Best Traditional Irish Food You Should Try

Best Traditional Irish Food You Should Try

Last Updated on May 29, 2023

North and South, Ireland is rich in culture and with this comes great traditional Irish food.

These distinct, rich flavours will keep the memories of your visit to these beautiful lands lingering long after the tastes have left your palate.

There are so many different options to choose from, but here are a few of the highlights you can expect when you venture into the world of traditional Irish food.

The Ulster Fry

Is there anything more traditional in Northern Ireland than the Ulster Fry?

What started out as a hearty meal for farmers heading out into the fields for hours of hard graft became a headliner on every breakfast menu in the country and they haven’t looked back since.

The typical Ulster Fry is made up of a range of meats and breads that include bacon, black pudding, sausage, mushrooms, eggs, tomatoes, potato bread and soda bread. Combine this with a good cup of tea and your morning will be off to a great start.

The Belfast Bap

Step foot into Northern Ireland and you’ll see signs for a “bap” just about everywhere, from restaurants to food trucks.

This handy, portable meal is basically a large bread roll, usually filled with sausages or bacon. You can choose to have yours plain or with “red sauce” (ketchup).


This isn’t a meal on its own, but rather a creamy, delicious side dish.

Champ is made from potatoes, butter, milk and what sets it apart from your ordinary bowl of mashed potatoes is the addition of scallions, which give this dish its unforgettable taste.

You’ll be able to find this dish just about everywhere in Northern Ireland, usually served alongside a roast.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more beloved Sunday lunch option than champ.

The Irish Stew

The Irish Stew might have started out as a humble option for mothers looking to feed large families on cold winter nights with what they could find in the cupboards, but they’ve become mouth-watering dishes that are served in some of the most renowned restaurants in the country.

This savoury dish is usually made up of lamb, cooked for a significant amount of time to ensure it is tender and moist.

From there, various vegetables are added, depending on the season, but most recipes call for potatoes, onions, and carrots as a minimum.

Seafood Chowder

Ireland is known for its great seafood and being an island, it is certainly easy to get hold of.

Various parts of Ireland have developed reputations for different types of seafoods, from the Strangford Lough mussels to the Dublin Bay prawns, if you’re a seafood lover, you have a lot to look forward to when you visit this part of the world.

 A particularly popular dish in just about every restaurant is the seafood chowder, which is a creamy soup that is made from fish, prawns, potatoes and vegetables.

This warm, smoky dish is paired perfectly with a sour dough bread in many establishments, and you can choose to have it as a starter or a main.


Nothing screams Northern Ireland more than the traditional fifteens, which are essentially a traybake that are the staple at every market, school fete and church gathering. Sweet and desserts are very popular in Northern Ireland, there are some wonderful cake bakers in Belfast

The name is supposed to derive from the ingredients, making it easy enough to remember the recipe – simply add 15 digestive biscuits, 15 glace cherries and 15 marshmallows to a bowl of desiccated coconut and condensed milk.

Once everything has been crushed and mushed together, you’ll roll it into shape and put it into the fridge to set.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it will most definitely be satiated by this Northern Irish delight.

Soda Bread and Potato Bread

People in Northern Ireland don’t just love eating soda bread and potato bread – they love making it too.

You will not only find it in just about every restaurant in the country but throw a stone and you’ll hit a class that will show you how to make various types of these traditional breads.

Soda bread is very easy to make – generally, you’ll need to add only four ingredients to get it baking (flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk) while potato bread will require you to add some mashed potatoes into the mix. One thing is for sure – whether you’re eating or baking these treats, you’ll be having a good time.


This sweetened bread is made with dried fruit and cinnamon, and it is absolutely steeped in Irish tradition and history. Previously, this bread was baked on Halloween, where it would be stuffed with a variety of objects as part of a fortune-telling game.

For those receiving slices of the Barmbrack, they could have their fortune told by finding certain items within their slice, including coins, beans, and rings.

Each item had its own meaning associated with it – for example, if you got a coin in your slice, you’d have good fortune in the year ahead. Barmbracks were also being baked on New Year’s Eve and had its own tradition associated with this time of the year.

Specifically, a male would take a bite out of the bread and then throw the loaf against the door, in an attempt to invoke the Holy Spirit. This was with the aim of attempting to protect themselves from poverty.

People have been selling Barmbracks since the 19th century and you can still find them in markets to this day.

The Vegetable Roll

The vegetable roll is now being sold by the Hull company and has been since the 1950’s but history shows that it was being made long before that.

This dish may be a little misleading in name because it’s actually made from beef that is combined with tomato, leek and onion, and can be eaten on its own or with a breakfast or dinner meal.

Ireland – north and south – has such an incredible array of dishes that can be found in every nook and cranny of this beautiful island. If you’re looking to experience Ireland in all its uniqueness, it’s not a bad idea to start off in its restaurants, food trucks and cafés. 

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About Maria Kennedy

Maria Kennedy is the managing editor at Travel for Food Hub. Maria is on a full-tilt mission to share local food and travel inspiration. When she is not writing about food and travel, startups or social media, she is enjoying her time with her boys in sunny Spain.

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