Whenever we talk about food, there is some lack of appreciation for what Irish cuisine can offer. This misconception extends to our daily homemade meals, Christmas, or traditional Irish Easter foods. However, despite not receiving as much praise as other countries like France and Italy, we cook excellent dishes on this island.
If you’re curious about traditional Irish Easter foods to cook at home, you’ve come to the right place. From hot cross buns to spring lamb, there are plenty of delicious dishes to try. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most iconic Easter foods and traditions, so sit back and enjoy the voyage.
Hot Cross Buns
Perhaps the most ‘remarkable’ – pardon the pun – Irish Easter foods is the Hot Cross Bun. These buns are made with dried fruit, such as currants or raisins, and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. We often serve them warm with Irish butter and jam, making them a delicious and classic Easter treat.
Now, a bit of backstory, if you like. The buns are usually marked with a cross, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. However, some baking specialists may argue the cross is a rack to prevent them from bursting unevenly in the oven. As it is Easter, we will go with the first option.
To make hot cross buns at home, you’ll need:
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of allspice
- 1/2 cup of dried currants or raisins
- 1 cup of warm milk
- 1/4 cup of melted butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add the currants or raisins. In a separate bowl, combine the warm milk, melted butter, egg, and lemon juice and mix them.
Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. Let it rise for an hour, then shape the dough into buns and bake at 375°F for 15 minutes. Brush with a little bit of sugar syrup, and enjoy!
Pro tip: for the cross on the buns, you can pipe a mixture of flour and water (the most traditional way) on top of the bun before baking. If you prefer, you can add icing instead. In this case, the icing is added after baking.
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In Ireland, lamb is always a popular choice for dinner, but even more so on Easter Sunday. The tender lamb meat symbolizes rebirth and renewal, which summarizes precisely the meaning of the holiday. We usually roast a leg of lamb with herbs and serve them with a side of seasonal vegetables and mash. This hearty and comforting meal is perfect for sharing with family and friends.
To make a delicious spring lamb at home, you’ll need:
- 1 leg of lamb
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Combine the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and rub the mixture all over the leg of lamb. Roast the lamb in the oven at 325°F for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F for medium-rare.
Pro tip: We usually serve lamb with mint sauce. Trust us, it’s a delicious combination!
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You might correct us and say that salted herring during Easter is more of a Swedish tradition. However, Ireland also has an intriguing herring tradition.
Salted herring was a popular food during Lent in coastal regions of Ireland. Not only that but in some parts of Ireland, there was also a ritual of whipping the herring on the last day of Lent. It involved a procession through the streets, where butchers whipped a dead herring and threw it into the river/sea.
This tradition has died out, but you can still use it to inspire your Good Friday meal. One way to do this is by preparing a traditional salted herring dish, perhaps with a modern twist, such as a Guinness marinade.
To make delicious salted herrings in Guinness at home, you’ll need:
- 4 salted herrings
- 2 cups of Guinness
- 2 tbsp. of honey
- 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. of olive oil
- 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp. of chopped fresh chives
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the excess salt by soaking the salted herrings in water for 24 hours. Drain and pat the herrings dry with paper towels.
Combine all of the wet ingredients and spices in a bowl. Dip the herrings in the marinade and bring them to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cooking. Remove the herrings from the marinade and place them on a preheated grill or broiler. Grill or broil each side of the herrings for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.
Pro tip: Serve it hot-sided with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans or broccoli.
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And yes, Easter in Ireland would not be complete without the traditional chocolate egg. Here, we do the traditional egg hunt, and the Easter bunny also comes by leaving some chocolate for children and adults. Like in other countries, Irish chocolate Easter eggs range from small and simple to large and elaborate and often come with a surprise inside.
Okay, this is not strictly an Easter tradition. However, it is indeed a remarkable Irish tradition during the season. Shrove Tuesday, which happens a day before Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of Lent in Ireland.
On this day, we usually eat pancakes served with various toppings, from lemon juice and sugar to Nutella and whipped cream. We’ve talked all about that tradition here.
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To sum it up!
Whether you landed on this post to learn more about Irish food and customs or to find a recipe for your Easter dinner, there’s something here for every purpose. From hot cross buns to spring lamb to history and peculiar traditions, these dishes will delight your taste buds, and the facts will satisfy your hunger for knowledge.
Happy Easter or Beannachtaí na Cásca ort
Irish jewelry to spoil your loved ones
Spoil her with meaningful gifts. Choose sparkly and pretty items that speak to her Irish heritage.