Celebrate an Authentic Saint Patricks Day

Celebrate an Authentic Saint Patricks Day

A real Saint Paddy’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with green. To do it right, follow these tips.

Hold on to your leprechaun hat: you may be surprised to learn that Saint Patrick’s color was blue. In fact, the holiday didn’t go “green” until the 17th century. And green bagels, green beer, those crazy hats—even corned beef and cabbage—are all American made. “Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland has traditionally been a more subdued affair,” says chef Margaret Johnson, who has written nine Irish-themed cookbooks. 

And while today’s Ireland embraces many of our Irish American customs, extending the fun and fanfare over a four- or five-day festival, you still might have a hard time locating a green bagel in the Emerald Isle.

Johnson says the ingredients that shape the country’s cooking remain at the heart of traditional Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. An array of seasonal fruits and vegetables; smoked, cured, and spiced meats and fish; and an abundance of dairy—cheese and fresh cream, eggs, milk, and butter—are more likely to be found on the Irish table than any of our signature Irish American dishes. “Corned beef and cabbage is the American interpretation of bacon and cabbage, and I don’t mean breakfast bacon,” explains Johnson. “Irish bacon is boiling bacon—literally the leg of the pig, salted, cured, and served with potatoes and cabbage.”

With that in mind, we asked Johnson to share a few ideas for making your Saint Paddy’s Day just a little more Gaelic. “A simple thing to create is a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ of cheese, meat, chutney, and brown soda bread,” she says. “If you are hosting a dinner, spring lamb, roast beef, and even grilled salmon are wonderful choices.” Johnson suggests pairing the main course with new potatoes, roasted carrots, and of course boiled or braised cabbage.

If you stop by your local Panera Bread®, consider ordering a bowl of our Baked Potato Soup. Homestyle cuts of russet potatoes are simmered with select seasonings and smoked bacon in a rich cream sauce flavored with spring onion and snipped chives, conjuring up the traditional Irish flavors. 

And for dessert, Johnson offers this recipe for Irish Cream Sauce, which can be served over bread pudding, ice cream, apple spice cake, or even a slice of our Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake. 

Irish Cream Sauce


1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1 cup dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons salted Irish butter 

2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur


  1. Combine the cream, brown sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, without stirring, until thickened, 5 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the Irish cream, remove the sauce from the heat, and serve.