What Are Traditional Irish Foods?

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up soon and in Philadelphia, the holiday is a pretty big deal. In fact, Philadelphia is the home of the country’s second oldest parade, the Annual Philadelphia Saint Patrick’s Parade, which took place this year on March 11. While the parade may have ended the celebrations will continue on in the city and around the globe. If you are planning your own celebration, you may want to prepare some traditional Irish cuisine.

Full Irish Breakfast

With all the celebrating and drinking you will likely be doing this Saint Patrick’s day you need to start the day off right with a Full Irish Breakfast. This meal is sure to fill you up and prepare you for the day ahead, as it was traditionally prepared with farmers in mind who had a long hard day ahead of them in the cold fields of Ireland. The meal consists of Irish bacon (known as rashers), sausage, eggs, baked beans, black and white pudding (a type of sausage with oats, pork, and pork blood which is in the black part), tomato, and toast (either wheat or Irish soda bread). You will want to, of course, wash your meal down with some Irish tea to make it really authentic.


Potatoes are a staple in Irish foods, as they are Ireland’s main crop. Another traditional Irish food that is made mostly from potatoes is called Colcannon which is made in a variety of ways but consists of boiled and mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, onions or leeks, milk or cream, and butter. Long ago in Ireland, this meal was an affordable dish that could be eaten year round but many people especially enjoyed it on Halloween night which was also known as Colcannon Night.

Another way to enjoy Ireland’s main crop is by making and enjoying champ. Champ is a version of mashed potatoes with green onions added in. If you have leftover champ you can use it to make “bubble and squeak”. This recipe uses champ or mashed potatoes as glue to hold together leftover vegetables which are fried and completed with an egg on top. Bacon or ham is sometimes added to them for flavor as well. The name comes from the sound and appearance the food while it cooks.

Shepherd’s Pie

This entree is considered by many as a comfort food which can be often be enjoyed on a cold winter night. The dish is similar to a casserole and is a savory combination of lamb, gravy, and vegetables covered with a layer of mashed potatoes. Another version is made with beef and referred to as Cottage Pie. This dish was a way to use leftovers from Sunday night’s roast in another dinner.

Corned Beef And Cabbage

It may surprise you to learn that the dish that so many people enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day as a “traditional” Irish dish is not exactly Irish. Pork was the preferred meat in Ireland because it was much cheaper and beef was much more expensive which was the opposite in the U.S. The corned beef and cabbage meal gained its popularity when Irish immigrants came to America and discovered corned beef, sold in many Jewish delis, was very similar to the bacon they enjoyed in Ireland. Corned beef and cabbage could be made in one pot and was very cheap so it gained popularity in the United States. So while this dish is not traditionally Irish, it is traditionally Irish-American.


No Irish meal would be complete without a pint of Guinness to wash it down! This stout is Ireland’s national drink and it is popular around the globe. The beer is described as black, it is so distinctively dark and has a creamy head. The flavor is a balance of sweet and bitter with malt and roast characters with an aroma of coffee and malt. Beeradvocate rates it a 3.56 out of 5.

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