The Best Recipes To Help You Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Whether you have Irish roots of your own or you simply want to tip your hat (possibly a paddy cap?) to the rich cultural history of the Irish community, St. Patrick's Day should be filled with music, beer, green spirits, and hearty dishes that celebrate the Emerald Isle. The thing to remember is that Ireland is a northern island, so even though it might be warm wherever you live in the middle of March, it's likely still a bit chilly and brisk in Ireland, which ultimately means you should be filling your plate with hearty, hot dishes like stews, potatoes, and homemade breads. 

And of course, you'd be remiss if you forgot your beer — particularly stouts, or heavier, dark wheat varieties. Add a beer to your recipe (several of the following recipes call for beer, but there's no harm in throwing in a can to the other recipes, too), or load a case of Irish beer in your freezer to serve chilled with your meal (we suggest Guinness, Kilkenny Irish Cream, or O'Hara's Celtic Stout). Or, if you're just looking for something extra fun, rather than truly authentic, any green-colored food or drink will do. Cookies, cakes, and shakes are all a lighthearted way to nod your appreciation to the Irish, and to pay homage to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, every year on March 17. 

Corned beef and cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage is considered a traditional Irish dish, but its roots actually lie with the Irish community in the United States, where the affordable cut of meat and vegetable were purchased from kosher butchers and popularized with early Irish immigrants. But regardless of where the meal actually comes from, the slow-roasted brisket makes for a tasty option on St. Patrick's Day. Plus, if you don't eat the entire brisket, you can use the leftovers to make corned beef sandwiches (perhaps served on beer bread?). Or, if you make your corned beef on the March 16, you can serve corned beef and cabbage sandwiches as part of your St. Patrick's Day party — a fun twist to a traditional meal. 

To really round out this recipe, add steamed potatoes and carrots on the side, and don't forget to add a little Dijon mustard. Just remember, this isn't a quick meal to make — give yourself about four hours to prep, cook, and serve from start to finish. 

Copycat McDonald's Shamrock Shake

The Shamrock Shake invented and introduced by McDonald's in 1970 is a nod to the green colors of the Emerald Isle, but really has nothing to do with Irish culture. In other words, it's not a traditional shake with history dating back hundreds of years — it's just a fun excuse to drink a bright green, mint-flavored ice cream shake. And the reality is, it's incredibly quick and simple to make if you have the ingredients on hand — it would take longer to drive to McDonald's and go through the drive-thru than to whip one up at home. 

For this copycat Shamrock Shake recipe, all you need is vanilla ice cream, milk, maple syrup, mint extract, and, of course, green food coloring. Throw the ingredients in the blender, and serve cold, adding whipped cream and a cherry on top, if you're so inclined. The result is an especially fun way to introduce kids to the holiday celebrations — we suggest surprising your little ones with a Shamrock Shake for an unexpected after-school snack.

Beer bread

Traditional Irish meals often include soups and stews, and what pairs better with a hot bowl of stew than fresh, homemade bread? The beauty of this beer bread recipe is that it only requires four ingredients (including a full beer), and can be ready in an hour. If you make two or three loaves, you'll also be stocked up for making sandwiches with your St. Patty's Day leftovers. Or, if you're so inclined, you can make the beer bread in a rounded bread pan and serve your favorite stew in a beer bread bowl — simply slice off the top of the loaf and scoop out the interior portion (of course saving it to eat later) before serving your stew inside. 

The way to make this beer bread recipe into a truly Irish-inspired side is to use an Irish beer in the recipe. Guinness is a strong, full-flavored choice, but any of your favorite Irish beers will do the trick. 

Irish stew

When you think of stew, you probably think "meat and potatoes," (and maybe carrots and onions) which is more or less exactly what this traditional Irish stew recipe consists of. But beyond the basic ingredients, to make a truly delicious stew, you need time — about two and a half hours, to be exact. That's because in addition to the basics, this stew includes herbs, spices, and sauces that, when given time to simmer and cook for several hours, bring out flavors in the lamb and potatoes that will keep you returning to the pot for second (or maybe third) helpings. Just don't forget to serve the stew with your homemade beer bread or another crusty loaf (it's fine to buy one pre-made if you must) — you'll want to sop up all the extra broth when you've finished your stew. It really is that good!

Shepherd's pie

Shepherd's pie may seem like a complicated dish, including a hearty filling of meat and veggies topped with a flavorful, potato "crust," but you'll be surprised how easy it is to whip up this classic Irish dish. You can make it with your preferred choice of protein, such as lamb, or even vegan "meat" crumbles, but this Shepherd's pie recipe calls for nothing more than basic ground beef. The only thing that's a little complicated about shepherd's pie is that it's basically a three-step process to make: first, cook up the filling on the stovetop, combining your onions, peas, carrots, and meat with the necessary herbs and spices. Then, boil and mash your potatoes for the topping. Once those steps are done, transfer the filling to an oven-safe dish and layer the mashed potatoes, some cheese, and breadcrumbs on top before baking. After just 15 minutes in the oven, you'll have a piping hot meal that hearkens back to the lifestyle of Irish sheep farmers.