How to make Scottish Stovies

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Stovies are a wonderful, traditional, hearty, Scottish dish. But much like many traditional Scottish mains, they aren’t pretty. For this reason, I have shied away from posting too many Scottish dinner recipes. I just find them so hard to make aesthetically pleasing!

It’s not all about the aesthetics and please don’t take that as me being negative against stovies, because I love them and if you have had them, you know how good they are! But if you just so happen to stumble across this recipe and think it looks like a plate of brown mush… it kinda is, but trust the process! It’s really delicious!

What are Stovies?

Stovies are a mix of potatoes, meat and onions (and sometimes carrot and swede) which are slowly stewed in some beef stock.

It is a hugely popular Scottish dish, a meal that excites people to hear is being made but it’s also not one that I think we eat too often.

In times past, and I’m sure for many families still, this would have been cooked using the leftover meat and veg from a previous meal or roast.

Taking all of the flavours from the meat and the gravy and even the scrapings and burnt bits, you cook this on the stove until it almost falls apart, or at least, falls together.

Everyone cooks theirs differently, some with beef, others with lamb, corned beef or sausages. Some add veg, others keep it simple with just meat and potatoes.

We all love and swear by our own recipes and those passed down to us, this is mine.

I hope you enjoy it!

Stovies Recipe


Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50-60 mins
Total time: 1 hour – 1 hour 10 mins


  • Leftover meat
    Alternative – 1 tin (400g) corned beef, 400g-500g beef or lamb – Meat to be cubed
  • 900g Potatoes
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1-2tbsp Beef dripping
    Alternative – Butter or lard
  • 200ml Beef stock
  • Dash of milk or butter
  • Salt and pepper to tasteOptional
  • Leftover vegetables (carrots, swede)
  • Oatcakes
  • Pickled beetroot


  • Casserole dish or large heavy bottomed pan with lid
Stovies Recipe


  1. Chop your onion, cube your meat, wash and peel your potatoes before cutting into thick slices and set aside.
  2. Heat 1-2tbsp beef dripping over a medium heat in your pan. Ideally you would use beef dripping from the previous nights leftovers but I know it’s not always possible so you can buy a block of beef dripping at the supermarket, alternatively, use some butter or lard if you prefer.
  3. Once the beef dripping has melted, add your chopped onion to the pan and sauté for around 3-5 minutes in the fat until softened and translucent. Don’t worry about any browning, this adds to the flavour.
  4. Next, layer your raw potatoes in the pan and give a quick stir to coat in the onions and fat.
  5. Add 200ml beef stock to the pan. If needed, add some cold water until the liquid is covering around 2/3 of the potatoes.
  6. Place the lid on the pan and cook this on a medium heat for around 5-10 minutes.
  7. Ideally, for the meat, you would again be using the remainders of the previous nights roast, if you are, add those and all the leftover scrapings and flavourings now. If you are using fresh meat, then add that on top of the potatoes now.

    And if you are using corned beef, hold off and add this towards the very end, just to heat through.

    Do not stir with the potatoes!

  8. If you are adding fresh veg, do so now but again, do not stir.
  9. Season with some salt and pepper before bringing the liquid to a boil. Once boil has been reached, set heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pan with your lid, leaving to cook for approximately 30-45 minutes.

    If you are adding precooked veg, do so around 10 minutes before readiness.

    Do check on it while cooking and give it a stir occasionally.

  10. The potatoes will begin to fall apart and the liquid and juices in the pan will have reduced. You don’t want the potatoes to be mushy, just soft enough to fall into a mash.

    What we want is a mixture of lumpy and soft potato pieces.

    If you are using corned beef, add now and heat through for a couple of minutes.

  11. Remove pan from the heat and add a dash of milk or butter before giving a quick stir through. Give it a taste and add some more salt and pepper if needed  (omit the salt if you are cooking corned beef, it’s salty enough!).
  12. I like to remove it from the heat for around 10 minutes and allow the flavours to settle along with thickening up.
  13. After this, place them back on the hob to give them a quick burst of heat and stirring again before serving piping hot! As we live in Aberdeen, we tend to serve ours with some pickled beetroot and oatcakes but everyone from region to region eats theirs differently so do make this to your personal preference!



I think that most people would agree that stovies taste best the next day!

Stovies can be kept for several days but make sure to cover, store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

They can also be frozen but thaw out thoroughly and heat through before serving!

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One Comment

  1. Great recipe! It is one of these things that many outside Scotland (or perhaps even the United Kingdom as a whole) would be unlikely to know about. This is a great short-cut to assist with so many leftovers in the fridge, in which I used a zucchini that was at the end of its tether – plus don’t forget frozen vegetables if you want to pad it out some more (a bit of corn in the meantime, there was a lot of frozen corn). It was also short notice, and I had both lamb and chicken defrosting in the fridge. Neither was close to being ready, but I did have a lot of chicken sausage to be used. After some brief investigation, I knew exactly what to cook.

    I’ve defended it before, and I still stand guard – Scottish cuisine is underrated. Stovies is one of the examples that I can pull up, liking it ever since finding a slow-cooker version of it through YouTube (even someone from my church in Australia was a fan). I’m not Scottish myself, but just love to cook and eat foods from around the world. In fact, I’m on a quest to introduce my nephew to 100 different cuisines via my cooking by the time he gets into year one at school – as of writing this, it is at 19 with Scotland being that latest entrant.

    What really makes this meal a little bit better is mixing some cheese into it. That is a way to get kids to like it a lot more. It will be one of those recipes that will be practical to make many more times, and I will not be regretting those times.

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