Irish colcannon with a cheesy twist! Mashed potatoes with scallions, greens, and sharp cheddar. A perfectly scrumptious side dish!

Colcannon in a serving bowl with butter melting on top.

Original publish date: February 27, 2013

I wish, wish, I was one of those people who could be happy as a lark just eating fruit and nuts and steamed fish all day long, but the truth is, if left to my own devices, my diet would consist of three major food groups:

1) Cookies
2) Cheese
3) Carbs

For shame.

I do my best to keep things balanced, but the truth is, I could eat potatoes EVERY DAY, and never get tired of them. ┬áMaybe it’s the Irish in me…

Well, this twist on the traditional Irish side dish has two of those bases covered, with a healthy dose of greens added in for good measure!

And if you’d like a few more great Irish recipes to celebrate the upcoming holiday, be sure to check out my Irish apple tart, my Irish scones, and my Irish soda bread, all of which I learned from tremendously talented Irish cooks while visiting the Emerald Isle!

Colcannon recipe with sharp cheddar cheese added.

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What is colcannon?

Colcannon is a common side dish in Ireland. It consists of creamy mashed potatoes, with scallions and greens folded in.

This recipe also includes cheese, to make it extra tempting and delish!

Why this is the best colcannon recipe

  1. Tastes amazing: The creamy mashed potatoes combine with sharp cheese, greens, and onion in the most incredible way!
  2. Few ingredients: You’ll only need a handful of basics to make this special side dish.
  3. Easy to make: The whole thing comes together in around 30 minutes or less and it’s perfectly uncomplicated.
  4. Versatile: Use any kind of greens or cheese you like, to make this recipe suit your personal taste.

What do colcannon potatoes taste like?

The flavors of sharp, savory cheese, scallions, and seasonings enhance the creamy mashed potatoes beautifully. And the chewy bite of the kale gives a nice texture, as well as adding color and nutrition.


Ingredients for making colcannon, with text labels.

Potatoes: I like russet potatoes best because they boil up so nice and fluffy! But you can use any kind you like.

Salt: Add salt to the cooking water as well as to the final dish for seasoning. Kosher salt is best because it doesn’t contain any bitter-tasting additives like iodine. It’s also inexpensive and easy to source at a regular grocery store.

Butter: I like unsalted butter best because it allows you to control the amount of salt in the dish. Different brands of butter can contain different amounts of salt, so this way it’s consistent.

Greens: I’ve used kale here, but you can use any kind of leafy green you like.

Cheese: I chose an aged cheddar cheese from Ireland, to keep the theme going!

Scallions: These are also sometimes called “green onions” or “spring onions.” They add a slightly sweet and sharp flavor to the potatoes that’s really nice.

Milk & cream: These ingredients thin the colcannon out to a more creamy consistency. Use whatever kind you normally keep on hand. You could also just use all half & half, or a plant-based product that subs 1:1.

Pepper: Ground black pepper brings a little added sharpness and flavor to this dish.

Special equipment

  • Veggie peeler: For removing the peels from the potatoes, if you choose to do so.
  • Knife & cutting board: For cutting the potatoes, kale, and scallions.
  • Large pot: In which to boil the potatoes and mix up the colcannon.
  • Colander: To drain the potatoes.
  • Silicone spatula: For folding all the ingredients together and for transferring the colcannon to a serving bowl.

How to make it

Step 1: Boil the potatoes

Peel the potatoes (optional), rinse them, and cut them into chunks.

Cutting peeled potatoes into chunks before boiling.

Then place them in a large pot, along with a handful of salt, and cover them with cold water.

Covering potatoes with cold salted water.

Place the pot over medium-high heat, pop on a lid, and bring it up to a boil.

You’ll know the potatoes are done cooking when you can easily slip the tip of a knife in and back out.

Step 2: Mash the potatoes

Drain the salty water away and catch the potatoes in a colander. Then, add them back to the pot along with the butter, and get them back on the stove over very low heat.

Boiled, drained potatoes in a pot with butter.

Mash them up however you like. I used a potato masher and left them a little bit chunky.

Mashing potatoes and butter together in a large pot.

Step 3: Add-ins

For the greens, I’m using kale because I love the added texture it brings. I start by folding the leaves in half and slicing away the tough stem.

