Traditional Scottish Cranachan

Layered Scottish cranachan with whipped cream and raspberries

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Chill Time: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
340 Calories
30g Fat
13g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 340
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 18g 92%
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 22mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 10mg 52%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 167mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Scotland has a wonderful relationship with desserts and none more so, or more traditional than Scottish cranachan (CRA-neh-kinn). A cranachan is a very quick, easy recipe that includes oats, raspberries, cream, malt whisky, and honey. The ingredients are then layered, as you would with a trifle, for a pretty presentation. It's a festive sweet that is perfect for any celebration, especially Christmas and Hogmanay, and rounds off a Burns Night supper beautifully. The origin of the word cranachan in Scots Gaelic means "churn."

While pinhead oats or steel-cut oats are perhaps more traditional for this dish, rolled oats are perfectly fine to use. The key is toasting the oats until they smell nutty. If you do use pinhead oats, expect the dish to have a bit more texture. However, any variety of oat will soften as the dessert sits.

Scottish cranachan is too good to save just for special occasions and is especially tasty in summer when fresh Scottish raspberries (or any raspberries, for that matter) are in season. Serve along with some Scottish shortbread for the ultimate Scottish dessert.


  • 2 ounces (55 grams) steel-cut oats, pinhead oats, or rolled oats

  • 8 ounces (250 grams) fresh raspberries, Scottish if possible, divided

  • 1 pint (475 milliliters) heavy cream, or double cream

  • 3 tablespoons malt whisky, good quality

  • 1 tablespoon honey, or Scottish honey, plus more for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Scottish cranachan recipe gathered

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  2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until hot, but not burning.

    Non-stick skillet on a burner

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  3. Add the oats and, while stirring, toast until they have a light, nutty smell and begin to change color. (Do not leave the oats unattended as they can quickly burn.) Remove immediately from the pan.

    Oats being stirred in the skillet with a wooden spoon

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  4. Remove a handful of the raspberries for later, and place the remainder in a food processor. Pulse once or twice to create a thick purée; do not over blend it. It's okay if there are a few bigger lumps of berry.

    Raspberries pureed in the food processor

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  5. Alternatively, you can simply crush the raspberries with a fork. This will give you a more rustic-looking dish.

    Raspberries being crushed with a fork in a bowl
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  6. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the cream along with the whisky to form firm peaks. Take care not to overwhip.

    Whipped cream forming stiff peaks in a bowl

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  7. Fold in the honey (if using), followed by the toasted oats.

    Oats being folded into whipped cream with a spoon

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  8. Layer the dessert into either a large glass trifle bowl or individual serving glasses, starting with either a layer of the cream or raspberries and finishing with a layer of the cream. If you wish, you can sprinkle a little oatmeal on the top for decoration.

    Cream and oatmeal mixture in a glass serving bowl

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  9. Cover the bowl or glasses with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 1 hour. 

  10. To serve the cranachan, drizzle over a little extra honey, if desired, top with the reserved whole raspberries, and if you fancy, add a piece or two of Scottish shortbread.

    Scottish cranachan in a glass serving bowl and small bowl with honey to the side

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  11. Serve and enjoy.


  • The dessert does not keep more than several hours, so plan on serving soon after you make it.
  • If serving a younger crowd, feel free to leave out the whisky.
  • You will sometimes hear the dessert called "crowdie," as the cheese of the same name was sometimes used instead of the whipped cream.