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Colcannon – Traditional Irish Cabbage and Potato Stew recipe

Cuisine: Irish
Region: Generic

Colcannon is one of the staple comfort food recipes of Ireland. Its name comes from the Gaelic “calceannann,” which means “white-headed cabbage.” As you may have already guessed, Colcannon is made of cabbage and potatoes. Colcannon can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be; some recipes use kale or leaks instead of cabbage, others add toppings of fried bacon, corned beef, glazed honey ham, etc. The Colcannon recipe we chose is simple and uncomplicated, focusing on the core idea of the recipe. (That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious!) Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time:
You will need: a pot, a saucepan, a colander and a fork


  • 7 to 8 large potatoes. That should be shy of 2kg or approx. 4 lbs. (Avoid “waxy” potatoes – those won’t do.),
  • 1 head of green cabbage, or kale,
  • 1 cup of milk or cream,
  • 120g (4oz) butter – rationed into 3 parts,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Fresh Parsley or chives.
  • Hot water.
  • Optional: 4-5 green onions, chopped.


  1. Wash and peel the potatoes.
  2. Wash the cabbage well.
  3. Put the potatoes in a pot and add cold water and salt.
  4. Place the pot on the stove, turn the fire on high and bring the potatoes to a boil. Then lower the fire a little and allow them to boil until they become tender. (Test them with a fork.)
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, start the kettle to make hot water.
  6. Then, remove the core from the cabbage.
  7. Slice the cabbage leaves thinly.
  8. Put the cabbage into a large saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle.
  9. Turn the fire on to medium or thereabouts and keep the cabbage at a slow rolling boil until it turns to a darker green colour. It should take about 3 to 5 minutes. You want the cabbage to be slightly under-cooked and definitely NOT overcooked.
  10. When ready, take saucepan off the fire and put it aside.
  11. Drain the cabbage well in a colander and squeeze it to get the last of the moisture out. Then, return it to the saucepan.
  12. Add 1/3 of your butter, cover the saucepan and leave it on the side somewhere warm (you want the butter to melt into the cabbage).
  13. When the potatoes are ready, drain the water and put them back in the saucepan. Set the fire to low, uncovered, so that excess moisture can evaporate. When the potatoes are perfectly dry add the milk, your other 1/3 of butter and the green onions, if you use any.
  14. Allow the butter to melt and the saucepan to steam; you want the contents of the saucepan to be warm, not boiled.
  15. Take a fork and mash the potatoes thoroughly into the warm butter and milk. (It is really bad idea to use a mixer or a potato ricer – the potatoes will become glutinous and lose all texture.)
  16. Mix the cabbage through the potatoes.
  17. Make a dimple or well in the middle of the mixture and put your last 1/3 of butter there to melt.
  18. (That’s all.)


Before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives.


  • You can add many kinds of toppings in that well or dimple in the middle of the Colcannon. Some prefer crisped bacon, others prefer corned beef, some like to add cheese in the mixture. Etc.
  • Some Colcannon recipes call for frying cabbage together with onions instead of par-boiling it before you mix it with the mashed potatoes.
  • Other Colcannon recipes substitute cabbage with leaks or kale.
  • You get the drift. 🙂

How to Core Cabbage

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