Haggis is the traditional Scottish food made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs minced with onions, oats, pepper, and salt. It’s a beloved national dish that has now become popular all over the world. But what exactly does haggis taste like? Why would anyone want to eat it in the first place? Keep reading to find out more about what haggis is, what is inside haggis, what it tastes like, what it is served with and what health benefits it offers.
What Is Haggis?
Haggis, also known as haggis pâté or haggis pudding, is a traditional Scottish dish made from minced sheep’s stomach, heart, and lungs. It was originally prepared by the Scots as a way of preserving meat. In the 18th century, however, it became popular all over Scotland and is now served in many different countries around the world.
What is real haggis made of? Haggis is made of sheep’s stomach, heart, liver, and lungs. It is minced with onions, oatmeal, and spices like black pepper.
The main ingredients of haggis are minced sheep’s lung, heart, stomach, oatmeal, and spices. The recipe varies by region but often includes onion, suet (fatty meat or animal fat), flour, and spices such as pepper or nutmeg. Often suet is replaced by butter or lard. The mixture is then stuffed into sheep’s stomachs and boiled until it forms a large ball of minced meat that resembles a small, flat sausage.
How would you describe haggis? Haggis is definitely not food for the faint-hearted! It’s certainly an acquired taste and not for everyone. Haggis is a very hearty meal that’s high in fat, so it’s best enjoyed on a cold day with a warm drink!
Haggis is traditionally eaten on Burns Night, celebrated in Scotland on January 25. Burns Night was named in honor of the poet Robert Burns, who wrote many poems about Scotland. The poet lived from 1759 to 1796 and was a great supporter of Scotland’s national dish, haggis! He even wrote a poem, Address to a Haggis, where the dish was immortalized.
Haggis is traditionally served with neeps and tatties, or potatoes and turnips. Neeps are boiled in water with a little salt until they are soft, then mashed up and added to the haggis. Turnips are boiled to make a puree that is then added to the haggis mixture. It’s a very Scottish meal consisting of roasted lamb, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, and then eaten all together as haggis n’ neeps.
Haggis Flavor Profile – What Does Haggis Taste Like?
What does haggis taste like? Haggis has a rich earthy, meaty, nutty flavor with creamy, savory, and spicy undertones. Haggis is slightly sweet, but the sweetness is balanced by a pleasant spiciness from black pepper and nutmeg. Haggis also has gamey and livery hints.
Haggis is a savory dish with an earthy, liver-like taste to it. Spices also give the haggis a warm peppery flavor and a pleasantly spicy kick. Even though haggis is made from sheep’s offal (internal organs), there is a pronounced tanginess in its flavor profile which some people feel makes it more beef-like than lamb-esque.
Haggis’s taste also greatly depends on the age of the sheep – young sheep have a nuttier and sweeter taste, while old sheep taste chewier, more earthy, and less delicate. Haggis flavor also depends on the sheep’s diet.
Does haggis taste like sausage? Haggis does not taste like sausage as it has almost no oiliness and is not as sweet. Haggis is more similar to a liver pate or meat pie rather than a sausage. Haggis is also crumbly, chewy, and grainy as it contains oats, fibers, and sinew of animal organs.
What does haggis smell like? Haggis has a rich earthy, and meaty smell. The traditional Scottish dish haggis has a strong smell of onion and sheep’s stomach mixed with other spices like black pepper. You can also smell the oatmeal and barley malt that gives it its distinctive flavor.
Does haggis taste good?
Let’s be honest – haggis is not the most appetizing dish; after all, not many people like eating sheep’s offals! Haggis is definitely an acquired taste – while it is not for everyone, it has a lot of fans and is known all over the world. Haggis is not very popular in the USA due to the USDA’s ban in 1971 when it labeled sheep’s lungs as non-edible animal by-products since sheep’s lungs may contain fluids like phlegm and stomach acid after slaughter.
However, haggis is very popular in Scotland, partially thanks to the poet Robert Burns who loved haggis and even created the poem Address to a Haggis. Haggis is cheap, filling, and has many health benefits, including a high iron and protein content. Haggis is appreciated for its unique meaty, gamey and earthy flavor with nutty and creamy notes, so we highly recommend trying it in a local Scottish restaurant.
How to Eat Haggis? What Does Haggis Go Well With?
How is haggis eaten? Haggis is traditionally served with neeps and tatties (potato and turnip) and a glass of whisky. Traditionally, haggis was eaten by putting it in the lap and cutting a slice off the top. The haggis would then be opened up so that the heart, liver, and lungs could be eaten by hand. However, not many people now eat haggis with their hands, most use a knife to cut it into small pieces; this is all personal preference though.
However, you do not need to eat haggis only with neeps and tatties. Here are 5 creative ways to eat haggis:
- In a sandwich. Haggis can be used as a filling in a sandwich. You can make this with any type of bread you like. You could make a haggis and cheese toastie if you like something simple and tasty.
- With French fries or nacho chips. If you’re looking for something more filling than just a side dish, why not have some fries or chips with your haggis? Throw some guacamole on top, and you are good to go!
- With beans on toast. Beans on toast is another classic British food that goes well with haggis; they are both savory, so they both complement each other very well in a meal.
