Irish Colcannon: Potatoes, Cabbage, Bacon, Gravy... Need We Say More?

Today's Irish colcannon has Gaelic origins. 'Colcannon' comes from the word cal ceannann, meaning white-headed cabbage.

Like many popular Irish dishes, colcannon is simple to make, and involves inexpensive ingredients, such as potatoes and cabbage.

The keys to our favorite version of colcannon are bacon and onion gravy.

A great way to serve colcannon is with Irish bangers, with the drippings saved for the onion gravy.

We enjoy adding a bit o' Guinness to the gravy as well, and watching the reaction of our guests when they figure out where that flavor comes from!


Irish colcannon.  In a brown bowl with shredded cabbage topping.

Irish Colcannon: Ingredients

  • 1 lb of potatoes peeled or if you prefer, unpeeled thin skin potatoes, such as small red ones
  • ½ Lb bacon (cut the bacon into small 1-inch squares)
  • 1TBSP Kosher salt 6 cups thinly sliced cabbage (This can be approximately a head of cabbage, depending on the size of the cabbage
  • 6 TBSP Butter (four for the cabbage and two for the potatoes)
  • ½ Cup whipping cream (You can use milk, but it isn’t nearly as good.) Fresh parsley chopped finely-a few sprigs will do
  • A large onion, chopped, 5 or 6 scallions or a clump of chives (A clump is a handful of chives slightly less than an inch in diameter) It doesn’t matter which one you choose, they all give the yummy onion flavor to the mix.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Irish Colcannon: Preparation

  1. Wash potatoes and peel if you’re using thick skinned.
  2. Cut the potatoes in quarters and place in a large pot of boiling water.
  3. Add the Kosher salt. Boil for approximately 25 minutes.
  4. Stick one of the potatoes with a fork to see if they’re cooked. They should be tender and easy to penetrate with the prongs.
  5. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.
  6. When they’re finished cooking, add 4 TBSP of butter.
  7. Add the cabbage and onions.
  8. Sauté the cabbage mixture until it’s just about done, with the onions translucent but the cabbage a bit crispy. Some people prefer to cook the mixture until everything is soft. It just depends on whether you like a bit of crunch or not. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Drain the potatoes and add the butter and cream or milk, mashing it to silky smoothness---unless you left the skins on, then almost silky smoothness.
  10. Add the onion, cabbage mixture and salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve hot.

Onion Gravy Ingredients

  • 12 Bangers (Irish sausages) or other type of sausage if you choose---while keeping it Irish may mean using authentic ingredients, keeping it priced well is also very Irish, as is making do. Any sausage will do —but it’s best with authentic Irish bangers.
  • 3cups—24 fluid oz—of Guinness
  • 3 TBSP of light brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few TBSP water or chicken stock

Onion Gravy Preparation

  1. In a large sized skillet, brown half the bangers on all the sides, set aside and brown the other half. You could do them all at once, but it gets a bit crowded and confusing when you’re working with quite a few.
  2. Add the Guinness to the pan and put in all the bangers, lowering the flame to simmer. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to cook them completely. The beer should be almost half the volume.
  3. Blend the remaining ingredients.  I remove the liquid and set it aside, melt the butter in the pan, add the flour to create a paste and slowly add the liquid back with the burner on low. After about a ½ cup is in the pan, I add the brown sugar.
  4. Bring the gravy to a boil and then lower the heat, stirring until slightly thick. If you find it’s too thick, you can use a bit of water or stock to thin it.
  5. Serve with warm colcannon.

Serving Suggestions

We always created an Irish colcannon volcano with bangers lining the sides, and then we drizzled the onion gravy lava down the sides. A fun, versatile, and delicious Irish expression!

Delicious!  Where Can I Find More?

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to live your Irish side is to serve Irish food.  And guess what?

We have many, many more Irish recipes for you to explore in our section on Irish food recipes

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