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Cranachan – one of the best Scottish desserts that’s easy to make

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Travelling abroad always means that we get to firmly ensconce ourselves in another country’s cuisine. Whether it is eating with a local group of people like we did in Mai Chau in Vietnam, or learning a special recipe, handed down for generations from a local in Bologna, it’s always an opportunity for great learning. Add in food tours, and we’ve done plenty, and the experience of travelling is magnified further.

When travelling on the Spirit of Scotland, we were rewarded every day with incredible food, much of it local and all of it celebrating Scottish cuisine. We couldn’t resist making one of our favourite desserts that were served onboard, once we were back home.

This recipe is for a Scottish dessert known as Cranachan, and it is indeed one of the best desserts in Scotland. The best part though is that it is also one of the easiest desserts to make. So, if you are in a rush to produce something fancy, look no further than Cranachan. Simple, quick and it only has a few ingredients. It will have you looking like a Masterchef in no time.

What is cranachan and how do you say it?

Cranachan, with my less than average Scottish interpretation, is pronounced something like “Kran-a-ken”. But of course, when you have the beautiful tones of a Scottish person’s voice saying it, it’s bound to sound much more delightful.

Cranachan is a simple, traditional Scottish dessert made with raspberries, cream, honey, whisky and oats.

Utensils you will need to make Cranachan

  • Glass serving dishes – you can use bowls but this dessert is so pretty that it puts on quite a show if you use glass
  • Electric beaters – either a stand mixer or handheld
  • Baking tray/cookie tray
  • Baking paper/parchment paper
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula

Ingredients to make Cranachan

  • 2 punnets fresh raspberries
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 50ml whisky
  • 50g honey
  • 150g oats
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g butter
  • Dash mixed spice
cranachan a simple scottish dessert ingredients
A few simple ingredients

How to make Cranachan

To get yourself started, turn your oven on to 180 degrees Celsius (or around 350 degrees Fahrenheit).

This whole recipe is speedy to prepare, so if you are really quick, you might need to wait for a little while for your oven to reach the required temperature.

Combine the whisky with the honey first and then add it into the cream. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.

cranachan a simple scottish dessert whipped cream

Next, add the butter and the brown sugar to a saucepan to combine. As the butter melts, stir slowly to ensure all the sugar is mixed in. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

cranachan a simple scottish dessert brown sugar and butter
Melting the butter and brown sugar

Once the sugar has dissolved, add the mixed spice and stir through thoroughly.

adding spice to melted butter and sugar
Adding mixed spice

Once this has been done, it is time to add the oats. Mix through.

adding the oats to cranachan mix
Adding oats

Once it is all mixed together, there is no need to cook it any further. On a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper, tip out all of the mix from the saucepan. Spread it out so that it covers the baking tray in a thin layer.

Bake this in the oven for around 20 minutes or until a deep golden brown colour. Help it to colour and cook evenly by mixing it all around every five minutes or so.

Once you have achieved the desired colour and toastiness, remove from the heat and let cool for several minutes.

cranachan a simple scottish dessert toasted oats
Cooking the oat mix in the oven

To prepare the final dessert, add some raspberries to the bottom of a glass dish or a container, then cream, then some of the oat mix. If your container is large enough, you can keep on layering it as you wish. Garnish the top with some fresh raspberries.

the completed Cranachan dessert best-scottish-desserts-how-to-make-cranachan
The completed Cranachan dessert

Substitute ingredients

There are several ingredients that can be substituted, making this dessert even easier to make, especially if you don’t have all of these in the fridge or pantry.

When it comes to the raspberries, fresh is always going to be best. However, if fresh raspberries aren’t in season, using frozen raspberries is totally acceptable. Just be sure to thaw them out first before using.

Whilst it won’t be a traditional cranachan, you could also substitute the raspberries with whatever fruit you have available.

If you don’t have access to some good Scottish whisky, a shot of bourbon will work as well. Of course, if you don’t want alcohol in your dessert, you can leave it out.

Cranachan for breakfast

If you would like to make this tasty Scottish dessert into a breakfast dish, try substituting the cream for yoghurt. Again, it won’t be Cranachan, but it will certainly be yummy. Depending on your constitution, it might also be a good idea to omit the whisky at the start of the day.

Having cranachan for breakfast is not as silly as it might sound. In its earliest iterations, the humble cranachan was made with Crowdie cheese, a form of soft, fresh Scottish cheese. It was added to oats, with some honey for sweetening. Raspberries became a fancier addition later on when the fruit was seasonal. The use of Crowdie cheese gave way to certain parts of Scotland calling this dessert a Cream Crowdie.

Cranachan serving tip

If you are making cranachan for a dinner party, get your guests involved by getting them to assemble their own. Simply put all the prepared ingredients into individual bowls, provide your guests with a bowl or glass and let them complete the dessert.

The completed Cranachan dessert

Cranachan - a simple Scottish dessert

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

Cranachan is a simple, easy to make, delicious traditional Scottish dessert. Make this in under 30 minutes with a few ingredients.


  • 2 punnets fresh raspberries
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 50ml whisky
  • 50g honey
  • 150g rolled oats
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g butter
  • Dash mixed spice


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. (Around 356 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. Combine the whisky and honey in a bowl large enough to add the cream to.
  3. Whisk the cream with the honey and the whisky until soft peaks have formed.
  4. Melt the butter with the brown sugar.
  5. Add the oats ans spice and mix all together.
  6. Line a biscuit/cookie tray with baking paper and spread out.
  7. Put into the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Stir the mix every 5 minutes to ensure even coverage and browing.
  8. In a glass, glass serving dish or bowl, layer the raspberries, then the cream, then the oat mix. Depending on the size of the container, you may be able to repeat some layers.
  9. Finish with some raspberries on the top for garnish.
  10. Serve straight away.


See the article above for substitutions that can be made.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 553Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 104mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 25gProtein: 7g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Cranachan is a simple, easy to make, delicious traditional Scottish dessert.  Make this in under 30 minutes with a few ingredients.

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