Thanksgiving 2022: Replace Mashed Potatoes With Irish Colcannon

If you’re looking for a way to reinvent your Thanksgiving day dinner, then this is an opportunity to pay homage to one of Ireland’s most famous potato creations, Colcannon. Coming from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, meaning ‘white headed cabbage’, it originated in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries when potatoes, cabbage and leeks were considered the food for the masses. 

Since there were found in abundance and consequently very affordable, it makes sense that this quickly became one of the country’s most popular dishes and a staple at most meals and even today, you can find the recipe for Colcannon printed on the back of potato packaging.

The dish was first recorded in the 1735 diary entry of William Bulkely, a visitor from Wales who enjoyed the dish when he was in Ireland for the festival of Samhein – the day we now know as Halloween. Samhain marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter and longer darker nights and as such, the festival is steeped in tradition and superstition. 

In Calcannon, a coin, rag or stick was often cooked into the mix and depending on what trinket you found in your potatoes, it would determine your future. The coin indicated imminent wealth, the rag poverty and the stick meant you’d be beaten by your spouse – all very cheery interpretations clearly. 

Though Thanksgiving is definitely a time of more positive reflection, it does carry an air of hope and speculation about the future which makes it the perfect occasion to whip up some Colcannon and make some predictions of your own.


  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter 
  • 3 cups cabbage
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Wash, peel and cube your potatoes before adding them to a pot of cold, salted water. 
  • Cook for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat until tender. Drain them and return them to the pot.
  • Shred the cabbage and cook it in butter for about 5 minutes until they’re wilted. Now chop the leeks into inch pieces and add them to the pan.
  • Pour in the milk or cream, mix well and then add the boiled potatoes. 
  • Mash the potatoes together with the greens and season to taste. Finish with a pat of butter and serve warm.