this healthy meal is a great way to start your day of exploring Scotland's capital.
In late medieval times, porridge was made with rolled oats, which are easy to find and cook quickly. If you were to add water and a pinch of salt, you would have a traditional porridge breakfast, but we recommend you to try an updated version. After you make the base recipe, add cubed winter squash, ginger, garlic, scallions, parsley and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
Cullen skink is a must-eat in Edinburgh! The creamy smoked haddock soup is originally from Cullen on the north coast of Aberdeenshire, but is loved all over the country. This winter warmer is especially popular during long cold months.
Cullen Skink - creamy soup, Wikipedia
Try it as a starter (followed by Edinburgh traditional food) or prepare it as lunch. Ingredients include smoked haddock loin, onions, baby leek, celery, garlic, potatoes, milk, vegetable stock, double cream and tarragon. Add the haddock and the milk to a small frying pan, bring to boil, then turn off the heat. Fry the onion, celery, leek and garlic until really soft. Add potatoes and stir through, then add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Pour the milk and the fish into the pan and stir, then pour the double cream in. Simmer for five minutes. Serve it with a bit of tarragon and enjoy your Cullen skink!
Traditional Scottish breakfast
“The best Edinburgh food” list definitely includes a traditional Scottish breakfast. The recipe may vary from region to region, but the base always includes square Lorne sausage, link sausages, fried eggs, bacon, baked beans, black pudding or haggis, tattie scones, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast. Once we've listed what goes in it, the popularity of this dish is self-explanatory, right?
Traditional Scottish breakfast, Reddit
To start this mouth-watering meal, take two frying pans, one for the meat and other for the non-meat ingredients. Start frying Lorne sausage, link sausages and black pudding or haggis. Add bacon, make sure the meat is fully cooked through and keep it warm while you're preparing the rest. Use the meat pan for cooking tomatoes and mushrooms until soft, and the other one to fry eggs according to your taste. Fry the tattie scones until golden, then pop on your toast and enjoy!
Where to try these foods?
In the last couple of years, Scottish food in Edinburgh is being reinvented. You can find anything from all-vegan studios to pubs working with artisanal producers. Check out these three classic Edinburgh restaurants!
Arcade Haggis & Whisky House
If you want to try haggis, Arcade Haggis & Whisky House is the place to be. Both locals and tourists love the unique pub located on a historic cobbled street surrounded by quirky restaurants and boutiques. Besides haggis, they're serving over one hundred types of whiskies and a superb range of speciality trade teas. The joint is near Edinburgh Castle and Princess Street, so you can visit it to take an earned break after wandering the streets of Edinburgh.
The Gardener’s Cottage
If you want to go big, treat yourself with a meal in one of the best Scottish restaurants in the capital. It was built in the 19th century for the keeper of Royal Terrace Gardens. It's cosy during cold weather and surrounded by flowers during spring and summer. Much of the food is grown by the restaurant's gardener, which is why the restaurant has an inventive tasting menu that changes during each season.
Looking to try the best Scottish food in Edinburgh, but at a reasonable price? Come to Borough, the restaurant located on Henderson Street in Leith. You'll never see the same menu twice, as the offer depends on what comes in each day. Expect seasonable and simple meals, as well as total transparency on where the food came from.
As you can see, there are many answers to the “what to eat in Edinburgh” question. No matter which meal you choose, you’ll be set up for a day of walking through the Edinburgh streets!