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Traditional Scottish Strawberry Trifle

A simple recipe for a traditional Scottish trifle made with juicy Scottish strawberries. This recipe is alcohol free, but sherry or whisky can be added. The recipe gives vegetarian and vegan ingredients.

Large glass bowl of strawberry trifle

Castleton Farm

Last week I visited Castleton Farm in the Howe of Mearns, south of Aberdeen, where the Mitchell family grow the most delicious Red Diamond strawberries exclusively for Marks and Spencer

Murray, Rhoda and their son Ross have been growing berries at their farm for over 20 years and it's a really impressive set up. I couldn't believe quite how big the farm was. 

They have 120 acres of strawberries, 80 acres of blueberries, 30 acres of raspberries and 20 acres of cherries.

Scottish Strawberries

The Mitchells produce around 300,00 strawberries a day during the season, which they have been able to extend much longer with heated tunnels and a lot of expertise.   

The strawberries are all hand picked and packed in the morning. They leave the farm in the afternoon and hit our stores next morning. You can't get fresher than that!

Strawberry production at Casteton Farm

Castleton Farm

The family and their staff also grow blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries, which are all grown in tunnels and are hand picked.

The east coast of Scotland has the perfect micro climate for berries as it has long days of sunlight and it never gets too hot. The perfect combination of factors for the ultimate berries.

The Mitchells also leave the fruit on the plant for longer for a sweeter, fuller flavour.

Strawberry growing tunnel

Marks & Spencer

M&S are committed to working with local farmers like the Mitchells to bring us the best products that are created with care.  Seasonally fresh food at a great price.

They sell these amazingly sweet and juicy strawberries for just £2 a punnet.

Pop into a store soon and pick some up. You won't be disappointed.

These are not just any strawberries, these are Marks & Spencer Strawberries!

Follow the conversation on social media #MyMarksFave. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Close up of Scottish strawberries on plant and being picked

Strawberry Trifle

As soon as I tried the strawberries, I knew they would make a really superior homemade strawberry trifle.

Trifle is a common dessert in Scottish households and not just for special occasions. 

My mum always made one on a Sunday and her own mum would make a version of this when the ingredients were available. 
Of course, during the war, it was harder to make desserts as sugar was rationed.

close up of strawberry trifle

The History of Trifle

The trifle was first mentioned by John Florio in 1598. He wrote that a trifle was "a kinde of clouted cream called a foole or trifle in English". It was actually very like a modern fool, made with whipped flavoured cream

In the early 18th-century almond flavoured biscuits soaked in sweet wine were added to the fool and it started to move closer to the dish we know today. 

Then in 1747 The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (the best selling book of that century) by Hanna Glasse shared a layered trifle with jelly added.

Traditional Scottish Strawberry Trifle in glass bowl showing layers of sponge, jelly, fruit, custard and cream

A Tipsy Laird

Trifle can be a rather alcoholic dessert and the sponge is often soaked in sherry, hence the name sherry trifle.

Of course here in Scotland we like to add a dram of our national drink to our puddings, just think of a Scottish cranachan where the cream is whipped with whisky. 

In a tipsy laird, the cake and fruit are dowsed in the whisky and indeed any laird drinking it could well end up very tipsy.

As I have a child in the house (not that it ever bothered my mum when making trifle), I'm making an alcohol-free version.

For more Scottish recipes have a look at my recipe index of Scottish Recipes for Vegans and Vegetarians

Banoffee pie trifle in individual dessert jars

How to serve a trifle

A trifle can be served in a big glass bowl, individual dessert bowls, in wine glasses or short glasses, like my banoffee trifle which you can see above. 

The key is to build and serve it in clear glass so you can see the layers.

For more Scottish recipes have a look at my recipe index of Scottish Recipes for Vegans and Vegetarians

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The cake layer of a trifle

For the cake layer of a trifle, you can use sponge fingers, madeira cake or make your own cake. A victoria sponge would work well. I used my instant lemonade cake, which is suitable for vegans and my husband.

After you have covered the base with cake (you may need to add it in pieces to fit), you add the fruit.

I added fresh Scottish strawberries.

making strawberry trifle, sponge and strawberry layers in glass bowl

The Jelly layer of a trifle

You can use regular jelly for this trifle, but for a vegetarian or vegan jelly use Hartleys glitter jelly. It comes in sachets and uses xanthan gum and carrageenan as thickeners instead of gelatine and works really well. You could use the strawberry or raspberry glitter jelly in this recipe.

Health shops often sell clear vegetarian/vegan jelly, but they don't have the tasty fruity flavour.

making strawberry trifle, jelly and custard layers in glass bowl

The custard and cream layer

Once the jelly is set you add the custard, then the cream layer.

For a vegan trifle you can use Alpro custard which is lovely and thick and for the whipped cream you can use sweetened whipped coconut cream, squirty soya cream or both.

Whipped coconut cream

To make whipped coconut cream, pop a can of full fat (it has to be full fat) coconut milk in the fridge overnight. 

The next day turn it upside down, open it and pour out the coconut water (set aside for smoothies), then spoon the solids into a bowl. Add some icing sugar to sweeten it and a little vanilla extract, then whip into stiff peaks and use instead of whipped cream.

When whipped coconut cream goes wrong!

The whipped coconut cream doesn't have a 100% success rate, so make sure you have the squirty cream too. 

I've happily made coconut cream like this may be a dozen times with great success, but this time it didn't whip up. I could tell the solids were thinner as I poured it out of the can. 

Maybe it was a different brand or my fridge wasn't cool enough or too full. Who knows, but have that squirty cream to hand just in case.

Overhead shot of strawberry trifle finished of with cream, strawberries and sprinkles

Finishing touches for trifle

As if there isn't enough indulgent goodness in this trifle, I added a few swirls of squirty whipped cream (you could use soya whipped cream), fresh Scottish strawberries and some sprinkles.

