Traditional Irish Colcannon

Colcannon recipe

 The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
218 Calories
4g Fat
41g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 218
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 59mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 41g 15%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 30mg 152%
Calcium 73mg 6%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 1098mg 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.)

Colcannon is a favorite Irish recipe made of potatoes, dairy, and cabbage or kale. Although usually associated with Saint Patrick's Day, colcannon is actually most seen on Irish tables on Halloween nights when the cook hides little trinkets in the mash, each representing fortune, poverty, or perhaps the chance of a future marriage.

There are as many recipes for this mashed potato dish as there are cooks in Ireland. Each household and region has a favorite way of cooking the colcannon. What seems to be commonplace in all of them is the presence of generous amounts of butter, potatoes and dairy, and cabbage or kale as the vegetable of choice to add volume and flavor to this tasty preparation.

For the perfect colcannon, choose floury 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. Serve the colcannon with boiled ham, Irish bacon, corned beef, Irish stew, or lamb chops for a hearty and flavorful true Irish meal.

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Ingredients

  • 1 dash salt, plus more to taste

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (22 ounces)

  • 4 ounces curly kale, chopped and stems removed (about 1/2 bunch)

  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped (1/2 cup)

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, optional for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for making colcannon
     The Spruce
  2. Lightly salt a pot of hot water and simmer the potatoes until soft in the middle when pierced with a sharp knife.

    Simmer potatoes
     The Spruce
  3. In a different pot, blanch the curly kale in boiling water for 1 minute.

    Blanch curly kale
     The Spruce
  4. Drain the kale and reserve.

    Draining the curly kale
     The Spruce
  5. Place the 1/2 cup of roughly chopped spring onions and the blanched kale into a blender and pulse for 10 seconds until roughly mixed. (You want the vegetables to have some texture.)

    Roughly mixing chopped onions and blanched kale in a blender
     The Spruce
  6. Drain the potatoes and add 4 ounces of butter.

    Adding butter to drained potatoes
     The Spruce
  7. Mash the potatoes and butter until smooth and creamy.

    Mashing potatoes until smooth and creamy
     The Spruce
  8. Add the kale and spring onion mixture and stir well.

    Stirring kale and spring onion mixture
    The Spruce 
  9. Add the 1/4 cup of finely chopped spring onions and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Adding finely chopped spring onions and salt and pepper
     The Spruce
  10. Top the mash with the optional 2 ounces of butter, if desired. Serve and enjoy.

    Colcannon topped with butter
     The Spruce

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 briefly pulse it with the spring onions as you'd do with the kale.
  • 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.

Why Is It Called Colcannon?

Colcannon's name comes from the Gaelic cál and caineann, which stand for cabbage (or kale) and leek, respectively. Other linguistic interpretations of the name point to "white-headed cabbage."

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.