10 Traditional Irish Foods for St. Patrick’s Day & Beyond
When you’re in the mood for traditional Irish food, whether for St. Patrick’s day or traveling, this article is the place to be. Here are 10 traditional dishes as well as popular Irish pub food.
Irish food has a long and varied history. From hearty comfort food to delicate, savory dishes, traditional Irish recipes have something for everyone. But with an array of tasty options, such as the classic Irish stew or the beloved soda bread, food lovers sometimes have trouble picking a recipe or a meal to order on a night out.
Looking for a traditional Irish dish to whip up at home or struggling to decide what Irish pub food items to order? This article will help you out. From filling family dinners to simple yet unique recipes, here are our top picks for Irish foods to try in Ireland or when cooking at home. These dishes and recipes are all perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.
The History of Irish Food
Throughout the centuries, the Irish have relied heavily on land and sea for sustenance, and this influence is still evident in the traditional dishes of the region. The Irish diet primarily focuses on potatoes and other root vegetables, such as turnips and carrots. Cruciferous veggies like cabbage and Brussels sprouts are also very popular. Potatoes, in particular, were a mainstay of the Irish diet for centuries and remained a key ingredient in many traditional dishes.
The Irish have also historically relied on other vegetables, grains, and dairy. In many dishes, grains such as oats, barley, and wheat were common ingredients. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and butter were also widely used. They are still part of the traditional Irish food diet today. Kerrygold Butter is one of the most popular and tasty butter producers worldwide.
Additionally, fish and shellfish are staples in the Irish diet. Fish and chips, oysters, and smoked salmon are all very common in Ireland. Meat has also been a significant part of the Irish diet, with beef, pork, and mutton being the primary sources. However, many menus in Ireland now feature vegetarian options such as Shepherdless pie.
More modern and international dishes have become popular in Ireland in recent years. However, traditional Irish food remains an essential part of their culture. These dishes provide an insight into the rich history and culture of Ireland. From potatoes to seafood, the Irish have a solid culinary heritage that will continue to be enjoyed for generations.
As you read over this list of traditional Irish foods you may notice some similarities to traditional Scottish and British foods, which is not surprising given they are geographically close. These cuisines feature hearty warm foods, with less fresh produce than the Mediterranean diet.
Why is Irish Food so Bad?
“Why is Irish food so bad?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about this cuisine. But is it deserving of such an unflattering question?
Irish food, like traditional British food, has had a reputation for being bland, basic, and lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s true that Irish food often focuses on meat, potatoes, and bread.
Some studies suggest Irish food is not very heart healthy. However, it is easy to adapt traditional Irish staples like Shepherd’s pie and cabbage-based dishes into plant-based, heart-healthy recipes. Dishes like black pudding, which is blood sausage, may be offputting to those outside the UK.
1. Irish Stew
Let’s start with perhaps the most well-known traditional Irish dish: the Irish stew. Irish food is known for its warm, filling meals full of meat and potatoes, and this is undoubtedly true for the classic Irish stew. Made with flavorful beef, mouth-watering potatoes, and vegetables, including carrots and onion, an Irish stew is quick and easy to make for cold winter nights.
This dish is typically served in a large bowl with a crusty piece of bread on the side to soak up the delicious stew left in your bowl. Whether you’re cooking for your family on a cold and dreary day or craving a warm, home-cooked-style meal when traveling abroad, you can’t go wrong with an Irish stew.
Here’s a recipe for Classic Irish Stew. I make a veggie version by using mushrooms instead of meat.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish potato dish. Ireland has been known for its delicious potato dishes for centuries, meaning that some of the most classic and well-known dishes are potato-based. Colcannon combines comforting, warm mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage, butter or cream, onions, and other vegetables you want to throw in the mix.
If you’re traveling to Ireland and want to experience a classic dish with a flavor profile you’ll struggle to find elsewhere, you won’t need to look much further than a traditional colcannon. Serve it as your main dish, or eat it on the side as part of a homemade Irish feast.
Try this Authentic Irish Colcannon recipe for a tasty side dish to your Irish dinner.
3. Soda Bread
A popular dish served with virtually every meal, soda bread recipes have hundreds of variations. Soda bread generally starts with a base bread recipe, most notable for its lack of yeast. Traditional soda bread recipes contain tasty ingredients like golden raisins and dried cranberries.
Depending on where you get your recipe or which restaurant you visit in Ireland, your soda bread may have any number of other ingredients, such as sugar, honey, and other sweet-tasting ingredients. Serve it with butter and jam, or enjoy it to complete any traditional Irish dish.
Here’s an easy Irish Soda Bread recipe with great reviews that is perfect for beginners.
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake. Boxty combines traditional ingredients and contains a combination of raw, grated potatoes and mashed potatoes. Once these two are combined, the maker can do either of the following:
- Mix the potatoes with flour and salt and boil the mixture before slicing and frying it in butter for boxty dumplings
- Add the potatoes to a pancake-like batter before frying them in a pan
- Add the potatoes to a pancake-like batter before baking them in a loaf tin, then slicing and frying the boxty
One trait that makes boxty especially popular is its adaptability. You can enjoy the warm, flavorful boxty alongside bacon and eggs, as a side dish or a main dish, with smoked salmon, or simply with some sour cream and onions on top. You could even make a fancy boxty with creme Fraiche and caviar. No matter which route you choose to customize your boxty, you can rest assured that you’ll never run out of options for this dish.
This recipe for Traditional Irish Boxty looks like a winner!
5. Smoked Salmon
While it might not sound like a traditional Irish dish, smoked (or cured) salmon is a trendy staple of Irish cuisine. You’ll find salmon in many traditional Irish meals, whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipes.
