Vegetarian Haggis Recipe

Vegetarian haggis, with flower sprouts and whiskey

When I tweeted the meat version haggis recipe, I was asked on twitter whether I had a recipe for a vegetarian haggis. I did not and said that I would develop one. I’ve now done this and it’s below. Modesty isn’t going to prevent me tooting my own horn: I think it’s really good. I blind tested it on my 16 year old son, who wolfed down a big portion eagerly before asking “Ok, what is it? It’s lovely!”

While researching ideas I checked online. Most of the recipes appear to be the same or similar to the Vegetarian Society recipe. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed. It reminded me of the plethora of 70s & 80s standard ‘veggy’ recipes that tried to mimic meat meals and that all seemed to taste & feel the same. When I started cooking veggy in the 80s I got tired of seeing and tasting under-flavoured, under-seasoned ‘veg-mush’.

My blogging friend Monica Shaw tasted one the leading brands of commercial vegetarian Haggis, McSweens and blogged about it on the Great British Chefs site. And it started a bit of a debate on Facebook about whether such stuff could legitimately be called ‘haggis’. I have strong feelings about this sort of “authenticism”. To avoid boring the folk just here for the recipe, I’ll return to this in another post later this month.

Some of the comments in the GBC Facebook discussion also commented on ‘veg-mush’ state of veggy haggis offerings. I tried hard to match the texture/feel of the meat version in the veggy version. The choice of the grain and pulses and their cooking is important to get this right.  Most of the veggy recipes I’ve seen online don’t get this. In addition the oats and nuts are roasted for added flavour. The nuts are only coarsely chopped for the texture they give.

Apart from the olive oil, there’s no added fat, unlike some of the commercial versions. I don’t think there’s a mouthfeel need for the fat, so I didn’t add any veg suet although I’d bought some in case.

This makes a fair old quantity – about 2.7kg. I did this because there’s a deal of prep and the haggis will freeze well, so I’ll have some ‘free’ meals to hand. It’s probably not worth making much less than half the recipe.

Another bonus of this recipe is that it is very economical indeed to make. The total cost of the 2.7kg is about £6 which means a 150g portion comes out at £0.33.

If you’d like to know how to make this delicious dish, please read on…

Vegetarian Haggis Recipe


150g pearl barley
250g aduki beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
200g spilt yellow peas or chana dhal, soaked overnight in plenty of water

Chana daal, aduki beans and pearl barley

250g pinhead oats
100g mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts and pecans) (You need to use nuts that take well to roasting)

4 tbsps olive oil
4 bay leaves
2 onions
2 medium carrots
2 sticks celery
4 cloves garlic
3 sprigs rosemary
250g chestnut mushrooms

2 heaped tsps ground allspice
1-2 heaped tsps ground white pepper (to taste, but it needs to be tasteable)
1/2 whole nutmeg, finely grated
Sea salt to taste

750ml good quality veg stock

2 lemons, juiced


Toast the oats and nuts in a hot oven (180°C) for 25 minutes. Or you can roast the oats and nuts in individual batches, but more quickly, in a dry frying pan (keep stirring so they do not burn). Chop or process the nuts into fine dice (not a powder). Set the oats and nuts to one side.

Cook the pearl barley in boiling water until tender but with some bite left. This is important for the texture of the finished dish. You can pressure cook it for 20 mins or cook according to packet instructions for about an hour. Test frequently so that you do not over cook the barley. Drain and put to one side.

While this is cooking cook the well soaked pulses together in a saucepan. Don’t try to cook these unless they’ve been properly soaked overnight. Cook in just enough water to cover and top up as necessary. Don’t add any salt or acid or you will toughen them. Drain and put to one side.

Finely chop (or food process to fine dice) the vegetables and rosemary. Heat the olive oil in a wide based pan to a medium heat and add the bay leaves. Stir for a minute or so. Then add the vegetables (not the mushrooms) and the chopped rosemary. Sauté over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover and turn down to low and sauté for 15 minutes. You want the vegetables to sweat but not to colour.

Add the mushrooms and stir well. Re-cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or so.

Add the spices to the vegetables and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the pearl barley and pulses and stir well to incorporate. Taste and season with salt if required. Add enough vegetable stock to create a slightly sloppy consistency. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes for the flavours to amalgamate.

Add the oats and nuts to the mix and stir well. Add more stock which will get absorbed by the oats. Simmer the mix for 30 minutes over a very low heat, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You may need to add a little more stock or water depending on how good a seal your pan lid makes.

