Ireland’s traditional cuisine is eclectic, hearty, simple, and flavorful. Typical dishes ranges from filling, deeply flavored lamb stews in the winter to light smoked salmon salads in the summer. No matter your preferences, there is no doubt you will find something you LOVE to eat in Ireland. Read on to find the top 12 foods to eat in Ireland.
Irish Stew: Irish stew is a traditional favorite, commonly found at pubs and restaurants across Ireland, and it is de-lic-ious! Irish stew was originally a peasant food created by using the most inexpensive and readily available ingredients. Because sheep were found all across Ireland, the original recipes typically contained mutton as their main protein. Throw in some starchy root vegetables for added thickness and flavor, and you had yourself a flavorful and filling stew. More modern versions of the Irish stew can contain other spices as well as carrots, parsnips, turnips, or other root vegetables. Yum, yum, yum! Don’t forget to check out my recipe for Irish stew with Guinness here.
Irish Salmon and Smoked Salmon: A lot of people think “Scottish” when they hear the word salmon. But guess what?! Ireland is also an island surrounded by the Atlantic – and the wild-caught salmon here is a wonderful treat, especially between the months of April and June. The high-quality salmon is perfect served poached with potatoes or smoked on salads.
Shellfish: Shellfish, shellfish, shellfish. If you are a seafood lover, you will be in paradise in Ireland. Oysters, clams, cockles, mussels, prawns, and lobster are commonly served in Irish restaurants. Other than simply eating the salty seafood plain, my favorite way to eat Irish shellfish is in another traditional dish – Irish seafood stew, a creamy stew packed with delicious clams, mussels, and oysters. Which brings us to the next food you must eat while in Ireland.
Seafood Stew: As you know, shellfish is abundant, inexpensive, and incredibly fresh and tasty in Ireland. Seafood stew is the perfect lunch option on a rainy day. And as we know, if it’s not raining in Ireland, well… let’s be honest – it’s probably raining in Ireland. Every restaurant has its own spin on this dish, but generally speaking, the stew is created with a variety of vegetables, generous amounts of shellfish, salmon, whitefish, and heavy cream. Sop up any leftovers with some tasty soda bread.
Soda Bread: Almost every meal in Ireland, whether it be a hearty stew or a light salad, is served with soda bread. Every restaurant and every household in Ireland boasts a favorite recipe for this tasty bread. The basic ingredients of the bread include baking soda, buttermilk, and flour, although there are 101+ variations of the bread. Some like soda bread with honey, sugar, or fruits, while others prefer a savory twist with bran, oats, or seeds. Another typical spin on the Irish classic? How about made with Guinness? No matter the style you prefer, always remember to spread the butter on thick – and enjoy!
Black and White Pudding: Some people cringe at the thought of black pudding in particular, but don’t knock it til’ you try it. So, what is this Irish “pudding” you speak of? Well, let’s start with white pudding. The two “puddings” are more like a sausage made of pork meat, fat, and oatmeal. Both black and white pudding were consumed in times of famine, as they were high in calories and were incredibly filling. Add a little pork blood (and who cares? Don’t we eat pork all the time, anyway?) to the white pudding mix, and now you have “black” pudding, named so because of its color. I’m serious. Try it – even if just once. It’s actually incredibly delicious, and no Irish breakfast would be complete without at least one slice each of black and white pudding.
Bangers and Mash: Put simply, sausage and mashed potatoes. But I’m talking high quality, salty, filling sausages and buttery, soft, salty mashed potatoes. Even better? Bangers and mash are usually topped with a savory, rich brown gravy. Ah, I’m hungry.
Irish Breakfast: I’ll admit – an Irish Breakfast isn’t one food, per se. But this had to make the list due to its popularity and deliciousness. An Irish breakfast consists of bangers (sausages), Irish bacon, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried eggs, and one slice each of white and black pudding. Oh yes, and soda bread, of course. I mean – what else could you ask for in a breakfast?
Irish Beef: The Irish aren’t playing around – their beef is GOOD. Whether it’s in the form of steak, burgers, or in stew, the quality is unbeatable. As a result of cutting edge agricultural technology combined with a perfect mix of atmospheric conditions, many factors contribute to making Irish beef sooo delicious.
Guinness Pie: I. Love. Guinness. Pie. Okay, picture a deeply flavored, comforting, hearty, mouth-watering stew made with tender beef, root vegetables, and Guinness beer. Now, picture this baked inside a flakey puffed pastry, baked to perfection. Add a little love and happiness, and you’ve got yourself one tasty Guinness pie.
Boxty: Boxty is type of a potato pancake that traditionally combines mashed and grated potatoes. The dish is very popular all over Ireland and is also known as “poundies” or “potato bread” in certain regions of Ireland. While there are many variations of the hearty dish, the constants are that boxty always contain grated potatoes and are always fried. One thing I know for sure – they are super delicious – I like them with Guinness stew or with some sour cream and chives on top! Check out my recipe here!
Boiled Bacon and Cabbage: Irish bacon and cabbage? Not corned beef and cabbage, you ask? Let me explain. Irish bacon, yes bacon, and cabbage dates back hundreds of years. I know – nothing boiled sounds all that appetizing, but this is an exception to the rule. The salty, tangy goodness of this meal is perfect with mashed potatoes and root vegetables. Check out my recipe here.
Are there any “MUST EATS” that have been left off of this list? If so, please feel free to add your comments below and let us know about your favorite Irish meals.