Eleven years ago, I visited Dublin, and the most authentic culinary experience I had during that trip was whiskey tasting at the Jameson distillery. I was a very picky eater back then, so I missed out on eating traditional Irish food. That won’t be happening the next time around!
After more than a decade, I’ll be traveling again to Ireland at the end of this month. My two-week trip will take me to Dublin, Cork, Killarney, Galway, and the Beara Peninsula. I’m still planning my itinerary, but I’m also hoping to add day trips to Dingle, Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. If you’ve been to any of these destinations, I would love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post telling me your favorite activities, restaurants, and pubs!
Since I’m gearing up for an Ireland trip, I was really excited to hear Lianne, who writes about Ireland travel at My Discover Ireland, wanted to contribute a guest post about traditional Irish food. So, let’s take a look at all the delicious and comforting foods I could be eating in Ireland soon!
Disclosure: This list of seven traditional Irish dishes contains some affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on one of these links to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you, and I only recommend products and services I would use myself.
Seven Scrumptious Traditional Irish Dishes
Originally, traditional Irish recipes tended to be both wholesome and simple, with just basic Irish grown ingredients in most cases. During the 1800s, Irish dishes were hearty dishes that fed the poor. They didn’t contain any exotic ingredients, only what was readily available to the cooks at the time.
Over time, Irish chefs started to modify these Irish dishes, to make them a little more exciting, while still maintaining the Irish root of each dish. Traditional Irish gourmet food has become renowned around the world for being good, wholesome, comfort food.
So get ready to have your mouth watering as we count down through some of the best dishes Ireland has to offer.
Beef and Guinness Stew
This must be one of the most well-known Irish dishes. It is a perfect dish for a cold autumn day. Packed full of goodness with Irish grown vegetables, seasonings, beef and of course, the pièce de résistance, the Guinness gravy. You can serve this as a stew alone packed with whole potatoes. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and want to take it one step further, you can use it as the filling for an impressive Irish stew pie.
Learn how to make traditional Irish stews and soups with The Irish Pub Cookbook!
Bacon and Cabbage
Considered Ireland’s national dish, bacon and cabbage has a long history in Ireland. When this dish was made originally, the cabbage was always cooked in the bacon water. People could only hang one pot over the fire at a time, so when the bacon was almost cooked, they added the cabbage for the last half hour of cooking. The bacon water gives the cabbage a salty, unforgettable flavor, which is why many Irish people try to recreate this cooking method. If done correctly, this seemingly basic meal becomes a flavorsome masterpiece. This dish is best cooked using the loin, especially if it still has the rind on it, as it adds to the incredible salty flavor. It is typically served with potatoes and rich and creamy parsley sauce.
Coddle is predominately a Dublin dish and is referred to as Dublin Coddle. It is a hearty and nutritious food that originated as an alternative to traditional Irish stew. Recipes vary from home to home in Dublin, but the staple of every coddle remains the same: sausage, bacon or rashers, lentils, onion and potatoes — every household has their own twist to this dish. It’s almost impossible to meet a person living outside of Dublin who has heard of coddle. Coddle is the ultimate comfort food and must be tried at least once.
Boxty (Gaelic: Bacstai)
This traditional dish is an Irish twist on potato cakes. Boxty is mostly associated with the north midlands of Ireland in Connacht and Ulster. There are so many variations of this simple recipe, but all of them contain finely grated, raw potatoes served fried. With the modern taste buds being more diverse, some recipes have started to add spices or vegetables into the mix. However, the plain old griddled style is the original and seems to be the favorite among the Irish. Sometimes there is no beating the original.
Try this traditional Irish dish at home with the boxty recipe from Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country!
Irish Barmbrack (Brack)
Traditionally, brack was a sweetened bread baked with sultanas and raisins to add flavor and texture to the regular bread. However, as the Irish palates grew, so did the recipe. It began to include peaches, apricots, prunes, and pumpkin pie spices. This dish has a bit of a myth to it, passed down through the Irish generations. At Halloween, brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread cake and was used to predict the fortune of those who found the items in their slice. This Halloween ritual has evolved slightly. The brack now only contains a ring — and the folklore is the person whose slice contains the ring will get married soon. So be careful deciding which slice you get!
This is probably as Irish as it gets. Colcannon is made from mashed potatoes and curly kale with a sprinkle of scallions, milk, butter and seasoning. If you are feeling brave, you can add some whole grain mustard to this dish to give it a bit of a bite. As the Irish are a superstitious bunch, there is another Halloween custom attached to this dish. It is well known to serve colcannon with silver coins wrapped in tin foil to symbolize good fortune for those who find the coins in their meal.
Serve colcannon on your dinner table using the recipe in Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country!
Irish Soda Bread (Gaelic: Cáca Baile, translated directly means cake from home)
What makes Irish soda bread different from those around the world is the fact the buttermilk is replaced by live yogurt or even stout in the Irish recipe. The Irish recipe also uses soft wheat so the soda bread is basically made with a cake or pastry flour, which has lower levels of gluten than a bread flour and gives it a somewhat sweeter flavor. This bread is best served for supper, toasted with butter alongside a large cup of tea.
Want to make soda bread at home? Try the recipe in The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook!
All these delightfully delectable dishes can be recreated with very little work at home. However ideally, to really get the most out of Irish cuisine it should be tasted using Irish produce by the professionals of Irish cooking in Ireland.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has recently revealed the number 1 place in Ireland to get some grub. So for foodie lovers out there, if you are planning a trip to Ireland, why not rent a car and travel to West Cork, winner of the 2017 “Foodie Destination” award. You won’t regret it!
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All seven of the authentic Irish dishes that Lianne shared sound delicious to me, and I’d love to try an Irish stew while I’m in Ireland this fall. It sounds so hearty and comforting. These Irish foods would also be fun to revisit on St. Patrick’s Day. I often get together with friends to celebrate the March 17 holiday, and any of these would be a festive dish to pass at a St. Paddy’s party. Might have to get myself one of those cookbooks I linked to below!