If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, there’s no doubt that the country’s stunning scenery, rich history, and friendly people are all must-see attractions. But what about the food? It’s no secret that Ireland has a long-standing reputation for hearty, comforting traditional Irish dishes and a thriving culinary scene. There’s something for every palate, from traditional pub grub to Michelin-starred restaurants.
In my opinion, Irish food is one of the best parts of visiting the country. I was so excited to try the traditional Irish food on my first trip, and I haven’t stopped eating since. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a pint of Guinness (one of the best Irish drinks) in a cozy local pub or tucking into fresh fish and chips from a small seafood shop by the coast (and yes, I know, these are technically British, but still my favorite meal in Ireland). And if you’re a foodie, you’re in luck because the foods in Ireland are full of delicious surprises.
In this article, I’ll share 15 famous Irish foods you must try on your next trip to Ireland. Whether you’re a fan of meat and potatoes or seafood and stews, there’s a dish for everyone. So get ready to tantalize your taste buds and discover the best Irish cuisine offers.
1. Irish Stew
We can’t start this list without discussing Ireland’s national dish and one of the top must-try Irish foods, Irish Stew. This one-pot dish is a staple in Irish cooking and has even caused controversy—do you add carrots or not?
The stew is made with mutton, onions, and potatoes, the classic food of Ireland. Toss the ingredients in a pot with some water and let them simmer. Today, it’s usually made with lamb since mutton is harder to come by. People also add stock instead of water and some parsley and thyme to add a nice flavor.
Traditional Irish stew is a popular Irish pub food, so it won’t be hard to come by. However, if you want a homemade pot of stew, you might need to make friends with someone whose grandma will make it for you. This is the perfect dish to have at the end of a 7-day trip to Ireland.
2. Soda Bread
Irish soda bread does not have a set recipe, and most families in Ireland have their own recipes written on notepaper covered in flour and left between the cookbooks. However, the base ingredients for this traditional Irish food don’t change. You mix bicarbonate of soda with some buttermilk and flour and pop it in the oven.
Some families like to add fruits or honey to make it sweeter or Guinness for a loaf of nice beer bread. Some might even add bran and seeds to make it healthier. Whatever your taste, soda bread is a staple in Ireland, and you can find it at almost any bakery.
Perhaps you could try and make your own batch of soda bread for this food to try in Ireland. You can find many recipes online for this Irish traditional food. If you just want to relax and enjoy some homemade soda bread without the fuss of making it, then settle into a nice Dublin bed and breakfast and enjoy the soda bread with a cup of tea.
Make sure you know what not to say in Ireland before you go.
3. Colcannon and Champ
When potatoes were introduced to the country in the late 16th century, the Irish ran with them. Potatoes make up most of the food in Ireland. Even the Great Famine in the 19th century could not stop the Irish from finding a way to get their precious potatoes.
Colcannon and champ are traditional mashed potato dishes that are popular at mealtimes. Colcannon is mashed potatoes with butter and cabbage sprinkled with some spring onions. Champ is very similar, as it’s mashed potatoes with milk, butter, and spring onions. It just does not have cabbage, and some families even add bacon to give a nice flavor to this tasty Irish food.
The Irish also used colcannon to tell the future. They would serve it at Halloween, and in the colcannon, there would either be a gold ring, a thimble, a button, or a coin. If you got the thimble or the button, you would never marry, but if you get the gold ring, you’ll be married within a year. If you find the coin, you’ll be rich.
Boxty is another excellent use of the potato and a very common Ireland traditional food. No matter which name you call it, potato pancake or potato dumpling, it comes from the same Irish name—arán bocht tí, which means poor-house bread.
There are many different ways to make this delicious treat. The base recipe is grated raw potato mixed with mashed potato. Then, if you want a boxty dumpling, mix in some flour and salt and then boil it. Then slice it up and fry it in some butter.
The next two ideas call for pancake batter. Mix the boxty mixture into pancake batter, and then either fry it in a pan for boxty in a pan, or bake it in a loaf tin, then slice and fry it for boxty in the oven. You can add any protein or ingredient on top to make your boxty top-notch. No matter your taste, boxty is ageless.