- With pasta. Haggis can be used as a filling for pasta, or you can pour some haggis sauce over your pasta to give it some extra flavor.
- On a pizza. Throw some haggis on your pizza instead of sausage, and you will get a nutty, earthy, and gamey pizza that will definitely surprise your taste buds!
Traditionally, haggis is served with mashed potatoes and mashed turnips (or swede). In some countries, such as the United States and Canada, haggis is served with cornbread. Some people enjoy eating haggis plain, although most people like to serve it with a side dish.
Haggis can also be served in sandwiches or as part of the main course. It can be topped with sauce or gravy. Haggis patties are commonly sold in supermarkets in Scotland and Ireland. They are delicious when cooked in a frying pan for about 10 minutes on each side until browned and then served alongside chips (french fries) and baked beans, for example. You should try them sometime! They are very yummy!
Haggis is delicious when cooked properly over an open fire on a spit or rotisserie. It is also delicious when placed in a slow cooker, which is easy to do! Slow cookers are great for cooking haggis as they allow you to easily cook it without having to monitor it.
Can you eat haggis on its own? Haggis is traditionally eaten as part of a meal. However, it can be eaten on its own. Haggis tastes better when accompanied by mashed potatoes and turnips but can also be served with tomatoes, asparagus, lettuce, sour cream, or even with nachos!
Do you eat haggis hot or cold? Haggis is traditionally served boiling hot because this way you can fully enjoy its aromatic nature and rich earthy, nutty flavors. However, it is not uncommon to serve haggis cold.
Do you eat the skin on haggis? Haggis is traditionally eaten with the skin, or “crackling,” as it is called in Scotland. In fact, the skin on the haggis is the tastiest part, according to many people. It can be quite crispy and tasty, but if you are not a fan of eating animal skins, you can scrape it off before eating.
Why Is Haggis Outlawed in the US?
Haggis is made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs. Because of this, it was banned in the United States by the USDA since 1971. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers haggis a byproduct of meat not fit for human consumption (because sheep’s lungs can get fluids during slaughter that can be dangerous to your health). But do not worry – you can still enjoy Scottish haggis in the USA – manufacturers still produce haggis but without sheep’s lungs.
Is haggis still banned in the US? As of 2022, haggis that contains sheep’s lungs is still banned in the USA. In 2010, USDA reviewed the ban on lamb offal, but the lung ban remained the same, so in the US, you can only enjoy haggis without lungs.
Haggis Health Benefits
Haggis has tons of health benefits! Haggis is rich in protein, which is indispensable for building muscle tissues and restoring cells. It also contains a lot of iron and is high in B vitamins, which makes it a good source of energy and nutrients. Haggis is jam-packed with zinc, calcium, and magnesium that promote bone and teeth health as well as strengthen hair and nails. Haggis is also rich in selenium and copper that stabilize blood pressure and can even regulate hormone levels.
Haggis is good for your overall immunity – if you eat haggis every now and then, your mood will improve, and you will get more energy. It’s also very filling, so it can be used as an alternative to other high-calorie food items that you might have on hand, like chips or cake. Haggis is also low in fat and sodium, which makes it a healthy snack option for people who are trying to shed excess weight. Finally, haggis is full of iron, which makes it beneficial for people suffering from anemia.
Where to Buy Haggis?
You can buy haggis in cans or plastic containers in many supermarkets and grocery stores. It can also be ordered from specialty shops online or local butchers. When you open the packaging and take out a slice of haggis, it will look very much like a loaf of bread with a brown crust on the outside and a pinkish-red interior that looks kind of like ground beef or sausage.
Haggis is not the nicest-looking food – certainly not something you’d want to see on your plate. But this Scottish dish of minced sheep organs and offal, with onion, oats, and spices, has many passionate defenders. Haggis tastes savory, rich, salty, and slightly sweet – as well as a little bit weird, perhaps. But why would anyone want to eat it? Well, haggis is a nutritional powerhouse: high in protein, low in carbs, and rich in vitamins from the B group (especially B12). In fact, you could almost call it a superfood! So, next time you are in Scotland, we highly recommend going to a local restaurant and trying this Scottish delicacy!
Haggis Taste FAQ
Why should you not eat haggis?
According to the US Department of Agriculture, sheep’s lungs included in haggis are labeled as non-edible animal by-products as they may get phlegm and stomach acid during slaughter that can be dangerous to health. However, in the US, sheep’s lungs are replaced with other offal.
Why is haggis so important to Scotland?
Haggis has been consumed for centuries and is so important to Scotland because haggis is made from inexpensive ingredients, which increased haggis popularity in Scotland in the 17th century during economic decline. Haggis was one of the few filling dishes that the poor could afford. It was said, “haggis is the type of food the real men are made of!”
Can you microwave haggis?
Haggis is safe to microwave. All you need to do is slice the haggis, put it on a plate, cover it with a microwave lid, and heat for 1-2 minutes.
What is haggis similar to?
Haggis is most similar to a traditional Romanian dish called Drob. Drob is made of lamb offals with the addition of eggs, herbs, green onions, and bread soaked in milk or water. This meatloaf is usually served for Easter.
What do you traditionally eat with haggis?
Haggis is traditionally served with neeps and tatties, a traditional Scottish dish made from mashed yellow turnips and white potatoes.