You should end up with a fairly dense but not solid mix at the end of this time. Check the seasoning and add what you need along with the lemon juice.

Eat in your favourite way.

Vegetarian haggis served with flower sprouts and a baked potato

We had this first with a baked potato and some steamed flower sprouts. The next day I took some, added a tin of tomatoes and peas and made it into a pasta sauce to have with penne. I’m also thinking of using as a filling for pasties.

I’d love to know how you get on if you make this. Do let me know what you think in the comments.



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39 responses to “Vegetarian Haggis Recipe”

  1. […] n’avons pas goûté, et plus facile à réaliser à la maison, vous en trouverez une recette ici, en anglais et ici, en […]

  2. […] Edinburgh restaurant Henderson’s and Veg Web all using lentils of quite a lot of colours, and food creator Carl Legge plumping for yellow break up peas. Legge, Henderson and Veg Internet all go for coarse pinhead […]

  3. Penniless Veggie Avatar

    I made this haggis about three or four weeks ago, and we’ve been having it each week since for Sunday dinner for about the same length of time. Really fabulous tasty recipe. One to keep, and heavens, doesn’t it last! Just as well it’s tasty then 🙂 Today we had mashed swede and potato along with garlic sauteed brussels sprouts, all slathered in onion gravy. I’m utterly stuffed!

    I’d just like to add a note for others thinking about making such a large quantity; the process is quite lengthy so it’s actually very sensible idea to make a big pan of this stuff, and once portioned up, it freezes and reheats easily.

    I used muffin rings and baking sheets. Using a tablespoon, I firmly packed the muffin rings – smoothing down the tops with the back of the spoon – with the mixture and then gently tapped out the contents onto baking sheets that had been liberally sprinkled in wholemeal flour. I then sprinkled extra flour over the top of the haggis cakes. The baking sheets were put into the freezer and the haggis ‘cakes’ open frozen overnight. I then packed the cakes into bags and returned to the freezer for storage.

    Muffin rings are a nice generous width and depth, and I find each haggis cake serves one perfectly. I got fourteen cakes from the entire batch of mixture (the bulk of which are still in the freezer, though we’re working our way through them.)

    To reheat *from frozen*, I pan fry – quite hot – for about six minutes per side, taking care with turning as the mixture isn’t stiff like a veggie burger. The wholemeal flour coating give a nice crispy outside to complement the moist inner. Perfect!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Thanks so much for this very helpful reply. I’m so pleased that you like the recipe 🙂

      I think your comments on the sense of making a big batch are spot on and I love the muffin ring cake idea for freezing. And the fried cakes are a great way to quickly serve from frozen.

      Top stuff! Thanks so much 😀


  4. Antoinette Errante Avatar

    I have never had traditional haggis, but this was just delicious!! So much texture. Added a good dose of aromatic Cambodian pepper that complimented the other spices beautifully. Just wonderful on a blistery winter day.

  5. […] different but fairly similar recipes. These included one from The Guardian newspaper, another by a blogger who is into sustainable farming and a third from a well-known vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh. Despite the fact that the second […]

  6. […] Burns Night, I did turn my hand to making vegetarian haggis – I called it “haggish” or “skinking ware that jaups in luggies“. We […]

  7. rosie (@coolestofcats) Avatar

    I made this yesterday, but halved the recipe. Took me all afternoon due to the lengthy prep.and the fact I don`t have a food processor. I agree with most of the remarks made by Caroline McKenzie. It was a great texture but needed more flavour and stock. I like the idea of using it as stuffing for other dishes too, as lots left over. So versatile. I will definitely make it again. Thank you Carl.

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Rosie

      Thanks for taking the time to let us have your feedback. Some good ideas there for others to consider when making the recipe for their own taste.

      All the best
      Carl 🙂

  8. rosie (@coolestofcats) Avatar

    Hi Carl,
    I made this recipe today. Took me all afternoon. I have no food processor so had to do the chopping by my Zyliss. I loved the texture. I agree with most of what Caroline McKenzie says. I made half the recipe and have loads left. I used rolled scottish oats as I couldn’t source the pinhead ones. I feel that less lemon juice may have helped with the flavour for me. Plus more stock. On the whole it was good and may use it as a stuffing for other dishes. Thank you Carl for an interesting recipe.

    1. rosheeva Avatar

      Hi Carl

      I’m doing a Burns supper this year and thought I’d try vegi haggis as last year the meat eating Sassenachs were afraid to try the real thing, also my daughter is vegi. I’m going for your recipe and just to let you know, my dad has told me he gets pin head oats from the local pet shop!

