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Scottish Oatcakes--Traditional Recipe

Aye ... We'll Have a Wee Bite, We Will ...

Serve Delicious Oatcakes Thick or Thin, Warm or Cold, Plain or Fancied up

Tired of the same-old, same-old for breakfast? When you are looking for something a little different, why not serve up a batch of Scottish oatcakes?

Warm oatcakes, slathered with butter and served with hot syrup are satisfying and filling. What a way to put "hearty" back into breakfast.

While they are delicious eaten warm, oatcakes can also be served cold. You can make them thick so they are soft and wholesome or roll them thin so that they are slightly crispy. You can add maple flavoring or cinnamon or even add nuts.

In this hub, I give a recipe for a sweeter oatcake and a recipe for a plain oatcake (which would go well with supper dishes), I've included videos to help readers get a feel for making Scottish-style oatcakes and traditional oatcakes from a Scottish recipe. Whatever your preference and however you serve them, oatcakes--whether modern variations or the traditional Scottish oatcakes-- are a welcome and different addition to the menu.

Before we get to the recipe, though, let's learn a little more about Scottish Oatcakes.

It is said that Queen Elizabeth eats oatcakes for her breakfast.

A Historical Look at Scottish Oatcakes

While not as common in North America, oatcakes have for centuries been considered Scotland's national bread. They can be served in different ways but one of the main ingredients is, of course, oats. This differentiates them from breads made with flour that is used as the main ingredient.

Oatcakes were and usually are prepared either on a griddle or baked in the oven. Much depends on preference. Oatcakes could/can be round or sliced into pie-shaped pieces as shown in the photo (or, as I've done, oatcakes can be cooked in a rectangular pan and sliced into squares).

Why Scotland and why oatcakes? Oats were one of the few grain crops that grew well in Scotland, so it is not surprising that oats formed the mainstay of many traditional Scottish dishes and became such a part of the diet.

In a country that loves its oatmeal, it is not surprising that the enterprising Scots came up with different ways to incorporate oats into their daily diet. The rest of the world is glad they did! If you are not a fan of cooked oatmeal, oatcakes offer a tasty alternative.

Ingredients Determine Richness

  • Many recipes for oatcakes call for shortening but I've found that butter yields a richer flavor.
  • Adding brown sugar can also impart a nice flavor, if you prefer something a little sweeter.
  • Adding spices also bumps up flavor.

Delicious Golden Oatcakes Fresh From the Oven--a Delightful Combo of Crispy and Soft

Image: Scottish Oatcakes

Image: Scottish Oatcakes

How Were Oatcakes Served?

As touched on, oatcakes were a staple and were traditionally eaten with every meal, much like we in the Americas eat bread as our staple food. Oatcakes delivered carbohydrates and were eaten with soup or served with meat or fish.

Scottish immigrants to the New World brought their recipes for their beloved oatcakes with them and thus introduced this food to others. Canadians and Americans have benefited from this exchange.

While not eaten with every meal, as was and is done in Scotland, oatcakes are still enjoyed today either as a round cake with butter (more like a bread) or eaten as a sweet tea wafer, depending on the recipe.

Did You Know? When You Eat Oats, You Are Eating a Whole Grain

Oats come out of the package and are still 100% percent whole grain.

This means that when you cook with oats, you are using the entire edible part of the grain: germ, endosperm and nutrient-rich bran.

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Why eat nutritionally inferior refined grains when oats deliver so much more from a nutritional standpoint?

Scottish Oatcakes Recipe

  • 5 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2-1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2-1 cup lard or butter
Ingredients for Oatcakes

Ingredients for Oatcakes

Oatcake Dough Worked Until a Ball Forms

Image: Oatcake Dough

Image: Oatcake Dough

Rolled Out Oatcake Dough in Pan

Image: Oatcake Dough Rolled Out in Pan

Image: Oatcake Dough Rolled Out in Pan

Oatcakes Fresh From the Oven


Hot Syrup for Scottish Oatcakes

While you can make oatcakes and top them with butter and jam, they are particularly good with hot syrup. Hot syrup can be made in in minutes and tastes delicious. You can make it thick or thin, depending on your preference.

Recipe for Hot Syrup

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Boil 5 minutes, add: 2 tbsp. butter

Hot Syrup with Maple Flavoring

After combining brown sugar and water, boil 5 minutes and add:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp maple flavoring

Hot Syrup With Vanilla Flavoring

After combining brown sugar and water,

Boil 5 minutes and add 1-2 tsp vanilla

Increase or reduce water amounts to achieve desired thickness or thinness of syrup.

Golden Brown Scottish Oatcakes--Buttery-Tasting and Filling

Image: Baked Oatcakes on Plate

Image: Baked Oatcakes on Plate

Making Thin Maple-Flavored Oatcakes

Once you've tried the thicker oatcakes, you may find you are hooked! It can be fun to experiment with ways of making them--and this is a great way to get your family members to eat more whole grains.

Maple flavored oatcakes are a perfect accompaniment to tea. Think: slightly crispy, maple-flavored tea cakes.

