Evolution of Scottish food


Not knowing much about Scottish food and the cuisine, you may be excused when thinking that Scottish cuisine is only shortbread and haggis. Much more than we once originally thought, Scottish food has evolved and developed over time. Developing more in flavour and taste as time progresses, Scottish food has been influenced by more exotic countries than once thought. Here we will look at how Scottish cuisine has developed and what countries have played a part in popular Scottish dishes that we love today.

With many classic dishes that we love and enjoy coming from this Northern region, such classics include porridge, haggis and whisky. The creation of all dishes that we have come to love have been influenced and inspired from some other nation. Whether their inspiration has come from immigration or invading, each moment in history has played a huge part to the food that we enjoy today!

From the Celtic, Vikings to the Medieval influences from European countries, a range of different influences have all played their part in creating the cuisine that we have all come to know and associate with Scotland.

Vikings. It was during the 8th and 9th century that the Vikings arrived, bringing with them a style of new cooking and storing techniques. The concept of adding salt to a dish to preserve and flavour the dish arrived in Scotland from these northern conquers. The Vikings are also thought to have brought with them new breeds of sheep and cattle and it is believe that the Aberdeen Angus originated from this lineage.

Medieval influence. It was during the medieval times that people began to move from the countryside, closer to towns and castles for work. With the mass migration, styles of cuisines began to develop. Meat was popular at that time, with fish being the most popular. Eaters would dine on swan, peacocks, pigeon, rabbit and seals, while tucking into fresh eel or pike. The introduction of spices and seasoning from the Medieval era was beginning to take off and could be seen with the addition of herbs for cooking. From garlic, rosemary, cinnamon, peppercorns, mint, root ginger, cloves and nutmeg, all being added to dishes for added flavour.

French alliance. During the 16th century, the alliance between France and Scotland organised by Mary Queen of Scots saw the emergence of continental cooking techniques being brought to Scotland. Including the addition of thick, rich sauces to dishes, traditional French cooking styles were incorporated to everyday Scottish cooking.


Modern day. The style of cooking and evolution of the traditional Scottish cuisine has dramatically expanded. With a mass immigration from across the World coming to Scotland, the Scottish cuisine has been influenced in many ways. With migrants originating from China, India, Pakistan, Italy or the Middle East, each country has influenced the local cuisine in different ways.

With the Italian migrants bringing the importance of using fresh ingredients, their love of ice cream and how delicious sweet desserts can be, while migrants from India and Pakistan bringing their love of spices. With the arrival of migrants, comes the growth of traditional restaurants and specialist shops catering to their style of cooking.

With the growth and arrival of migrants from around the world, Scottish cuisine has yet to undergo further growth. With its origins from a vast range of countries at different points in history, Scottish food that we love and connect with has been shaped from all corners of the world at a different time or another. With the opportunities of travel and migration now more accessible than ever, we for one are truly excited to see how the tastes and appearance of Scottish cuisine develops in the future.

If you want to try some of our Scottish recipes, including a traditional Shortbread Recipe to an authentic Haggis, head over to our recipe page.