Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (2024)

One of my St. Patrick’s Day’s favorites, Colcannon is Ireland’s best-known potato side dish. My version features creamy mashedpotatoes, leeks, kale and bacon. Simple but so flavorful!

Complete your Paddy’s Day feast by cooking some of my other Irish recipes. I recommend the Dublin Coddle, the Cheddar Boxty and the Irish Soda Bread.

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (1)

An easy Colcannon Recipe for St Patrick’s Day!

“Did you ever eat colcannon when ’twas made with yellow cream,
And the kale and praties blended like the picture in a dream?
Did you ever take a forkful, and dip it in the lake
Of the heather-flavoured butter that your mother used to make?”

The Irish love this dish so much, that – as you can see above – songs were written about it.

Can you blame them? Buttery potatoes, kale and bacon? Well, okay, the bacon is not often included, but I couldn’t resist it.

Few are the dishes that won’t benefit from a touch of salty, smoky bacon! Colcannon is not one of them. So do yourself a favor and add the bacon! You won’t be sorry.

And while this is the perfect side dish for a Paddy’s Day celebration, it is delicious year round. Whenever you need a side dish with character, remember of Colcannon! It is mashed potatoes on steroids.

Did you know?

If you’re going to shorten St Patrick’s Day, the right diminutive is Paddy and not Patty. Patty is short for Patricia, while Paddy is short for Pádraig (which is Patrick in Irish).

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (2)

What is Colcannon?

Colcannon – pronouncedkowl·ka·nuhn –is an authentic Irish dish consisting of mashed potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage.

The word comes from the Gaelic term “cal ceannann“, which means “white-headed cabbage”.

Despite the name, the dish can be made with either cabbage or kale, and sometimes a mix of both! Other ingredients such as leeks, scallions, onions and/or chives can also be added.

And while here in the US we associate colcannon with St. Patrick’s Day, in Ireland it is a Halloween tradition to serve it, with charms (like rings, coins, buttons and thimbles) hidden inside the dish.

Whatever you find, predicts your future. A ring means you will get married, a thimble means you will remain a spinster and a coin means you will get rich!

Some women would even go the extra mile and fill their socks with colcannon, hanging them from the handle of the front door. They believed that the first man through the door would become their future husband.

Despite all the fun and superstition, colcannon is not only reserved for Halloween, being a popular side dish year round in Ireland!

What is the difference between Colcannon and Champ?

While they are both Irish mashed potato dishes, Champ – popular in Northern Ireland – is slightly different, made of scallions mixed with mashed potatoes and no cabbage/kale.

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (3)

Grocery List


  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • 1 bunch lancinato kale
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 package thick-cut bacon
  • Half a pint heavy cream
  • 2.5 ounces unsalted butter


Ingredients I’m assuming you already have in your pantry. But, if not, make sure to buy them as well!

  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

What are the best kind of potatoes for Colcannon?

For the fluffiest and creamiest mashed potatoes, choose higher starch potatoes, like Russets.

Yukon Golds, considered all-purpose potatoes, are medium starch and will work as well, but won’t get as fluffy as Russets do.

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (4)

How to make Colcannon Potatoes

This is a simple and straight-forward colcannon recipe.

Cook the potatoes, cook the greens, mash the potatoes, add the greens, add the cream and bacon, and voila! You simply can’t mess this up.

Recommended tools: large saucepan, skillet, potato masher.

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (5)

Here’s how I make colcannon potatoes. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!

  1. Cook the potatoes in salted water.
  2. Cook the bacon. Reserve.
  3. Sauté the leek and scallions in the bacon grease.
  4. Add the kale and cook until wilted.
  5. Drain potatoes and place back in pot or in a large bowl.
  6. Mash the potatoes.
  7. Add the sautéed greens and continue mashing until incorporated.
  8. Add the heavy cream, butter and reserved bacon.
  9. Mix until smooth. Season. Serve!

Olivia’s Tip

  • Don’t be shy with the butter! When ready to serve, while the Colcannon is still hot, make a little indentation in the middle and add several tablespoons of good quality butter. The butter will melt and drip all over the potatoes! Yum!
Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (6)

How to reheat leftovers

Colcannon potatoes will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

To reheat, place it in a saucepan and reheat on the stovetop, over medium-low heat. Stir often, adding a few splashes of heavy cream (or milk), to add back some moisture and restore its creamy and smooth texture.

Can I freeze it?

If you followed my cooking journey long enough, you’ve probably seen me write “DO NOT FREEZE POTATOES” more than once.

Well, this time it’s different.

While potatoes don’t freeze well, mashed potatoes do. As long as they are cooked with plenty of fat – and in this case we are using both cream and butter -, they will freeze without major alterations.

Just be prepared to add some extra dairy when reheating. You can reheat them straight from frozen, on the stove!

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (7)

What to serve with Colcannon?

Colcannon is traditionally served with boiled ham or Irish bacon.

It also goes well with corned beef and cabbage, or a nice stew. It’d be the perfect side dish for my Stout Braised Short Ribs!

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (8)

Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (9)


Servings: 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes mins

Cook Time: 20 minutes mins

Total Time: 30 minutes mins

author: Olivia Mesquita

course: Side Dish

cuisine: Irish

One of my St. Patrick’s Day’s favorites, Colcannon is Ireland’s best-known potato side dish. My version features creamy mashed potatoes, leeks, kale and bacon. Simple but so flavorful!

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  • 2 ½ pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 thick-cut bacon slices, diced
  • 1 leek, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Season the water generously with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander and place in a large bowl.

  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove and place in a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve.

  • Drain most of the rendered fat from the pot, leaving only a couple tablespoons in the pot. Add the leeks and scallions, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

  • Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

  • Mash the potatoes with 3 tablespoons butter, using a potato masher. Then, add the greens and continue mashing until smooth.

