Ireland is a remarkable country like no other. The culture in Ireland is steeped in folklore and tradition. The people are welcoming and the traditional Irish food in Ireland is an extension of that welcoming spirit.
In Ireland, you can find castles, fairies, adventure, and some of the best food you will ever eat. Dublin is full of restaurants and pubs serving up Irish culture on a plate, so be ready to dig into delicious traditional Irish food!
What Is Special About Irish Food
Ask any visitor or local what makes Ireland so special and they will tell you it’s the people. Locals are friendly, warm, and welcoming. The food is an extension of that spirit.
Traditional Irish food is full of comforting flavors and satisfying ingredients. Some of the best places to find great Irish food are the pubs, they serve inviting meals in a friendly authentically Irish environment.
Ireland has seen its share of hardship, but the resilience of the Irish people has caused them to create unique and satisfying Irish dishes. The local cuisine is built on meat and potatoes, but it’s not all Irish pub food here.
The Irish are not afraid of herbs and seasonings, though spicy dishes here are very rare. Typical Irish food hits all the great notes of flavor while being filling enough to keep you going on this cold island.
Most Famous Food In Ireland
Rich, warm, and comforting Irish stew is the national food in Ireland. It’s a spectacular testament to the warmth of the culture and the richness of the ingredients available in Ireland.
This comforting and cozy Irish food is typical of the cooking style used by locals. Traditional Irish dishes are hearty, saucy, and packed with herbs.
Irish stew uses mutton or lamb as the starring protein, along with typical stew vegetables including potatoes, parsnips, and onions. This amazingly saucy dish has great savory notes and enough unctuousness from the meat to keep you coming back for another bite.
Many variations of this comfort classic exist, and you will find this stew prepared in homes and as Irish pub food.
Traditional Irish Food
Beautifully baked soda bread is an iconic Irish food. This classic Irish bread is an unyeasted bread made with baking soda as the leavening agent, which is where it gets its name.
Typical loaves of soda bread are studded with dried fruits like currants or raisins, and a touch of buttermilk is added to the doubt to bring some rich, creamy flavors to this crusty bread.
You will find this tasty Irish snack at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It pairs well with meats and sweets alike and has a flavor that is authentically Irish.
Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)
This humble Irish meal is familiar to many people around the world. It consists of simple ingredients, but they truly shine in this wonderful savory pie. Like many Irish dishes, cottage pie was born out of necessity but has grown far from its humble roots.
Comforting cottage pie layers ground meat, like local beef or lamb, and hardy vegetables like carrots and peas, with velvety mashed potatoes and sumptuous gravy. This filling casserole is served as an Irish pub food staple, but it has been elevated by many high-end Dublin chefs as well.
Cockles and Mussels
Everyone in Dublin knows Molly Malone, and her offerings, but not every visitor realizes cockles and mussels are actually a beloved Irish food. These tasty shellfish have helped native Irish people survive through leaner times and today they are a common dish to find on Irish pub menus.
The typical Irish food preparation of these two shellfish is, like all great Irish foods, with bacon. The shellfish are steamed and served in creamy bacon and herb sauce. This Irish dish is often served as an appetizer or in larger portions as an entree.
Fall or Autumn in Ireland is not complete without this cake. Barmbrack is classic autumnal food in Ireland.
Barmbrack is a bronze bread with the luxurious flavors of sultanas and golden raisins. The surprise of this bread is the pop of pumpkin pie spices that give this bread its signature harvest flavor.
This Halloween-inspired bread is inspired by the fall harvest and traditionally this bread may be baked with a special prize inside for a fortunate eater. Autumn in the Emerald Isle is just sweeter with this delectable Irish food.
Irish Food: Breakfast In Ireland
The Ulster fry originated in Northern Ireland, but it is enjoyed across the whole island today. This wonderfully filling spin on an Irish breakfast is so beloved in Northern Ireland that it is eaten all day.
This traditional Irish food is a combination of many Irish favorites served on one tasty platter. The Ulster fry features fried eggs, soda bread, potatoes, black pudding, sausages, and back bacon to create a show-stopping Irish meal.
Some variations on the Ulster fry exist and may include mushrooms or streaky bacon, but the best part of this abundant plate is that it can be found anywhere in Ireland even after breakfast time!
