Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes: A Hearty Delight

Are you tired of serving the same bland side dishes every day? Look no further than this authentic Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes recipe. Skirlie, a traditional Scottish dish, is made from toasted oatmeal (porridge) and onions fried in beef or bacon drippings. It is a deliciously spicy and hearty stuffing filling that is popular across Scotland.

In this recipe, we’ll show you how to make skirlie from scratch and then turn it into fried cakes for a unique twist. The oats, onions, pepper, and sage create the perfect balance of flavors that makes this Scottish skirlie fried cake recipe the perfect complement to your main course.

Whether you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing side dish for Sunday roast dinner or want to add more traditional Scottish food to your repertoire, this recipe will not disappoint. So put on your apron, sharpen those knives and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes
Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes

If you’re a fan of traditional Scottish food or looking to broaden your culinary horizons, then this Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes Recipe is sure to delight your taste buds. As a chef specializing in British cuisine, I take pride in introducing you to one of the most popular dishes in Scotland – Skirlie.

Skirlie is a Scottish word that refers to toasted oatmeal. When combined with onions fried in fat or beef dripping, it makes for a stuffing filling that’s perfect for any side dish. In this recipe, we’ll teach you how to transform this stuffing into delicious fried cakes.

But why exactly will you love this recipe? First and foremost, it’s incredibly easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients like quick-cooking oats, onion, sage, and butter, you can whip up these cakes in no time. And don’t worry if you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand – we’ve got you covered with substitution options!

Secondly, Skirlie has a unique flavor and texture that will immediately transport your taste buds to the rolling hills of Scotland. The toasted oatmeal adds a crunchy heat that pairs perfectly with savory onion and herb undertones.

Lastly, this recipe is versatile enough to accommodate any dietary restrictions. Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, we have variations that suit your preferences without compromising on taste.

So if you’re ready to cook up some authentic Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes and impress your friends and family with your culinary skills, then look no further than this delicious recipe!

Ingredient List

 A plate full of warm, crispy Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes, a perfect breakfast treat!
A plate full of warm, crispy Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes, a perfect breakfast treat!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to bring the Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes Recipe to life:

  • Boiling Water – 1 cup
  • Quick-cooking Oats – 1 cup
  • Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Bacon Drippings – 2 tablespoons or any oil substitute you prefer
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Pepper – as per taste
  • Sage – 2 teaspoon (optional but traditional)
  • Butter – 2 tablespoons

Note that some traditional Skirlie recipes make use of onions and beef dripping.

These are easy-to-find ingredients available in most supermarkets. I recommend using quick-cooking oats as they help achieve the perfect Skirlie texture. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can substitute bacon drippings with olive oil or any vegan-friendly oil of your choice.

The Recipe How-To

 These fried cakes are infused with the warmth of traditional Scottish seasoning
These fried cakes are infused with the warmth of traditional Scottish seasoning

Now that we know what Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes are, let’s dive into the recipe!


  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon bacon drippings or beef dripping for a more authentic taste
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. In a frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chopped onions and cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

  2. In a separate pot, mix the oatmeal with boiling water and let it sit for about five minutes.

  3. Combine the sautéd onions with the cooked oats mixture.

  4. Mix them together until all the liquid has been absorbed and you have created a thick Scottish Skirlie mash.

  5. Remove from heat and let it cool so you can form cakes that hold together easily.

  6. Shape the skirlie into individual round pancakes or patties that fit in a frying pan.

  7. Using an oven-safe skillet or frying pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of bacon dripping to coat the bottom of the pan.

  8. Fry each side of your Scottish Skirlie patty until golden brown for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.

  9. Repeat with remaining skirlie potato cakes in batches.

Congratulations! You just made some delicious Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes!

Substitutions and Variations

 Bring some flavor and color to your breakfast with these scrumptious cakes!
Bring some flavor and color to your breakfast with these scrumptious cakes!

While the traditional Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes recipe calls for certain ingredients, there are a few substitutions and variations that can be made to customize the dish. Here are some ideas:

– Vegan Skirlie: Omit the bacon drippings and replace with vegetable oil or vegan butter. You can also use vegetable stock instead of boiling water to add more flavor.

– Vegetarian Skirlie: If you don’t want to use beef olives, replace them with mushrooms or other vegetables of your choice.

– Skirlie Mash: If you prefer mashed potatoes over fried cakes, simply add the skirlie into your potatoes and stir until well combined.

– Porridge Skirlie: For a healthier version, substitute quick-cooking oats with regular rolled oats or stone-ground Scottish oatmeal. This will give the dish a creamier texture.

– Beef Dripping Skirlie Bread: Another popular Scottish dish is skirlie bread made by mixing skirlie with flour, yeast and salt. Instead of frying the mixture as cakes, you can bake it in the oven to make a loaf of savory bread.

– Stuffing Filling Side Dish: Try using skirlie as a side dish with roast chicken or turkey. It makes for an excellent stuffing filling that’s rich in flavor and uniquely Scottish.

Regardless of your chosen variation, skirlie is a versatile ingredient that can be adapted to suit many tastes. Just remember to stick to the basic ingredients of oats, onions, and butter, as they are what make skirlie a quintessential part of traditional Scottish cuisine.

Serving and Pairing

 Don't underestimate the power of a good Scottish Skirlie recipe
Don’t underestimate the power of a good Scottish Skirlie recipe

When it comes to serving and pairing Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes, there are many options you can choose from.

As a filling side dish, you can serve them alongside Scottish beef olives or roasted meats like lamb or beef, which complement the richness of the skirlie. These fried cakes also pair well with roasted root vegetables, such as turnips or carrots.