  • Stir the heavy cream and bacon, and season with salt and pepper.

  • Garnish with the remaining butter and some scallions.

  • Serve immediately!



  • Kale: You can substitute it for savoy cabbage or Swiss chard.
  • Bacon: You can omit the bacon if you prefer.
  • Heavy Cream: Half and half or whole milk can be used instead.


Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge, for 3-4 days.


Reheat on the stove, over medium-low heat, adding a few splashes of heavy cream as needed to bring it back to the original consistency.


Place the cooled colcannon potatoes in a large freezer bag or container, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

You can also portion out into one-cup servings, onto a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic, until completely frozen. Then, transfer the individual servings to a large freezer bag or container, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Calories: 511kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 99mg, Sodium: 232mg, Potassium: 970mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 2144IU, Vitamin C: 25mg, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 2mg

Author: Olivia Mesquita

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: Irish

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Irish Colcannon Recipe (with Bacon) - Olivia's Cuisine (2024)


What is the difference between colcannon and champ potatoes? ›

What is the difference between Colcannon and Champ? Both Irish dishes, Champ is mashed potatoes with chopped spring onions (scallions) and milk. Colcannon is Champ with the addition of cabbage and sometimes some herbs.

Why is colcannon important in Ireland? ›

Colcannon is a hearty dish that has been eaten on Halloween night for years. Traditionally, a ring was hidden in the dish, and whoever was to find it would be likely to marry in the upcoming year! Colcannon was even paired with a little poem: Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

What is Irish colcannon made of? ›

Colcannon is an Irish dish that's made of mashed potatoes, shredded cabbage or kale, green onions and tons of butter and whole milk. Sometimes crumbled bacon is added for an extra-succulent, salty flavor.

Who invented colcannon? ›

The name comes from the Gaelic phrase “cal ceannan,” which means “white-headed cabbage”. One of the earliest written references to colcannon comes from the diary of William Bulkeley, who wrote on October 31, 1735 while on a visit to Dublin: “Dined at Coz. Wm.

Is bubble and squeak the same as colcannon? ›

He comments that although the basic ingredients of bubble and squeak and colcannon are similar, the two are very different dishes, the former being traditionally made from left-overs and fried to give a brown crust, and the latter "a completely separate dish of potato, spring onion and cabbage, served almost as creamed ...

Why do they call it colcannon? ›

The word colcannon is derived from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, which means "white-headed cabbage" — the vegetable most commonly mixed with potatoes in this dish. It's often served alongside Irish meats, and is made by combining potatoes and greens (usually cabbage, but kale and other leafy greens are sometimes used).

Why do the Irish eat corned beef and cabbage? ›

The Irish immigrants also realized that cabbage was a more readily available vegetable in America than in Ireland, where it was traditionally a fall and winter vegetable. So they combined the corned beef with cabbage to create a hearty, filling meal that was reminiscent of their homeland.

Why did the Irish only eat potatoes? ›

Why were potatoes so important to Ireland? The potato plant was hardy, nutritious, calorie-dense, and easy to grow in Irish soil. By the time of the famine, nearly half of Ireland's population relied almost exclusively on potatoes for their diet, and the other half ate potatoes frequently.

What did they eat in Ireland before potatoes? ›

Grains. Until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century, grains such as oats, wheat and barley, cooked either as porridge or bread, formed the staple of the Irish diet.

What do the Irish eat instead of corned beef? ›

According to Regina Sexton, food and culinary historian and programme manager, Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Food Culture, University College Cork, corned beef and cabbage is not a dish much known in Ireland. What the Irish actually eat is bacon and cabbage. "A traditional dinner is bacon, potatoes, and cabbage.

What did the Irish eat instead of corned beef? ›

Unfortunately, as demand grew for Irish corned beef, the price spiked high enough that, once again, the very people who made it could not afford to eat it. They settled for pork and a new crop, the Irish potato.

Do Irish people like mashed potatoes? ›

The classic white potato originates from the South Americas and made its way to Ireland via Europe! Nevertheless, we love them in all shapes, sizes and forms. Boiled, roasted, mashed, turned into Champ with milk, butter and spring onions, or fried into Boxty.

What is similar to colcannon? ›

Similar dishes
  1. Clapshot, stovies, and rumbledethumps, from Scotland.
  2. Bubble and squeak, from England.
  3. Champ, from Ireland.
  4. Biksemad, from Denmark.
  5. Trinxat, from the Empordà region of Catalonia, northeast Spain, and Andorra.

What does colcannon mean in English? ›

noun. col·​can·​non käl-ˈka-nən. : potatoes and cabbage boiled and mashed together with butter and seasoning.

Do the French eat mashed potato? ›

"Purée" refers to a puree or mash, and "pommes de terre" translates to potatoes, so the term literally means "pureed potatoes" or "mashed potatoes" in English. Mashed potatoes are a popular side dish in French cuisine and can be found in various forms and flavors across different regions of France.

What do the British call mashed potatoes? ›

Mashed potato or mashed potatoes (American, Canadian and Australian English), colloquially known as mash (British English), is a dish made by mashing boiled or steamed potatoes, usually with added milk, butter, salt and pepper. It is generally served as a side dish to meat or vegetables.

Is champ the same as Bubble & Squeak? ›

About Bubble and Squeak

It is along the similar lines of Colcannon or Champ, both Irish dishes that are similar but aren't a crusted mash up of leftovers, rather more creamed mashed potato.

What is the name of the dish similar to champ but made from kale or cabbage rather than scallions? ›

Champ and colcannon are both favorite Irish mashed potato dishes. They're very similar, though champ recipes tend to feature spring onions (scallions) alone, while colcannon adds cabbage, kale, or leeks.

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