When we think of Ireland, Guinness usually springs to mind. But what is a pint without a plate of traditional Irish food to go with it?
Ireland has a rich farming history and excellent overseas produce connections, making it a haven for lovers of wholesome, hearty food. Traditional Irish foods often contain produce that is affordable and easy to obtain all while offering mouth-watering flavours.
After a day exploring the Emerald Isles’ wondrous castles, dramatic coastlines and endless attractions, look forward to ending the evening with one of these hearty and delicious Irish dishes.
For all things mashed, stewed and fried, read our guide to the 10 must-try traditional Irish foods…
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Traditional Irish Food FAQs
10 Must-try Traditional Irish Foods
Traditional Irish Food FAQs
What is Ireland’s national dish?
The delicious Irish Stew is considered to be Ireland’s national dish. Read on to find out more about this heart-warming Irish dish which dates back to the 1800s.
What are traditional Irish foods?
Traditional Irish foods are often hearty. From filling stews and delectable fry-ups to breads and variations on the potato; read our guide on the best Irish food for more information on traditional Irish dishes.
What food is traditionally eaten on St Patrick’s Day?
St Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate Ireland, so expect to see a range of traditional Irish food on offer. From Irish staples like soda bread and potato boxty to heart-warming Irish stew with colcannon mash and bacon and cabbage; St Patrick’s Day promises delicious Irish food.
10 Must-try Traditional Irish Foods
1. Irish Soda Bread
The comforting aroma of Irish Soda Bread welcomes you after stepping foot into any Irish bakery! A staple in Irish cuisine, soda bread can be found anywhere in Ireland and is undoubtedly a must-try Irish food!
Substituting yeast for sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), soda bread requires only three extra ingredients: flour, salt and buttermilk. Typically, the buttermilk creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda and creates small pockets of carbon dioxide which causes the bread to rise with little effort.
Perfectly suited with an Irish stew, as the base of a sandwich or simply spread some butter and fruity jams on one side and pair it with a coffee or a cup of tea. Whichever way you enjoy Irish soda bread, it remains one of the best Irish foods.
2. Irish Stew
Imagine returning from an action-packed day exploring some of Ireland’s best castles or the best Irish beaches to find a pot of Irish Stew bubbling away on the stove.
Believed to have been a staple of Irish cuisine since around the year 1800, heart-warming homemade stew remains a firm favourite to this day. To many across the country, Irish stew is the national dish of Ireland.
The methods and flavour of an Irish stew vary from person to person and have evolved over the years. Previously, it all depended on which ingredients were cheaper and more common at that time. The main rule when cooking a traditional Irish stew is that it contains lamb (traditionally mutton). That is because the lamb was much more economical during the creation of this Irish food.
Nowadays, the ingredients of an Irish stew are essentially lamb or beef with potatoes and whatever leftover vegetables you have thrown together and cooked slowly throughout the day. It can even be accompanied by a splash of Guinness!
3. Ulster Fry
Perfect for recovering after a night out at one of the best traditional pubs in Ireland, the Ulster Fry is considered the Holy Grail in Ireland, originating in Northern Ireland.
Unlike other fried breakfasts in the UK, the Ulster Fry is served throughout the day! Traditional components of this Irish food include Irish sausages, bacon, eggs, soda bread and potato bread, black and white pudding and tomatoes.
Start your morning right with this traditional Irish food before embarking on your next adventure or on some of the best walks in Northern Ireland.
4. Colcannon Mash and Champ
Next on our list of the best Irish foods is Colcannon Mash. Colcannon has been a favourite comfort food in Ireland for some time and is something that the nation prides itself on inventing.
The ingredients of traditional Irish colcannon are mashed ‘floury’ potatoes, kale, butter and milk. One variation of this is Champ which includes spring onions (known locally as ‘scallions’), onions and chives. Some people also substitute kale for cabbage.
