Traditional Irish Foods (with Cracker Barrel Restaurant)

A plate of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots on a white plate and a wooden table

Corned beef and cabbage is one of many traditional Irish foods enjoyed on St. Patrick’s Day.

Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Soda Bread, Guinness and more – St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to explore authentic, delicious, traditional Irish food and drinks!

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday of Irish origin that’s celebrated all over the world, including geographical areas as far away as Japan.   America is also home to many of Irish descent, and thus it is a recognized holiday here in the states as well.

An integral part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is food and (of course) drinks.  But most holidays in America (except for maybe Lent) are food inclusive – so what are the foods associated with this March celebration? 

Corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and beer all come to mind immediately…but there’s even more to choose from!

Ever heard of Colcannon?  It is a recipe where mashed potatoes, notably and traditionally made with cream and butter, also includes kale and green onions. A well in the center holds melted butter to dip each luscious mouth full.

Irish soda bread

Of course, there is Irish Soda Bread.  If you don’t want to make it yourself, it is easily found at in-house grocery store bakeries during the celebratory week of March.  

Cottage Pie is the Irish version of Shepherd’s Pie with beef instead of lamb (the traditional filling for Shepherd’s Pie, since lambs and sheep are herded by – wait for it – shepherds).  Whichever you choose, the ground meat is browned with a host of spices, then simmered with traditional mixed vegetables like green peas, corn, onions, and perhaps canned tomatoes.  Then the mixture is placed in a casserole dish, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked.  

Cottage Pie

Then there is Dublin Coddle.  It sounds a bit like a dance, but it’s actually a traditional Irish stew that includes bacon, sausage, and potatoes. 

Irish Rarebit is a mixture of Guinness dark beer, cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolk, and mustard – all made into a thick, hot sauce that’s poured over a piece of toast.  Yum.

Of course, there are the desserts, of which many incorporate Bailey’s Irish Cream. And why not?  Bailey’s is a delight by itself, or as part of a cup of coffee. Even if Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake isn’t considered a traditional Irish dessert, but it’s certainly a favorite of mine.

A traditional dessert in Ireland is Barmbrack, a fruitcake which is said to be more of a bread with dried fruit such as currants or raisins; the recipe dates back to the 13th century. The name Barmbrack is derived front the word breac, which means ‘speckled’.  The most interesting part of the recipe is the treasures or items known to be included in the cake such as a pea, a piece of cloth, a stick, a ring, and a coin.  According to Wikipedia, each item indicated the future fortune of the cake recipient.  If your slice contained the pea, you would not marry that year, while the ring meant you would marry that year.  If you got the stick, it would be an unhappy marriage; the cloth, alas you were going to be poor! The coin, of course, meant good fortune and wealth.

I think I would have to pick a different dessert; too much uncertainty. I’ll stick with Bailey’s.

We can’t forget drinks!  The renowned Guinness is one of the first commercially brewed beers, founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness at St James Gate. It continues to be brewed in nearly 50 countries and is still favored by the masses. If you’re not much of a beer drinker, Irish whiskey may be more to your liking – either in a cocktail such as in the Irish Mule, on the rocks, or neat.

So when St. Patrick’s Day arrives, there are many recipes out there to fill that void and celebrate part of our Irish history! But if you would rather someone else do the cooking, you can always find your way to the nearest Cracker Barrel Restaurant and enjoy their traditional corned beef and cabbage – a limited time offering just for the holiday. You may also enjoy perusing their country store and the unique items found there, including those in celebration of the Irish holiday.  

However you celebrate, HRL wishes you a safe and happy holiday! As the blessing goes: “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more; may nothing but happiness come through your door.”

Eagle-eyed readers will note this article uses the full “St. Patrick’s Day” when referring to the holiday. While St. Patty’s, St. Pattie’s, and St. Paddy’s are all commonly used, the shortened versions may have other meanings that vary from inaccurate to offensive. Merriam-Webster elaborates on why.

Barb currently resides in Central Florida with her three horses; when she’s not writing or riding for HRL, she loves to read and travel.