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Cranachan - a traditional Scottish dessert for Burns Night

Updated on January 20, 2017

Traditional Scottish Cranachan dessert

Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert made from traditional Scottish ingredients. Oats, cream, raspberries and honey combine for a simple, superb taste of Scotland. True Scots ( adults only of course) would add a "wee dram" of whisky, preferably malt whisky, to this simple yet fabulous dessert. On Burns' Night on Saturday, celebrate Scotland's most famous poet with a great Scottish dessert. On any party night Cranachan is a fabulous dessert to offer you guests.

Cranachan makes a great dessert for any celebrations. Make it in advance. No Hassle.

Make Cranachan for any party - it's easy to make, you can make it in advance, it's a little unusual and it tastes great.

Cranachan is traditionally served on Burns Night, 25 January, a night for all things Scottish. Wednesday 25 January 2017 is the next Burns Night. In Scotland that's an excuse to celebrate all the way through to the weekend!

In years gone by Cranachan would have been a popular late summer or autumn dessert, using the raspberries which grow so well in Scotland, and cream which was plentiful in summer. In winter, bottled and preserved raspberries would be used. Today you can use frozen raspberries out of season for the best flavor.

Cranachan is a simple, tasty, historic dessert . Cranachan is easy to make, requires no cooking, and with it's sweet, creamy flavor, with a hint of fruit and whisky, it's the perfect celebration of Scotland's heritage.

Why not add Cranachan to your menu for the Christmas and New Year holidays this year?

Photo catchpenny and flickr creative commons

Here are the ingredients you need to make Cranachan - These are the store cupboard items to buy from Amazon.

You'll just need to add fresh cream.......and whisky!

Heather Hills Scottish Honey 4oz
Heather Hills Scottish Honey 4oz

You can use any honey for your Cranachan, but Scottish heather honey is the traditional honey, so use it if you can.


Oats- a simple wholesome food, essential in this Scottish dessert.

Oats are good for you, so this dessert must be healthy- right?

Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal, 18 oz Canister (Pack of 6)
Quaker Old Fashioned Oatmeal, 18 oz Canister (Pack of 6)

These are "rolled oats"- the sort you are probably familiar with. They are more coarse than the traditional oatmeal. I actually like to use a mixture of these rolled oats and the traiitional fine or "pinhead" oatmeal such as Bob's below.

As long as you don't use the mushy "instant" oat stuff you'll be fine.


Cranachan is not a "posh" recipe, though you can present it very elegantly, as in the photos. Traditionally, Scots would use their local oats, their local raspberries in summer and fall, their local cream when available, and honey or sugar as they had it, to make this tasty treat. Whisky is also considered essential in Scotland for this dish. If no cream was available, a traditional cream cheese called Crowdie was used.

All measurements are subject to taste, and vary depending on who is making it. Find the best Cranachan for your tastes by experimenting a little. Here are my guidelines for my Cranachan recipe, handed down from my Scottish ancestors.

I've given links below to lots of other variations on this traditional Scottish Dish.

Cranachan is a Gaelic word and"Slainte" means "Cheers- your good health" in Gaelic, so "Slainte- enjoy!"

Photo thanks to catchpenny and flickr creative commons commercial use

  • Prep time: 30 min
  • Ready in: 30 min
  • Yields: 4


  • 2 cups of oats. Traditionally use fine oatmeal. Porridge oats are OK (Not Instant oats)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (light brown is best but fine white is OK)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (heather honey is traditional)
  • About 500 ml or 3/4 pint whipping cream
  • About 250g or 9oz or large punnet fresh raspberries. Frozen are fine too.Or canned!
  • Whisky to taste-about 3 tablespoons if you like!


  1. 1.Turn the grill to high, spread the oats on a baking tray, sprinkle the sugar over and toast for about 3 minutes till crisp (but not burnt) Watch it carefully and catch it before the sugar burns.
  2. You are aiming for crunchy, sweet oats. Leave the mixture to cool a little.
  3. (You can do this stage in the oven or a frying pan if you prefer)
  4. 2. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add a little of the whisky and honey and beat in gently. Add a little at a time and check the taste. Add more of either if you wish.
  5. 3. Fold 2/3 of the toasted oats into the mixture , and 2/3 of the raspberries
  6. 4. Divide the oat mixture between 4 pretty glasses. Top with the remaining raspberries and sprinkle the remaining toasted oats over the top.
  7. 5. Eat and enjoy- Slainte!
5 stars from 1 rating of Cranachan- a traditional Scottish Dessert

Here's a lovely way to serve Cranachan - Served with whisky and shortbread.

Here, Cranachan has been turned out onto a plate and garnished with traditional Scottish shortbread- served with another wee dram of Scotch Whisky.

Photo thanks to Flickr and brianholsclaw, creative commons commercial use

I have these exact dishes- perfect for serving Cranachan - Present your Cranachan in a pretty dish.

Cranachan is a simple dessert, which looks best in a glass dish. This has a large top so you can sprinkle a good helping of toasted oats over the finished dessert.

Bormioli Rocco Primavera Dessert Bowls, Set of 6
Bormioli Rocco Primavera Dessert Bowls, Set of 6

These sundae glasses are the ones in my cupboard. They make everything you serve in them look special. Hard wearing and dishwasher proof, mine have lasted for years. Personally recommended.


There are many variations on the Cranachan recipe - Take a look at other Cranachan variations.

Chefs and cooks have their own favorite Cranachan recipes, and their own ways of presenting the dish. Click through these links for tips and photos of Cranachan.

Cranachan goes upmarket - A selection of Scottish desserts

Cranachan parfait is one of the desserts on this upmarket platter.

Photo thanks to Nick Webb and flickr creative commons commercial use

What's the story on Cranachan - Your vote is requested- just for fun..

Cranachan parfait
Cranachan parfait

What's you view on Cranachan?

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Here are some more examples of Cranachan, plus some Burns Night fun - See Cranachan being made, and enjoy the Burns Night movies!

Cranachan is easy to make- see how Cranachan is made by some of these Cranachan fans.

Also, on Burns Night there is Scottish Country Dancing, and the address to the Haggis. Scottish Tradition- take a look.

Will you be making Cranachan sometime soon?

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    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 2 years ago from London UK

      I love everything to do with Burn's Night. Thanks for this recipe! Sounds delicious.

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 2 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Almost totally calorie free, as are all good Scottish desserts!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 2 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I can't remember if I have eaten this before or not, if I have it was probably only once. Sounds really good, and just the sort of desert that I like. I could well be tempted to make this. The oats cancel out all the other calories right?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't know what Google + is, but ill be happy to spread the word. After I try some for myself of course :)

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 4 years ago

      Looks simple and yummy.. I will be making it.

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