Home » Vegan Side Dishes » Vegan Scottish Skirlie (Traditionally Known As ‘poor-man’s haggis’)

Vegan Scottish Skirlie (Traditionally Known As ‘poor-man’s haggis’)

Jump to Recipe

Vegan Scottish Skirlie, otherwise known as ‘poor-mans haggis’, is a tasty, nutritious, economical dish. Skirlie is especially satisfying served with mashed neeps and tatties (potatoes and turnip) and lashings of veggie gravy.

Pinhead oatmeal is quickly cooked with diced onion, herbs and nutritional yeast for a flavourful nutty texture. Skirlie is ideal for a veggie haggis replacement to enjoy on Hogmanay, Robert Burns Day or as part of a wider Scottish themed meal.

Skirlie cooked and in cast iron pan with wooden spoon.

Origins of Scottish Skirlie

Scots have been enjoying Skirlie for hundreds of years.

Traditional Skirlie is made by cooking onions in beef dripping before adding pinhead oatmeal and toasting in the frying pan until crisp and golden.

Its claimed that Skirlie gets its name from the noise the oatmeal gives as it cooks in the fat and is stirred around. Scottish folk would traditionally use a wooden spurtle to stir the Skirlie but a wooden spoon or a spatula will do fine.

Vegan Skirlie

Vegan Skirlie is adapted from traditional Skirlie. The result is a dish that is much lower in saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium.

My recipe details two easy methods of preparing Skirlie. Both are essentially the same but one uses oil and the other veggie stock to sauté the onions and toast the oatmeal. I have tried each way and love the flavours of both.

Nutritional yeast flakes and dried mixed herbs provide the simple delicious flavourings. With a grinding of black peppercorns and a dash of salt providing the finishing touches.

How To Serve Skirlie

  • For a main component within a meal this recipe serves 4 but for other uses the Skirlie could be stretched to 6-8 portions.
  • Its particularly tasty as a main component in a simple and inexpensive meal with some veggie gravy and mashed potatoes.
  • Traditionally Skirlie was used as a poultry stuffing. Although I would think stuffing tasty veggies with crispy Skirlie is much more appealing. For example little pumpkins, bell peppers, courgettes, aubergines, large mushrooms, or large tomatoes. vegetables, grains, and your choice of sauce. A vegan cheese sauce will be likely welcomed by kids.
  • Or sprinkle the Skirlie on top of your stuffed vegetable dish and toast in the oven for an even more delicious crisp Skirlie.
  • Toss some Skirlie over a veggie hotpot before it goes in the oven for extra texture, flavour and nutrition.
  • Vegan Scottish Skirlie is also a yummy, tasty, and textural addition to your favourite salad or buddha/power bowl.
  • Or simply enjoy a spoonful of cold Skirlie straight from the fridge as a tasty, fortifying snack. Which is what I like to do. Coupled with a glass of oat milk to drink. So tasty.
skirlie with green beans and champ with silver fork.

Why Skirlie Is A Great Addition To Your Diet

  • A serving of Vegan Scottish Skirlie will give your dishes a flavour, texture and nutrition boost.
  • Also it will help keep you fuller for longer which is not a bad thing seeing as vegan and plant-based dishes can be quite low in calories.
  • My teenage son is always hungry but adding oatmeal to meals has helped keep him satisfied for a little while longer. Which is always a good result.
  • Oats are incredible powerhouses of plant-based nutrition.
  • A serving of Skirlie can provide an estimated 3mg of iron, 7g fibre and 9g protein. (not an exact calculation as nutritional data is calculated by computerised programmes and ingredients can vary).
  • Another great reason to prepare a batch of Skirlie is that it works out at quite an inexpensive addition to a meal. Pinhead oatmeal and nutritional yeast flakes, depending on where they are purchased can be relatively expensive but each ingredient can be used for many more meals. Which ultimately works out at great value.

Easy Guide To Preparing Skirlie

For this Skirlie recipe the type of oats that you need is pinhead oatmeal or commonly known in the US as Steel cut oats.

Skirlie cooked and in cast iron pan with wooden spoon.

