Colcannon

Have you ever had colcannon? A St. Patrick’s day favorite, it’s a mixture of creamy mashed potatoes and usually kale or cabbage. I first encountered colcannon while doing research on traditional Irish cooking. Not surprisingly the Irish have all sorts of ways of cooking potatoes, with festive names like champ, bruisy, pandy, boxty, and this one, colcannon.

In the following colcannon recipe, we mix the mashed potatoes in with chopped cooked kale, green onions, milk or cream, and lots of butter. To serve one makes a depression in the middle of the mashed potatoes and puts a knob of butter in it. To eat it, you dip a forkful of the potatoes in the melted butter. If ever there was a recipe to get one to eat one’s greens, this is it.

By the way, if you are looking for books on traditional Irish cooking, I can recommend two excellent ones. The first is Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen, of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. The second is The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews, which won the James Beard award for cookbook of the year in 2010.

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Colcannon Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish.

For a variation, sub out half of the potatoes with parsnips. Can add chives, leeks, or bacon too.

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt
  • 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
  • 3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
  • 3 green onions (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup milk or cream

Method

1 Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes are fork tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain in a colander.

2 Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it's hot, add the greens. Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water. Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.

3 Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.

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Links:

Colcannon with Cabbage and Garlic - from The Culinary Life

Colcannon with Broccoli Rabe - from A Veggie Venture

Champ, Potatoes mashed with Green Onions - from Recipe Girl

Karina's kicked-up colcannon from Karina's Gluten-free Goddess

Colcannon, an Americanized version - from Jerry, Cooking by the Seat of My Pants

Colcannon with Wild Greens - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Books:

Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage - by Darina Allen

The Country Cooking of Ireland - by Colman Andrews

Colcannon

50 Comments

  1. mirjam

    Hi, I didn’t know this was an Irish dish, over here in Holland we have something similar as a traditional winter dish, although we use a double (or maybe even triple) amount of kale to make “stamppot boerenkool”. Potatoes and chopped kale are cooked in the same pot, and mashed together. We like to add some mustard with the butter, and serve it with smoked sausages (which are also typical dutch).
    Served this way, it’s a main rather than a side dish :)

  2. jo0ls

    Yum. We always have the similar dish, champ, on boxing day. We make mash and put in the leftover sprouts (chopped up) and some spring onions. This mix is then left to brown slowly in a big frying pan. It is the highlight of the boxing day meal.

  3. Susan

    This looks like a great alternative to boiling potatoes in with corned beef and cabbage. Though, I suppose you still could then use them to mash in this recipe. I’ll have to think about that. I like the added greens, too. Nice contrast in flavor and color.

  4. Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

    Yes. I love this dish. Sometimes I add greens to potatoes by just putting chopped greens to the hot potatoes right before I mash them, usually swiss chard or spinach, kale is a little sturdy but still good. The lazy cook in me still wants the nutrition!

  5. Renee

    Wonderful! I just bought some cabbage but hadn’t decided what to do with it yet.

    Thanks, too, for your recommendations of Irish cookbooks. My sister and I are working on creating a cookbook of our family heritage, and these might just come in handy!

  6. Kathy B

    I, too, found this recipe while looking for traditional Irish recipes. It is an excellent yummy dish. It reminded me of my childhood when I would mix either peas or spinach with my mashed potatoes(which is just as good. My grandmother, a granddaughter of Irish immigrants, would never make this dish, but oh how she loved mashed potatoes!

  7. randi in canada

    The Dutch have something very similar called boerenkohl which translates roughly into farmers kale/cabbage. It is divine especially with butter. A perfect companion to smoked sausage. Thanks for posting. Haven’t had this in a while.

  8. laura @ alittlebarefoot

    Yum! I made a potato & greens torte once, this looks like a softer version of that. Delicious.

  9. Jessi @ Quirky Cookery

    I’ve never seen this dish before, but with St. Patrick’s Day right here, I’d love to be able to serve some traditional Irish dishes instead of relying on cutesy green leprechauns for the kids.

  10. pk87

    I never knew this had a name until a friend had it in a New-Wave Irish Pub(meaning it’s “charm” is planned, not natural like a neighborhood bar/pub). We used to just mash together the boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots we got with our corned beef right on our plate.And of course we added lots of butter.Learned that from the owner of the Irish bar I grew up nextdoor to. I miss hearing the pipers and smelling cabbage boiling all month long…

  11. Gavan 'The Healthy Irishman'

    I grew up eating this and champ as a child back in Ireland and yes, we have a lot of ways to cook potatoes. I like how you kept the integrity of the recipe intact. Looks great.
    Cheers.

  12. Patti

    Irish comfort food would be welcome on a chilly and rainy weekend in northern France! I’ll be off to the Sunday public market tomorrow morning to buy some kale to make this recipe for lunch with an Irish friend whom I know will love it!

  13. Jackie

    This sounds like a tasty version I have to try. Usually I use garlic pretty heavy with the kale, and don’t use green onions. I’m not sure where I came up with that. Then I like to use it to top my shephard’s pie.

