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Irish Traditional Boxty Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide

Embark on a culinary journey to the Emerald Isle as you discover the art of making traditional Irish boxty. This classic potato dish has been enjoyed by generations of Irish families and offers a delicious and versatile option for meal times. By delving into the rich history of boxty, learning about its key ingredients, mastering its preparation, and experimenting with different cooking methods, you’ll soon be ready to create your very own authentic boxty recipe to share with friends and family.

Understanding the history of boxty

The origins of boxty

The exact origins of boxty are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been a staple in Irish cooking for hundreds of years. The name “boxty” comes from the Irish phrase “arán bocht tí,” which translates to “poor-house bread,” reflecting its association with the poorer classes. However, potatoes only became widely available in Ireland in the late 1500s, after they were introduced from the Americas. It is likely that boxty recipes were developed during the following centuries as the potato became a staple in the Irish diet.

The Great Famine and the role of potatoes

The period of Irish history known as the Great Famine (1845-1849) was marked by widespread potato crop failure and mass starvation. Despite this tragic event, the potato remained an essential part of the Irish diet. Boxty and other potato-based dishes were often consumed as a way to stretch meager resources and provide sustenance for families struggling to put food on the table.

Cultural significance of boxty in Ireland

In addition to its culinary role, boxty plays an important part in Irish folklore and tradition. There’s even a famous Irish rhyme about the dish, which goes:

“Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty,
You’ll never get a man!”

This rhyme reflects the cultural importance of boxty, as well as the connection between cooking skills and attractiveness in traditional Irish society. Over the years, boxty has become a symbol of Irish hospitality and is often served during holidays and special occasions, such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.

Evolution and modern variations of boxty

While the basic boxty recipe remains largely the same today as it was centuries ago, innovations and adaptations have been made to suit modern tastes and dietary preferences. Common variations include adding cheese, vegetables, or herbs to enhance the flavor, as well as topping boxty with ingredients like smoked salmon or bacon to make a more substantial meal.

Today, you can find boxty in various forms, from traditional pancakes to dumplings, fried cakes, and even wraps. As the popularity of Irish cuisine continues to grow, so too do the varieties and interpretations of this classic dish.


Boxty is a traditional Irish dish with a long and storied history, from its humble beginnings in poor-house kitchens to its modern status as a beloved comfort food. By understanding the history of boxty, we can appreciate not only its delicious flavor but also its cultural significance and the ways in which it has helped to sustain generations of Irish people. So the next time you enjoy a warm, satisfying plate of boxty, take a moment to think about the centuries of history and tradition that have gone into its creation.

An image of a plate of boxty with a fork on the side, surrounded by grated potatoes and herbs

Choosing the right ingredients

Raw potatoes:

Begin by selecting the right type of potatoes for your traditional boxty recipe. Choose high-starch, low-moisture potatoes, such as Russet or Idaho potatoes. These types of potatoes are great for grating and hold their shape better when mixed with other ingredients. When selecting potatoes, ensure that they are firm, have smooth skin without bruises, and do not have any green spots or sprouts.

Cooked potatoes:

For cooked potatoes, you can either use leftover mashed potatoes or freshly cook the potatoes specifically for the boxty recipe. To cook potatoes, peel and dice them into small, equally sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Boil them in a pot of water until they are soft and tender, then drain and mash them using a potato masher or fork. Make sure not to over-mash the potatoes or add too much liquid, as this can result in a soggy, sticky boxty mixture.


A traditional boxty recipe typically calls for all-purpose flour. However, you can also experiment with other types of flour, such as whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour, depending on your dietary preferences or requirements. All-purpose flour will give your boxty a light, tender texture, while whole wheat flour can add a chewier, nuttier taste.


Buttermilk is a key ingredient in a traditional boxty recipe and provides both moisture and tanginess to the dish. Choose a high-quality, full-fat buttermilk for the best results, as low-fat or nonfat buttermilk can yield a less flavorful and denser boxty. If you cannot find buttermilk at your local grocery store, you can make your own by adding one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of whole milk, and allowing it to sit for 10 minutes.


