Colcannon ~ it’s the authentic Irish recipe pairing comforting mashed potatoes with healthy kale ~ try this easy side dish in place of plain old mashed potatoes for your Thanksgiving and holiday meals.
What is Colcannon? (Irish: cál ceannann, or white cabbage)
- Colcannon is a classic Irish recipe for potatoes with the addition of milk, butter, and greens like kale, cabbage, leeks, green onion, or chives.
- It’s an old recipe that’s made all over Ireland because it’s cheap and nutritious using plentiful potatoes and greens.
- Colcannon makes an unexpected (and healthier) alternative to mashed potatoes and is no more trouble to make.
Plain mashed potatoes can be great, of course, but I love the addition of greens for a bit of interest and added health benefits. I used a whole bunch of kale in this recipe (8 loosely packed cups!), and you can see that it does not overpower the potatoes at all. Like a lot of greens, the sauteed kale cooks down quite a bit. You could definitely get away with adding even more.
Is Colcannon healthy?
- Yes! Potatoes get a bad wrap from some of the popular diets these days because they’re relatively high in carbohydrates, but potatoes are low in calories and are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They’re a vegetable, after all, and a whole food, which gives them lots of nutritional cred in my book. It’s all in how you prepare them.
- We all know that kale is a superfood, and I like to add lots to my Colcannon for a nutritional boost. Remember that it cooks down, so you can add more than you think.
- For a leaner version of Colcannon use buttermilk and omit the butter.
The other thing I added to this recipe was a bit of horseradish. I love the flavor of horseradish in my mashed potatoes, it gives a great little subtle kick. But you can definitely leave it out, or adjust the amount to your taste.
Colcannon flavor variations
- mustard, either creamy or grainy
- garlic, fresh or dried
- crumbled bacon (!)
- sour cream
- fresh herbs like thyme, parsley or rosemary
Other veggies to use in Colcannon
While kale and cabbage are traditional, there are so many other greens you might use if you want to get creative…
- shaved Brussels sprouts
- other types of cabbage such as red cabbage, Savoy, or Napa
The best potatoes for mashing
- Russets! They have the most starch and mash up to the creamiest texture.
The best way to mash potatoes
How do you mash your potatoes? I’m partial to an old-fashioned potato-masher. They make quick work of well-boiled potatoes, and allow you a little more control over the final texture. I don’t like my mashed potatoes to be perfectly smooth, in fact, I usually don’t even bother to peel my potatoes (although I did for this recipe.)
If you do like a perfectly smooth texture, you can use electric beaters, just be careful not to over beat them, over beating can cause your mashed potatoes to become ‘gluey’. Not a good thing.
How many potatoes per person for dinner?
- If you’re feeding a crowd, plan on 1/3-1/2 potato per person.
Make Colcannon ahead
- Colcannon can be made up to a few days ahead of time
- reheat, covered with foil, in a 350F oven, or in the slow cooker. You may need to add additional liquid and butter to loosen them up. You’ll want to stir a few times while reheating so they heat evenly.
These mashed potatoes would make a great accompaniment to so many meals this fall and winter, you can basically swap them out wherever you’d serve regular mashed potatoes. I could definitely see them on a Thanksgiving table, or served with a Christmas roast or holiday ham.
More traditional side dishes with a twist from the archives…
- Maple Candied Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Butter Pecan Pumpkin Souffle
- French Potato and Onion Gratin
- Buttered Rutabagas
- Braised Red Cabbage
Colcannon (Mashed Potatoes with Kale)
- Potato masher
- 3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 5 Tbsp butter, divided, plus more for serving if desired
- 8 cups chopped kale, about 1 large bunch (remove the tough stems first)
- 1 cup half-and-half or buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp salt, or, to taste
- 4 tsp horseradish sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the chopped potatoes, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. (The tip of a sharp knife should slide in easily.)
- Drain the potatoes and set them aside.
- In the same pot, melt 2 Tbsp of butter, and sautee the chopped kale over low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft.
- Take off the heat, add the potatoes back to the pot along with the rest of the butter, half-and-half, salt, and horseradish sauce. Mash together with a potato masher until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with more butter if desired.