Although thought to have originated in Scotland, hence the name, Scotch eggs were most likely created in England. The term ‘scotch’ actually comes from the name for wrapping the boiled eggs in minced meat, as is common with Scotch egg production. The English department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the dish in 1738, as a traveller’s snack, but this is based on archival material that has since been lost. The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, gives the first instance of the name as 1809, appearing in Maria Rundell’s ‘A New System of Domestic Cookery’, while others believe Scotch eggs originate from Indian koftas. Regardless of origin, they’re now considered a British classic and a top-tier picnic essential.
While all sorts of options are now readily available, from supermarkets and petrol stations to high end restaurants and delis, not all Scotch eggs are created equal. Ideally, your Scotch egg will contain a soft (or at least slightly soft) boiled egg encased with well-seasoned pork meat, cloaked with coarse breadcrumbs then plunged into seething hot oil until golden. This Scotch egg recipe produces those exact results: a perfect picnic staple, light lunch or decadent snack.
Scotch egg cooking tips
With Scotch eggs, some people favour runny yolks, others enjoy jammy yolks, and some simply prefer hard boiled eggs. For a runny yolk, simmer the egg for around four minutes, for a ‘jammier’ yolk, simmer for five-to-six minutes, or for a hard-boiled egg simmer for around eight minutes.
For the meat component, sausage meat is traditional, but a great number of variants can be used, following this same basic Scotch egg recipe. If plain sausage meat isn’t your thing, a wide range of different sausages can be used. I’m particularly fond of Italian sausages (see below), while haggis, black pudding and chorizo are also delicious options – either on their own, or mixed with a ratio of sausage meat.
If you struggle to find Italian sausages, you can make your own spin on Italian sausage meat by adding a pinch of salt, 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, ½ teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, ½ teaspoon chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons white sugar, 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed, and ½ teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika to 600g sausage meat.
Panko breadcrumbs work particularly well for Scotch eggs, but fresh breadcrumbs also work well, as do ground crackers such as olive oil crackers or matzo.
When deep frying, it’s important to be cautious. If using a pan rather than a deep fryer, make sure the pan has a heavy base and is filled by no more than 1/3. Also avoid overcrowding the pan as this can cause the oil to spill (a safety hazard) or cool down too dramatically.
Scotch eggs are delicious on their own but are also delicious with mustard, piccalilli, or a sauce made from honey with both Dijon and wholegrain mustard.
- 8 large eggs
- 600 g sausage meat see notes
- 200 g bread crumbs such as panko
- Plain flour for dusting
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Neutral oil for deep frying
- Begin by boiling your eggs. Working in batches of no more than four at a time, place the eggs in a large pan of cold water and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 4-8 minutes, dependent on preference of yolk firmness.
- Instantly plunge the boiled eggs into a bowl of cold water and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled, run under cold water and very gently peel the eggs. Place in the fridge until ready to cook.
- Once the eggs are boiled and peeled, prepare your sausage filling (see notes). If using regular sausage meat, generously season with salt and pepper. Take approx. 100g of the sausage meat and form into a flat patty. Place an egg in the centre and gently wrap the sausage meat around the egg. Roll between your hands to seal and patch up with more sausage meat if necessary. Repeat with all of the eggs, then place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to firm up.
- Set up a breading station, with bowls of each flour seasoned with salt and pepper, two beaten eggs, and the breadcrumbs. Dip each Scotch egg into the flour, gently toss to coat, then plunge into the beaten eggs. Toss once again to coat, then place in the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Once completely coated in breadcrumbs, place the Scotch egg onto a rack to rest while you prepare the others.
- In a deep fryer or large pan filled by one third, heat neutral cooking oil to 160C. Fry the Scotch eggs in batches, flipping occasionally, for 10 minutes or until golden and the sausage meat is cooked through. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan, as this can cause the oil to spill over the sides and cause a fire, or placing too many Scotch eggs in to the pan at once will dramatically decrease the temperature of the oil.
- Once cooked, remove from the pan and drain on a clean cooling rack while you cook the remaining eggs. Slice in half and season the yolk with flaky sea salt before eating.
to 600g sausage meat. Panko breadcrumbs work particularly well for Scotch eggs, but fresh breadcrumbs also work well, as do ground crackers such as olive oil crackers or matzo. When deep frying, it’s important to be cautious. If using a pan rather than a deep fryer, make sure the pan has a heavy base and is filled by no more than 1/3. Also avoid overcrowding the pan as this can cause the oil to spill (a safety hazard) or cool down too dramatically. Scotch eggs are delicious on their own but are also delicious with mustard, piccalilli, or a sauce made from honey with both Dijon and wholegrain mustard.