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The TikTok star known as ‘The Hebridean Baker’ dishes on the story behind traditional Scottish cuisine

Coinneach MacLeod is coming to town to talk about his new cookbook

TikTok celebrity Coinneach MacLeod, a baker who shares recipes and stories from his hometown in the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland.Provided

In one of his most popular TikTok videos — with more than half a million views — Coinneach MacLeod walks viewers through the steps to make his Lemonade Scones with just three ingredients: flour, double cream, and sparkling lemonade. Wearing a checked flannel shirt, baseball cap, and full beard, MacLeod narrates his recipe with a strong Hebridean accent, ending by sampling one of the scones, spread with cream and strawberry jam, and exclaims, “I still can’t believe how perfectly they turned out.” One commenter wrote: “A beautiful man with a charming accent who can cook. Where is this magical land where such unicorns thrive?”

The magical land is the Scottish region known as the Outer Hebrides. The 48-year-old grew up on one of the region’s most remote islands, Lewis, and now splits his time between Lewis and Oban, a scenic town in the Scottish Highlands, with his partner, Peter MacQueen, and a West Highland Terrier named Seoras. In 2020, MacLeod began posting soothing TikTok videos that teach viewers local recipes and the Gaelic language, and showcase Scotland’s magnificent scenery. Within months, his posts began to rack up tens of thousands of views, all while he kept his day job as a sports development worker for the Union of European Football Associations.

“I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world, because my two favorite hobbies — sports and baking — are my jobs as well,” he explains.


At the time of reporting, @hebrideanbaker has more than 251,000 followers and 3.3 million likes.

MacLeod’s first cookbook, “The Hebridean Baker,” arrived stateside last May, with his follow-up, “The Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen,” out this week. MacLeod will be coming to the Seaport for a reading and reception at Woods Hill Pier 4 on Saturday.


Ahead of his Boston event, hosted with East End Books, MacLeod spoke with the Globe to discuss his commitment to preserving and sharing Hebridean culture.

Q. You include several Scottish legends and cultural practices alongside the recipes in your cookbooks. Is food an important part of the Scottish identity?

A. Even though we are very much part of Scotland, the Hebrides are a wee bit different. [Laughs] The storyline of food is so intertwined with our culture, and some of my favorite recipes are ones that have a story behind them. I imagine that when someone is making my dish or serving one of my recipes to friends, they’re learning a wee bit about our identity and culture.

Coinneach Macleod's second cookbook, "My Scottish Island Kitchen," will arrive March 7 in the United States.Provided

Q. Do you have a favorite recipe in this cookbook?

A. It’s called a “duff,” a boiled fruitcake, very simple, nothing too fancy. If you ever want to get married to a Hebridean man or woman and you know how to make a duff, get a one-way ticket to the Hebrides. You’ll be married within a fortnight.

Q. How has your life changed now that you’re TikTok famous and the author of two cookbooks? For example, do you get recognized on the streets or in airports?

A. When [Peter and I] were in Boston [last year], we were walking through the Common, and there was this guy walking a West Highland Terrier and he went, “You’ve got one of these, don’t you?” It’s kind of unbelievable that I can go to another part of the world, and the storyline of what I’ve done is resonating there.


Q. In one interview, you said Seoras is the “breakout star” of your videos and books, right?

A. I get in the way of Seoras’s global stardom. Every time we see people, they have a treat for Seoras, but he’s very picky, and if it’s not chicken, he won’t eat it. Like an old granny will bend down to give him a treat, and I’m like, “Please, Seoras, just eat the treat please.” [Laughs] He’s become the most famous dog in Scotland.

Q. I’m going to Scotland this summer. What is a traditional food that I absolutely must try?

A. I want you to try Cullen skink. Strangest name ever — Cullen is a town in the northeast of Scotland. It’s a smoked haddock version of chowder. It’s creamy, hardy, warm, everything you want on a Scottish day. As a side dish, try to get scallops from Barra. Obviously, you need to try haggis. And for dessert, cranachan is a great one to go for. It brings pretty much all the best flavors of Scotland into a dessert. It’s kind of a whipped cream with whiskey, heather honey, oats, and Scottish raspberries. Obviously, you also need a side dessert as well, which has to be a duff with some vanilla custard.

Q. Do you have any local dishes or restaurants that you want to try in Boston?


A. I’m obsessed with Italian food, and I know that Boston does Italian food better than nearly anywhere in the world, so definitely an adventure to the [North End]. If you tell me where to go for cannolis, I’d love you forever.

Interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

Alexandra Leiseca is a culture and identity-focused writer who is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Emerson College.

East End Books Boston Seaport Presents: The Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen, Saturday, Woods Hill Pier 4, 300 Pier 4 Blvd., eventbrite.com Tickets start at $40 in-person and include a signed book.