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If you’ve never tried colcannon, you’re missing out on one of Ireland’s most treasured dishes. A delightful mash-up of creamy mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, shallots, butter, parmesan, and plenty of fresh herbs that taste almost too good to be true.
What is Colcannon?
A traditional colcannon is a deliciously hearty recipe consisting of cooked potatoes, cabbage or kale, butter, salt, and pepper. Mashed boiled potatoes get mixed in with cooked cabbage or kale and butter, then seasoned to taste. Colcannon is served hot with a generous helping of creamy melted butter for extra flavor.
My recipe has a few twists that take it away from traditional. But my oh my, this homemade colcannon is worth a try.
I still use cabbage, well, Brussels sprouts, a type of cabbage. Two different potatoes ~ one, the humble white potato, and two, the sweet potato. The pair gives the dish a stunning variety of colour, texture, and flavor. My recipe uses little less butter than tradition-seekers would approve of; however, the richness is still very much there with the addition of whole milk.
I’ve also thrown in (what I consider) essential flavor boosters such as garlic, shallots, parsley, and parmesan. These ingredients produce the perfect side dish. I can’t rave about it enough, it’s one of my favorite recipes.
This Colcannon Recipe is:
Great for meal prep
Loaded with fiber
The ultimate comfort food
Ingredients for The Best Colcannon
- White Potatoes: Starchy potatoes are best for mashing to get that fluffy and creamy texture. Depending on where you live, that might be Yukon Gold potatoes, russet potatoes, Maris Piper, King Edwards, or Desiree.
- Sweet Potatoes: By no means traditional, but sweet potatoes are a great addition to colcannon, adding a slightly different flavor dimension. Like white potatoes, they are high in fiber but also an excellent source of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A to support the body’s immune system.
- Brussels sprouts: I’m using Brussels because I love to make the most of them at this time of year, but you can use any leafy greens you desire. Chopped kale, collard greens, green cabbage, and savoy cabbage are among my favorites for this recipe.
- Shallots: Shallots provide a milder flavor than onions and a really delicious sweetness. Green onions or spring onions are great too. Red or white onion will be your best bet if you prefer a more oniony taste.
- Milk: The addition of milk makes the mashed potatoes super-creamy.
- Butter: Butter + potato = heaven on a plate. An Irish butter like Kerry Gold is a great nod to the origins of this dish, plus a knob of butter adds a richness that you can’t get from anything else.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Important for getting some color on the Brussels and caramelizing the shallots. Flavor, flavor, flavor!
- Flavor Boosters: Ok, so a few flavor boosters are going into this recipe, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. There’s garlic, a flavor powerhouse—parsley, which brightens and balances the dish–and parmesan to add a nutty, salty richness.
How is Colcannon Made? Step-By-Step
Pierce the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and then bake in a hot oven until the flesh is soft. Once the potatoes are ready, remove from the oven. Let the cool slightly.
- Fry or Sauté
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan/large skillet on a medium-high heat and fry the Brussels sprouts and shallots for about 12-15 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Stir the parsley through the Brussels sprouts, turn off the heat, and then place on one side.
As the potatoes cool down enough to handle, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan on a low heat.
Scoop the potato and sweet potato flesh into two separate bowls, and discard the skins. Mash with a potato masher.
- Sweet Potatoes
Pour some of the warm milk mixture into the bowl of sweet mashed potatoes. Add half the salt and half the pepper and stir together until smooth. Put to one side.
- White Potatoes
Put most of the parmesan cheese into the bowl with the white potatoes, leaving a small sprinkling to add to the top. Pour the remaining milk into the middle of the mashed potatoes. Add the remaining salt and pepper and stir together until smooth. Fold through Brussels sprouts.
- Baking Dish
Alternate dollops of potatoes and sweet potatoes in a baking dish to create a marble-like effect. Top with the remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes until piping hot. To serve, drizzle with olive oil (optional).
