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Authentic Haggis Recipe: Step-by-Step Guide

Unlocking the secrets of a traditional Scottish Haggis recipe can be an enlightening and delicious journey for enthusiasts and hobbyists alike. From understanding the essential ingredients to mastering cooking techniques, this essay dives into the practical steps and historical roots of Haggis in order to help you become adept in creating this iconic dish. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of culinary art laced with history and cultural significance, accompanied by mouthwatering flavors and delightful presentations. Your quest to become skilled in the Haggis recipe begins here.


Traditional Haggis Recipe

Haggis is a classic Scottish dish that has been around for centuries. This flavorful, savory dish is traditionally made with a combination of sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), suet, oatmeal, and spices, all cooked inside a sheep’s stomach. However, in this recipe, we will provide substitute ingredients to make it more accessible for a home cook in America.

  • 1lb lamb liver
  • 1lb ground lamb or beef (substitute for sheep’s heart and lungs)
  • 1 cup beef suet or vegetable shortening (substitute for traditional suet)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups steel-cut oats or pinhead oatmeal, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Artificial sausage casings or cheesecloth (substitute for sheep’s stomach)
  1. Preparation of the lamb liver: Start by rinsing the lamb liver under cold water and removing any visible connective tissue or blood vessels. Then, place it in a pot of boiling water, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove the liver from the pot, let it cool and then finely chop or mince it.
  2. Toasting the oatmeal: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread the steel-cut oats or pinhead oatmeal on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they have a light golden brown color. Be sure to stir once or twice to ensure even toasting. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  3. Preparing the haggis mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced liver, ground lamb or beef, chopped onion, suet or vegetable shortening, and toasted oatmeal. Mix well.
  4. Adding the spices and stock: Add all the ground spices to the mixture: allspice, nutmeg, white pepper, coriander, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt to taste. Gradually pour in the beef or lamb stock while stirring, making sure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Filling the casing or cheesecloth: Soak the artificial sausage casings in warm water according to the package instructions. Once softened, stuff the casings with the haggis mixture, being careful not to overfill them as the mixture will expand during cooking. Alternatively, you can place the mixture on a large piece of cheesecloth, gather the edges, and tie with kitchen twine to form a tight bundle.
  6. Cooking the haggis: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently lower the filled casings or cheesecloth bundle into the boiling water, making sure it stays submerged (place a plate on top if needed). Lower the heat and let it simmer for 3 hours.
  7. Serving the haggis: When the haggis is cooked, carefully remove it from the pot using a slotted spoon. If using artificial casings, simply slice the casing open and pour the contents onto a serving dish. If using cheesecloth, unwrap the bundle and transfer its contents to a serving dish. Serve the haggis hot, traditionally with a side of “neeps and tatties” (mashed turnips and potatoes) and perhaps a glass of Scotch whisky for a true Scottish experience.

Enjoy making and eating this traditional and flavorful Scottish dish, and remember to put your own twist on it if you so wish.

A traditional Scottish Haggis on a plate, served with mashed potatoes and turnips. The dish is steaming and looks very hearty.


Haggis Recipe: Preparation of Sheep’s Pluck and Casing

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from the sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs) and other ingredients, such as oatmeal, spices, and onions. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of cleaning and preparing the sheep’s pluck and casing for making haggis. Follow these steps to ensure that your haggis comes out delicious and properly prepared.

  • 1 sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs)
  • 1 sheep’s stomach or 1-2 large sausage casings
  • Cold water
  • Salt
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
Step 1: Cleaning the Sheep’s Pluck
  1. Start by rinsing the heart, liver, and lungs under cold running water to remove any surface debris and blood.

  2. Trim away any excess fat, connective tissue, or blood vessels from the heart, liver, and lungs.

  3. Place each organ into a large bowl or pot filled with cold water.

  4. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water.

  5. Let the organs soak for 30-60 minutes, then drain the water.

  6. Rinse the sheep’s pluck once more under cold water and set it aside.

Step 2: Boiling the Sheep’s Pluck
  1. Place the heart, liver, and lungs into a large pot.

  2. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the organs completely.

  3. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface during the boiling process.

  4. Turn down the heat to a simmer, and cook the heart, liver, and lungs for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the organs are tender.

  5. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the organs to cool in the liquid.