Introduced as a staple meal containing cheap ingredients available all year round Colcannon mash remains a traditional Irish food today. Often enjoyed with sausages, this tasty Irish dish puts a Celtic spin on the classically English ‘bangers and mash’.
5. Potato Farls or Potato Bread
Another traditional Irish food is the potato farl, a simple yet effective addition to the table.
Irish potato farls are cut from a loaf of the better-known potato bread, variations of which can be found across Europe, the United States and even Chile.
Like another traditional Irish food, the potato farl is a large round split into quadrants and powdered with flour.
In Northern Ireland, you are likely to come across potato farls as part of the much-loved Ulster fry breakfast. That is where the quadrants are shallow-fried and buttered to add some hearty carbs to your morning meal.
6. Irish White Pudding
A staple of the Ulster Fry, white pudding is the next Irish food on our guide to traditional Irish cuisine. Unlike black pudding which you’re probably more familiar with, white pudding doesn’t contain any blood. Instead, white pudding contains suet or fat, oatmeal, barley and sometimes pork.
Stop off at one of Ireland’s many cafes to sample this Irish delicacy before embarking on a day out at one of the national parks woven throughout Ireland.
A trip to Ireland would be incomplete without trying white pudding, a traditional Irish food.
7. Bacon and Cabbage
The bacon and cabbage dish is one of the more unique traditional Irish foods. Deemed economical yet nutritious, as many families farmed their pigs and grew their vegetables, bacon and cabbage is another staple Irish meal.
Irish bacon and cabbage is just as simple as it sounds, consisting of boiled bacon, cabbage and potatoes, with many households and eateries topping this delicious Irish dish off with a white sauce. This is an easy dish to begin your adventure into Irish cuisine with.
If you’re looking for that extra patriotic touch, perhaps serve your bacon and cabbage with another popular Irish dish, champ. Again combining simplicity with great flavour, this recipe brings together mashed potato, scallions, milk and butter to create a creamy mash with an added crunch; the perfect addition.
8. Irish Barmbrack
Barmbrack is one of Ireland’s favourite sweet treats; so it is unsurprising that it features in our guide to the best Irish food. Enjoy your afternoon tea with this sweet bread filled with sultanas and raisins!
The taste of the Irish Barmbrack falls somewhere in between that of sandwich bread and a cake. During Halloween expect to see Barmbrack as it is used in a fun fortune-telling game. Various items are placed within the bread, and whoever receives it is to expect an associated fortune.
In a traditional Barmbrack, you are likely to find a ring, a twig, a coin and a piece of cloth, representing marriage, an unhappy marriage, good fortune and bad luck respectively.
No matter which item you receive while eating Barmbrack, there is always a chance that your future will include a trip to the dentist!
Often regarded as a potato pancake, Boxty is another must-try Irish Food. Made by adding grated potato to the traditional ingredients of a pancake, Boxty is a mouth-watering breakfast treat.
Likened to the texture of a hash brown, enjoy Boxty pan-fried, with butter and a lovely cup of tea. They have been a staple Irish food throughout the 19th century and continue to be hugely popular today.
Boxty is particularly popular in County Cavan, Donegal, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Longford and Sligo, so be sure to include them on your breakfast before venturing out to explore these beautiful counties.
10. Yellowman Sweet
Last up on our guide to the best Irish food is one for those of you with a sweet tooth! Yellowman or Yellaman, despite looking slightly strange, is a popular sweet treat in Northern Ireland and closely resembles honeycomb or rock.
Traditionally, you can find this delicious sweet at the annual Ould Lammas Fair which has been held at Ballycastle in County Antrim for almost 400 years. Keep an eye out for this delicious treat in shops throughout Northern Ireland, and be sure to bring some home for your loved ones to try.
Begin your culinary adventure with these traditional Irish Foods! Whether you’re in Ireland for the next Irish bank holiday or you’re traversing the Wild Atlantic Way with our guide this collection of Irish food is the best way to end the day!
Image credits: Wild quinine – (CC BY-SA 3.0).