My traditional Vegan Scottish Stovies recipe is based on the stovies my family prepared when I was growing up in Scotland. Stovies are in essence fluffy potatoes stewed with lots of juicy sweet onions within a rich, savoury gravy. Stovies are the perfect meal for busy people as simply stick everything in the pot and leave to bubble and stew creating the most flavourful gravy.
Traditionally leftover pieces of meat are added to the stovies. I use a packet of vegan sausages as my mum would use sausages with her stovies. However, soy curls, soy chunks, tofu pieces, tempeh, chopped up vegan burgers, anything you have can be added.
Stovies are perfect for any day but especially for having with a Scottish themed dinner party or meal, Hogmanay/New Years dinner, Robert Burns day dinner (25th January) or as part of a St Andrew Day celebration (30th November).
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What are Scottish Stovies?
The word Stovies is a Scottish word meaning to stew.
Historically the main ingredients of stovies are simply potatoes and onions. Pieces of leftover meat were a popular addition but only if it was affordable and available. I remember my mum using link sausages, large chunks of potatoes and onions sliced into rings. Everything was stewed within a thick gravy.
For my vegan Scottish stovies I have used vegan sausages and a few extra non-traditional ingredients (vegan Worcester sauce, tamari soya sauce, vegetable extract (marmite), onion and garlic powder) simply to transform the flavour of the home-made gravy into deep rich plant-based yumminess.
Origin of Scottish Stovies
Stovies date way back to sometime during the 16th-18th centuries, when servants would used the leftovers of their employer’s dinner to create their own meals.
In more recent history, excess meat from the Sunday roast as well as the fatty dripping that collected in the roasting pan was combined with potatoes and onions, and stewed to create the Monday meal.
Nowadays Stovies are commonly served in pubs, inns and restaurants in Scotland. As well as being the dish of choice for many Scottish newly-weds at their wedding feast.
Robert Burn’s night dinners often feature stovies on the menu, and New Years Eve celebrations are another excuse for Scottish people to have stovies.
How should Scottish stovies be prepared?
There’s a great deal of contention about how Scottish stovies should be prepared. Everyone has their own way of preparing stovies and it usually depends on which area of Scotland you grew up.
Some use traditional or square sausages, or corned beef, sausages, leftover roast, etc.
Many prefer their potatoes mashed up well after cooking. Other variants are cubed, sliced or whole potatoes. A few versions do not have much gravy at the end of cooking and is just a mashed up concoction!
Historically traditional recipes don’t even call for meat, and just focus on the potatoes as the star of the dish stewed in gravy. Stovied potatoes and onions are a delicious simple dish especially served with some crusty bread to soak up the gravy.
Recipe notes and FAQs
Can I add anything extra to Scottish stovies?
It’s not traditional but I often add a few cups of chopped kale to my stovies just because I love adding extra nutrition and green veg whenever I can to a dish. Besides the kale tastes good in the plant-based gravy. Or try adding some shredded/chopped collards, cabbage, spring greens or chard.
I’m not keen on vegan sausages can I use something else?
Of course. As said before it is traditional to just have stovies as potatoes and onion so no other additions are really needed but an extra protein does add texture, flavour and is more filling. A few suggestions:
- about half a cup of dried barley. Barley is a Scottish crop so your dish will still be Scottish. Add the barley to the Stovies at the beginning of cooking. Your gravy will likely be thicker.
- sliced vegan burgers
- sliced vegan square sausage (found in some UK supermarkets)
- chopped tempeh
- can of drained butterbeans
- handful of soy curls or soya chunks
- textured vegetable protein chunks
- chopped into chunks: Portobello or flat mushrooms
What can I serve with Scottish stovies?
A few ideas:
- wedge of vegan Irish soda bread
- vegan Scottish oatcakes
- vegan traditional Scottish Skirlie
- mashed neeps (turnip)
- steamed greens
- steamed veggies
- pickled red cabbage
- pickled beetroot (this is a traditional side for stovies)
- tomato ketchup/brown sauce
- glass of chilled plant-milk (oat milk would be perfect!)
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Yes but ensure that the plant-based sausages are gluten-free as well as the vegan stock and Worcester sauce. Also use tamari soya sauce as it is gluten-free.
