Traditional Scottish Breakfast: Morning Rolls and Popular Fillings

Updated on March 17, 2016
Scottish Morning Rolls
Scottish Morning Rolls

A Brief Guide to Scottish Morning Rolls

Scottish morning rolls are a long time breakfast tradition in Scotland. While the full Scottish breakfast may be eaten at weekends or on holidays, morning rolls are more likely to be incorporated in daily breakfasts before work. It used to be a huge tradition that someone in the household would fetch the newspaper and rolls in the morning for the family breakfast but it is perhaps more likely in modern times that the filled roll will be bought from a baker's shop or similar on the way to work.

Morning rolls - usually simply called rolls - are a type of soft bread roll which are opened up, buttered if desired and incorporated with any number of chosen fillings. There are some who like their rolls soft and pale on the top, while others prefer their rolls well fired and crispy. A great many shops will for this reason offer a choice of the two and even perhaps a middle ground for the particularly discerning customer.

Morning rolls in Scotland today are eaten at any time of day and may include cold meat and salad for lunch, jam as a snack (particularly popular in days of old with children) or leftover roasted meats with pickle or mustard. There is no limit really to what can be used to fill a Scottish roll but this page will look at some of the more popular breakfast options, which are also selected at other times of the day - particularly for lunch, by those who have skipped breakfast.

Buttered Scottish morning roll
Buttered Scottish morning roll

Scottish Morning Rolls: To Butter or Not To Butter?

It is certainly very common in Scotland in a traditional sense that butter firstly be added to the morning roll, irrespective of which filling is to follow. In more health conscious times, many people are either using low fat spreads made from olive or sunflower oil, margarine, or eliminating spreads altogether. The choice is of course an individual one but whatever else, there can be no disputing that traditional butter does impart that extra special bit of flavour.

A roll and Lorne (square) sausage
A roll and Lorne (square) sausage
A roll and sausage and tattie scone
A roll and sausage and tattie scone
A roll and sausage and fried onions
A roll and sausage and fried onions

A Roll and Lorne Sausage

The Lorne sausage is a type of sausage unique to Scotland. It is blocks of prepared meat and spices, sliced and fried, hence the other frequent names of sliced sausage or square sausage. A roll and Lorne sausage is popular on its own but other accompaniments are frequently added for a little bit of extra taste. Lorne sausages can be either fried or grilled.

A roll and sausage and tattie scone is a delicious concoction. The tattie (potato) scones will most often be bought premade in modern times but they are fairly straightforward to make at home, once you have a bit of practice at rolling and handling what is the necessarily extremely wet dough. The precooked scones are fried along with the sausage for the last few minutes of its cooking time and served on top of the sausage before the top is placed on the roll.

Fried onions are also delicious on a roll and sausage. Fried onions will usually be served instead of a tattie scone and are again fried with the sausage, in this instance added to the pan at the same time as the sausage to ensure they are fully cooked down and soft. Raw onions can very successfully be susbstituted as a healthier and crunchier alternative.

Beef link sausages
Beef link sausages
Roll and link sausage
Roll and link sausage

Roll and Link Sausages

Link sausages are the more widely recognisable sausage type found in Scotland. Although link sausages (beef or pork) are occasionally eaten on rolls at breakfast time, they are nowhere near as popular in this respect as Lorne. Link sausages are more associated in Scotland with the traditional steak pie.

There are often two big mistakes made with cooking link sausages. Firstly, they should never be pricked (pierced) with a fork prior to cooking them, as this serves only to allow the moisture and the flavour to disappear in to the pan and make the sausages bland and dry. Secondly, in order to stop them bursting (this is what piercing is designed to achieve,) they should simply be fried in a little oil over a very low heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, rather than a high one for a fraction of that time.

A roll and two rashers of bacon
A roll and two rashers of bacon

A Roll and Bacon

Bacon in the UK is very different from many other parts of the world, particularly North America. This is for the simple reason that the meat is obtained from a different part of the pig. In the UK, bacon is from the back or side of the pig and not from the belly. This means it looks and tastes very different in other locales. A bacon roll is probably the second most common type of morning roll in Scotland, after the roll and Lorne sausage. The bacon is either fried or grilled and two rashers per roll is about average.

