All mashed potato fans are bound to love this traditional Irish side dish! With tender cooked cabbage mixed with creamy potatoes and topped with crispy, crumbled bacon, colcannon is the perfect side dish for any Irish cuisine.
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About Irish Colcannon
Mashed potatoes have always been a favorite of mine, but when I discovered they could be even better? As in, creamy mashed potatoes with even better flavor and even better toppings?
Well, I simply had to try it. And, you guys – I was not disappointed.
Irish colcannon is not a new dish by any means, but if my upbringing is any indication, it doesn’t get near the attention it deserves. Maybe I’ve just been living under an Irish-free rock, but I didn’t discover it’s existence until my thirties.
These days I’ve been working on making up for all that lost time, because I can’t seem to get over the fact that for three decades I could have enjoyed tender cabbage and bacon with my mashed potatoes… but didn’t, because I didn’t know any better.
So, please, take it from me:
If you haven’t tried this traditional Irish dish yet, there’s no better time than the present, and you’ll be so glad you tried it. Your side dish game will never be the same.
What is colcannon?
Colcannon is a traditional Irish and Scottish dish (and there’s even a song about it!) The main two ingredients are mashed potatoes and either kale or cabbage, which are typically flavored with butter, milk, and mild seasonings. Other popular additions include green onion or cooked, crumbled bacon.
How do you pronounce colcannon?
Thankfully, this dish is spoken much like it’s written: colcannon is pronounced kol-cannon. If you’d like to hear the word pronounced, check out this video.
How do you make this dish?
This simple side dish is similar to classic mashed potatoes, with a few extra steps:
- First, cook cabbage in a large pot with a few cups of water.
- Drain the cabbage, but reserve the water it cooked in. Place cabbage in a bowl, cover, and set aside, ideally in a place where the cabbage will stay warm.
- Place potatoes in a large pot. Pour in the cabbage water, then fill the rest of the pot with fresh water until the tops of the potatoes are covered. Cook potatoes until tender.
- While potatoes cook, add milk, green onions, and seasonings to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 20-30 seconds, then remove from heat.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them to whatever consistency you like, then add in the cooked cabbage and milk mixture. Gently stir everything together.
And that’s it! You’re ready to serve your colcannon with butter and crumbled bacon on top.
Can you freeze this Irish potato and cabbage dish?
Freezing potatoes usually doesn’t work, but mashed potatoes are the exception – as long as you add butter to them before freezing.
So the answer is yes, this can be frozen, but you should mix in a healthy dose of butter while the potatoes are still hot. Then you can safely seal them in a freezer bag or container of your choice for up to two months.
What to serve with colcannon?
This side dish is a great addition to any Irish cuisine or Saint Patrick’s Day menu. Some popular items include:
Notes & tips for this Irish side dish
- When making this recipe, I used a dutch oven for cooking both the cabbage that the potatoes. You can also use a stockpot, but the more I use my dutch oven the more I appreciate having it in my kitchen.
- To save yourself some time, I highly recommend having a potato masher on hand for this recipe!
Other festive Irish recipes
- 8 cups water, divided
- 1/2 head cabbage, roughly chopped
- 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 2 tablespoon salted butter
- bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
- fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- salted butter, for serving
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring cabbage and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer, covered, until cabbage has cooked down (about 1/2 the original size) and is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Drain cabbage, but reserve water cabbage cooked in. Transfer cooked cabbage to a bowl, cover, and set aside.
- In a large stockpot, add cabbage water and potatoes, plus more water so that the top of the potatoes are covered. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and allow to cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 15-25 minutes.
- While potatoes cook, add milk, green onions, salt, and pepper to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to simmer for 20 seconds, then remove from heat. Set saucepan nearby.
- Once potatoes are cooked, drain excess water and add potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Mash potatoes to desired consistency (having some lumps is okay).
- Add cooked cabbage and milk mixture to mashed potatoes, then gently stir to combine.
- Serve colcannon immediately with crumbled bacon, fresh parsley, and butter.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I'm not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.