My sprinkle sprinkling skills could be improved, but I still think it looks pretty and boy did it taste good.

Traditional Scottish Strawberry Trifle

Traditional Scottish Strawberry Trifle
Yield: 6-8 generous portions
prep time: 30 Mcook time: total time: 30 M
A simple recipe for a traditional Scottish trifle made with juicy Scottish strawberries. This recipe is alcohol free, but sherry or whisky can be added. The recipe gives vegetarian and vegan ingredients.


  • 1 sponge cake (madeira or vegan lemonade cake)
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2 packets of berry jelly (Hartley's glitter jelly for a vegan trifle)
  • 2 x 525g packs ready made custard (if your tin or tub is lighter don't worry)
  • 400ml double or coconut cream (see notes), optional
  • 200ml/1 can squirty cream (standard or vegan)
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles


How to cook Traditional Scottish Strawberry Trifle

  1. Fill the bottom of a large glass bowl or individual dessert glasses with sponge cake.
  2. Cut enough strawberries in half to completely cover the sponge base and set the rest aside to decorate the trifle. You will probably use more than one punnet.
  3. Make up your jelly (according to packet instructions) and pour over the sponge and berries, then pop in the fridge to set.
  4. Once the jelly has set pour over the custard and smooth, Pop the trifle back in the fridge.
  5. Make up your whipped cream. I like to use an electric whisk and whisk until firm. If you are making a vegan coconut cream see the notes below.
  6. Spread an even layer or cream on top of the custard. Alternatively add swirls of squirty cream around the edge of the bowl. You can have both creams or choose one or the other.
  7. Add sprinkles and pop in the fridge until ready to serve.
  8. Enjoy!


Vegan Whipped Coconut Cream -
1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.
2. Turn the can upside down and open. Gently pour out the liquid and keep for smoothies.
3. Pour the solids into a bowl, add 2-3 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract and whisk until stiff.
4. Spread on the cake.

Alternatively use soya squirty cream.
Fat (grams)
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trifle, Scottish trifle, Traditional Scottish dessert, Traditional Scottish Trifle, Scottish dessert, strawberry dessert, strawberry trifle, fruit trifle, vegan trifle, vegetarian trifle, tipsy laird
Scottish, vegan, vegetarian
Created using The Recipes Generator


Summer Sip Cocktail

Strawberry Summer Sip Cocktail

A sweet cocktail with the taste of Summer. Just enough for one, although feel free to multiply the quantities and make a jugful.

Disclosure: I visited the farm and created the recipe on behalf of M&S. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.


  1. GORGEOUS. We made trifle just once living in Scotland, and have never quite gotten it right ever again in the states - we have ingredients, of course, but they're not quite the same - for instance, we don't have Alpro custard. Still, this is such a nice end-of-summer treat, and so pretty!

    1. Hey Tanita, I would have thought you'd have lots of dairy-free choices over there. It is such a comforting dessert. I have probably put it in your mind now!

    2. We do have tons of dairy-free, but custard just isn't as commonly eaten on the West Coast, so we have to make it from scratch - not a terrible thing, but we tend to slow down the process by just... eating it. Ahem! But, we'll get there eventually.

  2. Those fresh strawberries look amazing! And that sounds like such a fun trip. What a great way to use fresh strawberries and it looks like the perfect summer recipe.

    1. Oh my goodness those strawberries are good and yes it's the perfect summer dessert.

  3. I have a trifle bowl that I've used once in like 5 years! I do love trifles though and definitely need to make this recipe - strawberries are my favorite!

    1. Oh yes, don't let that bowl go to waste and you could make some many other flavours as well as strawberry trifles.

  4. My mother used to make a trifle like this with tins of fruit cocktail. I used to make it too but stopped making it when my daughter became vegetarian. I did not know about that jelly. What a great tip and yes M&S strawberries are always worth buying.

    1. I am sure I had one like that as a child too. Maybe at an aunts house. Yes do look for the jelly and gorge on the M&S strawberries.

  5. M&S's slogan is one of my all time favourite, so glad to see it extends to strawberries! They look incredibly fresh and delicious, what a gorgeous trifle too!

    1. Haha well I decided it should. Not sure if they say that about their strawberries, but they should and yes the trifle was lush.

  6. M&S strawberries are the BEST! The farm trip looks a lot of fun :)

    1. You are so right, just delicious and yes it was a really interesting trip. They have a great farm shop and cafe too if you are ever in the area.

  7. I used to live in the UK, and this recipe makes me nostalgic for ingredients I can't find easily in the US. It seems like a good time to hit up some old friends to send a care package so I can make your trifle as it's intended.

    1. Haha yes, do make the most of friends in the UK. Trifle is like a fruity hug in a bowl. So fabulous, especially with these strawberries.

  8. scottish strawberries are the best! Perhaps that is why my mum never put srawberries in her trifle. I just remember loving how the layer of custard got quite firm and we could pick it up and it was pink where it met the jelly. We have a glitter jelly that is vegetarian but it does not set very well when I have tried it - wonder if it is the same as the british one? Your trifle looks fantastic.

    1. Yes I bet you enjoy the berries every time you visit. Trifle is definitely a good memory from childhood. It really takes you back. A shame your jelly doesn't set well, this one is really good. Let me know if you would like me to send you a few packets. Unfortunately the strawberries will have to wait until your next visit.

  9. This looks amazing and reminds me of my British heritage. I live in Canada and would like to know what a "punnet" is. Thanks so much.

    1. The punnets are the tubs we buy the in between 200-250g which is between 7and 8 oz. Hope that helps. More or less is fine in thus recipe as it's forgiving.


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