Haggis is one of the most famous traditional British foods, there’s no arguing with that. Most people have probably heard of Haggis, even if they’ve not tried it.
But if you’ve not had the benefit and sheer joy of trying it, there’s probably one question you’d like the answer to: “What does Haggis taste like?”
Most people say Haggis tastes like this: meaty, earthy, gamey, livery, peppery, spicy and nutty. It’s also commonly said that Haggis tastes like some other classic British foods, such as black pudding.
More on that shortly.
First, if you hear people say Haggis doesn’t taste like much, then you can probably safely assume that they’ve not had proper Haggis.
That said, it’s probably true that Haggis is an acquired taste. Some people will naturally dislike it, but others will love it.
Purely because of what Haggis is, some are immediately put off the idea of eating it, but there’s plenty of folk that do have the stomach for it (pun totally intended!)
That’s all very well, but “what even is Haggis?” you might ask…
What Is Haggis?
Haggis is a classic Scottish and British delicacy, mainly consisting of sheep’s offal or pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), which is traditionally cooked in the sheep’s stomach. It was originally made with the offal of any animal, but it later became most common for sheep to be used.
Haggis is one of Britain’s national dishes; the national dish of Scotland to be more precise.
Certainly by Medieval times, Haggis had become a Scottish food staple. It’s a dish that’s understood to have come about through the historic hunters’ need to preserve and transport food.
What Animal Does Haggis Come From?
We often get asked the question, “what kind of meat is haggis?” To which we always respond: Haggis isn’t the meat of a particular animal as such, but it’s a traditional Scottish dish that’s typically made from the insides of sheep.
It seems that some people still believe there’s an actual animal called a Haggis though!
Do Haggis Exist?
The ‘animal’ known as the Haggis does exist, insofar as Scottish folklore is concerned. As well as being a huge part of traditional Scottish food, Haggis is a fictional creature invented by the Scots for comedic purposes. Similar to the Loch-Ness monster, you might say.
How Do You Catch Haggis?
You’re really not following, are you!? Haggis is a make-believe creature conjured up by the Scots and their sense of humour. So unfortunately, you can’t ‘catch’ Haggis in the hunting sense.
Although, one thing you can do, is throw Haggis! Believe it or not, there’s actually a sport dedicated to what is one of Britain’s famous delicacies, called ‘Haggis hurling.’ This basically involves throwing a Haggis the furthest distance you can. Seriously!
(The Haggis hurling world record is held by Lorne Coltart, who hurled a Haggis 66 metres (217ft) in 2011 – and people say British food is weird!)
What Is Haggis Made Of?
Haggis is most commonly made of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, which is minced and usually combined with beef suet, oatmeal, onion, herbs and spices. Also, whisky and stock can be used. This mixture is then cooked (boiled) inside a sheep’s stomach.
(Artificial casings are often used instead of sheep stomach, in the modern day).
What Does Haggis Look Like?
The fictional creature that is ‘Haggis’ is said to look like a small, fluffy, furry animal, with legs of different lengths. This apparently enables it to scurry across the Scottish Highlands with ease.
In terms of the real thing, if you were to imagine the lining of a sheep’s stomach, tied at both ends and filled to the brim of the sheep’s minced pluck, that’s pretty much what Haggis looks like.
If you can’t bring yourself to imagine it, then the image below shows you what Haggis looks like, once it’s been cooked:
What Does Haggis Smell Like?
The smell of raw Haggis is rather strong and earthy – we’re talking about the insides of a sheep, after all. Naturally the odour of Haggis becomes less pungent as the dish cooks, although still gives off a strong, hearty smell. From a description of what Haggis is and what it tastes like, you can probably imagine how it smells.
What Is The Texture of Haggis?
A good Haggis tends to have a special crumbly, oaty, grainy and nutty texture (once removed from its casing).
Is Haggis Any Good?
Haggis is very good, delicious actually, especially when cooked as authentically as possible. It’s perhaps not so good when made in less natural, more processed ways, as you can probably gather.
Is Haggis The Same As White / Black Pudding?
Haggis is not the same as white or black pudding; these dishes are all separate British delicacies in their own right. Not to mention, they’re typically from different animals. White pudding is very similar to black pudding, being a pork and oatmeal based sausage, except it doesn’t contain blood. Haggis is usually made from sheep.
