What You Need For Burns Night For The Ultimate Scottish Feast

Here is how to host the best Burns Night Supper and where to buy the food for your Scottish spread.

Burns Night

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

Burns Night is one of the biggest nights in the Scottish Calendar. Filled with delicious hearty food, whisky and poetry, this evening is a fun celebration to pay tribute to the wild and free Scottish culture. If you are hosting a Burns Night supper this year or attending your first one, here is what you need for Burns Night. You will be relieved to know that it's easier to prepare for than you would expect.

If there is one thing the Scots do best, it's celebrating their country with pride. On January 25th, a traditional Burns Supper is hosted in Scotland and in Scottish homes around the world, where traditionally, poems are recited to pay homage to Scotland's most prolific writer, Robert Burns. In this guide, we round up the best food, drinks and decorations that are readily available for your celebrations.

What is Burns Night?

So what is the celebration exactly? Burns Night is an evening to celebrate the poems and songs of Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns, on his birthday. Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in the village of Alloway, in Ayrshire, in the west of Scotland.

There are many ways to celebrate Burns Night, from traditional ceilidhs to poetry recitals to dinner parties with friends. Before the meal, the ‘Selkirk Grace‘, a poem written by Burns himself, is traditionally recited, and then everyone tucks into an array of classic Scottish food and drink.

Burns Night Haggis

What is a traditional Burns Night supper?

This celebration includes a meal made up of traditional Scottish food, with haggis as the main event. From haggis to salmon to whisky, we have rounded up the best Scottish food and drink for your Burns Night feast, so read on to find out exactly what you need.

If you are looking at a traditional Burns Supper menu, you will tend to see a Cock-a-Leekie soup or Scotch Broth as a starter. However, contemporary menus will see foods such as smoked salmon and dill pâté on blinis or oatcakes.

This is followed by haggis, 'neeps' (a turnip and swede mash) and 'tatties' (mashed potatoes). Dessert may be Cloutie Dumpling, a boiled fruit pudding, or Tipsy Laird a type of sherry trifle - however, no one will judge you if you get out a box of shortbread biscuits in its place.

How to throw your own Burns Night celebratory feast

So now that you know what to expect, here are our tips on how to decorate your home, dress and, of course, what to eat.

Dress code: Traditionally, the Scottish Highland Dress would be worn to a formal Burns Supper. Men usually wear their families' tartan, with the women opting for Tartan dresses or skirts and, in some cases, a Tartan Sash to match that of their kilted partner.

Decoration: Whether you are hosting a large group or a small circle of friends, setting the scene through tableware is one of the most exciting parts of any dinner or social occasion.

Set your table with a touch of tartan with a table runner or paper napkins, or add decorative touches around the room, like bunting, to create an inviting and lively atmosphere. Here are our suggestions to make your Scottish celebration come to life.

Burns Night decorations

Price: $7.99

An easy way to add a Scottish touch to your Burns Night supper are these tartan paper napkins just add them to a basic tablescape to add a fun, celebratory flair.

Glen Appin Of Scotland runner
Price: $18.49

This matching blue and green tartan tablecloth is perfect for creating a Scottish ambience at your Burns Night party.

This tartan table runner is very versatile and can be used to celebrate Burns night and can be pulled out again at Christmas.

If you are making baked goods for your Burns night party, this is an easy way to add a fun Scottish touch.

Go big or go home; this 3 x 5 ft Scottish flag will definitely be a focus at your party.

This single-ply fabric bunting design is visible on both sides and makes a fun decoration for your party.

Burns Night gifts

This Burns Night Cheese collection comprises three Scottish artisan cheeses and accompaniments - perfect for hosting a Burns Night supper or a thoughtful gift for a Scot away from home.

A taste of Scotland in a hamper. This box of treats is a great gift to send to homesick international friends or bring to your Burns Night bash.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky 70cl with Gift Box
Price: $290.51

Only one in 10,000 of Johnnie Walker's casks is considered worthy of its Blue Label series. So if you are looking for a gift for a whisky lover with the wow factor, this is the one.