Removing the tough stem from a kale leaf.

Then I just chop it into bite-sized pieces.

Roughly chopping kale.

Heat the milk and cream (in the microwave or a small pot over medium-low heat on the stove) until steamy, then add it to the pot along with the greens, scallions, shredded cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.

Adding kale, scallions, cheese, seasonings, and milk to mashed potatoes.

Fold everything together until the cheese melts in, the greens go a little softer, and it’s all well-mixed.

How to serve colcannon

Transfer the colcannon to a serving bowl and top it with a pat of butter, if you like.

Colcannon should be eaten warm, as a side dish. I think it would be especially nice along with my herb-encrusted lamb chops, reverse-seared steak, or beef bourguignon!

Expert tips

Don’t over-boil: If you boil the potatoes too long they’ll get waterlogged. This will make the colcannon runny and the flavors will be diluted. So keep an eye on them as they cook, and check them frequently. As soon as a knife easily slips in and back out again, they’re done.

Pre-cook the veg: If you prefer your greens melt-in-your-mouth tender, you may want to cook them before adding them to the mix. Steam them or saute them with a little butter until they’re soft. Otherwise, they’ll have a chewier bite.

Colcannon in a serving bowl with a copper serving spoon.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between colcannon and champ?

They are very similar, but champ has scallions only while colcannon also has leafy greens added to it.

What if I don’t like kale?

You can swap in any kind of leafy green you like. Some other options include cabbage, spinach, cress, or collard greens.

What can be done about runny colcannon?

If your colcannon is too watery or runny, just leave it to sit for a while. Mashed potatoes often become thicker over time. Reheat as needed in the microwave or in a pot over low heat.

What if the colcannon is too thick?

In this case, just add more hot milk and/or cream.

Can this be made ahead?

This dish will keep for several days in the fridge or a month or two in the freezer. Keep it in an airtight container, thaw in the fridge, and reheat in the microwave or in a pot over low heat, until warmed through.

Or if you’re looking to get ahead on the prep for tonight’s meal, you can keep the potatoes in cold water for several hours, get all the veggies chopped and ready, and grate the cheese. Everything should last this way for several hours and then all you have to do is cook and mix it all up.

What is the serving size?

This recipe generously serves 4 as a side dish. It doubles easily if you need to serve a bigger crowd.

The nutritional info in the recipe card below is for 1/4th of the whole batch, and it does not include the additional butter I used to garnish the bowl.

Potatoes colcannon in an earthenware bowl with a plaid cloth in the background.

A few more of my best St. Patrick’s Day recipes

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Colcannon in a serving bowl with butter melting on top.
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Cheesy Colcannon

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Irish colcannon with a cheesy twist! Mashed potatoes with scallions, greens, and sharp cheddar. A perfectly scrumptious side dish!


  • 2 (426 g) russet potatoes, (medium)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (15 g) kosher salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 bunch (57.5 g) leafy greens, (such as kale, cabbage, or spinach), roughly chopped
  • 3 (36 g) scallions, (green part only) roughly chopped
  • 3 1/2 ounces (99.22 g) aged Irish cheddar, (such as Kerrygold Dubliner) shredded
  • 1/2 cup (122 g) milk
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.25 g) ground black pepper


  • Peel the potatoes (if desired), rinse them, and cut them into 1-inch chunks.
  • Place the potatoes in a large pot, along with about 2 teaspoons of the salt, and cover with cold water.
  • Cover the pot and place it over medium-high heat.
  • When the water comes to a boil, remove the lid and turn it down to a simmer.
  • Simmer the potatoes until the tip of a sharp knife easily slips in and back out (approx. 5 to 10 minutes).
  • Drain the potatoes into a colander, then place them back in the pot, along with the butter, over low heat.
  • Mash the potatoes to your desired consistency.
  • Heat the cream and milk until steamy (in the microwave or in a small pot over medium-low heat).
  • Add the hot milk and cream to the pot, along with the greens, scallions, cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
  • Fold everything together, continuing to cook until the greens reach the desired tenderness.
Serving: 0.25batch, Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Sodium: 1642mg, Potassium: 574mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1068IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 247mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: Irish
Course: Side Dish
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