A hand holding a deep fryer full of batter in a chippie in Scotland

The Scottish Art of Deep-Frying Anything

Deep-Fried Scotland

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article all about my favourite country (hint: Scotland) and the real Scottish institution of Burns Night. In it, I covered haggis, neeps and tatties, and whisky – the holy trinity of a traditional Scottish dinner that has become synonymous with Scottish cuisine.

However, if there is anything my postgraduate studies are teaching me, it is to look out for the silences in a text and boy, there is a giant, gaping silence in my article: a perhaps not immediately obvious feature of the cuisine, but one that is just as Scottish as bagpipes and Highland cows… aka the world-famous tradition of deep-fried food.

Of course, most countries have a deep-fried tradition – chips, fritters, spring rolls, croquettes, doughnuts and puri are just some of the delicious examples. Well, in Scotland, they took deep-frying to the next level and have become (in)famous for deep-frying anything and I mean anything that they could get their hands on. You might have heard of deep-fried Mars bars, but have you heard of deep-fried burgers, pizzas and pickles? What about deep-fried eggs?

In my experience, other than the usual and very normal amount of deep-fried food like fish and chips, there is not much else that gets regularly battered and fried in Scottish homes. However, it is true that you only need to walk by a chippy (an affectionate name for the very beloved chip shops that typically serve fish and chips in the UK; the ultimate destination after a boozy night) to see proof for the existence of such surprising food items. While these curious deep-fried dishes do not feature heavily in an everyday Scottish diet and often serve as a tourist attraction, their very existence is a matter of Scottish pride.

So where does this curious tradition come from? And what are the best deep-fried foods to try?

A plate of haggis, neeps and tatties topped with Scottish parsley

Read More About Scottish Food

A Beginners Guide to Scottish Food

Deep-Fried Mars Bar

It all started with the Deep-Fried Mars Bar (famous first words). Let us set our minds back to the mid-90s and transport ourselves to the northeastern Scottish town of Stonehaven. In front of us stands the Haven Chip Bar (now The Carron), the site of this historic event, where two Scotsmen’s banter led to the culinary dare to batter and deep-fry a Mars bar and the chippy obliged. To everybody’s surprise, it turned out to be a great success.

News spread quickly about this new delicacy which slowly gained popularity among the locals and worldwide. Now, every summer, tourists flood The Carron which the Edinburgh News has reported to sell at least 200 deep-fried Mars bars every summer – and that’s just one chippy! Mars Inc has curiously refused to endorse the frying of their chocolate bars – a glaring mistake, really. However, I wouldn’t let that discourage me. 

I myself have tried a Deep-Fried Mars Bar in an Edinburgh chippy in Grassmarket and well, besides the fact that it was fried in the same oil as the fish and the chips, so the batter had an obvious fish taste which I could have done without, the wonderful melted chocolate paired with the savoury (a little fishy) taste was surprisingly delicious!

Deep-Fried Pizza

To start, I need to clarify one thing. The Scottish do have ovens. Ovens, suitable for baking pizzas. But what need is there for an oven in a chippy shop when there is already oil, warmed up and ready after working overtime on fish and chips and the occasional Mars bar? 

Yes, in some Scottish chippies pizzas are served deep-fried (without batter) by the slice or even deep-fried with batter – this latter is called the Pizza Crunch after its crispy texture. The Scottish – although love a good old Italian pizza – have a lot of pride in their deep-fried version – so much so that “Deep-fry your pizzas, we’re gonnae deep-fry your pizzas” has become a popular fan chant in any football match against Italy – what a tasty threat.

Deep-fried Cadbury Creme Eggs

If you’re ever in the UK around Easter time, you might notice all the chocolate eggs in purple wrapping sitting on the supermarket shelves, waiting for you to bite into them and get surprised by the extremely sugary and creamy insides that come spilling out. You love it or you hate it – a Cadbury Creme Egg is an absolute spring staple.

Its chocolatey outside is filled with an egg white and sugar fondant dyed yellow with food dyes to mimic a real egg. Upon hearing this, you might want to immediately get your hands on one, and use them in your next Easter egg hunt, or, alternatively, stay far away from them. What not many would think is “I would love to deep-fry it and serve it in my chip shop.” – and what a lack of creativity that shows.

Deep-fried Cadbury Creme Eggs are not very common, but their very existence inspires shock. They are as simple as they sound: grab a bit of dough, wrap it around the chocolate egg and toss it in the fryer for as long as needed. Out comes the sweet equivalent to a Scotch egg, all batter on the outside, all chocolate and goo on the inside. Really, it doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Deep-Fried Cheeseburger

A little bonus round: yes, you can even deep-fry your cheeseburger! Well, not the whole thing. You would have to take your patty and cheese, deep-fry and put it in your bun with anything else that you might like in your burger. Of course, it is an extremely caloric dish, but do we care? Not when we are in Scotland.

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