Kosher salt or sea salt is the best choice for seasoning your boxty. Unlike table salt, these salts have large, coarse grains and a milder, less metallic taste. They will help to enhance and balance the flavor of the potatoes without overwhelming the dish.

Optional ingredients:

While not essential for a traditional boxty recipe, you can add a few other extra ingredients to the mixture to enhance the flavor and texture, such as grated onion, chopped chives or green onions, and even grated cheese. When selecting optional ingredients, consider the taste preferences of those who will be enjoying the dish and choose complementary ingredients accordingly.

An image of a traditional boxty recipe with ingredients such as potatoes, flour, buttermilk, salt, and optional ingredients such as cheese and chives all arranged on a wooden table.

Preparing the potatoes


  • 1 lb (450 g) peeled raw potatoes
  • 1 lb (450 g) cooked and mashed potatoes
  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Approx. 1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk (adjust as needed)
  • Butter for frying


  1. Preparing the raw potatoes:
    • Rinse the peeled raw potatoes under cold running water to remove any excess dirt or starch.
    • Grate the raw potatoes using a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment. Make sure to use the large-hole side of the grater for best results. Grate the potatoes directly onto a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth.
    • Once all the potatoes are grated, gather the edges of the kitchen towel or cheesecloth and, over a bowl or sink, twist and squeeze the grated potatoes to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the starchy liquid and set the grated potatoes aside.
  2. Preparing the cooked potatoes:
    • Boil the peeled potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Check for doneness by piercing a potato with a fork or knife; it should slide through without resistance.
    • Drain the cooked potatoes and allow them to cool slightly before mashing.
    • Mash the cooked potatoes using a potato masher or a potato ricer. Make sure there are no lumps to ensure a smooth texture in your boxty.
  3. Combining the potatoes for boxty:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated raw potatoes with the mashed potatoes.
    • Stir in the flour and salt, mixing well.
    • Gradually add the buttermilk, mixing until you have a thick, yet pourable batter consistency. Adjust the amount of buttermilk as needed. It should be thicker than pancake batter but thinner than mashed potatoes.
  4. Cooking the boxty:
    • Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add a knob of butter.
    • Allow the butter to melt and coat the skillet, then pour in a ladle-full of boxty batter. You can make them as large or as small as you’d like, but around 1/4 cup of batter per boxty works well.
    • Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes per side, or until the boxty is golden brown and cooked through. The edges should be somewhat crispy.
    • Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
  5. Serving the boxty:
    • Serve your boxty warm, as a side dish, or as a base for toppings like smoked salmon, sour cream, or cooked vegetables. Enjoy!

A plate of golden brown boxty served with smoked salmon and sour cream. Boxty is made with a combination of grated raw potatoes, cooked and mashed potatoes, flour, salt, and buttermilk, and is fried in hot butter until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Mixing the batter

– 2 cups grated raw potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
– 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
– 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)

1. Begin by preparing the grated raw potatoes. Wash and peel the potatoes and, using a box grater or food processor, grate them into a clean kitchen towel. Then, gather the edges of the towel and squeeze the grated potatoes over a bowl to remove any excess moisture. This will help prevent the batter from becoming too wet.

2. Place the squeezed grated potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add the mashed potatoes. Combine the two using a fork or your hands, making sure there are no large lumps of mashed potato.

3. In a separate bowl, sift the all-purpose flour to remove any lumps. This will help create a smooth and even batter.

4. Gradually add the sifted flour to the potato mixture, using a wooden spoon to mix until well combined. The mixture should resemble a thick, lumpy batter at this point.

5. In another small bowl or measuring cup, mix the buttermilk and baking soda together. The baking soda will react with the buttermilk, causing it to fizz slightly. This reaction will help give the boxty a light and fluffy texture.

6. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the potato and flour mixture, stirring continuously to avoid any lumps from forming. Mix the batter until it is smooth and well combined. If the batter seems too wet or too dry, you can adjust the consistency by either adding more flour or buttermilk as needed.

7. (Optional) Season the batter with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Mix well to evenly distribute the seasonings.

8. Allow the batter to rest for about 15 minutes, giving the flour time to fully hydrate and the baking soda to activate. This will also help to develop the flavors in the boxty.

