Join me today where we’ll weave through the culinary history of food from the Orkney Islands, simmer down with a distinct Orkney-based recipe and savour the essence of much-acclaimed Orkney eateries.

An Ode to Orkney’s Culinary Past

Orkney’s culinary traditions reflect the Islands’ history of agricultural abundance and seafaring. The historic use of locally available ingredients like beef, shellfish, barley, and dairy continues to characterise Orkney Islands food, offering a food landscape that’s as remarkable as its Neolithic sites.


For the meat-eaters among us, Orkney produces some of the finest and most sought-after beef in the world. Centuries-old agricultural traditions influence the quality of Orkney beef, contributing significantly to the region’s domestic product. The cows enjoy a forage-based diet in the lush, fertile fields of the island. This enhances the quality and flavour of the meat.

Orkney’s adherence to high standards of animal husbandry and robust environmental considerations make its beef a premium product. Orkney beef reflects the islands’ commitment to sustainable and quality agricultural practices.

More on Orcadian beef here:

Orkney Islands Food: Beef

Neolithic Food History

Orkney’s cuisine has evolved across its rich history, while staying firmly grounded in the best quality local produce.

Even in the early Neolithic era, the dietary foundation was built around home-grown produce. For example, barley and cattle. This reflected the island’s rich agricultural beginnings.

As time ebbed into the Bronze Age, a new food companion – dairy – arrived. This provided a broader range of ingredients for meals.

With the advent of the Iron Age, yet another evolution occurred in the culinary practices of these rugged Islanders – fishing. A diverse array of seafood was included in their recipes, further enriching the local food culture. The rich bounty offered by the surrounding seas was embraced.

Today, the culinary heritage shines through. From locally reared North Ronaldsay lamb grazes on seaweed, to Orkney cheese steeped in centuries-old traditions.

Master the Art of Orkney’s Classic Cullen Skink Soup

Orkney shares a bond with its seafood that dates back centuries – a bond that comes to life in Orkney’s version of the Cullen Skink soup. Using sustainably sourced smoked haddock where possible, let’s prepare this heartwarming delicacy:


  • 250g smoked haddock fillets
  • 2tsp butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 350g potatoes, diced small and boiled with a little salt for 10-15 mins
  • 225ml milk
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp lime zest


  1. Place the haddock in a pan. Pour in enough milk to cover the fish and simmer for about 10 minutes until the fish is cooked.
  2. Remove the fish (strain or use a slotted spoon), but reserve the infused milk. Once the fish has cooled, flake it into chunks, making sure to remove all the bones.
  3. In another pan, gently cook the onion in a little oil until it softens, then add the boiled potatoes.
  4. Add the flaked haddock and strained milk back to the pan, season appropriately, and serve it piping hot garnished with chopped parsley and lime zest.
  5. Enjoy! Sharing is optional.

Satisfying Your Taste Buds: Signature Eateries in Orkney

For dining out in Orkney, The Foveran and The Kirkwall Hotel spring to mind for their wonderful locations and mouthwatering menus.

  1. The Foveran:
  2. The Kirkwall Hotel:

Located overlooking Scapa Flow, The Foveran promises an immersive dining experience with its seasonal changes and local flavours. From the caught-of-the-day seafood to North Ronaldsay Lamb, you’re set for an authentic Orkney Islands meal.

In the heart of Kirkwall, The Kirkwall Hotel boasts of being Orkney’s oldest hotel and delights patrons with traditional Orcadian hospitality. With locally sourced menu highlights like Orkney steaks, hand-dived scallops, and crab salad, it is a haven for any food lover.

From its traditional food practices to contemporary adaptations, the Orkney Islands continue to celebrate their intrinsic culinary heritage.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through Orkney’s cuisine.

See you Soon,

Jane & Paul