Here’s a bunch of Irish foods to eat on St Patrick’s Day

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Struggling to decide on food for St Patrick’s day celebrations this year?

Yes, alcohol might well steal the spotlight, but no Paddy’s Day party is complete without some tasty Irish grub, too.

In many places, the edible elements of a St Patrick’s Day celebration have been forgotten, but you’re missing out.

When cooked right, Irish food can be an absolute joy. Here are some ideas if you’re pondering food for St Patrick’s Day…

what are irish foods for Patricks day? Celebrate March 17 traditionally by eating what the Irish eat on St Patrick’s Day (Credit: Pexels)

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What is traditional food for St Patrick’s Day?

To help make your next St Patrick’s Day party as memorable as possible, we’ve pulled together 11 of the most delicious traditional Irish dishes.

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Whether you prefer a hearty stew or sandwich stuffed with black pudding, this list is full of traditional food for St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Here’s our guide to the tastiest traditional Irish food:

traditional food for st patricks day There’s more to traditional St Patrick’s Day food than salt beef and cabbage (Credit: PA)

1. Bacon and cabbage

A combination of boiled back bacon, cabbage, potatoes and parsley sauce, bacon and cabbage is perhaps the most traditional food for St Patrick’s Day you could eat.

This meal has long links to Ireland and is commonly considered a dish for the holiday, due to the sentimental attachment Irish people have to it, and how readily available the ingredients are over there.

“Historically, this dish was common fare in Irish homes as the ingredients were readily available as many families grew their own vegetables and reared their own pigs,” sates Galway Community Heritage blog. 

“It was almost the ‘everyday dinner’ in many farmhouses of the 1950s and 1960s except on Friday when fish or fried eggs were the menu. The dish continues to be most popular to this day.”

traditional food for st patricks day Bacon and cabbage often comes with mashed potatoes (Credit: Alamy/Simon Reddy)

2. Corned beef and cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage is one of the most common Irish dishes eaten across America on St Patrick’s Day, and sees brisket salt-cured and boiled alongside cabbage to create a hearty meal.

It rose to popularity in the US in the late 19th century, thanks to the Irish immigrants there, who were looking for flavours they found familiar (like the bacon and cabbage mentioned above).

Because bacon was out of budget for many of the Irish citizens of the US, they instead begun celebrating with beef brisket as a similar alternative.

According to Niall O’Dowd, the publisher of Irish America magazine and The Irish Voice, the tradition of brining the brisket may have come from Jewish immigrants in New York.

“The theory I’ve always heard is when the immigrants came to New York City it was actually Jewish brisket that they ate because it was cheaper than beef,” he said.

It might be tasty, but Jay P. Dolan, the author of “The Irish Americans: A History,” adds that the dish isn’t actually popular in Ireland, but is more an Irish-American tradition.

He explains that the Irish “take offence at the idea that corned beef is the same as what they had in the old days back in Ireland.” Perhaps one to bare in mind if you’re making this for an Irish mate!


Corned beef is a common food for St Patrick’s Day (Credit: Alamy)

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3. Boxty

Potatoes feature heavily in Irish cooking. Although there are many innovative applications, there aren’t many that are tastier than a boxty.

Originally considered a ‘peasant food’ the boxty is essentially a type of potato pancake, typically fried into flat, starchy disks.

It originated in the 1700s, when potatoes were depended upon to survive, and has remained an Irish staple ever since.

Whilst the boxty briefly disappeared from kitchens after the Irish potato famine in 1845, it regained popularity in the years afterwards, and is still a common food for St Patrick’s Day across much of Ireland today.

Also available at shops and supermarkets, the dish is particularly loved in the the north west.

We recommend trying one immediately.

Boxty traditional food for st patricks day Boxty pancakes are a staple in Ireland (Credit: Alamy/Simon Reddy)

4. Irish breakfast roll

The breakfast roll itself is probably all too familiar to you, but have you tried an Irish breakfast roll?

An evolution of the Full Irish Breakfast and commonly enjoyed across Ireland today, these enormous baguettes are typically stuffed with everything from sausages to bacon, eggs, black pudding, white pudding and hash browns.

They’re the perfect St Patrick’s Day food idea if you’re looking to call in the holiday in style.

For those looking to start their day the Irish way, a breakfast roll is a solid option.

5. Coddle

The Irish appetite for stews is legendary. Though there are plenty of great options, none appeals more to the stricken, slightly hungover cook than coddle.

Coddle is said to date back to the first Irish famine in the 1700s, where grains were mainstays in most workers’ diets.

Made from potatoes, sliced onions, rashers and sausages this was originally created as a way to use up meaty leftovers before Friday, when lent would dictate you couldn’t eat them (more on that below).

In the same way a British Full English is devoured with a sore head, this meat and potato combo is a great St Paddy’s Day comfort food.

Coddle traditional food for st patricks day Coddle might be the ultimate March comfort food (Credit: Alamy/Dorling Kindersley ltd)

6. Colcannon

Proper mashed potatoes are pretty difficult to improve. If there’s one recipe that comes close, it’s colcannon.

This blend of richly buttered potatoes and a green like kale or cabbage is usually eaten as a side dish, but can occasionally feature as a main course, too.

The name colcannon actually comes from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, which translates to “white-headed cabbage,” and the dish rose to popularity in the 1700s due to an abundance of the ingredients needed to make it.

Why has the dish remained such a staple food for St Patrick’s Day?

