Traditional Irish Boxty Recipe The Beloved Irish Potato Pancakes

Traditional Irish Boxty Recipe: The Beloved Irish Potato Pancakes

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Updated on March 13, 2024

Hailing from the Emerald Isle’s north midlands and northwest counties, Boxty (pronounced “bock-see”) boasts a unique history intertwined with Ireland’s resilience. Also known as an Irish potato pancake or a Farl (depending on the region you visit), Boxty is a unique and cherished dish that has been warming Irish bellies for centuries.

Irish Boxty is more than just a delicious side dish; it’s a taste of Irish comfort food at its finest. This humble dish, made with a combination of grated and mashed spuds, has transformed into a versatile staple, enjoyed fried, griddled, or even boiled (especially around Halloween).

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about making the perfect Irish Boxty. We are going to discover a traditional Irish Boxty recipe and the secrets behind achieving that crispy, golden exterior and fluffy interior while also unravelling the history and variations of this beloved dish. Let’s get started!

Beyond Irish Potato Pancake: What is Boxty?

What is Irish Boxty

More than just the average Irish potato pancake, Boxty boasts a complex history and a flavour profile that sets it apart. While sometimes referred to as a “Farl” in certain regions of Ireland, particularly Ulster, Boxty offers a textural experience unlike any other potato pancake.

Unlike some potato pancakes that can be greasy or dense, Boxty achieves a delightful balance—crispy without being greasy and satisfyingly filling without feeling heavy.

Origins of Irish Boxty

Historians believe Boxty emerged sometime in the 1700s, a time when the potato had become a vital staple food across Ireland. Potatoes thrived in Ireland’s cool, moist climate, offering a reliable source of sustenance for a growing population. 

The simplicity of Boxty’s ingredients reflects this practicality. Made primarily of grated or mashed potatoes, sometimes bulked up with flour or oatmeal, Boxty was a resourceful way to stretch precious potato harvests.

A Staple During the Potato Famine

Origins of Irish Boxty

The importance of Boxty reached a peak during the devastating Potato Famine (1845-1852). With the potato crop decimated by potato blight, Boxty became a lifeline for many Irish families. The dish’s ability to use every edible part of the potato, including peels, ensured families could maximise their meagre rations. 

While the Famine undoubtedly cast a dark shadow on Irish history, Boxty’s enduring legacy serves as a testament to human ingenuity and resilience in the face of hardship.

Possible Etymology

One theory for the name “Boxty” comes from the Irish phrase “arán bocht tí,” which translates to “poorhouse bread.” This suggests Boxty’s association with less fortunate times and its role as a source of sustenance for the most impoverished members of Irish society. Another possibility is that the name stems from the Irish Gaelic word “bacstaí,” which simply means “baked goods.” Regardless of its precise origin, the name Boxty undeniably carries a sense of history and tradition.

Variations Across Ireland

While the core concept of Boxty remains consistent—grated potatoes fried to crispy perfection—regional variations add a delightful layer of diversity to the dish. The variations showcase the adaptability of Boxty and how it can be enjoyed throughout the day.

In Ulster, for example, Boxty forms a part of the iconic Ulster Fry, a hearty breakfast featuring sausages, bacon, and soda bread. Meanwhile, a softer version called “Champ” is popular in counties like Mayo and Donegal. Champ incorporates mashed potato with the grated mixture, creating a creamier texture. 

Traditional Irish Boxty Recipe

Traditional Irish Boxty Recipe

Let’s get down to the delicious business of making the traditional Irish Boxty recipe. This recipe focuses on the classic pancake-style Boxty, perfect for a hearty breakfast, satisfying lunch, or delightful side dish.


  • 2 cups grated raw russet potatoes (starchy potatoes work best)
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (cold or at room temperature)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Buttermilk, as needed (about ½ cup)
  • Butter or vegetable oil for frying


  1. Begin by shredding your raw russet potatoes using the coarse side of a box grater. Transfer the grated potatoes to a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much excess moisture as possible. 
  2. Combine the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the grated ones. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to the potato mixture, using a fork or spoon to gently fold it until it is combined.
  4. Crack in the egg and continue to fold it in until fully incorporated. 
  5. Add the buttermilk a little at a time, mixing well after each addition until you achieve a thick batter consistency. 
  6. Season your Boxty batter generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Heat a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Melt a pat of butter or add a drizzle of vegetable oil. 
  8. Once hot, use a spoon or measuring cup to scoop portions of the Boxty batter onto the pan, forming them into roughly 3-inch wide pancakes.
  9. Fry the Boxty for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Gently flip the Boxty halfway through cooking to ensure even browning.

Irish Boxty Recipe Variations

Irish Boxty Recipe Variations

Irish Boxty is versatile and can be made with various flavour variations and adapted to different dietary needs. Here are some exciting ways to customise your Boxty recipe. 

Gluten-Free Boxty Recipe

For a gluten-free version, replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free alternative like almond flour, coconut flour, or a gluten-free baking blend. Keep in mind that gluten-free flours may absorb moisture differently, so you might need to adjust the amount of buttermilk accordingly. Experiment and find the perfect consistency for you.

Vegan Boxty Recipe


Transform your Boxty into a vegan delight! Substitute the egg with a flaxseed meal “egg” by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Use unsweetened plant-based milk instead of buttermilk, and choose a vegan-friendly cooking oil for frying. 