Locals in Ireland love baked bread. They enjoy it simply with butter or cheese or stuffed with appetizing local meats, and the favorite roll for Irish locals to dine on is the Waterford blaa.
These wonderfully light white bread rolls are baked up across the whole island. What makes blaas so special is the extra long proof time the dough gets before baking. This extra time allows the yeast in the dough to grow and develop into the tastiest rolls you will ever find.
Blaas are often enjoyed for a fast grab-and-go breakfast, snack, or on the side of a hearty stew for dinner.
The weather can be harsh in Ireland and the locals work hard, so they love to start their day with a bountiful breakfast. This great Irish food has everything you will want to get started.
The dish packs in full flavors and plenty of choices! Irish breakfast is served in pubs and restaurants all over Ireland, and it is the preferred breakfast calorie splurge.
A full Irish breakfast includes sausage, black pudding, streaky bacon, fried eggs, potatoes and cabbage, mushrooms, baked beans, fried tomatoes, soda bread, and of course Irish breakfast tea.
This plentiful breakfast platter has everything you need to get going, and then some! Experience morning the authentically Irish way with this traditional Irish food. It makes for a great start to exploring all the famous landmarks in Ireland.
White pudding is a protein-packed Irish food that locals like to eat in the mornings. Traditionally, white pudding is a sausage made from a mixture of oats, suet, and occasionally whole bits of pork and pork liver.
It is sometimes confused with black pudding, but white pudding uses no blood in the sausage. This hearty Irish food is sliced and pan-fried to be served as an authentically Irish way to start your day!
READ MORE: 10 TRADITIONAL IRISH BREAKFAST IN IRELAND TO TRY
Irish Food: Lunch Dishes
Potatoes are one vegetable that flourishes well in the cool island climate, and they are essential to Irish life and culture. These humble spuds are part of tons of Irish meals, but one local favorite is the comforting potato soup.
Potato soup is a creamy bisque that uses a short ingredient list to craft a welcoming Irish dish. The perfect potato soup in Ireland includes onions for a punch of aromatic flavor. Tasty potato soup is perfect to eat with blaas or soda bread for a warm and fling Irish lunch!
Boiled Bacon and Cabbage
While Americans may think corned beef and cabbage is the ultimate Saint Patrick’s Day food, the authentic Irish version is actually boiled bacon and cabbage. Cabbage is a cool-hardy vegetable that has grown in Ireland for ages and Irish boiling bacon is a ham-like cured pork. The two together make a simple yet tasty dish!
This classic Irish pub food brings so much flavor! Boiled bacon and cabbage are made even better when it is served with potatoes and creamy bechamel. This Irish food is a real celebration of the comforting feeling you get from food in Ireland.
Bangers and Mash
The English influence on Irish life is impossible to ignore. Many Irish foods take inspiration from their complicated history with England, and no English import in Ireland is as iconic as bangers and mash. Bangers and mash are simply sausages and mashed potatoes.
This pub classic gets the authentic Irish flavor from the sausage; in the Irish version of this dish, the sausage is made with rusk, especially dry bread, which gives the sausage a great toothsomeness.
Some Irish versions of this classic sub out the mashed potatoes for mashed cabbage. It’s a great midday fillup food in Ireland!
Locals love this salty Irish food! Gammon is a cured pork product made from the pig’s hindquarters. Typically the cut of pork is glazed to balance the saltiness.
The rich ham hock is amazing on a butty (or roll) as a quick lunch or eaten on its own as a rich afternoon snack. Gourmet restaurants and Irish pubs all serve variations of this wonderfully decadent meat.
This Irish street food is a testament to how much growth and possibility there is in Irish cuisine. Airy and addictive steamed buns can be found all over the streets of Dublin and have become a local staple.
This Chinese import is made from a simple yeasted bun that is steamed and then filled with decadent savory fillings. Dubliners love to eat steamed buns filled with pork or even sometimes beef.
This food in Ireland shows that there are plenty of satisfying surprises to be found when eating in Ireland! You can find both age-old traditional Irish food as well as international cuisines adapted to local tastes.