Does Haggis Taste Like Black Pudding?
Some people say Haggis tastes most like black pudding, but is that really true? These two British delicacies are entirely unique really, so it’s just not correct that Haggis and black pudding taste the same. Haggis is made from sheep, whereas black pudding is made from pig. In that respect, they don’t taste the same.
There’s the similarity in that the two dishes are made from uncommon parts of the animal (the ‘insides’ if you want to get technical), but that’s really where the similarities end.
What Other Foods Taste Like Haggis?
There’s quite a few other foods that people say taste like Haggis, such as:
- Black pudding
- White pudding
Do People Actually Eat Haggis?
Believe it or not, people actually eat Haggis. Do you really think we’d waste our time answering all these questions if they didn’t?! Haggis is still eaten today, albeit often in the more modern form with an artificial casing.
Do Scots Eat Haggis?
Scots definitely eat Haggis, especially those who enjoy traditional British food. Scottish people are clearly the most fond of Haggis in the UK, although it’s available and enjoyed across the rest of Britain too. Why Do Scots Eat Haggis? Because it’s a taste sensation and it’s simply one of the best things about traditional Scottish cuisine.
Haggis is particularly enjoyed by Scots on Burns’ Night each year.
Why Is Haggis Eaten On Burns’ Night?
Burns’ Night is a traditional celebration of the life of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who actually wrote a poem called ‘Address to a Haggis’ in 1786. That’s the main reason Haggis is eaten on Burns’ Night, when Burns’ poetry is also recited and plenty of whisky is drunk.
Why Is Haggis Banned In The United States?
Whilst we appreciate and adore Haggis in Britain, the United States has banned imports of it since 1971 because the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t allow one of Haggis’ main ingredients (sheep’s lung) to be used for human consumption.
All we can say is, America’s loss is Britain’s gain, because they’re missing out on the earthy, nutty, taste sensation that we know and love as Haggis.
How Is Haggis Cooked?
Traditional Haggis is cooked by boiling the animal’s offal with its stomach. These days, Haggis can be bought as a convenience product and is often possible for it to be cooked in the microwave. But let’s be clear: for the best Haggis, it should really be boiled in the traditional way.
Another more modern method for cooking Haggis is to place it in the oven in a baking dish with a splash of water. However you decide to cook yours, be sure to check your Haggis recipe or product instructions carefully.
How Do You Eat Haggis?
Here’s how to eat Haggis:
- Remove the Haggis from its cooking water
- Place on a serving dish
- Leave it to rest for a few minutes
- Prick the casing with a knife and cut open
- Slice with a knife and add to plate (spoon crumbly Haggis onto the plate)
- Use a knife and fork to eat your Haggis
What Do You Eat With Haggis?
Haggis is most traditionally eaten with what the Scots know as ‘neeps’ and ‘tatties’ (mashed turnips and mashed potatoes), accompanied by a dram of Scotch whisky. Haggis should most definitely be eaten as the star of the show.
Alternatively, you can taste your Haggis in loads of other ways too, these being just some ideas:
- Deep fried haggis in batter
- Haggis burger
- Haggis Pakora (a popular Indian-inspired dish)
- Haggis pizza
- With a Full English Breakfast (to make it a Full Scottish Breakfast)
- Haggis-stuffed poultry or game
- Haggis scotch eggs
However you eat your Haggis, it’s best washed down with a dram of good Scotch whisky.
Can You Get Vegetarian Haggis?
In the modern day, Haggis is also available to suit different lifestyles and dietary needs, with all of these being available:
- Vegetarian haggis
- Vegan haggis
- Gluten-free haggis
- Kosher haggis
Do You Eat The Haggis Skin?
If it’s a commercially-bought artificial haggis skin, perhaps check the packaging to see whether it’s edible. Eating a traditional and natural haggis skin isn’t exactly common, albeit this’d be a personal choice that probably depends on how strong that stomach is!
Where To Eat Traditional Haggis?
If you’re looking to eat some of the most traditional Haggis, consider one of these joints:
- Hadrian’s Brasserie at the Balmoral
- The Royal McGregor
- Whiski Bar
- The Last Drop
- The World’s End
- Arcade Bar
- Wedgwood the Restaurant
There. We hope that answers the question of what Haggis tastes like, as well as any other question you might’ve had about one of Britain’s most classic dishes.
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