  14. Elise R.

    This looks absolutely delicious. I make mashed potatoes pretty regularly, but I’ve never done anything exciting with them, so this is giving me fresh inspiration!

    What meat do you typically like to make the potatoes with?

    They’ll go with anything that would normally go with mashed potatoes. ~Elise

  15. Linda

    We love cabbage colcannon around here. I only make it for St. Patrick’s Day which really makes it a dish that we look forward to eating. I never heard of using kale in it but look forward to trying it this year. Thanks so much, as usual, for the recipe.

  16. Karen

    This is fabulous! I added parsnips and leeks and a touch of sour cream with the milk. OMG – will repeat this! Thanks for St. Pat’s dishes. I’m hoping for more – trying to make something authentically Irish every day this week.

  17. anna

    I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E! made w/pork chops. didn’t even need the pork chops. sooooooooooo good. ;o)
    ps. use heavy cream. treat yourself.

  18. 00hmai0.0

    Oh, I love mash potatoes! This is a good way to get rid of all the collard greens that is taking over my yard. I’m going to make this with honey baked ham and some green bean casserole for dinner this weekend! Yummy!

  19. Alena

    I usually bake my colcannon in a casserole topped with herbed bread crumbs and drizzled with melted butter. Just warm it in the oven until the bread crumbs turn golden brown. Although it’s an additional step it is a nice variation.

  20. Simone

    See I didn’t know this would be traditionally Irish! Mirjam is already mentioning it on the top of the comments, but it looks a lot like our traditional ‘stamppot’ here in the Netherlands!

  21. Dianne

    The first time I ever had colcannon was at the Rutherford Grille in Napa. We all fell in love with it and now has become a St. Patty’s Day staple. I’ve only made it made with cabbage but your version using kale sounds interesting. I’ll have to try it this year. Thanks

  22. willeke

    You can also make this with saurkraut instead of kale or regular cabbage. Drain or rinse the kraut depending on how sour you like it. Yum!

  23. Esther

    I also make the Dutch version of this (boerenkool) with a smoked sausage and mustard. Leker! Next time I will try adding the green onions in with it. Thanks!

  24. Liane

    Hadn’t had mashed potatoes for awhile and was craving them. Then I saw this recipe. What?? I can add greens to them? I was sold. I made it last night with spinach and pancetta – reduced the butter a bit to account for the fat – and shallots because those were on hand. It was great. Will follow the recipe when I have a chance to get to the store.

  25. Cherie

    Elise … you got me with ‘potatoes’ … mashed potatoes, kale, cabbage, butter, cream!! YUMMEEE! IRISH food is one of the best cuisines. I must say, everything I read posted on your website sounds appealing…and what I have prepared has been very good and saved for ‘repeats’! So thank you for your time/effort/ and your family/your friends who all contribute… Celebrating 25 years of marriage to my best friend this year on the 17th!!
    Cheers… Cherie ;-)

  26. martina

    Just to know: the author of “The country cooking of Ireland” is named Colman, not Coleman…
    lovely recipe btw
    Martina

    Thanks for the correction! ~Elise

  27. sharleen

    Elise, I am a huge fan and never a commenter, but I’ve made three of your recipes this week (pulled pork, Soda biscuits and this recipe) and they were all beyond awesome. Thanks so much for posting such high quality and wonderful recipes. My stomach is forever grateful.

    You’re welcome Sharleen! Glad you liked them. ~Elise

  28. Becky

    I’ll be honest. I made the corned beef and cabbage plus the soda bread for dinner, and I had some kale and cream in the fridge, so I decided to be a good sport and try this out. I fully expected to hate it, but it was the best part of the meal! (well, how could it not be, with all that butter and half-and-half?) What i really liked was the subtle green onion flavor though.

    It made more than the four of us could eat, so I’ve got the leftovers waiting for meatloaf. Thanks again for a delicious treat!

  29. Linda

    For those with lactose intolerance like my family, using soy milk instead of the cream or milk, makes the potatoes just as creamy and wonderful as the original ingredients. Awesome recipe!

  30. Maura

    I made this last night with kale and it was wonderful. My daughter said that she liked it better than American mashed potatoes. I could not wait to attack the leftovers this morning.

  31. Katie

    I took this to a dinner party last night – yum, yum, yum. Everyone loved it and we decided that the benefits of eating kale offset the butter. Ha! As much as I love my hostess, I was a bit sad to leave the leftovers behind. A perfect lunch for a rainy windy day in NorCal.

  32. Guylaine

    I’m not Dutch, neither Irish, just old plain French Canadian and a mash potatoes lover and start to add cooked swiss chard with oignons and spice to my mashed potatoes, my mom always did with carrots, I thought I could do it with any vegies I like, little to know that this is a recipe in other countries.
    I may just start using the name now :)

  33. Judy

    Loved it! There’s a song about colcannon, so I had heard of it but had never seen a recipe and thought it would be something totally wierd. We had a late St. Patty’s day dinner because we were seeing our daughter off to Turkey. This was a big hit, and couldn’t be easier! I made it with kale, and no salt (so we could share some with our homebound neighbor) but along with corned beef, nobody noticed! Thanks for posting this!!