Speaking of traditions, you’ll love these Halloween traditions from Ireland.
5. Dublin Coddle
Dublin coddle is named this way because it started as a Dublin working-class dish. This one-pot stew is left to simmer slowly or ‘coddle’ in the oven and famous food in Dublin.
It’s a great way to reuse leftovers for the week. The leftovers are put in the oven with some sliced potatoes, onions, pork sausage, and bacon and then left to simmer for a few hours. Serve it with some homemade soda bread to soak up all that sauce when visiting Dublin for a day.
What started out as the dish of the working class can now be found in even the most high-end restaurants in Ireland as well as common Irish pub food. However, homemade is always best, so find an Irish friend who will make it for you.
Fun fact: Dublin has five Michelin-star restaurants, so you will be spoiled for choice when you go here. Learn some more fun facts about Dublin here.
This is the perfect meal to eat during Christmas time in Dublin.
6. Shepherd’s Pie
This is one of the most well-known dishes in Ireland; however, it actually originated in Scotland. The Scottish version is a basic pie with a pie crust, meat, and veggies, and then the Irish took it and made this famous food from Ireland their own.
With potatoes being plentiful in Ireland, the Irish decided to reinvent the Scottish pie and replace the pie crust with mashed potatoes. Thus, shepherd’s pie was invented. This classic food from Ireland is hearty and delicious and will make you feel comforted as any homecooked meal would.
The main difference between Shepherd’s and cottage pie lies in the meat. If you want to get technical, shepherd’s pie can only be called that if the meat is lamb, as cottage pie is the version with beef.
However, the Irish don’t care. As long as there is a meat base, some nice veggies, and a mashed potato top, it’s a shepherd’s pie.
It’s also a great way to reuse some leftovers at the end of the week, and something you may find in your Galway bed and breakfast if they serve dinner. If not, you’ll certainly find it in the pubs of Galway during your trip.
7. Boiled Bacon and Cabbage
This may not sound very good, but it’s a delicious comfort food of Ireland. Irish dishes are known for their classic meat, vegetable, and potato combos, and this is definitely one of them.
Typically salted pork meat will be used for this dish, with bacon being the favorite. The bacon is soaked overnight to try and desalt it a bit. Then you throw it into a pot and boil it with some potatoes or even carrots. The cabbage is added in the last ten minutes, and you have a lovely dish of boiled bacon and cabbage.
This traditional Irish dish is served with a parsley sauce made with milk, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. You can add some carrots and onions if you want a richer flavor.
8. Potato Farl
This might seem similar to boxty, but potato farl is in a league of its own, so I recommend you try this food from Ireland. This potato cake is delicious and very easy to make, and all you need is some mashed potatoes, flour, and butter to create this potato flatbread creation.
Due to the very neutral taste of potato farl, this Irish cuisine can easily be a yummy replacement for bread. Add some jam or make a cheese toastie with potato farl; it will blow your mind.
Potato farl can also be added to a traditional Irish breakfast to make Ulster fry, a traditional food of Northern Ireland. Baked beans, eggs, and potato farls make a great children’s meal. You can also just toast it and add some butter for a quick morning snack if you’re in a rush.
If you want your afternoon tea to come with a delicious helping of fortune-telling bread, then barmbrack is the dish for you. This fruity loaf is a traditional Irish food that’s typically made with raisins or dried fruits and is popular during Halloween.
Like with colcannon, a unique charm in your slice of barmbrack can give you a glimpse into your future. If you find a ring, you will be married within a year, but if you find a pea, you won’t be married within a year. Coins bring wealth, a rag spells poverty or bad fortune, and a stick means there will be quarrels in your future.
As fun as playing with your future is, a slice of barmbrack dipped in some tea or even whiskey is a great way to unwind and enjoy your tea time while enjoying traditional Ireland food.
10. Waterford Blaas
This bread roll is so special that the European Commission even awarded it Protected Geographical Indication status in 2013. This soft bread is native to Waterford County but can be found in other areas of Ireland as well.