Vegan Traditional Scottish Skirlie

Print Recipe
A traditional Scottish dish that has been enjoyed by Scots for hundreds of years. Otherwise known as 'poor mans haggis'.
A large scoop of Skirlie accompanied with neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potatoes) and lots of veggie gravy is the ideal Hogmanay, New Years Day or Robert Burns Day dinner.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Scottish
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4
Calories 274
Author Jacq


  • Non stick skillet/ fry pan.


  • 200 g pinhead oatmeal otherwise known as steel-cut oatmeal
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs or dried thyme. Or use fresh herbs.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For oil-free Skirlie replace the oil with:

  • 250 ml vegetable stock


Oil method:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and dried mixed herbs.
    Mix and sauté the onion and dried mixed herbs for 10 minutes or until soft. Stir occasionally.
  • Add another tbsp of oil and heat the oil through.
    Tip in the oatmeal and nutritional yeast. Mix well.
  • Over a medium heat toast and stir frequently for 10-15 minutes until the oatmeal is toasted, golden and crisp. Be careful not to let the oatmeal sit in one spot for too long as it may brown too much.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and check the seasoning.
    Add a dash or salt and pepper to taste.

Oil-free method:

  • Pour the veggie stock into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    Mix through the onion and dried herbs.
  • Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft and stock evaporated.
    If the veggie stock dries up too quick add a few extra tbsp. Give it an occasionally stir.
  • Add the oatmeal and nutritional yeast. Mix thoroughly.
  • Over a medium heat, toast the oatmeal for around 10-15 minutes until it is golden and crisp.
    While toasting you need to frequently stir the oatmeal around to avoid browning too much and to evenly toast.
  • Remove pan from the heat and check the seasoning and add a dash of salt and black pepper to taste.


  1. Skirlie can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in a covered container.
  2. To reheat place the Skirlie back in the fry pan and over a medium heat, stir frequently until heated through.
  3. Skirlie can be frozen for up to 4-6 months if placed in a freezer-proof container. Defrost at room temperature and reheat as per above instructions.
  4. Skirlie can be enjoyed chilled straight from the fridge as a quick snack.
  5. Use Skirlie as a side dish along with other veggies, grains, pulse, etc. 
  6. Or use as a haggis replacement, and serve with mashed potatoes, mashed turnip, and lots of gravy.
  7. Skirlie can also be sprinkled over salad, soups or stews for an instant flavour and nutrition boost. 
  8. Also tasty sprinkled over hotpots, mac and cheese, and gratins. 
  9. Or used as a stuffing for peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, tomatoes, squash, etc


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 3mg

Looking for more budget-friendly, nutritious and delicious family meal ideas?

Vegan Traditional Beef Stew

Vegan Vegetable Curry

Vegan Lancashire Hotpot

Vegan Hungarian Goulash

Want More Recipes That Feature Oats?

Traditional Scottish Porridge and Oatmeal (2 recipes)

Vegan Classic British Chocolate Chip Flapjacks (can also be prepared plain)

Overnight Passionfruit Vanilla Yogurt Oats (Breakfast or snack)

Traditional Scottish Oatcakes

Cooked one of my recipes? Sharing a photo on social media?

tag us @traditionalplantbasedcooking #traditionalplantbasedcooking

I love seeing your lovely recreations.

22 thoughts on “Vegan Scottish Skirlie (Traditionally Known As ‘poor-man’s haggis’)”

  1. I’m not familiar with Scottish cooking so this was quite fascinating. I do love the idea of cooking with nutritional yeast. It sounds great and I’m quite intrigued!

  2. 5 stars
    I haven’t heard about this recipe, but it looks so tasty and delicious! The family is going to be all over this recipe! Excited to make this soon!

    1. Thanks so much. The Skirlie will have you at just one bite! Pour gravy over and its just fab. Perfect as a Christmas side-dish 🙂

    1. Most people have not heard of Skirlie even some Scots! But its such an easy, tasty, nutritious and budget-friendly addition to anyone’s diet that I just had to share it 🙂

    1. Absolutely underrated! Savoury oatmeal is becoming popular but us Scots have been enjoying it for hundreds of years. So glad you enjoyed the Skirlie 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I love seeing how people take traditional dishes like this one and make them vegan friendly. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Aww thanks for your comment. Glad you like my recipe. I love this Skirlie though I need to stop myself from eating a spoonful each time I pass my fridge!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top