How do I store and reheat leftover stovies?
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, in a covered container, for up to 3 days.
Or frozen for 4-6 months in a freezer-proof container.
Scottish stovies are a tasty simple meal for batch prepping.
Defrost before reheating. Simply add stovies to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reheat for 3-5 minutes until piping hot.
Leftovers are tasty for lunch the next day with a wedge of wholemeal bread or slice of toast.
- Instead of the various flavourings use a vegan gravy powder to thicken up the stock that is created by stewing potatoes and onions.
- Use up small bits of leftover potatoes for these stovies. Prepare the recipe as stated below then add the leftover potato as an additional ingredient. Just chuck these in about ten minutes before the end of cooking, even small bits of mashed potato can be used, this reduces waste and may add an extra portion.
- Save your potato or veggie cooking liquid from previous days and use this liquid to prepare veggie stock if your using stock cubes/powder or bouillon paste. Less waste and more flavour.
- I use Maris Piper potatoes as they become lovely and fluffy in the stew, but any potato variety is fine. I have even used new potatoes. If your potato skins are unblemished omit the peeling and enjoy the extra nutrition.
How to prepare vegan Scottish stovies
How to prepare mashed neeps (turnip) as a side-dish.
- Large saucepan/ stockpot
- Potato masher, optional as can just use a fork or large spoon
For the stovies:
- 8 vegan sausages pre-cooked according to packet instructions and sliced into 2-3 pieces.
- 950 g potatoes about 6 cups chopped into very large chunks. Small-medium sized potatoes can be left whole.
- 490 g onion sliced into onion rings, wedges, slices.
- 2 tbsp Worcester sauce use a vegan variety.
- 1 tbsp tamari soya sauce or any soya sauce.
- 1 tsp vegetable extract or marmite/vegemite
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 litres vegan stock 2 quarts. Use a 'beef' flavoured vegan stock if available.
For the mashed neeps:
- 800 g turnip (swede) In Scotland a swede is commonly called a turnip or neep. (technically turnips are a much smaller root vegetable and are often sold in bunches like beetroot). In the US you'll need a rutabaga. It is confusing!
- 1 tbsp vegan margarine optional. Or use tbsp of nutritional yeast or plain hummus
- 60 ml plant-milk may need a little extra.
- salt and pepper small amount of chopped parsley, optional.
Prepare the stovies:
- Layer your potatoes and onion rings in your pot. A layer of onion rings, then potatoes and so on.
- Add the vegetable extract, vegan Worcester sauce, tamari, bay leaf's, onion and garlic powder. Add a little salt and some black pepper.Pour in 2 litres/2 US quarts of hot stock.
- Bring to the boil.Reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes.Don't add a lid to your saucepan so that the gravy can reduce and thicken.
- While the stovies are stewing prepare the mashed neeps
Prepare the mashed neeps:
- Place the chopped turnip into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer for 15-20 minutes until very soft.
- Drain, add margarine and plant-milk. Season with salt and pepper.
- Give the neeps a good mashing (it can be near impossible to achieve a smooth mash so don't try too hard!). Add a small amount of extra plant-milk if necessary.Place a lid on and keep warm until stovies are ready.
Back to the stovies:
- After 60 minutes of stovies stewing give some of the potatoes a squash with the potato masher. How much you mash depends on preference. I prefer to simply crush a few potatoes as that helps thicken the gravy and to leave some potatoes whole.Give the stovies a good mix.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Add the chopped vegan sausages. And stew for a few more minutes to heat everything through.
- Taste the gravy and add salt and pepper to taste. But usually it doesn't require more seasoning.
- Serve on its own, with mashed neeps, or with your preferred accompaniments.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary. Nutritional data is gained through computerized apps.
- Leftover stovies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
- Or frozen for 4-6 months in a freezer proof container.
- Reheat stovies in a pan, bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes until piping hot. A little extra water or stock may be needed if the stovies are very thick.
- For a stovies variation add 100g/about 2 cups of chopped kale, about 10 minutes before stovies are cooked.
- Serve mashed neeps with your stovies, steamed greens, or a wedge of crusty bread. Or all three!