Colcannon

Sweet bursts of caramelized onion and the slight crunch of steamed cabbage have made Colcannon a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day favorite. The smooth and creamy mashed potatoes help the flavors blend into a side dish that pairs perfectly with any meat.

Colcannon in a bowl on top of a dish towel and next to a sprig of parsley.

Creamy Irish Mashed Potatoes with Cabbage

When it comes to foods that people associate with Ireland, the potato has to be right at the top of the list. After that, cabbage probably isn’t too far behind. What could make a better side for a traditional Irish meal than a dish that brings these two things together?

These Irish mashed potatoes make the perfect side dish to go along with corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day, but they’re too good to save for just one night of the year. Luckily, you don’t need a holiday as an excuse to whip these up. They go just as well with a juicy steak or chicken dish, so make them whenever you get the urge!

What is Colcannon?

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. In our recipe, creamy mashed potatoes are made from scratch, then mixed with perfectly cooked cabbage and onion.

Irish mashed potatoes with a spoon sticking up out of the bowl.

What Is Colcannon Made Of?

It only takes a handful of fresh ingredients to make this flavorful side. Check out the recipe card below to find the exact amounts you’ll need for everything.

  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow Onion: Slice it thinly to get the best caramelization.
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cabbage: Thinly sliced.
  • Potatoes: Peel them and cut them into cubes.
  • Half and Half: Cream and whole milk also work.
  • Black Pepper: Ground fresh to taste.
  • Chives: Add them chopped as an optional garnish.
  • Parsley: Chop this as a garnish if desired.

What Kind of Potatoes Should I Use?

Russet, Idaho and Yukon gold potatoes are your best bet for this recipe, since all of them have a starchy texture that creates a super fluffy mash. But if you want to get the health benefits of potato skin, you can also try mashing red potatoes with the skin still on. Another option is to mix and match a few different potato varieties.

Onions in a skillet with oil and butter ready to be caramelized.

How to Make the Best Colcannon

The trick to a great colcannon is to really get a nice caramelization on those onions. The rest of the steps are easy as can be.

Perfectly browned caramelized onions in the bottom of a skillet with oil and butter.

Caramelize the Onions: Place a large skillet on the stove over low heat and add the olive oil and butter. Use it to cook down your sliced onions, salt and sugar for 20 minutes, or until they become fully browned and caramelized. Stir them often to avoid charring.

Mashed potatoes with two pats of melting butter on top in a cooking pot.

Boil and Mash the Potatoes: While you’re cooking down the onions you can make the mashed potatoes by boiling peeled and cubed potatoes for 20-25 minutes, or until they’re fork tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of half and half. Mash the potatoes with salt and pepper until they turn smooth, then cover them to keep them warm.

Add the Cabbage: After the onions get a good head start, you can put in the sliced cabbage. Turn the heat on the skillet up to medium first. Add the cabbage, stirring to combine it with the onions. Season it with a pinch of salt to help it wilt, cover the skillet and let it steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, toss the cabbage and onions together, and continue to cook them for another 5-7 minutes, or until the cabbage is completely wilted.

Mix and Serve: Add the cabbage and onions to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine everything. Season the colcannon with salt and pepper to taste, add a little more butter if you want to, and serve it warm.

Can I Make It in Advance?

Colcannon is super easy to make ahead of time. Cover it and keep it in the fridge, then gently warm it back up on the stove when it’s ready to be served. You might want to add a little more cream or butter while you’re heating it back up so it stays smooth and rich.

If you’re only planning to make it half an hour or so in advance, leaving it covered on the stove traps the heat in. It will still be warm enough to serve for up to 30 minutes, even though the burner’s off. Another option is to make your colcannon on the stove, then transfer it to a slow cooker on the “keep warm” setting until you’re ready to serve it.

A bite of Colcannon with caramelized onion and cabbage being held up to the camera on a spoon.

Tips for Success

Colcannon is an easy recipe that comes together with no fuss. These helpful tips will make it go even smoother.