9. Your boxty batter is now ready to cook! Follow your preferred cooking method (pan-frying, grilling, or baking) to create delicious traditional Irish boxty pancakes. Enjoy them with your favorite toppings or as a tasty side dish.

A bowl of white batter with a wooden spoon lying on the batter in a diagonal position.

Cooking methods

Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made with grated raw potatoes, mashed potatoes, flour, and sometimes other ingredients like buttermilk and eggs. It can be pan-fried, boiled, or baked, depending on your preference. Here, we provide instructions for each cooking method.- 2 cups grated raw potatoes (Russet potatoes work well)
– 1 cup mashed potatoes (cooked and mashed)
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
– 2 eggs (optional)
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– Butter or oil for cooking1. Prepare your potatoes: Grate the raw potatoes, and then place them in a clean cloth or cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and discard the liquid.2. In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes, mashed potatoes, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.3. If you are using eggs, whisk them together with the buttermilk. Add this mixture to the potato mixture and stir well to combine. If not using eggs, just add the buttermilk to the potato mixture and mix well.4. Now, choose your cooking method:

– Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the pan.
– Drop spoonfuls of the boxty mixture onto the hot pan, and use a spatula to flatten them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick.
– Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through.
– Keep the cooked boxty warm while you cook the remaining batter by placing them on a plate and covering them with a clean kitchen towel.

– Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
– Shape the boxty mixture into small dumplings or patties about the size of a golf ball.
– Drop the boxty dumplings into the boiling water, being careful not to overcrowd the pot.
– Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked through and firm.
– Remove the boiled boxty with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

– Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
– Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it with butter or oil.
– Drop spoonfuls of the boxty mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and use a spatula to flatten them into rounds about 1/4-inch thick.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through, flipping the boxty halfway through.5. Serve your boxty warm with your favorite toppings or sides, such as sour cream, applesauce, or smoked salmon.

Enjoy the delicious taste of traditional Irish boxty made with your preferred cooking method!”

A picture of traditional Irish Boxty served with sour cream and sprinkled with dill.

Testing and tweaking the recipe

To perfect your traditional boxty recipe, it’s important to experiment with different ingredient ratios and methods. This guide will help you test and tweak the recipe as you gain practical experience and work towards achieving the best flavor and texture.1. Gather your ingredients:
– Raw potatoes
– Cooked mashed potatoes
– All-purpose flour
– Baking soda
– Salt
– Buttermilk
– Vegetable oil or butter (for frying)2. Start with a basic recipe:
– 1 cup grated raw potatoes
– 1 cup cooked mashed potatoes
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup buttermilk3. Grate the raw potatoes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Save the starchy residue left behind.4. In a large bowl, mix the grated raw potatoes, cooked mashed potatoes, flour, baking soda, and salt.5. Gradually add the buttermilk to the mixture, stirring gently until you achieve a smooth, thick batter consistency.6. Now it’s time to experiment! Here are a few ways to test and tweak your boxty recipe:

a. Ingredient ratios
– Try adjusting the ratios of raw to cooked potatoes, as well as the amount of flour and buttermilk.
– Experiment with using more or less salt and baking soda.

b. Preparation methods
– Squeeze out varying amounts of excess liquid from the grated potatoes to see its effect on texture.
– Experiment with different methods of cooking the potatoes, such as boiling or baking.

c. Frying
– Test various frying methods, such as pan-frying or griddle cooking.
– Try different oils and butter, as well as varying the cooking temperature and time for the boxty.7. As you test each variant, take note of the changes in flavor and texture. Keep track of your favorite combinations and tweak accordingly.8. When you’re happy with your recipe, it’s time to cook your traditional boxty. Heat the vegetable oil or butter in a frying pan over medium heat.9. Scoop spoonfuls of the boxty batter into the pan and spread it out evenly into a circular shape. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.10. Serve your perfected traditional boxty with your choice of toppings, such as sour cream, chives, cheese, or applesauce.Remember, the key to achieving the best flavor and texture in your traditional boxty recipe is patience, practice, and a willingness to experiment. Happy cooking!

A plate with golden brown traditional boxty and toppings like sour cream, chives, cheese, and applesauce.

