Made with creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes and cabbage, Colcannon is a traditional Irish side dish that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day but is so good and easy you’ll want to enjoy it all year round – it pairs well with almost any meal.
We love using this recipe as the base for Bangers and Mash in place of regular mashed potatoes.
Easy Irish Mashed Potatoes
Buttery, creamy colcannon is a must if you’re preparing a St. Patrick’s Day dinner, but honestly, these Irish mashed potatoes are good any time with just about any meal. I make them all year-round, sometimes even using up leftover mashed potatoes if I have any. Though this dish uses only a few simple seasonings, it has so much flavor in it. I think it’s all the butter!
What is Colcannon?
Colcannon is a popular Irish dish made with mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. Potatoes have long been considered the food of peasants as they’re cheap and relatively easy to find, and that’s who originally began making this dish. Colcannon became a way of turning potatoes into a filling main course with the addition of greens and sometimes meat. But these Irish mashed potatoes quickly grew in popularity and today are one of the most famous Irish dishes.
It’s such a popular dish that there’s even a song named after it (also known as “The Skillet Song”).
Well did you ever make colcannon,
Made with lovely pickled cream
With the greens & scallions mingled
Like a pitcher in a dream
Did you ever make a hole on top
To hold the meltin’ flake
Or the creamy flavored butter
That our mother’s used to make
Oh you did, so you did“Colcannon” – The Black Family
So did he and so did I
And the more I think about it
Sure the nearer I’m to cry
Oh weren’t them the happy days
When troubles we knew not
And or mother made colcannon
In the little skillet pot
Colcannon Recipe Ingredients
Just a handful of common ingredients are needed to make Colcannon Irish mashed potatoes.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Potatoes – See below for notes on the best potatoes to use.
- Salt – Use coarse salt, not table salt.
- Butter – Since we’re adding a decent amount of salt, be sure to use unsalted butter.
- Green cabbage – Either Napa or Savoy cabbage for this recipe.
- Scallions – For a subtle peppery onion flavor.
- Garlic – For aromatics and flavor.
- Milk – You can also use half-n-half or heavy cream for even creamier potatoes. Yes, please!
- Salt & pepper
What Kind of Potatoes for Colcannon?
I prefer Yukon gold potatoes to make these Irish colcannon potatoes because they’re naturally creamy, but Russet potatoes are totally fine, too. These are both great options because they are on the starchy side and great for mashing, which results in a creamy texture. You can use either one or a combination of both. I’ve also seen colcannon made with smaller red potatoes and even with the skin left on, which is also an option.
There are many ways to adapt the flavor of Irish colcannon and use what you have on hand or even make some swaps for a healthier dish. Here are a few ideas:
- Add more greens. You can add the traditional kale or a blend of chopped baby spinach and arugula.
- Swap some potatoes with parsnips. For a slightly healthier dish, sub out half of the potatoes with parsnips instead.
- Add some flavor. You can also stir in some cooked chopped chives or leeks.
- Add some meat. You can add in some diced bacon when sautéing the cabbage or incorporate chopped up leftover corned beef or ham into the mixture before serving.
- Make it creamier. For extra creamy colcannon mashed potatoes with a little tang, add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup sour cream.
- Add chicken broth. Instead of 3/4 cup milk, you can do 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of chicken broth for a different flavor.
- Use bacon grease. To add more flavor to the dish, sauté the cabbage in leftover bacon grease instead of butter.
How to Make Colcannon
Colcannon mashed potatoes are simple to make with just a few steps.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Boil the potatoes. Boil the potatoes with a tablespoon of coarse salt until fork tender. Drain.
- Cook the cabbage. Sauté the cabbage in butter until it’s softened and lightly browned. Add the scallions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the potatoes. Add the potatoes and milk to the pot. Mash the potatoes and mix with the cabbage. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
- Serve. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a serving bowl. Make a well in the center and top with slabs of butter. Garnish with cracked pepper and a sprinkle of scallions.
Can I Use Leftover Mashed Potatoes?
Yes! If you are looking for a way to repurpose leftover mashed potatoes, colcannon is a great option. Skip straight to the second step and when it comes time to add the milk, just add a bit less to avoid overly wet and gummy potatoes.
Traditionally, colcannon is served by making a depression in the middle of the mashed potatoes and putting a knob of butter in it. To eat it, you dip a forkful of the potatoes through the melted butter. Yum.
As for what goes with colcannon, the answer is pretty much anything! Since it’s an Irish dish, the obvious answer is other Irish dishes like corned beef and cabbage and bangers and mash, but these potatoes can really be served with anything you’d serve with mashed potatoes. Think baked chicken breast, air fryer pork chops, or grilled steak.
How to Store Leftovers
- How to store leftovers. Leftover colcannon can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- How to reheat leftovers. Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Can I freeze colcannon? Yes, you can freeze these Irish mashed potatoes for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge. Once you reheat them, you’ll want to add additional milk or sour cream to whip them back into the original consistency, but don’t over-mash them or they’ll become gummy.
More Potato Recipes:
- Potato Latkes
- Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Smashed Potatoes
- Homemade Hash Browns
- Twice Baked Potatoes
- Perfect Baked Potatoes
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
- 2 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes , peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt (for the boiling water)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , plus more for serving
- 3 cups shredded green cabbage
- 3 scallions , diced small, plus more for serving
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 3/4 cup whole milk (or half-n-half or heavy cream)
- salt and pepper , to taste
- Place the potatoes in a large pot with the 1 tablespoon of coarse salt and enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer until the potatoes are just fork tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
- Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Add in butter and once it's melted and bubbling, add in the cabbage. Sauté until the cabbage has softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the cooked potatoes to the pot along with the milk. Reduce heat to medium.
- Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until combined with the cabbage.
- Taste and add in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Transfer hot mashed potatoes to a serving bowl, make a slight well in the center and top with two thin slabs of butter. Garnish with a couple turns of fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkle of diced scallions.
Reader Questions and Reviews
Love this! My family liked it so much they keep asking for it. Absolutely beautiful with Irish sausages and onion gravy