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Robert Burns Night Menu

Updated on January 5, 2015

Scottish Recipes for Burns Night

For more than two hundred years, people have been getting together in January in memory of Robert Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire and Scotland's favourite son.

These get-togethers are in the form of a dinner, or supper, around the time of Burn's birthday on 25 January. I'm told they're highly popular in South Island, New Zealand.

This year I'm holding one.

Portrait of Robert Burns 1787 : Alexander Naysmith

My Menu for Robert Burns Night Dinner

It will be too hot at the end of January to be hanging over my stove, I've gone for a simple menu

I have a recipe for a fake haggis but I haven't tried to make it yet and, believe me, never serve up a recipe which you haven't thoroughly tested before.

Just 3 simple dishes for my Robert Burns Supper

  1. Cock-a-leekie
  2. Smoked Salmon Vol au Vent
  3. Tipsy Laird

The Selkirk Grace

Before we start to eat, someone has to say the Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae let the Lord be thankit.


Cock - a- leekie
Cock - a- leekie

As the name tells you, this is chicken soup with leeks. The traditional recipe has prunes but I'm sticking to plain and simple.


  • 1.5 kg Chicken
  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 1 large whole unpeeled brown onion
  • 600 g sliced leeks
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • coarse salt and ground black pepper


  1. Put the chicken in a large pot, cover it with the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Take a slotted spoon and skim the froth from the top.
  3. Add the whole, unpeeled onion and the bay leaves. Season generously with the salt and pepper.
  4. Lower the heat right down and simmer for one hour.
  5. Remove the chicken and set aside. Let it cool for a short time and then cut it up into large pieces. Carve off the legs, separating each of them into drumstick and thigh, and remove the breasts whole, carving them into two across the grain.
  6. Turn up the heat under the pot to medium and add the leeks to cook until tender, about 5 - 8 minutes
  7. Lower the heat right down again and return the chicken pieces to the pot to warm through for a few minutes.
  8. Discard the onion and bay leaves. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
  9. Lift the chicken and leeks out into warmed soup bowls. Ladle the broth over.
Cast your vote for Cock-a leekie soup

Smoked Salmon Vol au Vent

Salmon Vol au Vent
Salmon Vol au Vent


  1. Combine cream cheese, lemon juice and the chopped dill in a bowl. Season with pepper.
  2. Fill pastry cases with cream cheese mixture
  3. Top with salmon and garnish with dill sprigs.
  4. Serve.

Smoked Salmon Vol au Vent

  • 250 g softened cream cheese
  • 100 g smoked salmon sliced into strips
  • 2 packets mini vol au vents
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • Dill sprigs to serve

Tipsy Laird

An enticing name for a Trifle! Yes, this is just a trifle with whisky instead of sherry.

There are a number of recipes for Tipsy Laird around, but I wanted something simple. I certainly don't want to be knocking myself making egg custard and whipping marscapone into the cream, so I ended up choosing my old recipe for trifle - using ready made custard from a packet. With, of course, the delightful addition of Drambuie.


  • 1 sliced sponge cake
  • 300 g raspberry jam
  • half a wine glass of Drambuie
  • packet of custard
  • 300 g raspberries
  • 250 ml whipped double cream
  • Toasted almonds to garnish


  1. Place the sponge in the base of a large glass bowl and spread with the raspberry jam.
  2. Gently pour the Drambuie over the sponge
  3. Add the raspberries in a layer
  4. Pour the custard over, spreading evenly.
  5. Cover the custard with the whipped cream.
  6. Decorate with toasted almonds.

But where's the Haggis?

Were you expecting haggis? Sorry to disappoint.

However, if you're in my hometown, Melbourne, you can order yourself a genuine haggis from Robs British Butchery, in Dandenong. They deliver to your door too.

Scottish Gourmet USA supplies haggis and other delicacies

You can always ask Gordon Hamilton about haggis.

For the Guests

It's customary for guests to recite from Burns, or present something in the spirit of Burns, according to individual tastes and talents.

Get yourself a handy volume of Burn's works and choose a poem to read.There has to be something in there you can tackle with trouble.

It's not easy for Standard English speakers to get around the Lowland Scots dialect, but no one seems to have trouble with Auld Lang Syne or with A Bottle And Friend

Time to start practicing now!

Play some Burns Music

. Listen to the haunting My Love is like a Red, Red Rose, the jolly Charlie is my Darling and, of course, Auld Lang Syne

From the lovely, lilting voice of Eddi Reader, accompanied by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Practice your Lowlands Accent

Burns is also known as The Ploughman Bard, as he made his living from the land.

It was while he was ploughing one of his fields in November 1785.that he disturbed a mouse in her nest. This poem contains one of his most often quoted lines.

How about you?

Have you ever had a Burns Night?

See results

Guid cheerio the nou!

© 2011 Susanna Duffy

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    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      5 years ago from Virginia

      I went to a reading of the Ploughman Bard's poetry and fisticuffs almost broke out. Great evening! Sadly, the one occasion is my many in your poll. I'd love to go again and again!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      5 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      I've featureed your excellent lens on my new Cranachan lens. Hope this is OK. Blessed- and a Happy Burns Night to you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      will be making cock-a-leeke-soup! nice lens!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      My MIL is a dear little lady from Scotland and I can't say she's the best cook but her dishes are interesting! Nice lens!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      scottish cooking has a unique and terrific flavor (as I remember growing up and having hearty tasty meals at my "scottish" friends house)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      6 years ago from Vermont

      Cock a leekie looking lovely to me ... with a bit o that Tipsy Laird to top it off.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My favourite day. The food looks delicious...after all its my birthday too :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      That Tipsy Laird is looking mighty tasty. Love the lens. Very fun and different info.

    • chezchazz profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Very interesting. Especially your recipes -- and the weather report as it is 5 degrees Farenheit and snowing here in central New York as I write this. Don't think I'm up for haggis (real or fake) but the rest sounds delish.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed this lens! Must try some of those recipes.

    • patriciapeppy profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens all your food looks really yummy

    • iWriteaLot profile image


      6 years ago

      Fun lens and the Cocka-Leekie soup looks delicious. Jan. 25th is my brother's birthday, too. I'll have to send him to your lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like Burns because my mother in law is Scot and Burns' poems are worth reading but I have not been to a Burns night. Will certainly try that leek soup. Looks yummy.

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 

      6 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Wish we had a cool holiday like that. Maybe we need to have a cherry menu for George Washington's birthday or something.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      We were once invited to a Burns Night in Georgia. Quite an interesting event. The dinner was quite seafood-related as we were on the coast and fresh seafood was readily available. Your dinner sounds lovely. Enjoy!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      The British Isles society here in Central Florida has one each year, but I've never attended. They might like some of these recipes for it.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      It was fun to learn about Robbie Burns night and the recipes look delicious!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      Never heard of this before ... am curious what did Burns do that warranted a celebration of his birthday? The food looks yummy and any reason to get together to eat and share food with family and friends is always good.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Hope your Robbie Burns Supper Night is a big success. Your menu sound yummy and new to me. Will check about for an update.

    • CruiseReady profile image


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Sounds like a very nice evening. I don't think it is done at all in the U.S. At least, I've never heard of Burns Night before, so I think it isn't


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