St. Paddy’s Day Celebration Essentials

From the corned beef and cabbage dinner to a festive cocktail, we make sure you have all the recipes you need for St. Patrick’s Day
Corned Beef and Cabbage with Carrots and Potatoes is the classic St. Paddy’s Day meal

Adobe/Brent Hofacker

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is a national holiday in Ireland, but while the occasion is not an “official” holiday here, we can give the residents of the Emerald Isle a run for their euro with our own celebrations. Everyone is a wee bit Irish in spirit on St. Patrick’s Day, and since the date falls on a Friday this year, that is perfect timing to get the party started for a weekend of revelry. As with any party, food is central to the celebration, and you can host a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party with just a few classic dishes.


Get the party started with an appetizer of Irish cheese accompanied by nice crusty bread. Dubliner cheese is a good option. A sweet, mature cheese, it has a distinctive tang that combines the sharpness of mature cheddar, nuttiness of Swiss cheese, and a bite of Parmesan. There are also aged Irish cheddars that would be a delicious choice.

Irish Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Golden Raisins

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Irish Soda Bread

Irish soda bread is a traditional staple and is easy to make. More than a century and a half ago, out of necessity, it was common to make bread using baking soda rather than yeast in areas of rural Ireland. This means it can be made rather quickly, to be served warm either before or with the meal. You can also add raisins or nuts to make it more of a dessert bread or start the day with some for breakfast. There are many versions: Some are sweetened with sugar, and some cooks may add caraway seeds or cardamom. But one ingredient all recipe versions have in common is buttermilk. The baking soda has to be combined with something acidic in order to do its work, and buttermilk does the trick.

After making many recipes over the years, baker and cookbook author Beth Hensperger was thrilled to find this recipe for Irish Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Golden Raisins from her great-aunt Anna, which she contributed to Real Food. According to Hensperger, the addition of dried cherries makes it especially great toast that is delightfully crunchy and tastes remarkably like an English muffin.

You can also try this version of Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread by cookbook author and baking expert Elinor Klivans. It’s great on its own or as part of a delicious sandwich.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

The classic St. Paddy’s meal has got to be corned beef and cabbage. Just keep in mind that for tender, flavorful corned beef, you will need many hours for it to cook. Corned beef is beef brisket that is cured in a salt brine. (The meat stays pinkish red even after cooking due to this curing process.) It’s often boiled with seasonings such as peppercorns and bay leaves and many corned beef briskets come with a seasoning packet. Carrots and potatoes often accompany this meal, and a mustard sauce is a traditional condiment for the corned beef.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
10 small red potatoes
5 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges
Prepared mustard or horseradish, for serving (optional)

  1. Place corned beef in large pot and cover with water. Add spice packet. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.
  2. Add whole potatoes and julienned carrots and cook until vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook 15 minutes more.
  3. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Slice meat across the grain and place on platter with the vegetables. Serve with mustard or horseradish if desired.

The Drinks

Prairie Organic St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail

Prairie Organic Spirits

St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail

Adult beverages are often in order for your celebration. There is the ever-popular Guinness  beer, or you could whip up a green cocktail that is not only green in color but green in cause, such as the one below. Minnesota’s own  Prairie Organic Spirits  fosters organic farming—beginning with 100% USDA certified organic corn, raised on Midwestern family farms—and its small-batch distilling process is powered by 100% renewable energy, so wastes nothing along the way. You can raise a glass to this, too!

Makes 1

1 ounce Prairie Organic Vodka
½ tablespoon matcha powder or 2 ounces store-bought matcha tea
½ tablespoon simple syrup
½ tablespoon lemon juice
4 or 5 mint leaves
seltzer, to top

In a shaker, muddle mint leaves. Add vodka, matcha, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake until thoroughly mixed. Add ice and shake again until cold. Pour into a lowball glass, top with seltzer and garnish with remaining mint and lemon or a curl of cucumber.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

From shamrock cookies and cupcakes topped with green frosting to whole cakes sporting the emerald color, there is no shortage of sweet treats to choose from. Pair those sweets with a true Irish Coffee—brewed coffee with a shot of whiskey, not all those sweet, frothy numbers you might see on menus (though those are tasty, too).

Makes 1

1 shot Irish whiskey
Top with hot brewed coffee
Lightly whipped cream or heavy cream

Place bar spoon in a glass mug. Pour whiskey into the glass, top with hot brewed coffee and stir. Float cream on top.

Tip: For a good float, lightly whip or just shake the cream before pouring it over the bowl of a spoon.
Variation: You can sweeten with a little simple syrup or add liqueur, such as Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlúa to taste, before floating the cream.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.