Colcannon Potatoes: The Traditional Irish Recipe You Never Knew You Needed

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Just one helping of colcannon potatoes (and a cold pint!) takes me back to being 22 in Ireland. Here's why I love the dish.

Grab a Guinness and let’s explore a traditional Irish potato dish—colcannon potatoes.

What Are Colcannon Potatoes?

It’s a traditional dish made of mashed potatoes and cabbage. It’s flavored with salt, pepper and butter, with occasional additions of bacon, kale, milk, cream, onion, spinach and/or vinegar, to name a few. The dish is served warm as the main dish for breakfast, or as a side for ham or “cold salt meat,” as mentioned in the 1847 cookbook, Mrs. Crowen’s American Lady’s Cookery Book. We serve ours with a ham-and-egg casserole or as a side dish on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Odd History of the Dish:

In Ireland, colcannon potatoes were traditionally associated with Halloween celebrations and used for the purposes of “marriage divination.” The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson can help fully explain:

Charms hidden in bowls of colcannon were portents of a marriage proposal should unmarried girls be lucky enough to find them, whilst others filled their socks with spoonfuls of colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would become their future husband.

Regardless of your relationship status, colcannon potatoes are a tasty treat for all. Thanks to Irish immigrants, colcannon potatoes were introduced to kitchens all over the U.S.—and I’m happy to make colcannon on any sleepy Sunday.

Serious about spuds? Find more potato recipes here.

Why Serve Colcannon Potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day?

It’s traditional Irish food, which is perfect for a cold day in March. I encourage you to try this delish dish because it has hearty ingredients that come together to make comfort food with a story. Plus, it’s made with butter, potatoes, salt, pepper, bacon—enough said! Sláinte!

Next, check out these Irish baking recipes.
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Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Half Chilean, half Irish descent and all joie de vivre, I'm a food writer/photographer who loves to share stories about different cultures and the magic that is sharing a meal together. When not doing that, you'll find me working on my culinary degree, hanging with family & friends, and just trying to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Salud!