Veggie Boxty Recipe  

Simply fold in grated vegetables like shredded carrots, chopped scallions, or finely diced bell peppers to your Boxty batter before frying. These additions not only add vibrant colour but also introduce delightful textural contrast and a fresh flavour boost.

Cheesy Boxty Recipe

Elevate your Boxty experience by adding shredded cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan to the batter. The melty cheese adds a delightful richness and gooey goodness that will take your Boxty to the next level.

Boiled Boxty Recipe

Boiled Boxty is another traditional way of cooking Boxty. To make boiled Boxty:

  1. Simply shape the boxty mixture into small dumplings and drop them into a pot of boiling water.
  2. Cook for around 20-25 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through.
  3. Serve hot with a knob of butter.

Baked Boxty Recipe

Baked Boxty is a more modern way of cooking Boxty, but it’s just as delicious. To make baked Boxty:

  1. Simply shape the boxty mixture into a loaf and place it onto a baking tray.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for around 45-50 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through.
  3. Serve hot with your favourite accompaniments.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Irish Boxty

Tips for Achieving Perfect Irish Boxty

Boxty recipe might seem simple, but achieving that perfect balance of crispy and fluffy requires a few key techniques. Here are some expert tips to ensure your Boxty turns out crispy, fluffy, and utterly delicious.

  1. Starchy russet potatoes are ideal for Boxty as they contain more moisture and starch, which contribute to a crispier texture.
  2. Wringing out excess moisture from the grated potatoes is crucial for achieving crispy Boxty. Too much moisture will result in a soggy Boxty. Aim for a damp texture, not a dripping one.
  3. Buttermilk adds a wonderful tang and helps activate the baking soda for a slight rise. However, adding too much can make the batter runny. The key is to add it gradually and stop once you achieve a thick, dropping consistency.
  4. Don’t overcrowd your pan, and ensure it’s nice and hot before adding the Boxty batter. This helps sear the outside quickly, preventing it from soaking up too much oil.
  5. Be gentle when flipping your Boxty. Since they’re delicate, use a wide spatula and avoid pressing down on them. 
  6. Let the Boxty cook undisturbed for a few minutes before attempting to flip to ensure a clean release from the pan.
  7. Keep an eye on your Boxty while they cook, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent burning. The ideal colour is a beautiful golden brown on both sides.
  8. Once cooked, let your Boxty rest on paper towels for a minute or two to absorb any excess oil and ensure a perfectly crispy exterior.

Irish Boxty Serving Suggestions

Irish Boxty Serving Suggestions

Irish Boxty can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as a delightful appetiser. There’s a world of delicious accompaniments that can elevate your Boxty experience to new heights. Here are some classic and modern ideas to inspire you.

Traditional Irish Pairings

  • For a truly authentic Irish experience, pair your Boxty with a dollop of real Irish butter. The rich, creamy texture of Irish butter beautifully complements the potato flavour of the Boxty.
  • For a luxurious combination, serve your Boxty with smoked salmon. The smoky richness of the salmon creates a delightful contrast with the potato, making for a truly special appetiser or light lunch.
  • For a hearty brunch, top your Boxty with a perfectly poached egg. The runny yolk adds a touch of richness and creaminess, making each bite an absolute delight.

Modern Twists

  • For a lighter and refreshing touch, consider a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh chives. The tangy sour cream cuts through the richness of the Boxty, while the chives add a vibrant pop of colour and freshness.
  • For a fiesta of flavours, try your Boxty with your favourite salsa. The chunky tomatoes, zesty peppers, and bright flavours of salsa add a whole new dimension to the Boxty experience.
  • Guacamole makes a fantastic and flavourful accompaniment to Boxty. The creamy avocado complements the potato, while the lime juice adds a touch of acidity for a well-balanced and satisfying combination.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Boxty

How to Store and Reheat Irish Boxty

Leftover Irish Boxty reheats beautifully, allowing you to enjoy this delicious dish throughout the week. Here’s how to store and reheat your Boxty to ensure it retains its crispy perfection.

Proper Storage Methods

Allow your leftover Boxty to cool completely before storing them to help prevent condensation and the growth of bacteria. Once cool, wrap your leftover Boxty tightly in plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container. This prevents them from drying out or absorbing unwanted flavours.

For short-term storage, place leftover Boxty in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cover them loosely with another layer of paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator. Boxty can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

Boxty can be frozen for up to 3 months, making them a great option for meal prepping or enjoying later. Allow leftover Boxty to cool completely. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label the bag with the date for easy reference. When ready to enjoy your frozen Boxty, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.

Reheating Options and Methods

The key to successfully reheating Boxty is achieving a crispy exterior while maintaining a fluffy interior. There are a few methods you can choose from.

  1. Pan: Heat a pat of butter or a drizzle of oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add your leftover Boxty and cook for a few minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  2. Oven: Preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F). Place leftover Boxty on a baking sheet and heat for 5-7 minutes per side or until warmed through and crispy.
  3. Air Fryer: For a healthier option, preheat your air fryer to 200°C (400°F). Place leftover Boxty in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until crispy.

Final Notes

So, Boxty is not just a simple Irish potato pancake but a beloved dish that has a rich history and a unique taste. It’s a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or as a side dish. With the help of this comprehensive guide, you can now create your own authentic Irish Boxty recipe with a crispy exterior, fluffy interior, and amazing taste.

Feeling inspired to delve deeper into Irish cuisine? Explore our website for many amazing recipes! You can learn how to make hearty Irish stew at home or explore our guide to other traditional Irish dishes. We have everything for you! 

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