Salmon is the most commonly consumed fish in Ireland, and the Irish seem to have a knack for cooking up a perfect, versatile smoked salmon. Whether you want some tasty smoked salmon eggs in the morning or a larger piece of smoked salmon at night, you’ll love this Irish dish’s flavors.
You can find smoked salmon in most grocery stores.
Coddle is a traditional, hearty Irish dish perfect for removing your leftovers by transforming them into a mind-blowingly tasty meal. Coddle is rooted in a traditional Dublin dish, where various leftover ingredients are slowly cooked, or “coddled,” in a one-pot stew. This dish is another flexible option for those that want to try cooking traditional Irish meals at home because there isn’t a single recipe.
While most coddle recipes contain some type of meat, such as Irish bacon, potatoes, and vegetables like carrots and onions, there are no guidelines to follow when you’re whipping up your end-of-the-week coddle dinner. So have fun experimenting with your coddle recipe and trying out various ingredients and leftovers until you find what clicks!
Try this Dublin Coddle recipe. I would make this vegetarian by using veggie Brats and omitting the bacon.
The traditional Irish barmbrack is a fantastic option for food lovers looking for a dish to accompany a warm afternoon cup of tea. Barmbrack is a delicious, fruity tea loaf served with butter and enjoyed with warm, earthy tea.
Though this dish is often served around Halloween, it can be made and enjoyed as a sweet, filling treat anytime. Including ingredients such as candied peel and raisins, barmbrack is most known for the extra surprise inside. Trinkets like coins and charms are often mixed into the barmbrack dough, and the trinket you find is thought to foretell the future.
Here’s an easy Barmback recipe to bake up this St. Patrick’s Day.
8. Bacon and Cabbage
When you’re dining out in Ireland and looking at all the tasty meal options available, bacon and cabbage might not seem like the best option. However, this dish is trendy in Ireland and an essential try for food lovers looking to try as many traditional Irish dishes as possible.
The traditional Irish recipe uses salted pork cut from the shoulder or back of a pig rather than the small, thin slices of bacon you might be used to seeing. Boiled with an array of onions, carrots, and herbs, the bacon is finished by adding the cabbage to the cooking pot for the last ten minutes. The traditional boiled bacon and cabbage will surely surprise you when paired with an irresistible creamy parsley sauce.
Here’s an Irish Bacon and Cabbage recipe to try at home.
9. Black and White Pudding
Black and white puddings are staples of Irish cuisine that you can find on many Irish restaurant menus. Black pudding, a dish celebrated in many cultures, combines pork meat, fat, and blood mixed with barley, suet, and oatmeal. The result is a savory, rich meal that can be eaten any time with any meal.
White pudding is not as well-known abroad; however, white pudding remains a massive staple of Irish cuisine and is the perfect dish to complete your classic Irish breakfast. White pudding is similar to the former but doesn’t contain any of the blood that sometimes stops people from giving black pudding a try. Black and white pudding are perfect side dishes to pair with your breakfast or to enjoy on an evening dining out.
You can make or buy premade black pudding online.
10. Shepherd’s Pie
Perhaps one of the most well-known comfort foods worldwide, a tasty shepherd’s pie is a must-have when visiting Ireland or looking to make a traditional Irish meal. This is an Irish pub food staple to cozy up with on a cold day. Shepherd’s pie is typically made with an amalgamation of meat and veggies. The traditional Irish recipe usually includes ground lamb, mashed potatoes, and common vegetables such as peas and carrots.
This irresistible dish is topped with creamy Irish mashed potatoes and baked perfectly. A shepherd’s pie is perfect for a cozy night curled up at home, a family feast on winter days, or a main-course meal when you’re dining in Ireland.
What is Irish Pub Food?
Pubs are popular all over Ireland and the UK. These charming spaces are typically warm and dark bars featuring small bites served all day. Irish pub food and drinks consist of traditional Irish food and drinks, including appetizers, soups, sandwiches, beer, and coffee.
If you’d like to sample traditional Irish foods without traveling to Ireland, try a Google search of “Irish pub near me.” Here are some typical menu items you’d find in an Irish pub such as The Old Stonehouse in Dublin.
- Soup served with Irish soda bread
- Seafood chowder
- Chicken wings
- Fish & Chips
- Beef & Guinness Stew
- Lamb stew
- Roast beef sandwich
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Bangers & Mash
What about Irish Drinks?
Ireland is perhaps even more famous for its beverages than its food. Beer is the most popular drink in Ireland, followed by Irish whiskey. While enjoying your Irish pub food, we recommend trying an Irish beer. Rich and dark Guinness beer isn’t just for drinking – it’s also used in stews and even desserts. For a sweet warming treat I love an Irish coffee made with Bailey’s new almond milk Irish cream. If you want to get really festive for St. Patrick’s Day you can try a Green Tea Shot.
The most popular Irish drinks include:
- Bailey’s Irish Cream
Find Tasty Recipes and More From Yummy Mummy
Irish food has a rich history that deserves to be celebrated. Whether you’re traveling to Ireland and want to know which foods to try or are hoping to make a classic Irish feast on St. Patrick’s Day, Yummy Mummy is here to help.
Yummy Mummy offers various recipes across multiple cuisines to suit your tastes. We also provide high-quality travel information and everything you need to explore food worldwide.
From the classic Irish Stew to the beloved Soda Bread, the Irish have a unique and delicious cuisine that is sure to delight. So put on your green and get ready to experience the flavors of Ireland.
Grab a bite of Irish pub food locally abroad and let us know what you think.