Irish Food: Snacks And Sides
Colcannon and Champ
Champ and colcannon are Irish pub food favorites, and you can find them served just about everywhere! People in Ireland may get testy if you confuse champ and colcannon. Even though both Irish foods are made from vegetable mashes they are seen as two distinct Irish dishes.
Champ is a scrumptious side dish made simply from mashed russet potatoes, cream, butter, and scallions; whereas, colcannon is made up of mashed potatoes, cream, butter, and cabbage. They are both lightly seasoned with white pepper and served with an extra pat of butter. Champ and colcannon are both delicious when paired with gammon or local Irish beef.
Carrots and Parsnips
The food in Ireland is a testament to how much flavor you can get from simple, fresh ingredients. Carrots and parsnips are a locally loved side dish with plenty of earthy vegetable flavor. This quintessential Irish food is made by boiling and mashing together carrots and parsnips.
Rich butter makes the mash velvety and smooth and herbs are sometimes added for extra flavor. This colorful dish is nicknamed “sunshine” by the locals because the flavors are so bright you won’t be able to stop smiling!
Many international cuisines include some form of potato pancake, and boxty is the Irish snack interpretation of this classic. Boxty are wonderfully seasoned, thin potato cakes that are made in an authentically Irish way.
These crunchy cakes are made with both grated and mashed potatoes for a better mouth feel. They are seasoned with white pepper and scallions and then pan-fried. Savory boxty makes a great snack or side to rich Irish meats, and can even be a tasty Irish meal in the morning!
The bustling streets of Dublin are full of people, and those people all need to eat! The spice bag is the Irish street food way to satisfy your hunger on the streets of Dublin.
A spice bag is a great way to fill up while out on the town because it is literally served in a paper bag. The bag is filled with tasty seasoned chicken, chips (or “fries”), onions, and warmly spiced chili sauce. It’s the perfect street food and displays the modern side of Irish cuisine.
This traditional Irish food may not be for the faint of heart, because crubeens are pig’s feet. This traditionally handheld food has been eaten in Ireland for centuries as a way to use all of the hogs.
Crubeens are made from boiled pig’s feet that are then fried to give them a crispy, irresistible exterior. These unique Irish snacks are sometimes found at Irish horse races and are sometimes paired with cabbage.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Irish Food: Dinner In Ireland
Sometimes called a Dublin coddle, this irresistible Irish dish is a waste-not local favorite. Coddle is made with leftovers which means that although this is a typical Irish food it does not follow a typical recipe.
This rustic dish generally includes potatoes, sausages, bacon, onions, and herbs all layered together and then baked in an oven. The resulting dish is bubbling with succulent flavors and a smooth sauce from cooking everything down together.
Variations of this Irish food can be found in pubs and homes all over Ireland.
Irish Smoked Salmon
Ireland’s island status means excellent access to seafood. Locals love to eat seafood with almost every meal of the day, and the hands-down favorite fish in Ireland is the Irish smoked salmon.
The cold waters off the coast allow local fishers to catch large Atlantic salmon that make the base for this flavorsome Irish food.
Irish smoked salmon is traditionally cold smoked and often shaved very thin. This delightfully rich fish is usually served on top of brown bread, crackers, or rye, then garnished with crème fraîche and a squeeze of lemon. Locals will eat this rich Irish dish as a snack, lunch, or dinner.
Fish pie may feel familiar to fans of the cottage pie because it is also a protein and potato pie but with an oceanic twist. This Irish dish is so decadent that it is often eaten at holiday celebrations. Fish pie highlights great points of Irish cuisine, like their mastery of fish and sumptuous sauces.
The dreamy fish pie consists of flakes of briny, flaky white fish like cod or haddock in a smooth, creamy sauce. The wonderful fish layer is topped with a healthy helping of perfectly seasoned mashed potatoes.
The whole pie is baked so the potatoes get satisfyingly crisp. This comfort food is perfect with a pint and some Irish rye.
Many countries have different interpretations of sausages, including blood sausages. Drisheen is the Irish version of blood sausage. It may not be for everyone, but many locals love this traditional Irish food.
Like other blood sausages, drisheen began as a way for local ranchers to make the most of their livestock, and now it is a traditional staple food in Ireland.
Drisheen is made from the blood of cows, sheep, or pigs mixed with animal fat, milk, and spices. The sausage is boiled in the animal’s intestines and differs from other blood puddings because of its gelatinous texture. In some cities, drisheen is paired with other classic Irish foods like tripe.
