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Top Five Irish Traditional Foods

Updated on May 27, 2011
Irish Shamrock
Irish Shamrock

I love celebration and holiday! I'm sure everybody does. And on this St. Patrick's Day, what else attract my attention most instead of the foods ? I love holiday foods, because it's special and seem more delicious than daily foods or ordinary foods. Well, I think that is because on a special day like this, we always share the joyful, happy, and laughter with family members, friends, relatives, people around us. So, the happiness itself will make the foods taste more delicious, that's what I think.

What so special about food ? I think we can learn about any country or region's culture, nature, and even political issue changes through their traditional foods. the Irish traditional foods are also the same. Irish cuisine evolved from centuries of social and political change. The cuisine takes its influence from the crops grown and animals farmed in its temperate climate. The introduction of the potato in the second half of the sixteenth century heavily influenced cuisine thereafter. Irish beef is exported worldwide and renowned for its high quality. Representative Irish dishes are Irish stew, bacon and cabbage, boxty, coddle, and colcannon.

Irish food is known for the quality and freshness of its ingredients. Most cooking is done without herbs or spices, except for salt and pepper. Foods are usually served without sauce or gravy.

Irish foods contain a lot of potatoes. Potatoes appear at most Irish meals like potato scones. There are also many well known cheese makers in Ireland for centuries.

Irish diet also including soups of all types, seafood, and meats. Irish soups are thick, hearty, and filling, with potatoes, seafood, and various meats as common ingredients. Ireland is surrounded by water, so the Irish enjoy many types of seafood like salmon, lobster, mussels, scallops, and oysters. Meat is eaten most frequently at Irish foods. The most common meats are beef, lamb, and pork. a typical Irish dinner consist of potatoes, meat, and cabbage.

With wide range and many kind of dishes, I think the top five of Irish Traditional Foods are :

Ulster Fry
Ulster Fry

1. Ulster Fry

Or The Full Irish and also known as a "fried breakfast". I think it is almost similar with the Welsh breakfast. It's so full and complete. the ulster fry will combine any or all of the following ingredients, eggs (you may fried or scrambled the eggs), bacon, sausages, black and white pudding (a type of sausage), baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes usually grilled, potato farls, and fried bread.

And not just that, it still accompanied by slices of toast, marmalade, jam, sauces, and coffee or tea in a great amounts. This kind of breakfast will supply somebody's daily calories. This is also known as "heart attack on a platter".  But this is really delicious and enjoyable.

2. Irish Stew

Irish stew has been recognized as the national dish for at least two centuries. Basically a thick casserole containing lamb or (rarely today) mutton, onions, parsley and a generous helping of potatoes. The meat may be diced or minced, peas and carrots might liven up the dish a bit. Depending on the cook the stew can also be almost soup-like.

It is a traditional Irish stew made from lamb, beef or mutton, (mutton is used as it comes from less tender sheep over a year old and is fattier and more flavourful) as well as potatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley.
The process is simple and the key I think is lay on the freshness of the ingredients and the slow cooking style. This is what I call a comfort food.

Traditional Irish Stew


    4 potatoes, thinly sliced
    4 medium onions, thinly sliced
    6 carrots, sliced
    1 pound Canadian bacon, chopped
    3 pounds lamb chops, 1-inch thick, trimmed, and cut into small pieces
    Salt and pepper to taste
    2.5 cups water
    4 potatoes, halved
    Fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preparation :

   1. To make Irish stew, all the ingredients are assembled in layers in a large stew pot.
   2. Begin with layers of sliced potatoes, onions, and carrots.
   3. Top with a layer of Canadian bacon and lamb.
   4. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
   5. Repeat these steps until all the ingredients are used.
   6. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients.
   7. Arrange the halved potatoes on top of the stew, but not in contact with the water, so they can steam as the rest is cooking.
   8. Simmer over a very low heat for about 2 hours.
   9. Sprinkle liberally with the chopped parsley and serve in soup bowls.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Irish Stew
Irish Stew

3. Smoked Salmon

The most popular way to enjoy salmon is simply smoked, either on bread, with scrambled egg or simply on its own with a salad side. Farmed salmon can be rather pedestrian - the flavor of wild salmon tends to be better. Unfortunately the price of wild salmon tends to be significantly higher as well.

