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Traditional Irish Colcannon with Leeks

This Vegan Colcannon is a twist on the traditional Irish dish for mashed potatoes and cabbage. This recipe uses leeks, savoy cabbage, and kale for a hearty comfort food that’s easy to make and customize.

person standing over a white pot with vegan colcannon

What is colcannon?

Colcannon is a traditional Irish side dish made with mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. It is eaten year-round and often alongside corned beef. I ate it quite a bit growing up and it’s part of the reason I consider mashed potatoes to be the ultimate comfort food! For reference, it is pronounced “KOL-cannon.”

The most basic variation is simply made with potatoes, cabbage, milk, and butter. In today’s recipe this is mixed it up a bit by adding more aromatics (in the form of shallots and leeks). This recipe is also completely dairy-free.

What kind of cabbage do you need for colcannon?

Any kind of green cabbage will work well in this recipe, but I recommend Savoy. It has a bit more natural texture than standard cabbage and is easily sliced into thin strips. If you do not have easy access to cabbage, another hearty green like kale can be easily substituted (though is not traditional).

Where does the name colcannon come from?

The first syllable “col” is likely comes from Irish “cál,” meaning cabbage. The second syllable may derive from “ceann-fhionn,” meaning a white head (i.e. “a white head of cabbage”). There are a few other potential origins of the term so I have not been able to come across the most specific origin!

overhead shot of vegan colcannon in a white pot on a wooden table

What is the difference between champ and colcannon?

Champ is a very similar Irish mashed potato recipe that uses scallions in place of kale or cabbage.

Ingredients Needed for Simple Vegan Colcannon

  • Organic golden potatoes
  • Salt
  • Butter (or olive oil)
  • Leek
  • Shallot
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Curly kale (or substitute with more cabbage)
  • Garlic
  • Vegan butter, like Miyokos
  • Unsweetened plain almond milk
  • Black pepper and sliced green onions, for serving

What can I eat alongside Irish mashed potatoes?

While corned beef is a traditional counterpoint, there are plenty of plant-based options that are just as satisfying. My favorite way to make this vegan colcannon into a full meal is to serve alongside a salad and plenty of cooked lentils for protein. I would also like to try it with my favorite vegan gravy.

Marinated tempeh would also be a good pairing for this recipe as it has a meat-like texture and would offer a satisfying textural contrast.

overhead view of vegan colcannon with butter and kale

I hope you love this recipe for vegan colcannon!

Looking for other St. Patrick’s Day recipes? Try this Easy Vegan Soda Bread next!

Do you love mashed potatoes? I do! Here are some other mashed potato recipes to try next:

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overhead shot of vegan colcannon in a white pot on a wooden table

Vegan Colcannon with Leeks

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


This Vegan Colcannon is a twist on the traditional Irish recipe for mashed potatoes and cabbage. This recipe uses leeks, savoy cabbage, and kale for a hearty comfort food that’s easy to make and customize. 


  • 1215 small/medium organic golden potatoes, or 45 large organic Yukon Golds, washed
  • Salt throughout
  • 2 TBS olive oil or butter
  • 1 leek, sliced into skinny rounds and rinsed of any dirt
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 23 cups Savoy cabbage, chopped into thin strips
  • 1.5 cups curly kale
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 TBS vegan butter, like Miyokos
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
  • Black pepper and sliced green onions, for serving


  1. Begin by slicing potatoes into roughly 1 inch cubes. Add to a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer and let cook uncovered, until a fork stuck in the potatoes can poke through without resistance, but not so long that the potatoes fall apart. This typically takes about 2o minutes for my but can take longer (up to 40 minutes) if you use a different kind of potato or have them cut into larger cubes. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. If desired, let cool and slip the skins off each cube (I skip this step as I don’t mind the skin). When finished, add potatoes back into the pot.
  2. Heat olive oil/butter in a skillet over medium. Add leek and shallot and season with a large pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes until mixture takes on a bit of color.
  3. Add cabbage and stir to combine. Let cabbage cook to soften, a few minutes more. The cabbage should release some water. Add kale on top of cabbage and cover with a lid to steam for a couple of minutes to soften. Stir, add another pinch of salt and minced garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and set aside
  4. Mash your potatoes with a masher or a large fork. Do not try blending them, as this can cause excess starch to release and make the potatoes “gummy.” Add half of the milk and stir to check consistency. Potatoes drink up liquid quickly, so you’ll likely want to add the rest of the milk to create a more creamy texture.
  5. Add cabbage/kale mixture to pot of potatoes, stirring to combine. Top with black pepper and green onions to serve.


Colcannon will keep for 5 days in the fridge. To reheat in the microwave you may want to add a bit more milk, if things are looking dry.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Irish


  • Serving Size: One sixth of recipe
  • Calories: 262 calories
  • Sugar: 3.6 grams
  • Sodium: 882 milligrams
  • Fat: 13.4 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 7.3 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 6.1 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 33.4 grams
  • Fiber: 4.2 grams
  • Protein: 4.7 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Keywords: potatoes, mashed, irish, leek, onion, st. patrick’s day


Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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  1. olivia says

    this recipe was amazing! a perfect addition to my family dinner – everyone enjoyed. i will definitely be making this again. such a tasty AND healthy dish!

  2. Sarah says

    I made this for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner and it was a big hit with my whole family! The addition of the leeks added so much flavor. Thanks – will definitely make again.

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