What the Heck Is a Scotch Egg?

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If you’ve ever been to the U.K. or in a British-style gastropub, you’re likely familiar with a delicious, sausage-covered indulgence called the Scotch egg. But how much do you really know about the flavorful food? 

What’s a Scotch Egg? 

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A Scotch egg is a soft-boiled egg encased in sausage and then baked or deep-fried. 

They’re commonly found at picnics in the U.K. and packaged Scotch eggs are widely available in British supermarkets, corner shops, and gas stations. A miniature version—called mini Scotch eggs, egg bites, snack eggs, or party eggs—exists and is made with chopped chicken eggs or whole quail eggs.   

In the U.S., they’re mainly sold as a novelty at British-style pubs or at Renaissance fairs. 

Where Do They Come From?

The Scotch egg’s history is a divisive one. First thing’s first—no matter what the name suggests, it’s certainly not Scottish.

A widely held theory is that Scotch eggs were invented at an upscale London department store called Fortnum & Mason in 1738. Others believe they originated in a restaurant called William J. Scott & Sons in the Whitby area of Yorkshire in the late 19th century. As word spread of the tasty snack, “Scott” became “Scotch.”

According to yet another reputable theory, Scotch eggs were inspired by an Indian dish called nargisi kofta—hard-boiled eggs coated with cooked spiced minced mutton and fried, then served with curried tomato and onion sauce. This isn’t improbable, as other British staples (like curry and kedgeree) are Indian transplants. 

You keeping up? Good, because there’s one more possible place of origin: North Africa. Some experts say that a similar dish from Algeria made its way to England via France during the Middle Ages, and was a favorite food of Queen Elizabeth 1. 

How Do You Make a Scotch Egg? 

Want to try your hand at making Scotch eggs? We explained how to cook the dish in detail last year: 

“Start a batch of Scotch eggs by soft-boiling however many eggs you’d like. Pat a bit of pork (or chicken or turkey) sausage onto a sheet of plastic wrap, then encase the egg in the meat. Drop the sausage-covered egg into flour, then an egg wash. Finally, roll the egg in panko breadcrumbs—this coating helps the eggs get that super-flakey crispiness during frying. Fry the eggs until golden brown, then serve them up. Or stash a couple in your pockets for a midday snack.”

Find our full recipe here. 

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