Full recipe and ingredients list in the recipe card below.Jump to Recipe
Tips for Making the Best Colcannon
1Bake the Potatoes
Baking the potatoes instead of boiling them in water means you get a soft mashable flesh without excess water getting in the way of the flavor.
2Don’t Let The Baked Potatoes Get Cold
Before removing the flesh from the baked potatoes, they should be cool enough to handle without burning yourself. But, try not to let them cool down too much, particularly to room temperature, as they will harden making them really difficult to mash.
Colcannon ~ FAQs
Yes! When you make too much or want to enjoy colcannon later, let it cool, then store it in an airtight container and freeze it for up to 1 month for the best quality.
Yes! Colcannon can be cooked ahead of time for convenience. You’ll want to cook the dish, let it cool, and place it in an airtight container. Then, refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for one month for the best quality.
Colcannon originates from Ireland. According to Smithsonian magazine, the first written mention of colcannon was found in a diary by William Bulkely in 1735. Bulkely had called it Coel Callen, a mixture of “cabbage boiled, potatoes and parsnips.”1
Dating back to the 18th century, colcannon is a traditional Irish dish served on Halloween1. In the U.S., colcannon is a popular dish served on St. Patrick’s day.
Historians believe colcannon derives from two Gaelic words: “cál,” meaning ‘cabbage,’ and “ceann-fhionn” translating as ‘white head.’ Together these create the phrase cál ceann-fhionn or ‘white head of cabbage’!2
Colcannon is pronounced ‘col-cannon.’
More Comfort Food
If you like the look of this colcannon recipe, check out more delicious comfort food ideas below.
- Ground Beef and Zucchini Pasta Casserole
- Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Chicken Chasseur
- Braised Red Cabbage
- Sage and Onion Stuffing
How is Colcannon Made? Full Recipe
The Best Colcannon Recipe (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
- 1 sharp kitchen Knife & chopping board
- 1 baking sheet/tray
- 1 large frying pan/skillet
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 potato masher
- 2 medium bowls
- 1 mixing spoon/spatula
- 1 baking dish
- 1 fine cheese grater
- 1.5 lbs (675 g) white potatoes washed, skin left on
- 1 lb (450 g) sweet potatoes washed, skin left on
- 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups (265 g) Brussels sprouts outer leaves removed, and thinly sliced
- 2 large shallots diced
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (30 g) parsley finely chopped
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1/3 cup (30 g) freshly grated parmesan
- Prepare: Gather your equipment and prep your ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC/gas 4.
- Bake: Pierce the potatoes and sweet potatoes several times with a fork, place potatoes on a baking tray, and then bake in a hot oven until the flesh is soft ~ about 1 hour. Once the potatoes are ready, remove them from the oven. Carefully slice them open to release the steam, then leave them to cool down just enough to be handled.
- Fry: Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the Brussels sprouts and shallots for about 12-15 minutes.
- Heat: While the potatoes are cooling, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan.
- Mash: Scoop the potato and sweet potato flesh into two separate bowls, and discard the skins. Mash with a potato masher.
- Sweet Potatoes: Pour roughly 1/3 of the warm milk mixture into the bowl of sweet mashed potatoes. Add half the salt and half the pepper and stir together until smooth. Put to one side.
- White Potatoes: Put most of the parmesan cheese into the bowl with the white potatoes, leaving a small sprinkling to add to the top. Pour the remaining milk into the bowl and add the remaining salt and pepper and stir together until smooth. Now scoop the Brussels sprouts mixture into the bowl and carefully fold them through the mash until evenly distributed.
- Assemble: Alternate dollops of white potato cabbage mixture and sweet potato in a baking dish creating to create a marble-like affect. Top with the remaining parmesan cheese, and bake in a hot oven for about 15 minutes until piping hot.
- Serve: To serve, drizzle with olive oil (optional). Enjoy!
Did you love this traditional Irish side dish? I’d love to know how it turned out. Get in touch via the comments section, and let me know!
Thanks for stopping by!