Serving suggestions

– 2 cups of grated raw potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
– 2 cups of mashed cooked potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
– 2 cups of all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
– 1/2 cup of milk
– 2 tablespoons of melted butter or vegetable oil
– Additional butter or oil for frying

1. Begin by peeling and grating the raw potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in a cheesecloth or kitchen towel and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated raw potatoes, mashed cooked potatoes, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper until well mixed.

3. Stir in the milk and melted butter or oil until a thick, smooth batter forms.

4. Preheat a griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a small amount of butter or oil to grease the surface.

5. Scoop approximately 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle or skillet and flatten with the back of a spoon or spatula to form a circular pancake about 1/4-inch thick.

6. Fry the boxty for about 4 minutes on each side, or until it is golden brown and crispy.

7. Place the cooked boxty on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess grease. Serve warm.

Serving suggestions:
1. Traditional Irish breakfast: Serve boxty alongside eggs, bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, and grilled tomatoes for a hearty breakfast. A side of Irish soda bread or brown bread would also make a great addition.

2. Smoked salmon and cream cheese: Spread a layer of cream cheese onto a warm boxty pancake and top with slices of smoked salmon, capers, and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

3. Boxty with sour cream and chives: Top your warm boxty with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh chives. For an added twist, you can also add some crispy bacon bits on top.

4. Corned beef and cabbage: Serve boxty alongside a generous helping of tender corned beef, cooked with cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. A mustard sauce or horseradish cream makes a perfect dipping accompaniment.

5. Irish stew: Spoon a hearty Irish stew made with tender chunks of lamb or beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions over a boxty pancake for a hearty and satisfying meal.

6. Sweet toppings: For a dessert option, serve boxty with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of lemon juice, or topped with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries.

Remember, boxty can be enjoyed at any time of the day and can be customized with your favorite toppings and accompaniments. Enjoy experimenting with various ingredients and give your boxty a personal touch!

A delicious traditional Irish boxty pancake with different serving suggestions, perfect for any meal of the day.

Storing and reheating

Storing Leftover Boxty:

  1. Allow the boxty to cool completely: Before storing your leftover boxty, make sure to let them cool down completely at room temperature. This will prevent condensation from forming, which can make your boxty soggy.
  2. Use airtight containers: Store your leftover boxty in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. This will help preserve the texture and taste of the boxty and prevent it from drying out or absorbing other flavors from your refrigerator.
  3. Separate layers with wax or parchment paper: If you have multiple layers of boxty, separate each layer with a piece of wax or parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together. This will make it easier to reheat individual pieces without damaging them.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze: Boxty can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. If you plan on freezing your leftover boxty, make sure to label and date the container so you know when it was prepared.

Reheating Leftover Boxty:

  1. Thawing (if frozen): If you stored your boxty in the freezer, take it out and place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to thaw. This will help the boxty reheat evenly without being overcooked or dried out.
  2. Oven method: The best way to reheat your boxty without compromising the taste and quality is to use the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the boxty on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and heat for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through and crispy on the outside. Keep an eye on them to prevent overcooking.
  3. Skillet method: You can also reheat the boxty on the stovetop using a non-stick skillet or griddle. Heat the skillet over medium heat and add a little bit of butter or oil. Place the boxty in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until heated through and crisp on the outside.
  4. Microwave: Although this isn’t the best method, you can use a microwave to reheat your boxty if necessary. Place the boxty on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a paper towel. Heat on medium power for 1-2 minutes, checking every 30 seconds to ensure even heating. The texture might be slightly softer compared to oven or skillet methods.
  5. Serve immediately: Once your boxty is reheated, serve it immediately to enjoy the best taste and texture. You can serve it with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, applesauce, or alongside a traditional Irish breakfast.

A traditional Irish dish called Boxty, made with potatoes and flour.

Having explored the fascinating history, mastered the art of selecting ingredients and preparing potatoes, navigated various cooking methods, and experimented with serving suggestions, you are now well-equipped to join the ranks of boxty enthusiasts. With these newfound skills and knowledge, you’ll effortlessly create mouthwatering and authentic Irish boxties that will not only tantalize your taste buds but also showcase the rich culinary heritage of Ireland. Happy cooking!

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