This is our favourite recipe for Traditional Irish Colcannon. Perfectly creamy, buttery mashed potatoes with earthy kale and scallions. This is the perfect side dish for St.Patrick's Day or any day!
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I am Irish born and bred, I grew up eating colcannon and it wasn't just on St Patrick's day! It was always a bit of a treat though! A big bowl of the creamiest buttery mashed potatoes with scallions and cabbage was always a welcome sight on the table.
Traditionally colcannon was served with a loin of bacon or baked ham and in our house, parsley sauce! Since we're vegetarian now I skip the ham! I usually serve this with my hearty vegetable stew or with some veggie sausages. It always goes down a treat.
My mum makes colcannon with green cabbage which is amazing! And I make it that way sometimes, but these days, I like my colcannon with kale. I love the earthiness of the kale against the creamy buttery mashed potatoes. It really is a taste of home for me.
🥔 What Is Colcannon?
Colcannon is a traditional Irish side dish. It is made with floury potatoes that are mashed with creamery butter. Cabbage or kale is cooked then stirred through the mash along with chopped scallions. There are many variations of colcannon depending on where you live in Ireland.
📝 What You'll Need
- Potatoes - traditionally "old potatoes" were used for making colcannon. These potatoes were very floury. If you're in Ireland Kerr's Pinks or Golden Wonders are best. In the UK I use Maris Piper, in the US Russet potatoes will work the best.
- Kale - curly kale is best for this recipe, I would avoid cavolo nero as it can be stronger in flavour. You can use spring greens, geen cabbage or savoy cabbage if you prefer.
- Scallions - also known as spring onions, I use almost all the onion here, so there is little waste.
- Butter - I use salted Irish butter (Kerrygold) always! There really is no substitute for this. The butter is probably the second most important part of colcannon so don't skip on that.
- Milk - full-fat milk is best for this recipe, however, you could get away with semi-skimmed milk if you want.
🥣 How To Make Colcannon
Cook the potatoes. Cover the potatoes with cold water, add a good pinch of sea salt to the pan. Bring the pan to a boil then simmer the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until they are soft but not cooked. Pour half the water out of the pan, cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
Cook the kale. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a pan, add the kale and the chopped scallions, saute until the kale is soft. Remove from the pan and chop roughly.
Mash the potatoes - Melt the butter, heat the milk. Peel the potatoes, then mash the potatoes using a potato masher or ricer. Pour the butter into the mashed potatoes. Using a wooden spoon beat the butter into the mashed potatoes. Pour the milk into the potatoes and again beat it into the potatoes using a wooden spoon. The potatoes should be smooth and creamy.
Add the kale and scallions to the potatoes. Fold the kale mixture into the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
👩🍳 Top Tips
- Cook the potatoes in their skins, this is an old way for cooking potatoes and the way I remember them being cooked. But there is some science behind this, cooking potatoes in their skin ensures that nutrients and flavours are not lost during cooking! So just give your spuds a good rinse and scrub and you're good to go.
- Half cooked, half steamed! Removing half the water from the saucepan and half steaming the potatoes wiill give you the fluffiest potatoes! Just keep an eye on the water that it doesn't burn off! Burnt potatoes are not what you want!
- Dry the potatoes, once you've drained the water from the pan, I always put the potatoes back in the saucepan, cover them with a lid and put the heat on to the lowest setting. Give the potatoes a gentle shake to remove any excess water. This will ensure your potatoes are nice and dry and fluffy!
- Cooking the kale in butter, a lot of recipes call for cooking the kale or cabbage in water. My mum used to cook it with the boiled bacon (ham) which gave the colcannon an extra salty flavour with a little bit of fat. I prefer to cook the kale and the scallions in salted butter to get that extra buttery flavour in my kale which adds more flavour to the colcannon!
- Swap the kale for cabbage, savoy cabbage is really good in colcannon as are spring greens or regular green cabbage.
- Swap the scallions for leeks, this is not something I grew up with but it does work really well. I would saute thinly sliced leeks in oil and butter with a good pinch of salt until they are soft and creamy then stir them into the mashed potatoes.
- Add some veggie bacon, when I was a kid my nan would add some of the meat from spare ribs to the mashed potaoes! That extra salty flavour was amazing, these days if I want some comfort food I'll add some crispy veggie bacon pieces to teh mash!
If you do have any leftovers then leave them to cool and put them in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 days.
The best way to reheat cold colcannon is on the hob. Put the colcannon in a saucepan, add a good splash of milk then heat the potatoes stirring occasionally. Add more milk if you need it. But be careful not to over stir the mash as it will get a bit gloopy.
I have never frozen colcannon, to be honest, we have never had any leftovers to need to. If you want to freeze it though, I would freeze the mash first, once you defrost the mash and have reheated it then I would add the cooked kale and scallions.
🍽 Serving Sugestions
The best way to serve colcannon is in a warmed serving bowl with a good knob of butter on top! When I make this for St.Patrick's Day I serve it with my vegetable stew. But it's also really great as a side dish to Vegetable Pot Pie or as a topping to my Lentil Cottage Pie. It's also great with my vegan sausage casserole!
☘️ More Irish Recipes
Some of the most popular recipes on my site are Irish recipes, like my Traditional Irish White Soda Bread. This is so easy to make and is melt in your mouth delicious! My Irish Potato Farls are also very popular and great for breakfast! If you need a treat then my Irish Apple Tart is the perfect dessert for St.Patricks Day. Another very popular recipe is my Irish Tea Brack, great with a big mug of tea!
Traditional Irish Colcannon
- 1 Kg (2 lbs) of floury potatoes washed, skin left on
- 80 g (3 packed cups) of curly kale roughly chopped, woody stems removed
- 2 medium scallions (spring onions) Topped and tailed, all the white part and most of the green part sliced
- 70 g (just under a ⅓ of a cup) of salted butter + more for serving
- 150 ml (½ a cup +1 tbsp) of milk I used full fat milk
- Sea Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper you can use white pepper if you prefer
- Place the washed whole potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover the potatoes in cold water. Add a good pinch of sea salt and bring to the boil.Reduce the heat to a fast simmer then simmer the potatoes uncovered for 15 minutes. Test the potatoes by skewering them with a sharp knife. Once the potatoes are soft but cooked (not soft all the way through) drain away half the water.Put the pan back on the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Again test them with a knife, the knife should easily go all the way through the potatoes.Drain the remaining water, return the pan to the hob. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Give the potatoes a gently shake to remove any water.
- While the potatoes are cooking, cook the kale.Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan, add the chopped kale and sliced scallions.Cook over low to medium heat until the kale is soft.Set aside and keep warm.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter, transfer to a small bowl.In the same pan heat the milk.
- Peel the potatoes, use a thick tea towel to protect your hand. The peel should come away very easily.Return the potatoes to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or put them through a ricer.Pour all the melted butter on first then beat that into the potatoes.Add the milk then beat that into the potaoes.Add the kale and scallion mixture, fold that into the potatoes.Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Serve in a warmed serving dish and top with a good knob of butter.
- Potatoes - You will need floury potatoes for this recipe, Kerr's pinks or golden wonders are best. In the UK I use Maris Piper or King Edward and in the US russet potatoes will work the best.
- Butter - salted butter is best for this and if you can, use Irish butter, like Kerrygold.
- Milk - full-fat is best you will get away with semi-skimmed or 2% in the US.
- Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online nutrition tool and is approximate. It is based on one serving of four and does not include extra butter for serving.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients using a digital scale if possible, for best results.