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What Does Haggis Taste Like?

Freshly cooked haggis on a board

The national dish of Scotland is Haggis, a savory pudding that is made of sheep liver, heart, and lungs, combined with minced oatmeal, onion, suet, and spices Use. The ingredients were traditionally cooked in an animal’s stomach, although an artificial casing is now more common. Would you like to know what haggis tastes like? We’re about to give a complete rundown on its flavor, texture, and uses in the kitchen. Let’s dive in.

What Does Haggis Taste Like?

Haggis has an earthy, savory flavor that has a “liver paté-like” undertone. The addition of spices gives it a warm peppery taste that will vary depending on the recipe used. Although haggis is made from sheep, because offal is used, it has a “beefy” feel to it, and there is an unmistakable tanginess.

Its texture is crumbly with a grainy, nutty mouthfeel thanks to the addition of oats. Some people compare the texture of haggis to crumbly sausage. However, unlike sausage, there is no oiliness and the meat has a dry quality to it. Although the animal organs are ground up into a fine texture, the fibers and sinew are certainly detectable.

The flavor of haggis will vary depending on the combination of spices used. Meat choice will also have a significant impact on the dish. Older sheep will have a stronger flavor, closer to a liver taste, while younger sheep will be lighter. The sheep’s diet will impact the flavor of the offal, so haggis made in different parts of the world will vary.

An infographic describing the taste of haggisThe traditional dish incorporates a side of tatties, which is mashed potatoes, and neeps, mashed turnips. Modern Scottish restaurants have taken haggis to new levels with the addition of non-traditional ingredients and innovative plating up. A good example of this is the picture below showing a haggis meal, served as a single, layered tower.

A layered tower of haggis, neeps, and tatties
A modern take on the traditional haggis dish.

Culinary uses for haggis

  • Haggis has a crumbly texture which makes it ideal for use as a stuffing in poultry.
  • Fry it for breakfast and serve with eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon.
  • Eat with neeps, tatties, and a dram of whiskey.
  • Sprinkle the meat onto pizza for a creative Scottish twist.
  • Use as a flavorful replacement for ground beef in sausage rolls, nachos, and scotch eggs.
  • Add a big scoop to a burger combined with melted cheese.

How to cook haggis

In these modern times, haggis is usually sold pre-cooked so it is simply a case of heating it to the center. Place the meat in a large pot of water and simmer for 50 minutes per pound. If you’re in a hurry, heat it in a microwave on a medium setting for 8-10 minutes. Remember to turn it at the halfway point to ensure even heating.

Haggis, potatoes and turnips on a white plate.
The traditional way to eat haggis is with neeps and tatties.

7 fast facts

  1. “Pluck” is an essential part of making haggis; it is the combination of sheep’s liver, lungs, and heart.
  2. There is some disagreement over where haggis originated. Although the English first wrote of this food around 1430, it is generally accepted that the dish is of Scottish origin.
  3. Scottish hunters would traditionally make haggis as a way of using the offal and stomach lining before it went off.
  4. Haggis made using sheep lung was banned from the United Kingdom and the United States in 1971.
  5. On the 25th if January, Burns Night is a celebration of the life of a famous poet, Robert Burns. His poem, Address to a Haggis, is well-known in poetry circles and has immortalized the dish. On Burns Night, people consume haggis and whiskey, while singing and reciting poetry.
  6. It is now possible to buy vegan and gluten-free haggis.
  7. Lamb or mutton offal is the meat of choice for haggis. Centuries back, any type of meat was used including beef, lamb, pork, or rabbit.
A close-up look at haggis.
A close-up look at the texture of haggis.

Other foods that may shock

Haggis is considered to be a disgusting food by many, but most that try it find it okay. Other foods you might want to check out are balut, stinky tofu, and natto. Each of these either looks or smells like many people’s worst nightmare. Check them out and decide if you could eat them.

Summing up

If you’re interested in trying haggis for the first time then you might want to find a reputable restaurant that serves the dish on its menu. You’ll get a better understanding of how it’s supposed to taste. Although it can vary depending on the recipe, you’ll find that haggis has an earthy live-like taste with added warmth from the cayenne pepper. Its texture is crumbly, making it ideal for use as stuffing if you want something a little different.

What food have you tried that shocked you? It could be in a good or bad way! Please let us know in the comments below.