For a heartier meal you can even serve them with a side of porridge or mash potatoes to satisfy your inner appetite. This dish can be enjoyed during breakfast or brunch.

For a vegetarian option, try incorporating vegetarian sausages or even chopped mushrooms into the skirlie mix before frying it in bacon drippings or butter for an added depth of flavor.

As for beverage pairing, tea is quintessentially British and therefore a perfect accompaniment. Additionally, if you’re in the mood for something more warming European coffee blends may pair just as well.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Can't get enough of the crunchy texture and earthy aroma of these cakes!
Can’t get enough of the crunchy texture and earthy aroma of these cakes!

There are times when you don’t have the luxury of cooking a dish just before serving it, but luckily for you, Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes recipe can be easily made ahead and stored. These fried cakes actually taste better the next day!

To make these cakes ahead of time, prepare them as per the instructions and refrigerate them in an airtight container. When you’re ready to reheat them, heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds or pan-fry them for about 2 minutes on medium heat.

Storing Skirlie Fried Cakes is also easy. After frying, cool them down and store in an airtight container, placing parchment paper between each cake layer. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to a month.

If you’re planning on hosting guests or want to pack some lunch for work or school, simply pack these Skirlie Fried Cakes in an insulated container with a small bottle of your favorite sauce or chutney, and you’re good to go!

In summary, Skirlie Fried Cakes are versatile, easy to store and reheat, and perfect for meal prep. You can cook them up well ahead of time without sacrificing flavor so you can enjoy the taste of traditional Scottish cuisine any time that you want.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Turn your ordinary breakfast into a hearty feast with these savory fried cakes
Turn your ordinary breakfast into a hearty feast with these savory fried cakes

To achieve the best taste and texture for Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes Recipe, follow these pro tips.

Firstly, use Scottish oatmeal. Scottish oatmeal’s unique texture gives the Skirlie a characteristic crunch. Rolled oats may substitute if traditional oatmeal is unattainable, but the result will not be like skirlie. If you have time, dry-toast your oats to bring out more flavor.

Secondly, before frying, it’s essential to chill your Skirlie. The dough becomes firmer when chilled and easier to handle when forming into cakes. Placing it in the refrigerator for at least one hour is best.

Thirdly, it’s ok to make Skirlie ahead of time as it can store well in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. While reheating, do so gently in the oven or microwave.

Fourthly, season your fried cakes accordingly. Avoiding oversalting is one of the most typical errors. Remember that any salt added should not overpower the other flavors in this traditional Scottish food.

Fifthly, be patient with frying. Wait until only one side is cooked before flipping them; otherwise, they will fall apart.

Lastly, fry your Skirlie cakes in beef dripping or classic bacon drippings at medium heat for optimum flavor and texture; vegetable oil produces an inferior product.

By following these recommendations from British chefs on how to cook Skirlie the right way, you’ll have excellent results that echo traditional Scottish cuisine in every bite!


As a chef specializing in traditional Scottish cuisine, I have heard all sorts of questions about the famous Scottish dish, Skirlie. In this section, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this savory recipe. From ingredient substitutions to cooking methods and serving suggestions, these answers will help you create the perfect Skirlie every time. So let’s get started!

Is skirlie the same as white pudding?

Scottish white pudding found in market today is made by blending onions, oatmeal, and beef suet. If this recipe is cooked in a frying pan, it is called skirlie.

Can you reheat skirlie?

If you have leftover Skirlie and want to save it for later, it can be kept in a covered container in the fridge for a maximum of three days. When you’re ready to devour it again, simply return it to the frying pan and heat it over medium heat while stirring frequently until it’s warmed through.

What is skirling food?

An iconic Scottish cuisine, Skirlie consists of oatmeal, onion, fat and seasoning, and serves as an excellent stuffing or side dish to chicken, turkey, beef or even mashed potatoes.

Can skirlie be frozen?

This recipe can be frozen for later use at home.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes Recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves traditional Scottish cuisine or is looking to try something new. This dish is versatile and can be customized to suit any palate or dietary requirements, whether you prefer a vegan or vegetarian skirlie or want to add your spin on it with different herbs and seasonings.

With its crispy texture and hearty flavor, these fried cakes are perfect as a side dish or as a standalone meal. The skirlie’s unique toasted oatmeal stuffing adds an extra layer of flavor and crunch that elevates this dish to new heights. Plus, it’s easy to make in any kitchen, whether with an Instant Pot or traditional frying pan.

As British chefs, we recommend this recipe as one of the best ways to cook skirlie, making it a delicious and accessible dish that everyone can enjoy. So, take advantage of this recipe and dive into the world of Skirlie. Who knows? It might become your new go-to dish!

Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes

Scottish Skirlie Fried Cakes Recipe

This is a slightly different version of Skirlie. Serve as an accompaniment to stews or chowders.
Course Appetizer/Side dish
Cuisine Scottish
Keyword < 60 Mins, Easy, European, Grains, Scottish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 pie
Calories 746kcal


  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


  • Melt the bacon drippings in a saucepan; add chopped onion and cook until onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add boiling water and salt; mix in oats and cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until oatmeal is thick. Crush the sage and mix into the porridge along with pepper. Spread mixture into a 6 or 7 inch square pan or 8 inch pie pan and chill. When ready to serve cut into squares. Dip each square into flour and fry in hot bacon drippings. Serve as an accompaniment to stews or chowders.
  • Soups and Stews The World Over.


Serving: 498g | Calories: 746kcal | Carbohydrates: 92.9g | Protein: 20.5g | Fat: 33.5g | Saturated Fat: 11.5g | Cholesterol: 24.5mg | Sodium: 1214.5mg | Fiber: 13.7g | Sugar: 6.5g

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