In Autumn, Cereals and pulses, Fruit, Vegetables and Cereals, Ingredients, Quick Dishes, Recipes, Scottish Heritage, Winter

Skirlie is one of those wonderful Scottish words that’s just so descriptive, and my introduction to it was during my vegetarian days when Dad made it as an alternative to stuffing for me on Christmas Day. It is perfect for this purpose, as well as being good for stirring through mash. You can use medium oatmeal and cook for a little less time but I like the nutty, toasty bite of pinhead. You can also use all butter but I prefer the half and half butter and dripping to give a bit of a better structure and I think an authentic throwback flavour. Add a good grinding of black pepper at the end to really bring it to life.


25g beef dripping
25g butter
1 large onion finely chopped
150g pinhead oatmeal (or medium oatmeal)
Salt and black pepper


  1. In a heavy based frying pan or sauté pan soften the onions in the dripping over a medium heat, you don’t want to brown them although a little golden colour is fine.
  2. Add in the oatmeal and stir round to coat then add a large pinch of sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes then turn the heat down as low as it’ll go.
  3. Keep cooking for around 20-25 minutes (around 10-15 minutes for medium oatmeal) stirring regularly until the oatmeal has softened to a toasty bite when tasted. Correct for seasoning with salt and pepper and serve

SkirlieFirst published in Great British Chefs, November 2015

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Showing 6 comments
  • PQsCPRteam

    Love it , love it , love it! My Mum used to make this and quite honestly you could keep the rest of the Sunday dinner, I would have been quite happy to just eat this.
    I’m surprised though, it doesn’t make more of an appearance in restaurants.

    • Graeme

      Thanks Margaret, it really is a wonderful and under used side dish, especially in autumn and winter!

  • W Angila

    I too grew up with Skirlie and it was one of my favourites. Mum used it as well to stuff chicken or turkey and it was so good. Never even heard of bread dressing until I was in my teens. Thanks for posting!

    • Graeme Taylor

      Really glad you enjoyed it. Such a wonderful homely and comforting dish.

  • Seasidh

    Love skirlie. It was a real childhood favourite. Mince, tattles and skirlie, wonderful.

    • Graeme Taylor

      I’ve never had it with mince and tatties, shall give it a go!

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