11 of the Best Scottish Desserts and Sweet Treats

by Phil Bolger

This list is here to put Scottish desserts and sweet treats on the map!

Scotland is known for many amazing things, beautiful scenery, rich culture, and fascinating heritage. However, Scotland is also home to some amazing sweet treats, desserts, and puddings. We decided to pull together some of our favourites!

So what are the best Scottish desserts and Sweet Treats?

Here, in no particular order, are 11 of the best Scottish desserts not to be missed, whether you’re a local or planning a visit!

Cranachan

Scottish Cranachan Recipe - Best Scottish Desserts and Sweet Treats.

Though this list is in no particular order it’s hard not to put Cranachan in the number one spot. This classic Scottish dessert is hugely popular in Scotland and was traditionally made to celebrate the raspberry season. Like many Scottish dishes, it uses simple ingredients and turns them into something fantastic. It’s dishes like Cranachan that made us start Scottish Scran in the first place!

The dessert is simple, combining honey, whisky, oats, cream, and, of course, raspberries. Traditionally it also used crowdie cheese, though this has now often been replaced in more modern recipes with double or thick cream. The oats soften in the mix and the whisky and honey balance each other perfectly.

We worked on our own version of this recipe, and it’s also been immensely popular since it’s so easy to make. You can find how to make Cranachan here, you won’t be sorry!

But since we also like trying more modern versions of traditional Scottish desserts, we also took the fantastic taste of Cranachan and made it into a cheesecake with another tasty recipe, which can find that here.

Tunnocks Teacake

Image by craiglea123 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Tunnocks teacake came into the world in 1956, created by a Scottish bakery that began life in 1890. This delicious treat is hugely popular in Scotland, alongside other Tunnocks products like the Caramel Wafer and the Snowball.

The teacake is not what you would expect in the traditional use of the term, in that it’s most definitely not a cake! Unwrap the distinctive red and silver foil and you’ll find a biscuit base supporting a ball of light marshmallow, all covered in chocolate. Yum!

You’ll spot Teacakes all over Scotland in shops, cafes, and even on the tea tray at your B&B. The Tunnock’s teacake deserves its spot on our list of the best Scottish desserts for both taste and place in the Scottish culture.

You can find out more about Tunnocks on their website, which also has very distracting games!

Dundee Cake

Dundee Cake is a traditional Scottish fruit cake that has gained worldwide fame since it’s first appearance over 350 years ago. The Dundee Cake is one of Scotland’s most famous cakes and, it is said, was liked by the Queen at tea-time. A Scottish dessert by royal appointment!

The story goes that Mary Queen of Scots didn’t like cherries, so a fruit cake was made and decorated with the distinctive almond decoration that has now become very familiar to those of us in the know. However, the name Dundee Cake didn’t come until much later when the cake became mass-produced.

Whether it’s true or not the cake itself is delicious, rich and tasty full of dried fruit and spices.

Shortbread

Shortbread - Best Scottish Desserts and Sweet Treats.

It would be hard to do a list of the best Scottish desserts and sweet treats without mentioning Scottish Shortbread. The most traditional recipe for this crumbly buttery biscuit can be made with just three ingredients!

From humble beginnings, Scottish Shortbread can now be found around the world and is a particular favourite at Christmas in many households.

If you want to stock up your biscuit tin we shared our own Petticoat Shortbread recipe that’s as traditional as we can make it and really simple. Enjoy!

Ecclefechan Tarts

These are less well known than the Dundee Cake but they earn their spot on our list of best Scottish desserts by taste alone!

These tasty tarts are like a chewy mince pie, a little similar to an American Pecan Pie. They’re a moreish combination of walnuts, currants, butter and sugar in a pastry case, with the sweetness traditionally tapered with a little vinegar. More modern variations have added a little cinnamon and lemon zest instead of the vinegar.

The Ecclefechan Tart can be served as small individual tarts or slices from a larger version. It’s named after a village in Dumfries and Galloway of the same name. Ecclefechan is very close to the English/Scottish border so you’ll sometimes see these called Border Tarts.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

Millionaire's Shortbread - Best Scottish Desserts and Sweet Treats.

