Sweet cabbage, creamy mashed potatoes, rich cream, and bright green onions combine to make this traditional Irish food that is both flavorful and filling. Irish Colcannon is a traditional dish that is great for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year!
Colcannon goes wonderfully with almost anything, but especially grilled whole fish or a steak.
What is Irish Colcannon?
Despite it’s fancy-sounding name, colcannon is traditionally made from just potatoes, cabbage (the origin of the name is literally cál ceannann or white-headed cabbage) and/or kale, milk or cream, butter, and salt and pepper for seasoning, although variations abound. Some of the more notable additions are leeks, green or yellow onions, and ham or bacon.
It is the kind of dish that was created by cooks from whatever happened to be growing in their Irish gardens, hence the difficulty in nailing down one specific recipe for colcannon as being the “most traditional”.
While it’s perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day feast, it is a dish that is actually eaten year-round and was originally more commonly associated with Halloween in Ireland.
Other traditional Irish foods include Dublin Coddle, Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Potato Leek Soup, Irish Soda Bread, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. Why wait until St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy Irish food with such delicious options?!
How to Make Irish Colcannon
The first step to any colcannon is to make mashed potatoes. You could use russets or red potatoes, if you like, but the yukon gold variety is my personal favorite potato for mashed potatoes. I love yukon golds for mashed potatoes, not just because I think they have wonderful flavor, but because their thin skins are delicious too and they can be left on and add some texture to the mashed potatoes in the end that I like.
Just cut each potato into 1 to 2-inch chunks, and add them to a large pot filled with enough cold water to completely cover the potatoes. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reducing the heat to medium and cooking until the potatoes are tender and pierce easily with a fork, about 14 to 18 minutes. Once the potatoes are soft, they can be drained and set aside.
Using the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, then saute the cabbage in it for about 5-7 minutes, until it softens (if using kale instead, it wilts faster and will only take about 3-4 minutes). Add the chopped green onions for the last minute or so, then transfer the vegetables to a separate bowl.
Return the potatoes to the pot and mash using a potato masher. Add some of the remaining butter, along with the cream and stir until combined, adding a little milk to get the potatoes to your desired consistency. I prefer thicker mashed potatoes so I try to avoid adding too much liquid.
Once the potatoes are mashed, stir in the cabbage and onions and season the colcannon with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve family style in a bowl with the remaining butter melting on top.
Are you planning an Irish or St. Patrick’s Day-themed dinner? Check out all of my St. Patrick’s Day posts for more ideas, both traditional and non-traditional!
Sweet cabbage, creamy mashed potatoes, rich cream, and bright green onions combine to make this traditional Irish food that is both flavorful and filling. Irish Colcannon is a traditional dish that is great for St. Patrick's Day or any day of the year!
- 3 pounds yellow or red potatoes, quartered
- 3/4 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
- 8 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, cored and chopped
- 1-2 cups kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped (optional)
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. When soft, drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside.
In the same pot that the potatoes were boiled in, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the cabbage softens, around 5-7 minutes. If you want to add kale as well (or use it instead of cabbage altogether), cook the kale for the last 3-4 minutes since it doesn't take as long to wilt as the cabbage does. Add the chopped green onions for the last minute or two. Transfer to a bowl.
Return the potatoes to the pot and mash them using a potato masher, then stir in the cream and 4 tablespoons of the remaining butter, reserving 2 tablespoons of butter for finishing the potatoes. Stir in the cabbage and green onions, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer the colcannon to a serving bowl and top with the remaining butter to melt over top. Serve immediately.
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