Step 3: Preparing the Sheep’s Stomach or Sausage Casings
  1. If you are using a sheep’s stomach, clean it thoroughly by rinsing it under cold running water. Ensure that both the inside and outside surfaces are clean.

  2. Soak the sheep’s stomach in cold water mixed with a small amount of white vinegar or lemon juice for 30-60 minutes. This will help to remove any remaining impurities and odors.

  3. Rinse the sheep’s stomach once again under cold water, and pat it dry with paper towels.

  4. If you are using sausage casings, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to clean and prepare the casings.

Step 4: Finishing the Preparation
  1. Remove the cooled organs from their cooking liquid, and finely chop or mince them.

  2. Your sheep’s pluck and casing are now ready for making haggis. Proceed to mix the minced organs with other ingredients, such as oatmeal, onions, and spices, according to your haggis recipe.

A photo of a bowl of freshly made haggis, with oatmeal and spices visible mixed with the diced organs.

Cooking Technique

Introduction to Haggis Recipe

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made with sheep’s offal (heart, liver, and lungs) that is minced together with onion, suet, oatmeal, and spices. The mixture is then boiled, simmered, and baked to create a savory, flavorful meal. In this guide, we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to properly prepare and cook Haggis, ensuring you achieve the right texture and flavors.

  • 1 sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs (offal)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 8 oz (225 g) suet, minced
  • 8 oz (225 g) oatmeal, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (240 ml) beef or lamb stock
  • 1 sheep’s stomach or a synthetic casing for stuffing

1. Start by cleaning the offal thoroughly. Remove any visible fat, sinew, or connective tissue from the liver, heart, and lungs. Rinse all the offal under cold water to remove any blood or impurities.

2. Place the offal in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the offal for about 1.5 hours, or until they are tender. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface of the water. Drain the offal and let it cool. Reserve the cooking liquid.

3. While the offal is cooling, toast the oatmeal in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

4. Once the offal is cool enough to handle, finely mince or chop the liver, heart, and lungs and combine them with the chopped onion, minced suet, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid or beef/lamb stock to moisten the mixture.

Stuffing the Haggis

5. Whether using a sheep’s stomach or a synthetic casing, rinse it thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and then soak in cold water for about 15 minutes. Make sure the casing is clean and odor-free.

6. Spoon the Haggis mixture into the sheep’s stomach or synthetic casing, filling it about two-thirds full. This leaves room for expansion during cooking. Press out any air bubbles and secure the open end of the casing with kitchen string.

Cooking the Haggis

7. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

8. To cook the Haggis, you will first want to boil it. Place the stuffed Haggis in a large pot with enough water to cover it. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the Haggis for about 2 hours, turning it occasionally, and then remove it from the pot.

9. Following boiling, you will then bake the Haggis for an additional 30 minutes. Transfer the Haggis to a baking dish, and pour about 1-inch of the hot cooking liquid into the dish. Bake the Haggis in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, basting it with the cooking liquid every 10 minutes.

10. After baking, remove the Haggis from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the flavors to meld and the juices to redistribute.

Serving Haggis

Traditionally, Haggis is served with neeps (yellow turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes), and often accompanied by a whiskey sauce. Scoop out portions of the Haggis with a spoon, and serve alongside your favorite side dishes to enjoy this truly unique and delicious Scottish delicacy.

A traditional haggis dish served with neeps and tatties

Serving Suggestions

Traditional Haggis Recipe
  • 1 lamb’s stomach or ox secum (cleaned and thoroughly rinsed)
  • 1 lb lamb liver (finely ground)
  • 1 lb lamb heart (finely ground)
  • 1 lb beef or lamb suet (finely ground)
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 lb steel-cut oats (toasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Scottish whisky
  1. Make sure the lamb’s stomach or ox secum is cleaned and thoroughly rinsed. Soak it in cold saltwater for an hour, then rinse again.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the lamb liver, lamb heart, beef or lamb suet, onion, toasted oats, allspice, black pepper, nutmeg, coriander, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
  3. Stir in the beef broth and whisky to moisten the mixture.
  4. Stuff the mixture into the lamb’s stomach or ox secum, filling it about two-thirds full to allow for expansion. Close the opening securely with a strong thread or kitchen twine.
  5. Place the stuffed stomach in a large pot filled with boiling water, ensuring it is fully submerged. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, adding more boiling water if necessary to keep the haggis submerged.
  6. Once cooked, carefully lift the haggis from the pot and allow it to drain and cool for a few minutes before opening.
Serving Suggestions
  • Haggis is traditionally served with ‘neeps and tatties’ – mashed swede (rutabaga) and mashed potatoes.
  • To make neeps, cook peeled and chopped swede in boiling water until tender, then drain and mash with butter, salt, and pepper.
  • To make tatties, boil peeled and chopped potatoes until tender, then drain and mash with butter, milk, salt, and pepper.
  • Haggis can also be served as a filling for Scottish pastries like Bridies or used to stuff chicken breasts wrapped in bacon.
  • You can also make haggis, neeps, and tatties into a layered bake, layering the haggis with the neeps and tatties.
Haggis on a plate with neeps and tatties, with a whisky sauce drizzled over the haggis.

