What food is eaten on Burns Night?

0776 Macsween of Edinburgh-Angus Bremner©
Image Credit © Angus Bremner

Burns Night is a celebration of the life and works of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. It takes place every year around the 25th of January, and is one of the most delicious celebrations of the year.

Be it a smart, formal affair or a relaxed family gathering, the star of any Burns Supper is the haggis.


Why is haggis eaten on Burns Night?

Burns wrote over 550 poems in the second half of the 18th century and is remembered as a hero for his liberal and socially-minded political outlook. His most famous poem is Auld Lang Syne which is often sung at New Year. However, around the 25th January, his most quoted verse is Address to a Haggis, which he wrote as an appreciation of a popular Scottish dish.

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,

Address to a Haggis Translation

Good luck to you and your honest, plump face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,

For the complete Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns follow this link.


In formal Burns Night gatherings, guests stand and clap their hands, accompanied by the sound of the bagpipes, to welcome the haggis.

The haggis and chef approach the top table, and the Address to the Haggis is said before the knife is plunged into it and the eating begins:


What do you eat with haggis?

A traditional Burns Supper will start with a soup, and the two commonly served on Burns Night are cock-a-leekie (chicken and leek) or cullen skink (rich smoked haddock chowder). The haggis is the centrepiece of the evening, traditionally served with ‘neeps and tatties’ – swede and potatoes – which is simply boiled and then mashed into a smooth puree that pairs perfectly with the rough oaty texture of the haggis

Try our traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties recipe here. Or here is a vegan alternative with vegetarian haggis to try)

But there are lots of other ways you can enjoy this versatile ingredient, even on Burns Night.


Why not try:


How much haggis do you need?

If you’re serving haggis as a main course, you’ll need 200-250g per person and as a starter 65-100g per guest is recommended.

Haggis is made in a variety of shapes and sizes and to help with your preparations, recommended portion sizes are included on all Macsween haggis packaging.

For example, if you are planning a Burns Night with 40 guests, then buy 1 chieftain haggis that serves 16 guests, and 3 catering packs that serve 7 guests each. Easy to prepare and your guests will be heartily satisfied.

Take a look at the Macsween haggis range here.

Have a great Burns Night.