Traditional Irish Colcannon

Traditional #Irish Colcannon
Traditional Irish Colcannon

Tradition of Colcannon
Colcannon is a traditional Irish potato dish eaten at Halloween. It’s unique and simple recipe has become popular around the world. It normally includes chopped kale, cabbage or green cabbage mixed with hot floury mashed potatoes. In America it Is often at Irish tables during St. Patrick’s day, as part of the Irish American Celebration.

This tasty dish is easy to make and it’s a popular favorite at oíche shamhna (Halloween). This simple recipe is an ideal one to make with the kids. The word colcannon is from the Gaelic cal ceannann’ which literally means white-headed cabbage.

In the past similar to barnbrack charms were mixed in with the colcannon. Depending on what charm you found it was seen as a portent for the future. A button meant you would remain a bachelor and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year. A ring meant you would get married and a coin meant you would come into wealth. Others filled their socks with colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would be their future husband.

Colcannon Recipe


  • 4 pounds potatoes, or about 7-8 large potatoes (russet potatoes are best)
  • 1 green cabbage or Kale
  • 1 cup Cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided into three parts
  • 4-5 scallions (green onions), chopped
  • Kosher Salt
  • fresh ground Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley


Step 1- Peel and boil the potatoes. Remove the core from the cabbage, slice it thinly, and put into a large saucepan. Cover with boiling water from the kettle and keep at a slow rolling boil until the cabbage is just wilted and has turned a darker green. This can take anything from 3-5 minutes depending on the cabbage. Test it and don’t let it over cook, if anything it should be slightly under cooked.

Step 2- When the cabbage is cooked, drain it well, squeeze to get any excess moisture out, then return to the saucepan. Add one-third of the butter and cover. Leave it covered and in a warm place, but not on a burner, with the butter melting gently into it while you continue.

Step 3-When the potatoes are soft, drain and return the saucepan, with the drained potatoes in, to a low burner, leaving the lid off so that any excess moisture can evaporate. When they are perfectly dry, add the milk to the saucepan along with a third of the butter and the chopped scallions if you are using them. Allow the milk to warm but not boil – it is about right when the butter has fully melted into it and it starting to steam.

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