As Smithsonian Mag explain: “The ingredients joined ancient and modern Ireland; the ancestral diet in the country was heavy on kale and cabbage, and colcannon combined them with the more modern potato to create something hearty and filling that would keep the workingman satiated for a decent stretch of time.”

When potatoes are the centre of attention, you know you’re in for a treat.

colcannon traditional food for st patricks day Colcannon with Irish butter is a classic combination (Credit: Alamy/Brent Hofacker)

7. Crubeens

Crubeens means pig trotter in Irish. Boiled pig trotter… to be precise.

It might not sound like an especially appetising way to celebrate Ireland, but don’t judge a book by its cover.

To prepare crubeens, you should first boil, then batter and fry pig trotters – this means that the dish combines tender meat with a crispy coating.

The exact origin of Crubeens is unknown, according to Taste Atlas, but it’s been a popular Irish dish for centuries, enjoyed as a bar snack or eaten with a slice of soda bread and a Guinness.

Crubeens may not be as popular today as they were in the 19th century, but if you want to have a celebration with traditional food for St Patrick’s Day, this recipe is one to include.

crubeens traditional food for st patricks day They might not look particularly appetising, but crubeens are an Irish delicacy (Credit: Alamy/Zoonar Gmbh)

8. Drisheen

If you’re of a slightly nervous disposition, the concept of blood pudding might be difficult to get your head around. Drisheen takes things even further.

What makes this dish particularly unique is it’s singularly gelatinous consistency that comes from mixing cow’s, pig’s or sheep’s blood with milk, salt and fat.

Drisheen is then boiled and sieved through the main intestine of a pig or a sheep, and this is used as the sausage skin.

It might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s one of those items of food for St Patrick’s Day you’ll see cropping up again and again.

Those in Irish cities of Cork and Limerick, traditionally serve Drisheen with tripe, dubbing the delicacy “packet and tripe.”

drisheen traditional food for st patricks day Drisheen is similar to English black pudding or Scottish haggis (Credit: Alamy/Dorling Kindersley ltd)

9. Soda farl

Bread has been the backbone of Irish cooking for centuries, and one of the tastiest traditional recipes is soda bread farl.

Essentially a cut off from a larger loaf, quartered to form separate flatbreads, farls can be used as a side dish or eaten on their own.

Soda farls are particularly beloved in the Irish province of Ulster, and tend to be enjoyed with an Ulster fry, which is a big old Irish fry up. 

However, the recipe is said to have originally come from Native Americans, who used “pearl ash, a natural form of soda formed from the ashes of wood, to leaven their bread without yeast.”

Travel website, The Real Word by Trafalgar tell how “the Irish later discovered and replicated the process. While it seems like an ancient recipe, Irish soda bread history began in the 1830s, when baking soda, or bicarbonate soda, was first introduced to the country.”

Whether you use this to mop up a stew or eat it with breakfast, they make a delicious St Patrick’s Day treat…

farl traditional food for st patricks day Farl is a staple at breakfast (Credit: Alamy/D and S Food Photography)

10. Irish Breakfast

Breakfasts have a proud history all over the UK and Ireland.

The Irish version typically involves sausages, eggs, bacon and a mix of black and white pudding. A potato boxty and farl can also feature.

History dictates that the Irish breakfast was originally created for farm workers packing them full of cheap ingredients that were in abundance, so that they’d be full of energy and ready for work.

Whatever is involved, the end result always delivers.

irish breakfast traditional food for st patricks day Irish breakfasts are famously indulgent (Credit: Simon Reddy)

11. Irish Stew

No list of iconic Irish dishes would be complete without a nod to stew (or Stobhach Gaelach, as it’s called in Irish).

Hailing from the 1800s, it is considered the national dish of Ireland, and was made because the ingredients were cheap and it could be made in big quantities to keep people full.

Still a staple across the country today, and a common food for St Patrick’s Day, this dish contains lamb or mutton and a mix of root vegetables, although some versions may vary.

The main purpose of Irish stew was to use whatever was available, and that principle still stands today. We love a zero waste meal!

If you want to try one dish to get a taste of Ireland, Irish stew is a great option.

What do the Irish eat on St Patrick's Day Irish stew might be the ultimate hangover cure (Credit: Alamy/The Yarvin Kitchen)

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Can I eat meat on St Patrick’s Day 2023?

We know the list above is rather meaty, so we had to address the elephant in the room. Whether you can eat meat on St Patrick’s Day depends on whether you’re Catholic, observing lent and whether your bishop has given special dispensation for the celebrations.

Traditional Catholic rules state that meat shouldn’t be eaten on Fridays during lent, as it’s a time of spirituality and limiting yourself from luxuries.

The good news is that “diocesan bishops can give the faithful a dispensation to allow them to eat meat on March 17,” according to Catholic News Agency.

diocesan bishop is a bishop that has authority from the Pope to “exercise his pastoral function,” – which basically means they can tweak the rules to suit their congregation in certain circumstances.

A recent study from National Catholic Register revealed that more than 70 percent of US bishops were planning to offer Catholics a break from this rule on St Patrick’s Day, with some suggesting extra prayers or abstaining from meat on another day of the week instead.

The same study wasn’t conducted in the UK and Ireland, so observant Catholics are best placed to check with their parish before making any decisions about what they eat.


Guinness is best enjoyed alongside your food for St Patrick’s Day (Credit: Alamy)

Understandably, some other, less solid substances might be higher up on your St Paddy’s Day shopping list.

But make sure you’re doing it right with some traditional food for St Patrick’s Day, too.