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Burns Night menu

Whiskey burns night menu

The Scottish Burns Night tradition is just around the corner, so gather your friends and family for a night of laughter, poetry and haggis aplenty. Whether you celebrate the day every year with a dram of whisky or are completely new to the night, we've put together a delicious menu of recipes from gransnetters, traditional and alternative, so you can throw the perfect Burns Night supper.

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What is Burns Night?

Burns Night is an annual event, celebrating the life of Scottish poet Robert Burns. The tradition began in 1801, and was started by Burns's friends five years after his death. 

It's on 25th January every year, the date of Robert Burns's birthday. Burns Night 2020 falls on a Saturday night - perfect if you're planning on hosting or attending a supper.

The night typically features a menu including haggis and whisky, with guests reciting Burns's poetry for entertainment. There are also speeches and toasts throughout the night, such as Address to a Haggis and the Immortal Memory. At the end of the evening, guests traditionally join hands to sing Auld Lang Syne, the famous poem by Burns. 

Burns Night menu

Whether you want to opt for the traditional supper of haggis, neeps and tatties, or are looking for Scottish alternatives to serve up, here's our pick of the best dishes to serve on Burns Night...

Starter: cock-a-leekie soup

burns night 2019

Considered to be the national soup of Scotland, this delicious vegetable broth is very easy to make.

Serves: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes


  • 1 litre chicken stock (it should have a jelly-like consistency when chilled in the fridge)
  • 55 to 85g pearl barley
  • 2 large leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 small turnip
  • Parsley to garnish
  • 170g cooked chicken (the brown meat is best)
  • A little chicken dripping or butter


  1. Chop the onion finely.
  2. Trim, clean and chop the leeks and celery.
  3. Peel the turnip and potato and cut into cubes (about ½cm squares).
  4. Gently sweat the onion and celery until the onion is softened. Now add the rest of the vegetables and coat with fat. It will look like there are far too many leeks but they will reduce.
  5. Add the stock and the pearl barley and bring the mixture to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pearl barley is cooked.
  6. Shred the chicken. Add to the soup and heat through.
  7. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and with a side of crusty bread.


The main feast: haggis, neeps and tatties

burns night menu

The traditional Scottish dish, best served with a dram of whisky. You can also get vegetarian haggis for those who aren't meat-eaters.

Serves: 2 to 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes (after the haggis is cooked)


  • Large haggis
  • Maris Piper potatoes (peeled and chopped up)
  • Swede or turnip (peeled and chopped up)
  • Milk
  • Knob of butter
  • Pinch of salt and ground pepper


  1. Cook the haggis according to the packet or butcher's instructions. Once it's cooked, split it open with a knife or scissors. Traditionally it is opened during the Address to a Haggis poem.
  2. Boil the potatoes and swede or turnip separately until they're really soft. Add milk, butter, and a pinch of salt and ground pepper to both. Mash them separately until soft.
  3. Serve the dish and add gravy if you wish.

Main course alternatives 

  • Haggis pie - catch your wild haggis (sadly they're not domesticated) and cook with potatoes and pastry. Yum. 
  • Balmoral chicken - chicken with haggis stuffing. One gransnetter said: "For those who are not overly fond of haggis, like me, this is a good alternative."
  • Whisky chicken - cooked in double cream, this is one indulgent dish that will definitely lead to second helpings. 
  • Vegetarian stew - cold January nights call for a hearty stew packed with vegetables. Your guests will not be disappointed with this alternative dish.

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Dessert: Cranachan

burns night desserts

An oaty dessert soaked in whisky. The perfect cherry on top of your Burns Night festivities.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: 4


  • 400g raspberries
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g toasted oatmeal
  • 250ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp whisky


  1. Put the cream, half the whisky and half the sugar into a bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks.
  2. Add the remaining whisky and sugar and whip until the mixture is thick.
  3. Gently fold in the oatmeal and raspberries.
  4. Refrigerate for one hour.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of oatmeal on top.

Alternative desserts

  • Dumpling loaf - An alternative to the traditional clootie dumpling.
  • Scots cheese and biscuits - "I've been to umpteen Burns suppers and never been offered a pudding. It is usually oatcakes and cheese (Dunlop cheese, as it is from Ayrshire) with some fresh fruit (usually grapes), homemade or bought shortbread and sometimes Mrs Tilly's Tablet with coffee."

Serve with coffee - those little extras 

Whether you're serving up coffee with a dash of whisky to bring the night to a close or want to greet your guests with a few Scottish treats, here are two recipes for those finishing touches... 

Scottish shortbread
burns night traditions

Perfect for dunking, this buttery biscuit is a must for serving with coffee.

Serves: 4 to 8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 170g flour
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 110g butter


  1. Heat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 2.
  2. Mix the flour and sugar together.
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Press the mixture firmly together with your fingers.
  5. Roll the mixture out into a 1cm thick circle or square.
  6. Cook until pale golden (it usually takes about 30 minutes).
  7. When ready, remove from the oven and cut while hot. 

Scottish tablet

Scottish tablet

Sugary goodness to round off the night, with a microwavable version if you're looking for a quick fix.

Serves: 8
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


  • 500ml water
  • 225g butter (chopped into pieces)
  • 1.8kg super fine/caster sugar
  • 450g condensed milk


  1. Damp the sugar with cold milk in a pan. Add the butter and the condensed milk, and turn the heat on medium-high.
  2. Keep stirring evenly until the mixture comes to the boil; this usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If you start getting brownish streaks (caramel), turn the heat down a little, and keep stirring.
  3. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat down low. Stir occasionally to stop the mixture sticking.
  4. You'll notice the mixture darken slightly. Keep stirring now and then. It takes about 20 minutes for the mixture to cook.
  5. Transfer a little of the hot mixture to a teaspoon, and plunge it into cold water. It should form a soft, sticky ball that should drip off the spoon very slowly. When it does this, it's ready.
  6. Take the pan off the heat, and start stirring vigorously. Try to mix in some of the crystallized mixture that has formed on the side of the pan. This is to try and get the mixture to form large enough crystals that it will set, but small enough crystals that it will still pour.
  7. Once you feel the spoon stirring slightly grittily on the base of the pan, and the mixture being slightly stiffer, it's ready to pour.
  8. Quickly pour the mixture into the buttered baking tray, which should be on a heat-resistant surface. Allow to cool and serve.

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