What could improve Scottish Shortbread we hear you ask? Well, how about adding sweet caramel and chocolate? The buttery shortbread supports a thick layer of sticky caramel and a thin layer of plain chocolate is the perfect mix of sweet and subtly bitter. Perfection. And thus Millionaire’s shortbread is added to the list!

This delicious sweet treat goes by many names the world over, including Caramel Slice, Caramel Shortcake, and Caramel Squares. The name Millionaire’s shortbread originated in Scotland so we’re staking a claim that it’s Scottish!

We recreated this tasty treat in the most traditional way we could because some treats just don’t need any additions. You can find it here.

Black Bun

Black Bun or Scotch Bun is a little lesser known than some of the more famous Scottish desserts and sweet treats. This pastry-wrapped fruit cake was traditionally a King Cake eaten on the Twelfth Night on the 5th of January, which is the end of the twelve days of Christmas but it is now often eaten on Hogmanay (Scottish for New Year’s Eve).

It’s thought the name “Black Bun” may have come from Picturesque Notes on Edinburgh by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1879, in which he describes the tradition of “first-footing”.

To ensure good luck for the year ahead the first person to set foot over the threshold should be a dark-haired man who was not in the house for the ringing of the bells (midnight) and comes bearing gifts like coal, whisky, and you guessed it, black bun!

Deep-Fried Mars Bar

Though by no means an everyday Scottish snack, the deep-fried mars bar has become famous in its own right. There’s not too much description needed for this vastly unhealthy treat, since it’s exactly as described.

You can find them in chippies (Fish and Chip shops) across Scotland and they’re worth a try if you like sweet and fried!

Tablet

Homemade Tablet Recipe

Scottish Tablet is one of Scotland’s best treats, although many don’t know what it is before they come to visit the country itself. Tablet is a wonderfully tasty, sugary sweet that has been made in Scotland for centuries. It has a grainy texture but melts in your mouth, like a powdery fudge that is amazingly moreish.

There are some similar recipes around the world such as Dulce de Leche en Tabla or Russian Fudge but we think Scottish Tablet is the best, of course!

We are lucky enough to have a family recipe for Tablet and it has proven to be one of our most popular since we started Scottish Scran. You can find out how to make this traditional Scottish recipe here.

Since tablet is so good, we also made it into a cheesecake (recipe here) and an ice-cream (recipe here) too!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

5 min Sticky Toffee Pudding - Best Scottish Desserts and Sweet Treats.

The addition of this fantastic dessert could cause a little controversy. The origins of Sticky Toffee Pudding, like several famous Scottish dishes, are a bone of contention. It is widely believed to have been created in the Lake District, England. However, around the same time, a hotel in Aberdeenshire began serving a Sticky Toffee Pudding that is much more like the one we know and love today. So we’re claiming it as a Scottish dessert, at least for this purpose, because it’s too delicious not to!

What makes this pud so tasty is the use of dates, which often surprises many diners. They add a deliciously sticky sweetness that really is hard to beat. We decided to make our own version of this classic so that we didn’t have to wait quite as long for the traditional version. Our 5-minute Sticky Toffee Pudding in a mug has received amazing reviews, and you can find it here.

We also liked the idea of being able to make this wonderful dessert more portable and take it on our adventures around Scotland, so we created a Sticky Toffee Traybake that ticks all the right boxes; you can find it here.

Clootie Dumpling

A “cloot” is Scots for a strip of cloth or item, possibly used for patching clothes. Why is this important to this delicious Scottish dessert? The Clootie Dumpling is a suet based fruit pudding that is boiled in a floured piece of cloth or “cloot”, hence the name.

This Scottish dessert is rich, filling, and decadent. Once it’s boiled you can slice it and serve with custard, a bit like a Christmas pudding, which is why it’s often served around Christmas and Hogmanay. It’s certainly not a light dessert so if you see it on a menu be sure to leave a little room!

You can check out our Clootie Dumpling recipe here.

Clootie Dumpling Recipe

Scottish cuisine has so much to offer and there are certainly desserts and sweet treats that we haven’t included so what would you add to this list?

We hope we’ve made your mouth water and that you’ll try some of these recipes for yourself!

Enjoy,

Phil & Sonja

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