Colcannon – Irish Cabbage and Potatoes

Colcannon is an Irish dish traditionally made from mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage or kale blended together and seasoned with either onions, shallots, or leeks.  Colcannon stems from the Gaelic cal ceannann’ (white-headed cabbage) and the Irish cainnenn’ (interchangeably for garlic, onion, or leek).

The preparation of Colcannon dates all the way back to 1735 and the recipe hasn’t changed too much over the years.

There’s even a song about it.

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavored butter that your mother used to make?

— Irish song, “Colcannon”

I slightly tweaked the recipe by replacing the white potatoes with white-flesh yams, which added more nutrients without changing the traditional look and feel of the dish.

If white-flesh yams are difficult to find, simply swap them out for sweet potatoes.  Just realize the color will be different and the flavor might be slightly sweeter.

Traditionally, Colcannon is made with lots of butter and cream.  This is a no-go for those following Paleo so I made a few changes there as well.  I swapped out butter with ghee…that’s simple, but I excluded the cream completely.

My typical – very sneaky – way of replacing cream is by saving 1/4 cup of the water used to boil the yams and blend this back into the yams with the ghee.  The natural starches in the potato water creates a rich, creamy texture we all know and love without the need for any cream.

Yeah, that’s huge!

Thanks to the Irish, Paleo now has a new and different way to enjoy cabbage.

Serves 8


  • 2 white-flesh yams or 2 sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 leeks, white part only
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 cup sugar-free broth of choice
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Garnish: 1 bunch green onions


  1. Boil and mash the yams with 1 tbsp ghee and 1/4 cup of the potato water.  Set aside for later.
  2. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Chop the onion, the white part of the leeks and add to the pot to saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut and core the cabbage and then slice it into thin, 3-inch long slices.
  5. Add the cabbage, broth, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the pot and stir to combine.
  6. Cook the cabbage mixture for 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat until the cabbage is soft.
  7. Gently stir in the mashed yams and garnish with chopped green onions.


My favorite way to cook cabbage, until this recipe, is in the Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot.  This Pressure Cooker Cabbage cooks in under 20 minutes!

Pressure Cooker Cabbage

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