Guinness is a pillar of Irish culture, even for non-drinkers. It is one of the iconic things Ireland is famous for. The brand has long been a major employer and supporter of the Irish people.
Guinness stew is the perfect Irish food to showcase the connection between Ireland and this dark stout.
Decadent Guinness stew is an Irish pub food staple. It is made with delicious Irish beef, local potatoes, and of course Guinness. The beer helps make the sauce in this stew full and luxurious.
Variations of this stew may include carrots and/or Irish herbs, like parsley. This rustic dish is enjoyed in restaurants, pubs, and homes all across Ireland.
The bountiful Irish coastline offers the locals so many tantalizing options. One wonderful ocean-inspired Irish food is the creamy Irish seafood chowder. No Irish pub food menu is complete without seafood chowder.
This unctuous soup features all the amazing offerings of the Irish sea, like haddock, prawns, crab, and mussels, along with some fatty bacon for good measure.
Vegetables are thrown into the mix in the form of potatoes, celery, and onions. The cream base is made from local dairy and seasoned gently to make an inviting and luxurious soup. Enjoy this Irish food with soda bread as a nice warm-up after a coastal day.
Irish Food: Desserts In Ireland
No tea time is complete without a little something sweet, and the perfect Irish food to satisfy that need is the Irish shortbread. These sweet and sandy cookies are an iconic part of life in Ireland.
Traditional Irish shortbreads are buttery, light, and crumbly. Thanks to the simple ingredients in these delectable cookies, they have been enjoyed by locals for centuries, even through the leanest of times. Sip some Irish breakfast tea with some shortbreads for a relaxing Irish respite.
People in Ireland love to live on the sweeter side, and the perfect Irish food to help you taste the sweet life is bread pudding. This decadent treat combines all the best textures and flavors dessert has to offer into one comforting treat.
This complex dessert is made from wonderful local bread, typically soda bread with raisins or cinnamon raisin bread. The bread is torn up and soaked in a lush cream sauce that frequently features Irish whiskey.
The delectable dish bakes into an irresistibly warm, pudding-like dessert that is perfect when topped with an Irish whiskey cream sauce.
One bite of this perfect Irish dessert and you will be hooked! Apple cake is the perfect sweet Irish food. Apple trees are amazingly cold-hardy and for centuries they have been flourishing on the Emerald Isle.
Comforting apple cake is a hybrid of a coffee cake and an apple pie. It has the dense texture of a coffee cake with a tart and sweet apple and cinnamon filling.
This dessert may seem rustic, but apple cake takes wonderful Irish apples and turns them into a unique and satisfying piece of Irish cuisine.
Great beer is easy to find in Ireland, even in your dessert! Porter cake is a classic Irish dish that uses rich porter beer in the cake batter. It is a dark and dense cake with complex flavors that will captivate you.
This cake uses dark brown sugar, warm spices, and citrus peel to compliment the stout. This all adds up to a lusciously rich and flavorful cake; bright sultanas and golden raisins are added to some porter cakes for a wonderful bit of interest.
For the perfect dessert food in Ireland, pair porter cake with local cream and delight in the inviting Irish flavors!
Children of all ages in Northern Ireland crave yellowman. Yellowman is a honeycomb toffee. The confection forms with large air bubbles in the toffee making this candy airy and delightful.
It’s not just the textures that will entice you to this sweet Irish food, the flavor is arguably that of the best toffee you will ever try! This traditional sweet food in Ireland is so beloved by locals for its buttery texture and unbeatable caramel-like flavor that it has grown far beyond its Northern Irish origins. You can find this beguiling Irish snack in candy shops all over Ireland and Northern Ireland.
READ MORE: 25 TRADITIONAL IRISH DESSERTS AND SWEETS IN IRELAND
Discovering Traditional Food In Ireland
Ireland is a beautiful country full of history, culture, and amazing Irish food. The food in Ireland is rich and full of irresistibly satisfying flavors. From the amazing hearty Irish pub food to the warm and comforting flavors of Irish snacks and sweets there is something here for everyone. Come hungry and you’ll be very happy to find such delicious food in Ireland.