The egg is firstly broken in to a small cup or bowl
The egg is firstly broken in to a small cup or bowl
The egg is now ready for turning
The egg is now ready for turning
Egg is fried for a couple of minutes on second side
Egg is fried for a couple of minutes on second side
Roll and egg - and dark soy sauce...
Roll and egg - and dark soy sauce...

A Roll and Fried Egg

The concept of how to fry an egg must be one of the most hotly debated in cooking. Fat or oil; tilt pan this way or that; splash fat up over egg or not; sunny side up? - all and more are made to complicate what should be a fairly straightforward procedure. A roll and fried egg is a fairly common breakfast choice in Scotland but the state of the egg when served will vary hugely. Why not give the method below a try?

  1. Ensure egg is allowed to reach room temperature and not straight from refrigerator (at least two hours - overnight is fine)
  2. Break egg carefully in to small bowl or cup and never straight in to pan
  3. Add a little oil to non-stick frying pan and spread around with a piece of kitchen towel. Minimal oil only is required. Bring pan up to a medium to high heat
  4. Gently deposit egg in centre of pan. Immediately reduce heat to fairly low. Season with a little salt and white pepper
  5. Most importantly - keep an eye on it but otherwise leave it alone for a few minutes

When you can see that the egg white is cooked and not before, carefully turn the egg with a spatula and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side. An egg sunny side up on a bread roll is not a great idea, for the simple reason that having a colleague point out the yolk dribbled down your tie, shirt or top is not the best start to any day at the office.

It is not conventional and by no means traditional but it has to be tried to be believed. A splash or two of that well known, "Scottish," condiment, dark soy sauce, is delicious beyond description on a roll and fried egg...

Rind must be removed from black pudding
Rind must be removed from black pudding
A roll and black pudding
A roll and black pudding

A Roll and Black Pudding

Black pudding (commonly blood pudding, where available in North America) is a hugely popular part of a full Scottish breakfast but is probably one of the less common fillings on a Scottish morning roll. It is served in cafes in this way, however, and by some at home.

Like Lorne sausages, black pudding will come in slices and is commonly fried. It is made from cereal grains, spices and what is usually pig's blood. It is truly delicious and popular throughout most of particularly the North of the UK. It is important to know that although it should be cooked with the rind on, the rind will almost certainly be plastic and must be removed prior to placing the black pudding on the roll. if the rind is removed prior to cooking, it is likely the black pudding slice will start to disintegrate in the pan or even under the grill.

Traditional Scottish breakfast roll condiments
Traditional Scottish breakfast roll condiments

Traditional Accompaniments

Although the Scottish morning rolls and their suggested accompaniments will often be served and eaten precisely as shown on this page, there are two particular condiments which can not go without mention. Heinz Tomato Ketchup or HP Sauce have to be offered to anyone eating a Scottish breakfast roll of any type, as sometimes, they provide that finishing little touch to ensure perfection.

Feedback and Comments

Hopefully, something on this page will have appealed to your tastes and you are prepared to improvise where necessary and try a traditional Scottish breakfast roll for yourself.

Thank you for your visit and any feedback which you have may be left in the space below.

Questions & Answers

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      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 months ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Well, you certainly wouldn't get canteen meals for that price in Scotland now - but I'm glad you enjoyed it while you had the chance!

      • profile image

        Roderick Stewart 

        7 months ago

        I worked in Allied Suppliers and we had a subsidised canteen and everything was cheap and Morning break had rolls in everything for 6 p and lunch was a big meal for - 20p or so I can't remember - but it was ridiculously cheap and it was so big a portion that we were getting fat

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 months ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hi, Rod. Good to hear from you again and first and foremost - no, I don't think you're a loony! I'm glad you are managing to keep in touch with home in many ways despite being so far away and I share your love of Ayrshire potatoes. I remember my Gran used to serve them with Loch Fyne herring fillets fried in oatmeal when I was a wee boy. Keep up your food experiments and good luck with devising new ways of recreating the tastes of home.

      • profile image

        Rod 

        7 months ago

        I am now in Australia and it is up to me to make all the auld flavours and tastes I had in Scotland - I make a roll with egg bacon and mince (fried) with onions (soft) and a touch of tomato ketchup and some HP sauce - just a little of each - I miss all the Scottish dishes I got back home - we can get black pudding and there are some ex-pat butchers that make totty scones and things. I make my own stovies and soups - but the ingredients are not the same - OOOh

        I long for Ayrshire potatoes with lots of butter on top

        Hope you don't think I am a loony

        Rod

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 months ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        That sounds like one skilled cook and one tasty roll, Rod. Thanks for getting in touch.

