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Eating & drinking   |   Recipes

Best recipes for Burns Night

Just when you thought the festivities were over, here’s another chance to feast with friends late into the winter night. Held in honour of the late great Scots bard, Robert Burns, on his birthday, the 25th January, Burns Night has been a Scottish tradition for over 200 years.

There are many elements to the true Burns supper, from toasts, recitals and songs, but the food takes centre stage quite literally, with a haggis traditionally being accompanied by pipers to the table.

A haggis is the traditional Burns Night centrepiece. Image Janet Ramsden.

You may not be going to quite those lengths, but there are plenty of seasonal Scottish dishes that are perfect for a relaxed get together.

After a soup or Scotch broth to start, the menu features hearty winter veg such as the famed neeps and tatties; roughly mashed potatoes and swede with salt, pepper and lashings of melted butter. This cosy side is an essential accompaniment to haggis on Burns Night, but it's just as good on any other wintry evening with sausages and greens.

No swede? The wet weather has hampered yields in some parts of the UK, but don’t panic, simply substitute parsnips, celeriac or even sweet potato in the mix along with your spuds for superb mash.

Traditional sides include buttery 'neeps and tatties', and freshly steamed kale.

Haggis is a meaty savoury pudding with a base of oatmeal, barley, swede and potato. Offal such as the heart, lungs and stomach made up the meat content in true nose-to-tail eating, but Meatloaf with spiced swede mash and kale is a great alternative you can make at home. Thrifty and comforting, organic mince will give it a really delicious depth of flavour.

Stovies – literally meaning ‘bits from the stove’ – is a classic dish that uses leftover meat and veg from your Sunday roast. This Scottish stovies with greens and oatcakes dish is a nod to the full Burns Night menu but can be made from scratch. A plate best enjoyed as a simple meal by the fire, it is supremely comforting and delicious.

'Stovies', literally 'bits from the stove', uses up leftovers for a tasty Burn's main dish.

If you are vegetarian, the traditionally meaty Burns Night may seem to be a trickier event but it’s actually pretty simple. Made with lentils, oats and seeds for protein instead, veggie haggis is a fantastic centrepiece, served with some simple steamed kale, neeps and tatties.


Try this potato, celeriac and truffle oil soup full of earthy rich flavours as the starter, and a cheeseboard with bannocks (oatcakes) to finish off before a dessert of 'Tipsy Laird' (a boozy trifle laced with whisky rather than sherry), shortbread, or cranachan (a traditional dessert made with raspberries, cream, honey, whisky and toasted oatmeal) – all accompanied with a dram of whisky, of course. 

If you want to find out more about hosting a Burns Night supper, Visit Scotland has all the info you’ll need here.


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