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Cranachan: Scotland’s Quintessential Dessert


Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert that combines some of Scotland’s finest ingredients: whisky, oats, honey, raspberries, and cream. Created to celebrate the raspberry harvest in early summer, this dessert has become a staple at Scottish celebrations such as Burns Night and Hogmanay. Cranachan is not only delicious but also easy to prepare, making it a perfect choice for any occasion

Historical Background

Cranachan has its roots in a dish called crowdie, which was a simple mixture of crowdie cheese, oats, and honey. Over time, the recipe evolved to include whisky and fresh raspberries, transforming it into the dessert we know today. Traditionally, Cranachan was served as a breakfast dish during the raspberry harvest season but has since become a beloved dessert enjoyed throughout the year.


For a traditional Cranachan, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 300g fresh raspberries
  • 350ml double cream
  • 75ml whisky
  • 2 tablespoons honey (preferably Scottish heather honey)
  • 100g rolled oats


Cranachan is straightforward to prepare, making it an excellent choice for both novice and experienced cooks. Here is a detailed recipe:

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  1. Toast the oats: In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the oats until they are golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whip the cream: In a mixing bowl, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks.
  3. Combine ingredients: Gently fold in the toasted oats, honey, and whisky into the whipped cream. Be careful not to over-whip the cream.
  4. Prepare the raspberries: Crush half of the raspberries with a fork to make a purée. Sweeten to taste with a little caster sugar if desired.
  5. Layer the dessert: In dessert glasses or bowls, alternate layers of the cream mixture and the whole raspberries, finishing with a layer of the cream mixture.
  6. Chill and serve: Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavours to meld together. Garnish with additional fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of toasted oats before serving.


Cranachan is versatile, and there are many variations to suit different tastes:

  • Vegan Cranachan: Use vegan substitutes for cream and replace honey with agave syrup or maple syrup.
  • Alcohol-free: Substitute whisky with orange juice or vanilla essence.
  • Flavor twists: Add ginger for warmth, or create an orange or chocolate Cranachan by using toasted hazelnuts and light muscovado sugar.

Cranachan is a delightful and easy-to-make dessert that captures the essence of Scottish cuisine. Its combination of cream, whisky, honey, oats, and raspberries creates a perfect balance of flavours that is sure to impress. Whether served at a festive gathering or enjoyed as a simple treat, Cranachan remains a cherished part of Scotland’s culinary heritage.

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