French refugees who settled in the Waterford region in the 16th century brought this over as a gift. The name is a misunderstanding, as the Irish misheard the old French word for flour, blanc, and blaa.
If you want to get your hands on this delicious roll, you will need to act quickly. Waterford residents love their blaas, and you will struggle to get one after midday. They will be sold at most bakeries, so the key is to do your research and get there early to enjoy this staple of Irish cuisine.
11. Black and White Pudding
You can’t have a full Irish breakfast without a slice of black and white pudding on your plate. It’s a staple. Although this specific dish might not appeal to everyone, you definitely have to try it at least once.
For the less adventurous, white pudding is a nice starting point. This mixture of pork meat, fat, oatmeal, suet, and barley is made into a sausage and fried nicely. And if you’re ready for a challenge, black pudding has all the same ingredients, except pork blood is added to give it the black color.
Black pudding can also be found on the menus of some high-end restaurants in Ireland, being served along with poached eggs, scallops, or even in salads and risottos. Perhaps try one of those if you’re not ready to try the pudding on its own.
12. Battered Sausage
When you get to Ireland, you will have to make a tough decision—do you like your sausage battered or not battered? This is not a euphemism for something. Battered sausage is a classic in Ireland and can be found at most fish and chips shops.
It’s essentially a regular sausage dipped in batter and fried. There’s nothing too special about it, but it hits differently when you’re going out or heading home from the pub. As a hangover cure (perhaps after St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin?), battered sausage and chips will be the best thing the next morning.
So go to your nearest chipper in Ireland and grab some battered sausage. Once you try it this way, you just won’t want to eat regular sausage anymore.
13. Full Irish Breakfast
You’ve probably heard of a full English breakfast. Well, the Irish take breakfast very seriously, and the full Irish breakfast puts the English version to shame. I was surprised by just how large one of the most popular traditional Irish foods was the first time I was served it.
A full Irish breakfast generally includes fried eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, bacon rashers, pork sausages, white and black pudding, and leftover potatoes. It’s served with toast, butter, marmalade, and a cup of tea or some orange juice.
It was initially made to give farmers a good energy source before they spent all day plowing the fields. Today, it’s a test of the stomach to see whether or not you can finish all of this delicious food in one go.
14. Tayto Sandwich
So a Tayto sandwich is a classic Irish snack. However, you won’t be able to find it at a shop or restaurant, as it’s a build-your-own meal. The first time I visited Ireland, my friends introduced me to this amazing brand of chips, and I now buy them in bulk every time I visit. In fact, they’re a staple road trip snack when driving around Ireland.
Tayto is a famous brand of potato chips in Ireland, and it’s so renowned that there’s even a Tayto theme park. The best way to eat a Tayto sandwich is to use the holy trinity of ingredients: Kerrygold butter, Brennan’s bread, and of course, Tayto.
You grab two slices of bread, add some butter on top of them, and then stack the Tayto chips on one slice before closing the sandwich. Then, pour yourself a nice cold rock shandy and enjoy your Tayto sandwich. The texture may be odd at the start, but it’s absolutely delicious.
15. Seafood Chowder
Ireland is an excellent seafood destination, and seafood chowder is a traditional Irish food with a lot of flavor. Is there anything better than a cold night during wintertime in Dublin than a hot bowl of chowder?
Once considered a poor man’s food, seafood chowder is a staple in pubs and households all over Ireland. It has some of the freshest ingredients found in the country. Salmon, clams, haddock, lobster, mussels, prawns, and potatoes make up this delectable Irish dish. To top it off, lots of cream is added to give it that nice chowder feel.
You can find seafood chowder in most pubs in Ireland. So go ahead and enjoy a lovely chowder lunch and a nice cold beer at a Dublin pub.
As you can see, traditional Irish food is truly a highlight of any trip to Ireland. From Irish stew to lesser-known dishes like coddle and colcannon, there’s a wealth of flavors and traditions to explore. Whether you’re seeking out Michelin-starred restaurants or cozy pubs serving classic comfort food, there’s something for everyone in the world of Irish cuisine.