Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potato with wilted cabbage or kale mixed in. This recipe for colcannon adds leeks and scallions along with cabbage for a delicious side dish perfect for St. Patrick's Day, or really any day of the year.

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What is Colcannon?

Colcannon is the delicious Irish mashed potato side dish that is perfect for St. Patrick’s day, but honestly delicious any day of the year. I mean… mashed potatoes with butter and cream! Sure, you do stir vegetables into the mashed potato, but … mashed potatoes! I’m not sure what you’d have to do to make me not want to eat mashed potatoes. Well, actually, there is one thing.

When I was younger I used to succumb to the tradition of green mashed potatoes at St. Patrick’s Day, made undeniably with the addition of green food coloring. (Those might have been my days when I was more interested in the beer that went along with the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations than the food – just saying…) I’m older and wiser now, and strong enough in my will power to just say “No” to green mashed potatoes – at least, not that color green! These days, I prefer color in my food to come naturally. Colcannon is the best St. Patrick’s Day side dish – mashed potatoes that are green-ish naturally because of the delicious vegetables you’ll add to them.

Yukon gold potatoes tumbling out of a burlap basket onto a wooden counter..

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Perfect mashed potatoes start with an idea of how you define “perfect”, and the right type of potato to get you there. You can learn all about making my perfect mashed potatoes here, but if you like fluffy mashed potatoes (my definition of “perfect”), start with either Russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes (pictured above). They have just the right amount of starch and moisture to deliver beautiful creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes.

A burlap basket of potatoes, a head of cabbage, some scallions and leeks on a wooden counter.

Cabbage and Potatoes… and Leeks too!

Traditional colcannon always includes cabbage or kale. In this recipe, I add cabbage and leeks for a light onion flavor and to enhance the green color a little more. The time it takes the potatoes to boil is the perfect time to let the leeks and cabbage sauté separately in butter (of course!). A few scallions stirred in at the end adds even more green and a bright flavor.

Leeks and cabbage wilting in a large cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon. A fork crushing a potato on a board with a colander behind.

Rustic Crushed Potatoes

Now, if you’re making perfectly smooth mashed potatoes as you might for a fancy dinner party, you would probably want to purée the potatoes using a food mill, but colcannon is more rustic dish. These should be rustic crushed potatoes and you can crush them with a wooden spoon or spurtle or fork or whatever you have that will break the potatoes down into perfect little mashed chunks. Then, combine your perfectly crushed potatoes with the sautéed vegetables, butter and cream, seasoning to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

At the end (and this is very important) make a little well on the top of the colcannon and throw a pat or two of butter there to melt. It’s a great way to gain some insight into the people you’re feeding. If someone shies away from the dish because they are afraid of butter (some people are), you’ll know that he or she is not a true eater and consequently possibly not a really good friend. If they jump in with reckless abandon, it’s a good sign that they are probably a kindred spirit. 

Colcannon in a brown ceramic bowl with a pad of butter melting on top and a green napkin on the side.

What to Serve with Colcannon?

So, you have the perfect side dish, but what about the rest of the delicious meal for the colcannon to sit beside? If it’s St. Patrick’s Day, why not go for a corned beef dinner or a delicious bowl of Guinness Beef Stew? You could also make some traditional Irish Soda Bread for the table. If it’s just a regular ol’ day, colcannon would go perfectly with a beautiful baked ham. Then again, I think it goes pretty perfectly with a fork.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

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  • Prep Time: 10 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 6 ounces Irish butter divided
  • ¾ cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 2 leeks sliced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ head Savoy cabbage shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 3 scallions thinly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.
  2. Peel and cut the potatoes into equal-sized chunks and drop them into the boiling water. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until a paring knife easily pierces the potatoes.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, combine 4 ounces of the butter with the milk or heavy cream in a small saucepan and warm just until the butter melts.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the leeks for a few minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the leeks are soft. Add the shredded cabbage and sauté just until the cabbage wilts. Turn off the heat and stir in the scallions.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked through, strain them and transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the warm butter and milk (or cream) and stir with a wooden spoon or fork to mash the potatoes. Fold in the sautéed leeks and cabbage. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper and keep warm until serving. Serve with additional butter melted on top if desired.

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Comments (10)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I have always wanted to try colcannon! Thank you for the recipe! It is so darn good, I can’t stop eating it! Needless to say, I really like this recipe!You have made me a better cook, bless you, Meredith! Thank you again!

  2. 5 stars
    A favorite recipe. Never tried colcannon until we were inspired by this recipe. We make it often including every St. Patrick’s Day. I always smile because we are kindred spirits who love good butter and great recipes. Thank you Chef

  3. 5 stars
    My Mother was Irish so we always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a Irish meal. One of our favorite recipes was colcannon. I still make it every year in honor of my Mom. Very delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe for the first time —and my husband loved it! So did I. We skipped the leeks but it was very tasty and will now become a side dish for many future suppers.Thank you, Meredith.

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