Traditional Irish Colcannon

These spuds are wearing green, are you?

Irish Colcannon

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 5 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
287 Calories
13g Fat
39g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 287
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 8g 38%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 761mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 39g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 43mg 215%
Calcium 146mg 11%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 1069mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic Irish dish combines potatoes and kale into a hearty mash that is a perfect partner for corned beef and cabbage, leg of lamb, and just about any savory meaty main dish. I learned to make it from my Irish grandmother, who told me that her family would use whatever greens they had on hand to supplement the potatoes–cabbage, broccoli leaves, kale, sorrel, watercress, or even seaweed when times were really tough. The lesson being that this recipe is as adaptable and frugal as it is delicious.

Why is it Called Colcannon?

The word colcannon is derived from the Irish word for white-headed cabbage, cál ceannann. Ultimately, many words associated with the brassica family of vegetables (cabbages, kale, mustard greens, etc.) come from the latin word for cabbage, caulis. Think "kale," "colewort" (an archaic name for non-heading brassicas), and "collard greens."

They Key to Making Great Colcannon

The key to making great colcannon is to start with perfectly boiled potatoes, all the better to soak up more butter and milk. Keep the potato chunks in large pieces, let them steam-dry in a colander once cooked, and add the butter to the spuds before the milk mixture for best results. The greens are sauteed and then milk, mustard powder, and a bay leaf are added, this combo will make the mash creamy, savory, and irresistable.

What Kind of Potatoes to Use for Colcannon

For the perfect colcannon, choose starchy potatoes, as these have more starch and less water and produce a fluffier mash. Varieties like Rosamunda, Desiree, Melody, Blue Congo, King Edward, Maris Piper, or Early Puritan are excellent potatoes for this dish. Of course, the readily available and reliable russet potato works perfectly well.

What to Serve With Colcannon

Serve colcannon with boiled ham, Irish bacon, corned beef, Irish stew, or lamb chops for a hearty and flavorful true Irish meal. Colcannon is also a fine meal by itself, served in your favorite bowl with an ice cold pat of butter on top. 

What's the Difference Between Champ and Colcannon?

Champ and colcannon are both favorite Irish mashed potato dishes. They're very similar, though champ recipes tend to feature spring onions (scallions) alone, while colcannon adds cabbage, kale, or leeks.

Tips for Making Colcannon

  • Dry potatoes = better colcannon—Let the boiled potatoes stand in a colander for 5 minutes to let the steam dissipate and the potatoes dry. The thirstier the potatoes, the more butter you can add! 
  • Start with cold water—Make sure that you put the potatoes in cold water, they will cook through more evenly this way.
  • Potatoes love salt—Potatoes can take lots of salt, so it’s key to salt the water and then add additional salt to taste after the dish is complete.
  • Use the greens you have—In the true spirit of this dish, use whatever greens you happen to have on hand. Even foraged greens like nettles make great colcannon.
  • Make ahead—The colcannon can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a skillet, adding a splash or two of milk if the colcannon is dry.

“Colcannon is a favorite dish of mine and this recipe does not disappoint. The combination of creamy Yukon gold potatoes, chopped fresh scallions, and sweet, tender, sautéed lacinato kale makes this recipe a winner. With the generous amount of greens in this dish you can practically feel virtuous while indulging in mashed potatoes!” —Joan Velush

Colcannon in a bowl
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 large (about 2 pounds) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

  • 2 teaspoons fine salt, more to taste

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

  • 3 cups coarsely chopped kale, or other greens (leaves only, tough ribs discarded)

  • 4 medium green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided

  • 1 dried or fresh bay leaf

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Irish colcannon

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Put the potatoes into a large (4-quart) saucepan or pot. Add the salt and enough cold water to cover the potatoes by about 2 inches.

    A pot of potatoes in salted water

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the largest potatoes are tender (they will yield easily when pierced with a fork and break apart), about 12 minutes. Drain in a colander set in the sink while you prepare the greens. Set the saucepan aside, you will use it again.

    Cooked potatoes in a strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the kale, white parts of the green onions, and the bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes.

    A pan with green onion, kale, and a bayleaf

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the milk and mustard powder. Once the milk simmers, reduce heat to low to keep warm.

    Milk and mustard powder added to the pan of kale-green onion mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Return the drained potatoes to the reserved saucepan. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, and the green parts of the green onions. Mash with a potato masher until nearly smooth.

    A pot of mashed potatoes with green onions

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Add the kale-milk mixture to the saucepan, discarding the bay leaf. Stir to combine. The mixture will look a bit too liquid at first, but will thicken as the potato starch absorbs the moisture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

    Irish colcannon in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

How to Store Leftover Colcannon

Cool leftovers uncovered in the refrigerator until completely cold. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Microwave or cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until hot. 

Recipe Variations

  • Cabbage Colcannon: If finding fresh seasonal kale is not possible, replace it with shredded cabbage. Use a dark green leafy cabbage, such as Savoy or spring cabbage, soften it in a tablespoon of butter, and then stir it into the mashed potatoes.
  • Colcannon Cakes: A lovely and delicious alternative to colcannon is to shape it into cakes. For every 3 cups of colcannon, you'll need 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 egg, and an extra dash of salt and pepper. Mix everything, shape the mash like cakes, and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. Top them with a poached egg and a dollop of hollandaise sauce. Making these cakes is also a great way of using up leftovers.
  • Bacon Colcannon: Fry 3 to 4 slices of bacon in a pan until crispy. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and discard the rest. Follow the recipe as instructed, but use 3 tablespoons of butter and the reserved tablespoon of fat to mash the potatoes. Mix the mash with the vegetables, and top with the bacon and just a small knob of butter instead of 2 full ounces.
  • Russet Colcannon: You can use Russet potatoes, but you may not need as much milk, add it gradually and stop when you have a loose mash. 
  • Vegan Colcannon: You can make this recipe vegan by using non-dairy butter and unsweetened oat milk instead of butter and milk.

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