  1. Prepare oat cake recipe and add 1-2 capfuls of maple flavoring
  2. Substitute butter for lard
  3. Roll out very thin on a buttered cookie sheet
  4. Add chopped walnuts (optional)

These will bake up delightfully crispy. Serve cold and spread with butter. Perfect with coffee or tea.

Slice Before Cooking

Image: Sliced oatcake dough

Image: Sliced oatcake dough

Recipe II: Scottish Oatcakes

  • 4 cups oatmeal
  • 4 tbsp. shortening
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Mix thoroughly, then add enough milk to make a soft dough
  2. Roll out until very thin on a lightly floured board
  3. Cut into squares or strips
  4. Brown lightly in oven

These oatcakes are sometimes served with meat or cheese.

For Vegans

If you opt to forego using animal fats such as butter, you could try using coconut oil in your oatcakes

I've made oatcakes using olive oil and find this is actually easier. Mixing time was reduced.

How to Eat Oatcakes

Cold WarmGood as a...

with butter

with butter

as a tea cake

with jam

with butter & hot syrup

as a breakfast bread

with honey

with butter and honey

for a snack

Traditional Oatcakes

Do You Like Scottish Oatcakes?

Serving Suggestions


Cinnamon makes a nice addition to oatcakes.


If you like the look of triangular oatcakes as shown in the photo at the top of this article a glass pie plate is ideal. Oatcakes won't stick and can be easily cut later. I would suggest using a larger glass pie pan, such as 10".

Cold as a Breakfast Bread

While I enjoy oatcakes warm, I also like to make a large batch and then freeze them. This makes a tasty and different breakfast bread. The oatcakes can be eaten plain or spread with a little butter.

An Oatcake for Every Preference

I hope you've enjoyed this sojourn into the world of oatcakes and you come away with an increased appreciation for this wholesome and humble grain. We can thank our Scottish forebears for their love of and cultivation of oats.

© 2008 Athlyn Green


Duelles on December 10, 2018:

Made these first for a scotch tasting party prior to a trip To Scotland. Now add ground nuts, use coconut oil, or spelt for my gluten free family members. Always delightful- many thanks for the help

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on January 21, 2015:

Hi Vespa, if you decide to make them without flour, make sure you work them with your hands until the dough starts to form a ball. The flour helps them to stick together.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on January 21, 2015:

I came back to get this recipe. I´m going to make the recipe II without any flour and serve them with cheese for my husband. Can´t wait!

torrilynn on June 19, 2014:

I've never heard of oatcakes before and didn't know what they were until I came across this hub. thanks for the recipe for the oatcakes. I might try it one day. voted up.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 19, 2014:

looks good

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on June 18, 2014:

I love these and over the years have made them in so many different ways.

Mary Wickison from USA on June 18, 2014:

I have only ever had packet oat cakes and I am sure there is a huge difference.

I am not sure how this is going to fit on my low carb diet but I am going to make one of the recipes anyway.

Angela Ohm from Beach Park, Illinois on January 01, 2014:

Great Hub ! These sound good. I will definitely try this recipe. :)

arshiacom on December 08, 2013:

Ill try it making at home,it seems to be really appetizing.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on September 22, 2013:

Hi Amber, Iknow what you mean. It's always great to find recipes that don't call for ingredients we don't normally have in our cupboards.

Glad you enjoyed them and appreciate you taking to time to give feedback.

Amber on April 10, 2013:

I enjoyed using this simple recipe, and the ingredients were all on-hand in my pantry! I made a few substitutions to fit my family's preferences. They are so yummy! :)

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on December 31, 2012:

Hi Steve,

Oatcakes are so versatile. I'm going to make a batch today and enjoy them with tea.

StephenJArdent on December 30, 2012:

Mmmm... think I could fall in love with these.

I've never had them.

Have to try them.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on April 06, 2012:

Hi Elizabeth, that's what my family felt, too, that these were something different and a nice change. Socttish oatcakes have become a staple and like what you are planning on doing, I add different things to them, depending on what I want for flavor.

Elizabeth on April 05, 2012:

Spot on! I am tired of the same-old breakfast-toast, white, whole wheat or rye. Wanting something wholesome I came across your hub. These sound just the ticket. I'm going to add orange zest and raisins. Thank you.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on March 08, 2012:

Hi Kay,

I like your idea about the rose water. I've tried it before and absolutely loved it--never thought of trying with oatcakes.

kay on March 08, 2012:

I lost my old receipe for oat cakes. They were like a cross between american biscuts and scones. They were flavored with rose water or vanilla. They could be eaten by hand and i loved them so i'm looking for a new receipe. these cakes sound good,yum.

Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on November 26, 2011:

I sometimes make my oatcakes very thick and butter them and eat them cold and they are also good rolled thin and served with tea.

RTalloni on September 13, 2011:

Although I will have to substitute coconut oil for the butter, I do believe these will be a big here in southern USA. :)


Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on April 21, 2010:

Hi Reda,

Yes, Scottish oatcakes can be served in different ways. They are nice to pack into a lunch, as well and offer a pleasing flavor eaten cold or warm.

Reda Redding on September 08, 2009:

These were simple and quick to make and my family really liked them. We sprinkled them with powdered sugar instead of syrup.

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