Smoked Salmon
Smoked Salmon
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread

4. Irish Soda Bread

This Irish classic is a quick bread which uses soda as a leavener. They can be either standard breads or sweet breads. This sweet bread is stuffed with whiskey-soaked raisins and orange rind and served with whiskey butter for a delicious variation of traditional Irish soda bread. If you don't want to use whiskey, simply soak the raisins in hot water.


1 cup raisins
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Whiskey Butter:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey, combine both until blending well.

Soak raisins in Irish whiskey overnight.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange rind in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in raisins mixture, blending well. Dissolve soda in buttermilk; add to flour mixture, stirring well. Stir in butter, mixing well. Spoon batter into a greased 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares, and serve with Whiskey Butter.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Source : The Southern Heritage Celebrations Cookbook by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb (Oryx Press)


5. Colcannon

This Irish favorite combines two staple foods: potatoes and cabbage. It is a filling starchy dish. Just imagine mashed potatoes with shredded cabbage and onions, and you have the idea.
Potatoes and Cabbage have been sustenance foods in Ireland for ages. This classic Irish dish combines the mashed potatoes and cabbage. Add some chopped boiled beef and you have a dish known as Bubble & Squeak.


1 pound kale (or green leafy cabbage)
1 pound potatoes
6 scallions (or small bunch of chives)
⅔ cup milk (or half-and-half)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 8 Tablespoons butter, melted


1. Remove the tough stalk from the kale or cabbage and shred the leaves finely.
2. Put about 1 inch of water in a saucepan large enough to hold the kale, and add a teaspoon of salt.
3. Heat the salted water until it boils, and add the kale. Cook, covered for 10 to 20 minutes until the kale is very tender. Drain well.
4. Scrub the potatoes and place them in a saucepan, unpeeled. Add water to cover.
5. Heat the water to boiling, and cook the potatoes until tender (about 25 minutes).
6. Drain, peel, and return to the pan over low heat to evaporate any moisture (This will take just a minute or so).
7. Mash the potatoes while warm until they are smooth.
8. Chop scallions and simmer in the milk or cream for about 5 minutes.
9. Gradually add this liquid to the potatoes, beating well to give a soft, fluffy texture.
10. Beat in the kale or cabbage along with the salt and pepper.
11. Heat thoroughly over low heat and serve in bowls. Make an indentation in the center and pour in some melted butter.

Colcannon is served warm as a side dish.

Happy St. Patrick's Day !!


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    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Indonesia

      TnFlash, thank's and have a great day!

    • TnFlash profile image


      9 years ago from Tampa, Florida

      Great Hub! These recipes sound like something I need to try. Good Work!

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Indonesia

      Hi yenajeon, yes the Irish Soda Bread seems pretty easy to make, thank you for visiting! Happy St. Pattrick's Day!

    • yenajeon profile image

      Yena Williams 

      9 years ago from California

      I love Irish Soda Bread! And that stew looks delicious =) I'm bookmarking this so I can try it on St. Pattys!

    • febriedethan profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Indonesia

      You're most welcome :)

      Hello, hello, good to see u. Thank you for visiting!

      ryanjones, you're right! Sheperd's Pie is a wonderful dish too! And it's pretty easy to make, thank you for sharing :)

      Patty Inglish, great to have u here :) Yes, I used to call the colcannon as mashed potatoes but I never add cabbage on it haha, thank you for visiting.

      HappyHer, hi I think i have to try your style, seem delicious, thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful time!

    • HappyHer profile image

      Tracy Morrow 

      9 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Wonderful hub, thank you! I use sour cream for my colcannon. Not as traditional, but very yummy!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Eureka! - I've been making colcannon for a long while and never knew the name of it before. Thanks a bunch.

    • ryansjones profile image


      9 years ago from Snohomish, WA

      Some of these dishes remind me of menu items you see at various Irish Pubs. Another good irish dish that I am aware of is Shepards pie.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very informative hub with great recipees.


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