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Traditional Irish food

Posted on Oct 25, 2016 by Patricia Doe

Like many countries, you can find all the cuisines of the world in Ireland from Italian to Thai. But home-cooked, traditional Irish food will whet your appetite after a day spent out on the wild and windy moors of Ireland.

Traditional Irish food is like its people: no air of grace or snobbery, just hearty meals made with the freshest local ingredients. Spend your days hiking the forest paths, biking across the moors and kayaking in the frigid winter to work up an appetite! Then spend your evenings in a cosy restaurant with a heaping pile of traditional Irish food.

Ireland’s most popular dishes make use of basic ingredients they were grown or raised in the household farm or from the local market. Not much has changed today, with daily meals paying homage to Ireland’s past. The beloved potato remains a staple in most homes, eaten several ways and often found cooked two ways on the same dinner plate.

However, there is much more to Ireland than the humble spud…

Traditional Irish Food


To kick off the day, taste the traditional full Irish breakfast.

  • A heaping plate of proper rashers (bacon),
  • pork sausages,
  • black and white puddings (a mixture of pork meat, fat, oatmeal and spices with pork blood in the black pudding),
  • fried eggs,
  • baked tomatoes,
  • onions, mushrooms and
  • baked beans all fried in real creamery butter.

It is usually served with a loaf of freshly-baked soda bread, brown bread or toast, a cup of tea or coffee and glass of fresh orange juice. This is the breakfast of champions and will give you strength for a full day’s exploration of Ireland’s wild places!

Traditional Irish Food

Lunch & Dinner dishes:

Now you’ve come in, after a blissful day playing in the elements, it’s time for the main dishes. You’ve got some choices to warm you up.

Stew of any kind is a popular traditional Irish food. Irish stew is a favourite, made with lamb or beef and thick root vegetables, stewed in a pale broth. There is also rabbitchicken or beef & Guinness stew to try.

Bacon and Cabbage Stew is another popular option, whereby a loin of bacon is boiled for roughly three hours and served with cabbage, spuds and white sauce. Colcannon is eaten at Halloween, a dish of spuds, curly kale, onions, butter, salt and pepper all mashed together.

Then you have Coddle, once considered the poor man’s stew. More popular on Ireland’s east coast and less popular on the west coast, it consists of sausages and potatoes thrown into a pot and boiled up together. It is a useful dish for using up any leftovers in the house.

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Traditional Irish Food

In case you’ve forgotten, Ireland is an island! Therefore, you are guaranteed fresh seafood in all parts of the country.  Some great choices to taste the fruits of the sea:

  • Dublin Bay Prawns
  • Seafood Chowder
  • Mackerel
  • Irish oysters

However our salmon is the king of the Irish river, appearing often in many Irish legends and poems.Bread

You can’t talk about traditional Irish food without mentioning bread. As with most of Europe, its past popularity was due to its cheap and commonly-available ingredients as well as the speed at which it can be made.

Traditional Irish Food

Irish Soda Bread contains flour, baking soda, soured milk and salt. Its tough exterior crumbles to expose the soft, creamy interior when you bite into it.

Brown bread is made with whole-wheat flour and is the healthier option. Nutritious, filling and easy to make, it goes perfectly with real butter like Kerrygold spread on top.

Barmbrack is a yeasted bread baked using sultanas and raisins. It’s made around Halloween and as a game, the bread dough is baked with various trinkets embedded inside. Traditionally, the items planted inside were a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin and a ring. If you got the pea in your slice, it meant you would not marry that year, the stick meant you would have an unhappy marriage, the cloth stood for bad luck, the coin for good fortune and the ring meant you would get married that the year.

Traditional Irish Food

Dessert & Drinks

Finally, for an evening treat with your tea or pint, try some of Ireland’s sweets (candy)! The brands to try are Tayto crisps and Cadburys milk chocolate. After you’ve finished feasting, you need something to wash it all down. Irish people drink approximately 8-10 cups of tea a day; Barry and Lyons are the nation’s favourite brands. Or if you want to crack open the alcohol, have an Irish coffee: a cup of coffee with a shot of Irish whiskey and cream on top. Jameson or Paddy Whiskey works best. If not there’s, Hennessy, Baileys or the firm favourite, a creamy pint of Guinness.

If you are coming to Ireland, expect generous portions of warm, hearty ingredients. They are meals that have not forgotten their modest roots yet nowadays most chefs jazz those traditional dishes up to create feasts that will satisfy every hungry explorer.

Sound delicious? Maybe you’re interested in a guided culinary tour of Ireland?

About the author

Patricia Doe

A Sligo native, Patricia spent several years in the upscale hospitality industry and knows everything there is to know about luxury accommodations in Ireland! A keen cyclist and runner, Patricia has travelled the world - including a honeymoon road trip through Middle America! Patrica is Wilderness Ireland's General Manager, having joined the team in 2015.

Read more articles by Patricia | View Patricia's Profile

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