Burns Night food and drink

Expect hearty Scottish food on the menu, but fret not a traditional Burns Supper is relatively straightforward to make if you are hosting. We recommend using your favourite Scottish foods and ingredients to create your perfect spread. Here are our favourite Scottish foods you can easily purchase to make a simple yet showstopping supper.

Scottish appetisers and starters

Salmon is a popular dish to serve on Burns Night, and this Salmon Pate is an excellent appetiser or canape to enjoy with guests.

This premium quality smoked salmon is selected from the clear waters surrounding the Orkney and Shetland Isles and is delightful to serve as a starter.

Made from Orkney Isle milk, this cheese is crafted using the traditional hand-salting method and tastes all the better for it. Perfect for pairing with some lovely chutney and Scottish oatcakes.

This delicious chutney gift set made on the Isle of Arran adds a burst of flavour to a wide range of foods, such as cheese. It is also vegan and gluten-free so that everyone can enjoy it.

Rough oatcakes are an iconic cracker for your cheeses, meats and more. They are affordable, filling and traditional in Scotland.

This luxurious Tsar-cut fillet of Scottish smoked salmon has a delicate flavour, is ready to eat and is a real centrepiece at your dinner party.

Burns Night Supper Scottish food

It wouldn't be a Scottish celebration without haggis. MacSween stocks haggis in supermarkets around the UK and is filled with a rich taste and a low price. This may be the most effortless dinner centrepiece you have ever made.

If you are hosting vegans or vegetarians, this haggis is made of legumes and perfect for plant-based friends and family.

Scotland's national dish! This savoury pudding is made of heart, liver and lungs blended with onion, oatmeal, barley, and mixed spices and tastes delicious. Pair with neeps and tatties, and you have a meal worthy of the occasion.

Gluten-free friends and family can participate in the main event at Burns Night with this MacSween's haggis. Made from gluten-free oats and the same recipe, it is exactly like eating the real thing.

Make your own tasty authentic Scottish haggis at home. Fill with the meat or veg you want in your haggis for the main event.

Scottish biscuits and cakes

Buttery shortbread is one of Scotland's finest exports, and this Tesco's finest assortment will go down as an absolute treat. Don't be surprised if there are no leftovers for your tea the next day.

This set of shortbread comes with the original shortbread and one with warming stem ginger. Each box contains 16 mini Scottish biscuits and makes a beautiful gift for 25 January.

A traditional sweet treat in the UK that hails from Scotland is an accessible item to bring to your Burns Night Supper Party. Made with a delicious biscuit base topped with marshmallows and covered with milk chocolate - you can't go wrong.

Scottish drinks and whisky

Following a recital of Address to a Haggis, a whisky toast is traditionally proposed. You can wash your feast down with a glass of whisky, or if you prefer something less intense, a G&T or perhaps an Iron Brew.

It wouldn't be a Burn's Night party without whisky. This Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made from 100 per cent Scottish barley, then matured for its entire life by the shores of Loch Indaal in premium American oak casks for the smooth and taste.

The fuel of Scotland - this bottle of Irn Bru is a must-have non-acholic drink that everyone must try. Love it or hate it - it is a true Scottish beverage.

Scotland is known for its beautiful gins, and this Scottish Gin is distilled on the Isle of Mull with hand-selected botanicals, including juniper, tea, heather, elderflower, and sweet orange peel.

This whisky is deep in colour and has a robust, warming finish. Alongside the expected smokiness of this Islay Scotch, you can taste hints of dark chocolate and raisin.

Creamy, rich and smooth this whisky has hints of fruit and nut on the palate and will go down a treat on Burns Night.

To end the night, don't forget to finish the evening with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne before handing out the shortbread and calling the supper to a close.

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