  • Avoid Red Cabbage: Regular cabbage and red cabbage are not interchangeable. Don’t use red cabbage in this recipe, since it won’t cook down properly with the onions before they burn.
  • Don’t Over-Mash: There is such a thing as getting too enthusiastic with a potato masher. You want your potatoes to be smooth, but you don’t want to end up with sticky potato paste. Mash out any lumps, but don’t go too far.
  • Leftover Mashed Potatoes: If you want to use leftover mashed potatoes as the base for this recipe, just make sure you don’t add too much extra oil or butter. You don’t want your colcannon to come out runny or loose.

Variation Ideas

There are so many ways to put your own spin on this traditional potato dish. Here’s a quick list to get you started.

  • Pack In the Veggies: More greens? Yes, please! You can swap out the cabbage with kale, which is also traditional, or just add kale along with the cabbage. Other options include spinach, arugula, spring greens, collard greens, and chard.
  • Add Parsnips: Substituting a couple potatoes with parsnips will add a nutty sweetness to your dish. Plus, this will give even more variety to the nutrients in your colcannon.
  • Give It Some Flavor: Try adding chicken broth or bacon fat to give your potatoes a little more flavor. You can also mix in some of the juice from the bottom of the pan where you prepared your corned beef or other meaty main.
  • Mix In Sour Cream: For even more creaminess and a satisfying tang, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sour cream. A little bit of plain Greek yogurt can have a similar effect.
  • Add Meat: Some crumbled bacon can add saltiness and body to your colcannon. Crumbled Irish bangers, which are a traditional type of sausage, make another great addition.
Mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and cabbage topped with chives in a bowl.

Serving Suggestions

Of course, any side dish needs a main dish to go with it. If you decide to make these potatoes for Saint Paddy’s Day, this Crock Pot Corned Beef is the way to go. As for other beef dishes, Beef Tip Marsala Stew pairs so well with the creamy potatoes and sweet caramelized onions. And if you want to make these Irish mashed potatoes the star of the show, this Roast Chicken is simple enough to highlight the bold flavors of the colcannon.

Storage and Reheating

Keep any leftover colcannon sealed tightly in plastic or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. When you’re ready to eat it, warm it all the way through in the microwave or on the stovetop. If you have any extra corned beef or leftovers from another meat dish, you can try chopping that up and adding it directly into the colcannon when you reheat it.

Can I Freeze Colcannon Potatoes?

Colcannon does great in the freezer, where it can stay for up to 3 months in a double-lock freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Before you reheat it, make sure you let it thaw fully in the fridge overnight. As you warm it up in the microwave or over the stove, add a little more cream or sour cream until you get the right consistency. Just make sure not to over-mash it.

More St. Paddy’s Day Side Dish Ideas

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Colcannon in a bowl on top of a dish towel and next to a sprig of parsley.

Colcannon

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Sweet bursts of caramelized onion and the slight crunch of steamed cabbage have made Colcannon a traditional Saint Patrick’s Day favorite. The smooth and creamy mashed potatoes help the other flavors blend into a side dish that pairs perfectly with any meat.

Scale

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound thinly sliced cabbage
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup half and half, cream or whole milk
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • Chopped chives and fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add the oil and butter to a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions salt and sugar, stirring into the butter and olive oil. Cook for 20 minutes (stirring often so the onions don’t burn) until the onions are caramelized and brown.
  2. While the onions are cooking, boil the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Drain and return the potatoes back to the pot. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of half and half. Mash the potatoes until smooth and cover to keep warm.
  3. Turn the heat up on the skillet to medium. Add the sliced cabbage to the skillet, stirring to combine with the onions. Season the cabbage with a pinch of salt to help it wilt, cover and let the cabbage steam for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and toss the cabbage and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes until the cabbage is completely wilted.
  4. Add the cabbage and onions to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To Store: Keep sealed tightly in plastic or an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • To Freeze: Freez for up to 3 months in a double-lock freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Let thaw fully in the fridge overnight before reheating.
  • To Reheat: Warm all the way through in the microwave or on the stovetop. If frozen, add sour cream as you heat it until you get the right consistency. Do not over-mash.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: colcannon potatoes, colcannon mash, homemade mashed potatoes

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