      1. Carl Avatar

        Hi Rosheeva

        Tsk on the meat eating Sassenachs (I speak as one), they should have tried the meat haggis, it’s gorgeous.

        Hope you like my veggy version, there will be planty for you to try in other dishes.

        Fun to hear where your dad gets his oats from 😉

  9. Roland Avatar

    This made the best vegetarian haggis I have had! I am really chuffed. 6 other vegetarian also loved it. After cooking I let it cool then formed into rounds so people had their own. We made 12 of these with about enough for 6 more. These were put on a baking tray and covered with tin foil and baked for an hour. This steamed them and were lovely and moist.
    I added some dried mushrooms for depth of flavour, and used the pulse cooking liquor for the gravy. Made I nice an rich. Our non veg mates said it was the best meal in ages.
    Thank you for this great recipe.

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Roland

      So pleased you enjoyed your haggis. It shows that veggy food isn’t just for veggies 😉 and some great ideas there for preparation and presentation – thanks 🙂

  10. peta Avatar

    Hi Carl,

    I followed your recipe for Burns night and it was a great success! Your instructions are really clear and easy to follow which is greatly appreciated. I had some doubts as I think I probably added a bit too much stock so it took a while longer to thicken but it all came together in the end beautifully. You were very right about the texture of the barley, it was perfect! There are some great suggestions here too from your followers for other dishes to try with the remaining haggis and I would like to see how substituting quinoa would turn out as well. We found pan frying haggis patties in a little rice bran oil particularly tasty!
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Peta

      That’s all brilliant feedback and a great help for others who come here to look. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  11. peta Avatar

    Hi Carl,

    I just followed your haggis recipe for Burns night and it was a great success. Your directions are really clear and easy to follow and with all your feedback there are lots of great ideas for more dishes with this delicious mix. It was only near the end when I think I had probably added a bit too much stock and it took longer to thicken when I was really doubting it would be much more than a mushroom and beany mixture but it came together as the beans broke down a bit more, the texture of the barley was perfect and the spices started to speak up, ending beautifully! I would really like to try the suggestion with quinoa and see how that ends up. We found pan frying haggis patties in a little olive oil to be a particularly tasty dish.
    Thanks for sharing!


  12. psb Avatar

    Hi Carl,

    As an American, I cannot get authentic haggis, so every year I look for alternatives. I decided to go vegetarian this year and my search yielded your delicious version. Thank you so much!

    1. Carl Avatar

      My pleasure, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  13. elaine prescot Avatar
    elaine prescot

    How many would you say your quintiles would feed, as I am hosting a burns supper for 8 thanks Elaine

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Elaine

      That quantity will easily feed 8 I think depending on appetites & other dishes to accompany. Hope you have a great time 🙂


  14. Lucy Howell Avatar
    Lucy Howell

    is there a way to do this without nuts?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Lucy – yes, just leave them out. It’ll mean the taste & texture is a little different but the quantity as a proportion of the total is small, so no problem to leave out. Hope that’s a help and you enjoy it 🙂


  15. Helen Avatar

    i made this on Sunday. It was absolutely delicious. Thank you Carl. I couldn’t find Pinhead oats so i used Scottish oats instead and i felt this did affect the texture a bit. However i made the full amount so had loads left over. The following day the texture was perfect! So in future i will make it a day in advance. I really loved this dish and its versatility – having it with tin of tomatoes added tonight! It’s going to be a staple in my future diet so i’m a very happy vegan! My non veggie friends and parents also totally loved it. Thanks again

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Helen, thanks so much for letting me know how you got on with this. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it 🙂

      The pinhead oats do make a difference, just a tad more ‘bite’ to them I think.

      That’s a good result I think for vegan’s to meat eaters to enjoy 😀

  16. UK Dining Avatar

    We look forward to giving this a try – it sounds fantastic and we love the idea of making such a good quantity for the freezer too. Now just have to source some pinhead oats – they don’t seem to be available in our local supermarkets so will have to do some searching!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Thanks very much for the comment. I put a link to my source for the oats in the reply to Margaret’s comment 2. Your local health food shop should do them and so do many of the better supermarkets 🙂

  17. Caroline Mackenzie Avatar
    Caroline Mackenzie

    This was lovely! I spent all afternoon making it but it was worth it. Couldn’t get any pinhead oatmeal so used a tablespoon of rolled oats and 300 grams quinoa which I added to the mixture at the same time as the roasted nuts. I found it needed more stock. I served it as a “shepherds pie” topped with layers of mashed swede and mashed potato, the whole thing warmed up in a bain marie in the oven before serving. A separate gravy was nice or you could make a Drambuie sauce.
    I have frozen lots of batches of it and will use it to make stuffed cabbage rolls etc.
    Many thanks.

