This recipe for Colcannon, or Irish Mashed Potatoes, is made with creamy, buttery mashed potatoes, tender cabbage, and crispy bacon.
While Colcannon, like Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage or Irish Stew, may be thought of as a dish to be served for St. Patrick's Day, this potato side dish can and should be served year-round.
What is Colcannon?
Colcannon refers to creamy, buttery, mashed potatoes that are folded together with either sauteed cabbage or kale.
Every Irish family has their own version of Colcannon, but my recipe comes from my Irish grandfather, and in my opinion, it is the best recipe for Colcannon.
His recipe starts off just as though you were making classic mashed potatoes. But then it is taken up a few notches in terms of flavor with the addition of lots of butter, cream, crispy bacon, and cabbage that has been sauteed in bacon drippings.
There is nothing light about these Irish mashed potatoes! This Colcannon recipe is creamy, salty, buttery, and rich. It is the ultimate comfort food recipe!
Notes on Ingredients
My recipe for Colcannon is made with cabbage and bacon. However, I have included modifications for making these Irish mashed potatoes without bacon and/or using kale in place of cabbage. All variations are delicious.
- Potatoes: You want to use a starchy potato, such as russet or gold potatoes. For the creamiest, richest mashed potatoes, I highly recommend using Yukon gold potatoes if you have them on hand.
- Cabbage: Use green cabbage, savoy cabbage, or curly kale for this recipe. If using kale, be sure to remove the bitter, tough stem before chopping it into bite-sized pieces.
- Green Onions: Sliced green onions add a nice, fresh mild onion flavor to the mashed potatoes. Some recipes for Colcannon call for leeks in place of green onions, but I much prefer the flavor of the green onions in this recipe.
- Bacon: The bacon is optional, but add a rich, savoriness that makes this Colcannon recipe irresistible.
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk, not reduced-fat milk for rich, creamy mashed potatoes. You can certainly use half in half in place of milk for ultra-luxurious mashed potatoes.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter to control the level of salt yourself. If you have salted butter, omit the addition of salt to the mashed potatoes. And if you can find it, this is a great time to use Irish butter.
How to Make Colcannon
There are several steps to making Colcannon, as the potatoes and cabbage need to be cooked individually before being combined together. That said, you can start everything at the same time and have this classic Irish side dish on the table in just over 30 minutes.
Step One: Boil Potatoes
- Peel and cube the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Be sure to cut your potatoes into evenly-sized cubes so that they cook evenly.
- Place your potatoes into a large pot and cover them with cold tap water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Potatoes need a lot of salt to be flavorful!
- Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until fork-tender.
Step Two: Pan-Fry Bacon
While the potatoes are cooking, use this time to saute your bacon. If you are NOT adding bacon to the Colcannon skip this step, and instead begin to saute the cabbage.
- Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces and place it in a frying pan or cast iron skillet.
- Pan-fry the bacon, stirring often over medium-high heat until browned and crispy.
- Once browned, remove the bacon from the saute pan using a slotted spoon and place it on a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet.
Step Three: Saute Cabbage
If you do not have bacon drippings to use, you will want to melt 2 tablespoons of butter into a large saute pan. Otherwise, use the rendered fat from the bacon as the fat to saute the cabbage and green onions, giving it an incredible flavor.
- Add the chopped cabbage to the bacon grease or melted butter.
- Saute, stirring often, over medium heat until softened. Don't be tempted to turn your heat up to speed up the process. You want your cabbage to wilt and become tender, not crispy and fried.
- Once the cabbage has softened, add in the green onions and continue to saute for 1-2 minutes longer, just to wilt the green onions.
- Turn off the heat and let the cabbage mixture sit until ready to add to the mashed potatoes.
Step Four: Mash Potatoes
After sauteing the greens, the potatoes should be fork-tender at this point and ready to mash.
- Drain the cooking water from the potatoes and return them to the hot pan.
- Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, or until all of the water has evaporated. This will let potato flavor really shine through and you won't be left with watered-down mashed potatoes.
- Turn the heat off and mash the potatoes with a fork or handheld potato masher until smooth.
Step Five: Combine Everything
Once the potatoes are mashed, it is time to add all the glorious additions that turn these mashed potatoes into Colcannon.
- Add melted butter and warm cream to the potato mixture and stir until velvety and creamy.
- Fold in the cabbage, green onions, and half of the bacon.
Step Six: Serve
Serve Colcannon to any entree you like. I love preparing Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage and serving these Irish Mashed Potatoes on the side, rather than adding potatoes to my corned beef itself.
- Dish out the Colcannon into a serving platter and top with the remaining crumbled bacon and additional pats of butter.
∗ tips to remember ∗
For the best Colcannon, be sure to remember these tips!
- Dice the potatoes into even-sized pieces and begin the cooking process with cold water. This will ensure that the potatoes cook evenly.
- Add bacon. If you are not a vegetarian, I strongly recommend adding bacon to this recipe for Irish Mashed Potatoes. Not only does the bacon add chew and flavor to the mashed potatoes themselves, but using the bacon grease to saute the cabbage or kale adds tremendous flavor.
- Mash! Mash! Mash! Really mash your potatoes until they are tender. But do not use a handheld or stand mixer to mash your potatoes, as that can result in a gummy consistency.
- Add warm milk and melted butter. This is another trick to keeping your potatoes from becoming.
If you happen to have any leftover Colcannon, you can allow it to cool and store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a heat-safe bowl in the microwave in one-minute intervals until heated through. You may need to add a splash of milk or butter to help thin the potatoes out, as they tend to thicken once stored.
Another fantastic option for leftover Irish Mashed Potatoes is to use them to make Pierogi Lasagna. Out of this world good!
More Favorite Potato Recipes
- Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Potato Casserole
- Homemade Scalloped Potatoes
- Parsley Potatoes
If you tried this recipe for Irish Mashed Potatoes, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
- 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or Russet Potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 4 strips thick cut bacon optional
- 4 cups chopped green cabbage see notes for using kale
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (plus 2 tablespoons if not adding bacon)
- 1 to 1-½ cups whole milk warmed
- Scrub and peel potatoes. Chop the potatoes into even ½-inch cubes. Place the potatoes into a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and add cold water so that the potatoes are covered by 1 inch of water.
- Bring the potatoes to a rapid boil over high heat. Once boiling rapidly, turn the heat to medium-high and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan or cast-iron skillet, brown the bacon over medium-high heat until browned and crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate, reserving the bacon drippings in the pan. If needed, add in additional butter if needed to equal about 2 tablespoons of fat.
- Add the cabbage to the bacon drippings and cook, over medium heat, stirring often, until the cabbage mixture is softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the green onions and saute for 1 minute longer just to soften. Remove the cabbage mixture from the heat.
- Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pan cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes to allow any excess moisture to evaporate. Remove the potatoes from the heat and mash with a potato masher until super smooth and creamy.
- Melt the butter and heat the milk/cream until warm to the touch. Add the melted butter, 1 cup of the warmed milk, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, to the mashed potatoes and continue to mash until creamy and smooth. Add more milk as needed, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, to reach the desired consistency.
- Fold in the wilted cabbage, green onions, and cooked bacon. Taste and add in additional salt to taste.
This turned out to be sooo good! This Irish mashed potato was so filling and creamy, everyone loves it!
I used russet potatoes and they turned out very creamy and luscious.
Wonderful! Thank you for sharing! Happy St. Patrick's Day!