Colcannon is a traditional Irish peasant dish of mashed potatoes combined with some variety of sautéed greens, most commonly kale, leeks or cabbage.
With documented origins dating back to the early 1700s, colcannon is actually a traditional Halloween dish in Ireland.
Various trinkets were cooked into the dish and your future was predicted by which one you found in your serving. A coin was a prediction of wealth, a piece of rag foretold a life of poverty, and a ring could mean that a marriage proposal was in your future!
Colcannon was introduced to America by Irish immigrants, and here it’s become associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Our version of the recipe is made with a combination of sautéed kale, sweet onion, and scallions. We’ve also included a variation in the recipe notes that replaces the kale with sautéed leeks and bits of crispy bacon.
Visit our St. Patrick’s Day recipe collection for more Irish-inspired dishes to make at home.
- 2-1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and chopped
- 4 to 5 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt and stir to dissolve. Continue boiling for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
- While the potatoes boil, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the kale, a handful at a time and continue cooking until tender and wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the scallions and cook until they’re tender as well, 2 minutes additional. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain thoroughly and return them to the heat for about 1 minute to allow all the excess moisture to evaporate.
- Spoon the potatoes into a ricer (see note below if you don’t have a ricer), a few chunks at a time and rice them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining butter and cream to the pan you cooked the potatoes in. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is liquified (you can also do this in a microwave-safe bowl).
- Pour the heated butter mixture onto the potatoes, add the kale and mix gently with a spatula. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve immediately.
Tips for Making This Recipe
Recipe Variation: Colcannon with Leeks and Bacon
- Omit the onion, kale and scallions from the ingredient list and substitute 2 leeks and 3 slices of thick-cut bacon.
- Reduce the quantity of butter to 5 tablespoons.
- Follow the instructions above for preparing the potatoes.
- While the potatoes cook, fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
- Halve the leeks lengthwise, clean thoroughly and slice them into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the bacon fat in the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Crumble the bacon, add to the leeks and stir both into the potatoes in place of the kale mixture.