    1. Carl Avatar


      Thanks so much for the feedback, it’s really great you enjoyed it. Quinoa a good idea for a substitute, I suggested bulghur wheat or cous-cous to someone else if they were having difficulty getting hold of the oats.

      I love the idea of stuffed cabbage rolls and have got some cabbage today to do just that.

      Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  18. Clare Avatar

    I made this last night and it was really delicious. One of our friends has nut allergies so I tried tahini and bread crumbs instead of nuts and it worked pretty well. I will certainly be using this recipe again next year. It’s by far the best I’ve tried. We fed six and there is still loads left over which I think will be turned into shepherds’ pie. Thanks Carl!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Clare

      That’s brilliant feedback, thank you so much I really appreciate it 🙂

      Using the tahini & breadcrumbs is a great piece of improvisation, sounds really good.

      I think that it’s a very versatile dish that should not be limited to the 25th January. The ‘shepherd’s pie’ is an ace way of using. Perhaps the neeps and tatties could be the mash on top 🙂

      Thanks for popping by

  19. […] I turned to the advice of trusted friend and foodie Carl Legge, who was gracious enough to share his tried and tested vegetarian haggis recipe. The recipe called […]

  20. […] made this salad for my lunch today.  I was reminded yesterday reading Carl’s post on his vegetarian haggis how good aduki beans are, they’re the puy lentil of the bean world for me.  They’re […]

  21. Monica Avatar

    Hi Carl, I made your vegetarian haggis last night – it was a win! Two key things here that did it for me: (1) the texture was just fantastic; I loved the adzuki beans and the pinhead oats were essential, (2) the strong flavours, particularly the nutmeg and white pepper, were wonderful and worked really well with the other ingredients. But as you note in your final paragraph, enjoying this dish depends largely what you serve it with. I had mine with a side of savoy cabbage, but I think I will enjoy it far as a stuffing for red romano peppers, mushrooms or cabbage rolls (really looking forward to trying that!). In that sense, I’m thrilled to have lots of leftovers because it’s a dish from which you can make many other dishes!

    A couple points: the flavour of the mushrooms didn’t really come through for me. Should it have? I might like a bit more. I also think more nuts wouldn’t go a miss. I’m going to see how that works with some stuffed red pepper topped with a sprinkle of… maybe pine nuts?

    Also, I halved the recipe and this produced almost exactly 1.35kg of veggie haggis just as you said! Which reminds me, I wanted to tell you how excellent your instructions are. They are somehow succinct but detailed enough to resolve any questions I had along the way and very VERY easy to follow. Although this was an involved recipe, the process of bringing it all together was very easy thanks to your clear instructions. Thank you!

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Monica

      I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review and for your kind compliments.

      I think all the haggis recipes really lend themselves to being used in other dishes. They are great savoury ‘stuffings & fillings’.

      The mushrooms were there to give a background ‘meatiness’ and for the colour. I think they could easily be increased as could the nuts. The thing to watch with the mushrooms is the liquid they will introduce and the opposite for the nuts. It’s a joy to play with recipes once you know you have somthing that works. I’ll certainly be seeing what I can change and would love to hear about your amendments.

      Happy cooking, thanks again for this 🙂

  22. Margaret (@maogden) Avatar

    I must try this it looks great. But what are pinhead oats?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Margaret

      Here’s a link to explain what Pinhead oats are and the place I buy a lot of my dried goods. Many supermarkets sell them too.

      I do hope you have a go, let me know what you think if you do 🙂

  23. Maureen Avatar

    A friend served veggie haggis last year and I thought it was awful. The texture was like someone ate it before I got there and decided not to keep it.

    Yours looks brilliant and I’m going to try it. I don’t know if 2.7 kilos is the right amount for just the two of us but I’ll improvise.

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Maureen

      That experience sounds truly awful 🙁

      I do hope my recipe will prove better. 2.7kg will be far too much. It’s a very filling meal. If I were you, I would halve all the ingredients and then freeze what I didn’t use or give as a gift.

      Let me know how it goes. The trick is in making sure that you cook the barley and pulses so they still have texture.

      Good luck 🙂