      • profile image

        Rod 

        7 months ago

        At college - the cook - Ruby - asked how do you like your egg - my preference - the yolk like syrup - so she fried it to perfection - and a dream roll in egg - eat all the way round the outside and end up with the yolk in the last big bite ---- and heaven burst into my mouth - salty egg yolk with butter and bread -- AAAHHHH heaven !!!

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hi, Kristen. Yes, many of these things are pretty geographical specific but the good news is that some of them can very effectively be prepared from scratch at home, wherever you are in the world.

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hi, Paul. I have tried many recipes for morning rolls and not one has even come close to working. I would love to share details of your recipe if you can recommend it.

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Gordon, great hub! I never had a scone before, but would love to try that and these recipes! Voted up for useful!

      • profile image

        paul 

        3 years ago

        I have a recipe for morning rolls don't know if it is still live this site.cheers

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for your visit and comment. I'm not sure whereabouts in England you are living but I used to be able to get a very close approximation of Scottish morning rolls when I lived in Middlesex from a wide range of suppliers, including Tesco. Why not ask around among the bakers in your area or give Tesco a try? Good luck!

      • profile image

        Rebecca Hollywood 

        6 years ago

        yeh i love my morning rolls with anything really canny beat a scottish morning roll, however i have a problem lol i now live in england and im trying to find somewhere to get them either deliverd from scotland (like i do my Lorne) or somewhere i can buy them in england does anyone know of anywhere that may do either one of these x

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Thank you, Munich oldie but I have been unsuccessful myself in finding an authentic recipe for the rolls. Maybe someone reading this can help out?

      • profile image

        Munich oldie. 

        6 years ago

        The look great, Gordon. Would love to have a real roll with any of your suggested fillings. Only problem is getting the rolls! I have tried some internet recipe suggestions but none have worked. Do you know of any proven recipe that will produce something close to a real Scottish Roll?

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Thanks for visiting and commenting, Flickr. I'm glad you like the ideas and hope you get the opportunity to give some of them a try.

      • profile image

        Flickr 

        6 years ago

        Awesomely delicious. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Yes, delicious foods all that I'm sure you must miss, Anne. I hope this page at least gave you memories of home. Thanks for visiting.

      • profile image

        Anne 

        6 years ago

        I am now in Australia for 40 years and I would love a haddock supper or some McKellar-Watt sausages or some Ayrshire spuds (with a lump of butter) Arbroath smokie some black pudding Ayrshire bacon and a whole list of Scottish foods

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hello, Eileen and thank you for the visit and comment. I am glad these ideas brought back that warm home feeling for you.

      • Eileen Goodall profile image

        Eileen Goodall 

        7 years ago from Buckinghamshire, England

        OMG it's home on a plate!

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Thanks very much, Simone. Glad you liked it and hope you have the chance to try some of the foodstuffs! :)

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        David, yes, I do like kippers and smoked salmon is excellent on toast with scrambled eggs. There is, however, something special about a roll and Lorne sausage...

        Thanks for your visit.

      • Simone Smith profile image

        Simone Haruko Smith 

        7 years ago from San Francisco

        Oh awesome!! Love the Hub- and the photos as always are so helpful! Voted up!

      • Russell-D profile image

        Russell-D 

        7 years ago from Southern Ca.

        Gordon -- I'm a Kippers fan, with smoked salmon second. Kippes and eggs on a plate.

        Smoked Salmon on a roll. I'm hungry already. David Russell

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Thanks, Tony

        My problem is that I love all of them and have been known to over-indulge...! :)

      • tonymead60 profile image

        Tony Mead 

        7 years ago from Yorkshire

        hi gordon

        great breakfast ideas, I love black pudding, my favourite has to be a bacon butty.

        cheers Tony

      • Gordon Hamilton profile imageAUTHOR

        Gordon Hamilton 

        7 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        I have often made a similar mistake, tritrain. Thanks for the visit and the comment and I hope you enjoy your breakfast when you wake up.

      • tritrain profile image

        And Drewson 

        7 years ago from United States

        Oh, I should not have looked at this food before I go to bed.

        I'm now really hungry!

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