  34. Mari-lynn

    I made this St. Patricks day – although I basically just made mashed potatoes then mixed in the sautéed cabbage and green onions. (I separated some mashed potatoes for my 3 year old who refuses to eat food mixed together). I am a HUGE potato fan, and this is one of the most delicious ways I’ve eaten them. The green onions totally made this dish for me. I also made an Irish stew and used that rather than the butter in the middle of the potatoes. Yummy!!!

  35. Karen Puccio

    The recipe I have followed calls for sliced leeks in place of the onions. Such a lovely flavor!

  36. Janet

    Best mashed potatoes I have ever had, and my guests agreed. I used Swiss Chard instead of Kale and lots of Irish butter.

  37. Lulu

    Made this for St. Paddy’s day and we loved it. Because of cholesterol issues, I had to lighten it up. I used 2% milk instead of the cream and olive oil in place of butter and added some crushed garlic as I sauteed the kale.

    I’m sure this dish is amazing with all that butter and cream, but I’m here to say that a low cholesterol version still comes out really delicious.

  38. Heather

    Elise, I made this for St. Patrick’s day and enjoyed the twist on regular potatoes. I like how adding something as healthful as kale really added to the dish, and having genuine Irish fare at our meal.

  39. Summer

    I made this for a dinner party and it was a big hit! Used half leeks/half green onions and bit more kale than called for. This was a great way to get all those meat/potato people to eat their greens :)

  40. Bee

    This was so good! Never tried kale before, the color is lovely and so creamy. Can’t possibly wait a year to make it , I think is going on the regular rotation. And I want to try something similar other veg, I bet it would be delicious with asparagus (for those of us with way too much asparagus!!)

  41. Hayley

    This was amazing with cabbage. I would put more greens than the recipe calls for next time.

  42. Dorothea

    Here’s a Dutchie living in Ohio. I’m repeating the dutch responses. Very common in Holland, not only with kale but also with carrots and onions called “Hutspot”. Nothing fancy, just weekly meals especially eaten in the Winter.
    Also great, with endive (not Belgian though!) and little pieces of bacon mmm..!

  43. Wendi

    I have made this twice since I saw the recipe and it was delicious both times! I used yukon gold potatoes because that’s what I had. The first time I used kale and the second time I used cabbage… So yummy both times! Thank you so much! Next time I am going to try it with Japanese Sweet Potatoes.

  44. Kathleen

    This was delicious! I visited Ireland last spring, wondering how the food experience would be because everyone had told me their food was rather bland. But, like the colcannon, Ireland has the BEST comfort food! I gained about five pounds while I was there.

  45. Ann

    Elise, I’d heard of Colcannon but never knew what it was, so I was interested when you posted this recipe. Well, I just had to make it and must say it was delicious. Thanks! Love, Ann

  46. Linda

    Parsnip is a must for me – that is the flavour of colcannon. Other counties in Ireland wouldn’t agree, everyone has their own variation.

  47. Amanda

    I wonder if I could sub coconut milk for the milk/cream? I’m allergic to milk, but I’d love to be able to make this. My other alternative is rice milk (I’m allergic to soy as well), but that’s not nearly as thick and creamy.

    I would use rice milk over the coconut milk which would change the flavor too much. ~Elise

  48. Judy B.

    This sure takes me back, when my Irish grandmother made a similar dish every St Patrick’s Day. I often make it in the winter with Guinness Beef. Nana’s version went like this: saute diced Irish bacon (or any lean, thick-sliced bacon) in Irish butter (I use Kerrygold) until fairly crisp, then add some sliced leeks and shredded Savoy cabbage. Cook until cabbage and leeks are tender and add some freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. Make mashed potatoes with cream and butter, then dump everything from the skillet into the potatoes and stir well. I’ve used regular cabbage, as well, and even tossed in some mustard greens (with the cabbage), and my family loves it all. This is a very forgiving dish, so onions, leeks, or scallions all work well, as do different greens, depending on your preference. My friends in England make a similar dish called Bubble & Squeak, primarily potatoes and cabbage as a base and then tossing in leftover cooked veggies and sometimes ham or bacon. However you make it, it’s a soul-warming dish. Try to use European butter if you can. It makes a tremendous difference.

  49. Tanya

    Tried this tonight and let me tell you. Absolutely amazing doesn’t begin to describe the deliciousness of this dish. It’s so good I made up a word! Made it with bacon wrapped asparagus and pork chops. I could eat this alone, its that good. I will definitely be making this for St. Patty’s, and any other time I can!

  50. maria

    This is a favorite in our house (with cabbage) except we mix left over ham in with it. Try it. YUM!

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