Find out everything you need to know about haggis with our handy guide including how to cook, how to prepare and how to serve haggis.
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish that is popular to serve on Burns Night. Haggis can be shop-bought and is simple to cook at home. If you'd like to try making it from scratch then we've got everything you need to know to achieve the perfect haggis.
What is haggis?
Haggis is a savoury pudding made with a mix of sheep's offal, also known as ‘pluck’ where the heart, liver, and lungs are chopped, then mixed with oats, onions, suet, and several herbs and spices. This is all cooked together with stock in a sheep stomach, although it’s more common to use a synthetic casing these days.
It’s the national dish of Scotland and synonymous with Burn’s Night (opens in new tab), when it’s typically enjoyed with ‘neeps (opens in new tab) and tatties’ (swede, turnips, and potatoes). Though it is considered a traditional Scottish (opens in new tab) dish, there is debate about whether haggis originated in Scotland as there is evidence of "hagws" or "hagese" used in English recipes back in 1430.
How is haggis traditionally prepared?
Traditionally, hunters would stuff the cleaned stomach of an animal with the offal, as the organs would tend to spoil first. With a waste not, want not attitude, there was very little waste when it came to meat. They would add vegetables, oats, and spices and boil, just as we do today.
Similarly to black pudding (opens in new tab), haggis is one of those ingredients that has a strict love or loathe response, but once you get over the initial thought of how it’s made, you begin to appreciate the beauty of this historic dish, and we can assure you that haggis is worth a try. It's a deliciously rich and flavoursome dish with a meaty, slightly nutty taste and texture. It has a wonderful crumble, as well as a welcoming scent of herbs and spices.
How to cook shop-bought haggis
Haggis is readily available in supermarkets and butchers shops, so if you don't fancy making from scratch, this is the next best thing. Shop-bought haggis is already cooked, so you're essentially just reheating it, and you can do this in a number of ways.
- 454g haggis
- Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Remove the haggis from any outer packaging, but not from the casing. Prick with a fork or thick needle several times and wrap in foil.
- Place on a baking tray and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hr.
- Unwrap from the foil, cut open the casing, and serve the haggis with neeps and tatties (see below for more recipe inspiration)
How to cook shop-bought haggis: boil
Prick with a fork or thick needle several times, place in cold water and then bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cook for 1 hr.
How to cook shop-bought haggis: microwave
Pierce the case as with previous methods and cook on high for 9-10 mins.
How to cook shop-bought haggis: pan
Slice the haggis into 1-2 cm rounds, as you would with black pudding. Fry in a medium-hot pan with a little oil for 3-4 mins on either side. You can either remove the casing before or after frying, we would recommend after if you want to keep it round, as it's likely to crumble.
Where to buy haggis
If you're not sure where to buy haggis, here is a list of our recommendations, including a Burn's Night Selection Box, if you fancy pushing the boat out this Burn's Night:
- Fruit Pig Haggis, 450g £7.50, Fortnum and Mason (opens in new tab)
- Burns Night Selection Box, £45.00, Fortnum and Mason (opens in new tab)
- Macsween Haggis, 400g, £2.25, Sainsburys (opens in new tab)
- Macsween Haggis, 1.3kg, £10.49, Waitrose (opens in new tab)
- Simon Howie Original Haggis, 454g, £2.40, Tesco (opens in new tab)
How to cook haggis from scratch
If you want to make haggis at home, it's quite easy. Contact your local butcher who should be able to supply you with pluck - though it will most likely be still connected via the windpipe - and the sheep's stomach or ox secum, just be sure to clean it properly and soak it overnight.
Traditional haggis recipe
- 1 sheep stomach or ox cecum/ox bung
- 1 sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), approx 1.5kg
- 150g suet, minced
- 3 onions, diced
- 500 toasted oats
- 1tsp ground coriander
- ½tsp mace
- 1tsp dried mixed herbs
- Prepare the stomach or ox bung by washing thoroughly, turning inside out, and soaking in salted water for around 8 hrs.
- Separate the pluck, rinse and then simmer in hot, salted water for 2 hrs. Remove and rinse with cold water. Strain the cooking liquid and reduce to 1ltr of stock.
- Mince the cooked organs and add to a large bowl, along with the remaining ingredients, including the stock. Allow the oats to absorb the water for 20-30 mins.
- Stuff the mix inside the prepared stomach or ox bung like a sausage link, tying the ends with string. You can make them as big or as small as you like, but note that the mixture swells when cooking, so don’t stuff too tight.
- Pierce the casing with a needle and place it in cold water. Be sure to pierce the casing several times or else the entire thing will burst open. Bring to the boil then simmer for 1-2 hrs, depending on size. (Around 1 hr per 500g) Remove from the stomach or ox bung and serve with ‘neeps and tatties’.
How to cook haggis: oven
You can also cook haggis in the oven, which has less risk of bursting. Place in a casserole dish and add around 1 inch of water. Bake for 1 hr at 190C/Gas 5 with the lid on.
How to cook haggis: microwave
Certainly not traditional, but did you know you can also achieve great results in a microwave? Simply cook on high for 9-10 mins and enjoy piping hot.
How to store leftover haggis
Once cooked, haggis can be chilled and stored for 3 days, or frozen for 3 months. Be sure to defrost fully, and when cooking from chilled, cook until the internal temperature reaches 74C.
Easy haggis recipes
Haggis, neeps, and tatties
The classic way to serve haggis, with neeps and tatties also know about swede or turnips and potatoes. These three components make a great flavoursome combo.
Get the recipe: Haggis, neeps, and tatties (opens in new tab)
Parcel of haggis
Turn your haggis into a party food or dinner party option for Burns Night. These crisp golden parcels take haggis to another level of tasty. The soft meaty middle and light pastry go hand in hand.
Get the recipe: Parcel of haggis (opens in new tab)
If you're catering for vegetarians or looking for the veggie option this vegetarian haggis is sure to tick a few boxes. It tastes just like the real deal. Serve with creamy mash and fresh greens.
Get the recipe: Vegetarian haggis (opens in new tab)
Haggis the perfect dish to serve for Burns Night. Why not give it a go?
With over 12 years of experience, arts graduate Keiron turned to food to channel his creativity, specifically cake decorating. Keiron set up his wedding cake business in 2015. And, in late 2016 won a scholarship at the world-renowned culinary institute - Le Cordon Bleu, London, where he studied the art of French Pâtisserie. He's worked in some of London’s finest 5-star hotels, collecting a wealth of knowledge along the way. As a Food Writer and Stylist food isn’t just a job, it truly is Keiron's passion.