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Colcannon Recipe (Traditional Irish Mashed Potatoes)

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A traditional Irish dish my family loves is Colcannon. If you haven’t tried it before, this easy recipe combines mashed potatoes with sauteed kale or cabbage for the perfect side dish to make on St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Colcannon in a white bowl on a brown wood table

All you need to make Colcannon are a handful of simple ingredients like potatoes, kale, green onions and butter. It’s often served with corned beef or Irish bacon, but it’s amazing on its own as an easy vegetarian main dish or simple side dish.

Next time you want to make a new recipe your whole family will love, make a pot of Colcannon. It’s an Irish comfort food that’s tasty any day of the year!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons of sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 cups of ripped kale leaves
  • ½ cup of sliced green onions
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • Cold water

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Pan
  • Strainer

By the Numbers: How to Make Traditional Irish Colcannon

Follow these simple steps to learn how to make a great side dish for St. Patty’s Day.

Step 1: Cook Potatoes.

Chop your potatoes into small 1-inch chunks. You can peel them if you like, but it’s not necessary. I find that leaving the peels on in this recipe gives it a rustic, hearty feel.

Add the chopped potatoes to a large pot, then fill the pot with water and a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the potatoes to simmer until they are tender enough to easily pierce with a fork.

Potatoes boiling in a pot of water

Pour the contents of the pan into a colander and allow the salted water to drain down the sink. Set the potatoes aside.

Step 2: Wilt Kale.

While the potatoes are draining, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pot (no need to dirty another!) and heat it over medium until it’s fully melted. Add the torn kale leaves with about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt to the melted butter. Cook until the kale is completely wilted so it’ll stir into the potatoes easily. It usually takes 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your pieces.

Kale wilting in a pot.

Step 3: Mash Potatoes, Kale and Green Onions Together.

Add the green onions to the pot, stir to combine and cook for about a minute. Then add the potatoes back into the pot with half of the milk and the other half of the butter (or more if you like!).

Potatoes added back to pot with kale

It’s time to mash the potatoes. I usually just do it with a fork because I mash them with the kale, but a potato masher works too. You can get your hand mixer out if you really want them smooth, but I’d recommend doing that separately from the kale so you keep the texture. Continue adding more milk until you reach the consistency you like.

Irish Colcannon being mashed in a pot on the stove.

Step 4: Serve Colcannon.

Transfer your Colcannon Mash to a serving bowl to set on the dinner table or into individual bowls and serve alone or topped with your favorite meat like corned beef, crispy bacon or even chicken.

Homemade Irish Colcannon made for St. Patrick's Day dinner

Tips for Making Traditional Colcannon

Answers to all of your questions about making this recipe for colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day or any time of year.

1. What type of kale works best?

You can use any type in this recipe, but my favorite is curly kale. Sauteed green cabbage is also another traditional option.

2. Can other types of potatoes be used?

I find that russet potatoes work the best for mashing easily in with the kale because they’re fluffier than other varieties. You can use Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes if you like, but they’ll be denser rather than fluffy.

3. How to make dairy free colcannon?

Substitute olive oil or bacon grease for butter and your favorite dairy substitute for whole milk.

4. What else to serve on St. Patty’s Day?

If you’re planning out your St. Patrick’s Day Menu, my favorite thing to eat with colcannon potatoes is corned beef (check out my super easy Instant Pot Corned Beef recipe).

Just corned beef with colcannon mashed potatoes alone is a hearty meal! I’ll typically make the sides like this recipe while the corned beef is cooking, then everything is ready all at once.

For breakfast, I love making Shamrock Fried Eggs even though it’s not really Irish food. It’s a great way to start the day with kids because it’s a fun and easy recipe.

If you want a more traditional Irish recipe for breakfast, potato lovers always adore my Corned Beef Hash recipe as well.

At lunch, a Skillet Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is easy to put together ahead of time and the kids always love it.

5. What to do with leftover colcannon?

Store leftovers in an airtight container it in the refrigerator for no more than 3-4 days. You can freeze them just like regular mashed potatoes for up to 2 months.

To reheat, add to a pan on low heat and warm slowly until heated through. Add more milk if they’ve thickened too much in the fridge.

If you made far too many colcannon mashed potatoes, you can also use them to top a shepherd’s or cottage pie.

6. What does colcannon mean?

For those of you that like to know the history of a dish, the origin of the word colcannon has a couple of theories. The first is that it comes from the Gaelic term “cal ceannann,” which means white-headed cabbage. The second is that it’s derived from the old Irish word “cainnenin” which means garlic, onion, or leek.

That makes a lot of sense as the traditional dish consists of potatoes, butter, cabbage or kale and herbs like green onions or leeks. It’s often served on “Colcannon Night,” which coincides with Halloween if you’re looking for some new traditions to expose your family to.

Close up of Irish Colcannon (mashed potatoes and kale) in a ceramic bowl

Easy Irish Colcannon Recipe

Learn how to make Colcannon, a traditional Irish mashed potato recipe with chopped kale. This easy side dish recipe is delicious any time of year.
5 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Recipe Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes - unpeeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter - divided
  • 4 cups ripped kale leaves - stems removed and discarded
  • ½ cup green onions - thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Cold water

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Mixing bowl
  • Fork
  • Pan
  • Strainer

Instructions

  • Add potato chunks and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the potatoes until they’re tender. Pour them into a strainer and allow the water to drain. Set aside.
    Potatoes boiling in a pot of water
  • Heat half of the butter in the pot over medium heat until it’s melted. Add the torn kale leaves and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Completely wilt the kale so it’ll stir into the potatoes easily. It should take about 3-5 minutes.
    Kale wilting in a pot
  • Stir the green onions into the kale and cook for about a minute. Add the drained potatoes to the pot with half of the milk and the second half of the butter.
    Potatoes added back to pot with kale
  • Mash the potatoes into the kale with a fork while adding more milk until the potato mixture has a good consistency.
    Irish Colcannon being mashed in a pot on the stove.
  • Transfer your Irish Colcannon to bowls and serve alone or topped with your favorite meat.
    Homemade Irish Colcannon made for St. Patrick's Day dinner

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 598mg | Potassium: 1244mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4847IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 3mg

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