Introduction and History of Haggis

Introduction and History of Haggis

Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, is shrouded in folklore, mystery, and ambiguity. Although there are some who can’t fathom how it’s edible, the Scots adore this delicacy and devour it by the bucket load. So, what exactly is haggis?

  • Ingredients:


    Traditionally, haggis is made from sheep intestines (or “pluck”), which includes the heart, liver, and lungs. These are mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, salt, stock, and spices. The mixture is then blended together inside the casing of a sheep’s stomach. Nowadays, sausage casing is often used as a more palatable alternative. Vegetarian haggis is also popular.
  • Flavor:

    Despite preconceived notions, haggis is exceedingly flavorful and incredibly appetizing. It’s typically served with “neeps” (mashed swede or turnip) and “tatties” (mashed potatoes).

  • Origins:

    The true roots of haggis remain a subject of debate. Here are some theories:

    • Ancient Times: Some believe that haggis originated in ancient times after a hunt, when easily perishable parts of an animal were cooked and eaten instantly.
    • Ancient Romans: References to a similar dish appear in Book 20 of Homer’s Odyssey, suggesting that haggis might have ancient origins.
    • Scandinavian Influence: There’s a theory that haggis came straight off a ship from Scandinavia.
    • Printed Recipe: Surprisingly, the first printed recipe for something similar to haggis was in England in the early 1400s!
  • Folklore: Scottish folklore plays a significant role in haggis history. For instance:

    • Cattle Drovers: Wives and daughters of Scottish cattle drovers would prepare packed lunches for their working men, including sheep innards wrapped in stomach casing.
    • Workmen’s Meals: Workmen were sometimes given the discarded parts of sheep after a day’s work.
    • The Wee Beastie: The most amusing myth is that haggis is an actual creature dwelling in the Highlands of Scotland, with two legs longer than the others, running in circles around the hills.
  • Robert Burns:

    Scotland’s beloved poet, Robert Burns, immortalized haggis in his poem “Address To A Haggis” written in 1787.

Traditional Scottish Haggis Recipe

Here’s a traditional haggis recipe for you to try at home:


  • 1 ox bung (soaked for 4 hours and cleaned)
  • 3 1/16 lb of lamb’s pluck (heart, lungs, and liver)
  • 1 1/8 lb of beef or lamb trimmings (or stewing steak)
  • 7 1/16 oz of suet
  • 1 1/8 lb of coarse oatmeal
  • Seasoning (adjust to taste):
    • 2 tbsp of ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp of finely grated nutmeg
    • 4 tsp of freshly ground coriander seeds
    • 4 tsp of fine sea salt


  1. Rinse the whole pluck in cold water, trim off any large pieces of fat, and cut away the windpipe.
  2. Place the pluck in a pot, cover with cold water, and simmer gently for 2 hours. Skim the surface regularly.
  3. Lift the meat from the pot, rinse in cold water, and let it cool.
  4. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve to get stock (reduce it to roughly 500–1l). Let the stock cool.
  5. Dice the cooked heart and lungs, grate the liver, and finely dice the trimmings. Mix them with suet, oatmeal, and spices.
  6. Measure the stock remaining from cooking the pluck and make up to 1l with cold water. Add it to the haggis mixture.
  7. Check the seasoning by pan-frying a tablespoon of the mixture and adjust if needed.
  8. Spoon the haggis mixture into the soaked, rinsed ox bung. Pack it loosely, leaving a little bung at each end.
  9. Tie the bung securely with string and cut off any extra length.
  10. Cook the haggis in boiling water (covered) for 3 hours. Serve with neeps and tatties!

Enjoy your homemade haggis, and may it be as legendary as the folklore surrounding it! 🎉🍽️