Haggis History & Traditions

Introduction to Haggis

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish that has been a part of the country’s culinary heritage for centuries. This iconic dish is made from a mixture of sheep’s organs (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and other seasonings, boiled in a sheep’s stomach (or an artificial casing). The dish carries significant cultural and historical importance in Scotland and continues to be celebrated in the present day, with one of the most prominent annual observances being Burns Night. Let’s dive into the history and traditions of Haggis to better appreciate and understand its significance in Scottish culture.

Haggis History

The origins of Haggis are somewhat debated, with various theories suggesting that similar dishes were consumed in ancient Greece and Rome. Regardless of its precise beginnings, Haggis became particularly associated with Scottish cuisine over the centuries. The dish’s popularity in Scotland can be attributed to its use of readily available ingredients, showcasing the resourcefulness of Scottish cooks in utilizing every part of the animal for sustenance, and the flavor-enhancing properties of the native spices and seasonings.

Over the years, Haggis has evolved, with different regions in Scotland putting their unique spin on the dish. The core ingredients, however, have remained relatively consistent, reflecting the importance of tradition in preserving the identity of this quintessential Scottish dish.

Burns Night

Perhaps one of the most widely recognized celebrations centered around Haggis is Burns Night. This occasion, celebrated annually on January 25th, commemorates the life and works of the 18th-century Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796), who is often regarded as a national icon and the pioneer of the Romantic movement. Among Burns’s many celebrated works is the poem “Address to a Haggis,” which serves as a tribute to the dish and its role in Scottish culture.

On Burns Night, Haggis is the centerpiece of the traditional dinner, usually accompanied by sides such as neeps (mashed turnips), tatties (mashed potatoes), and a rich whiskey sauce. The meal is often followed by a recitation of “Address to a Haggis,” along with other works by Burns, and a variety of Scottish entertainment, including bagpipes, dancing, and singing.

Modern Celebrations and Variations

In contemporary times, Haggis remains an integral part of Scottish cuisine and culture, with some restaurants and homes serving modern adaptations of the classic dish. For those who prefer a vegetarian or vegan option, alternatives have been developed using ingredients like mushrooms, lentils, and barley, instead of the traditional organ meats.

Haggis is also enjoyed at various other events throughout the year, such as weddings, ceilidhs (traditional social gatherings), and rugby games. Haggis-flavored products like crisps (potato chips) and whiskey have also been introduced, showcasing the continued love and appreciation for this symbolic dish.


Haggis holds a deeply ingrained place in the hearts of the Scottish people, representing a connection to traditional values, local ingredients, and national pride. As a hobbyist interested in learning how to create an authentic Haggis dish, it’s essential to appreciate the rich history and culture that have shaped this celebrated cuisine. By participating in the preparation and enjoyment of Haggis, you’ll become part of the ongoing tradition that links past and present generations of Scots.

A plate of cooked Haggis with neeps, tatties, and gravy on the side.

Embarking on this Haggis adventure, you have not only gained practical knowledge about ingredients, preparation, cooking techniques, and serving suggestions but also a deeper appreciation for the dish’s historical and cultural significance in Scotland. As you continue to perfect your Haggis-making skills, you are also honoring and keeping alive a treasured Scottish tradition. Whether you choose to follow the time-honored recipe or experiment with modern variations, the world of Haggis is now at your fingertips. As an enthusiast and now skilled Haggis chef, you’re sure to dazzle your friends and family with this distinctive and scrumptious Scottish culinary experience.

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