Boxty are Irish potato pancakes made from a combination of grated and mashed potatoes that are fried until delightfully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They’re irresistibly delicious! This traditional boxty recipe uses simple ingredients, is easy to make, and you’ll absolutely love the results!
What is Boxty?
Boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake and comes from the Irish arán bocht tí which translates as “poorhouse bread,” though it may also come from the word bácús, meaning “bakehouse.” It’s made with a combination of raw grated potato and cooked mashed potatoes with the end result being something akin to a hash brown pancake. While it’s most commonly fried in pancake form, boxty has also traditionally been made by baking it in a loaf pan and slicing it and also by making the dough thicker, rolling it into a ball, and gently simmering it like a giant dumpling.
Boxty has been a staple food in Ireland since the 1700’s. There’s an old Irish rhyme that reflects its cultural significance:
Boxty on the griddle; boxty on the pan. If you can’t make boxty, you’ll never get a man!
Though enjoyed year-round, boxty is traditionally served on St. Brigid’s Day (February 1st), the patron saint of dairy.
The ingredients are simple: Potato (grated and mashed), flour, baking soda and buttermilk. The buttermilk contributes both flavor and acts as the acid necessary to activate the baking soda, giving the potato pancakes a little lift.
Researching old recipes for boxty and chatting with friends from Ireland, I’ve found that everyone uses different binding agents for their boxty batter – buttermilk, milk, cream, eggs, butter – each one producing a different texture. It’s largely a matter of personal preference and you can experiment to determine which one you like best.
How to Serve Boxty
The first key is to serve them straight from the frying pan (or as soon thereafter as possible) so they retain their crispy exterior. Traditionally they were served with freshly churned butter (a nod to St. Brigid, patron saint of dairy). They can also be served with crème fraîche and a sprinkling of scallions/green onions, with bacon and eggs, smoked salmon, or with honey for a sweet variation. Some modern adaptations also include shredded white cheddar and parsley or scallions mixed into the batter.
Can Boxty Be Made in Advance?
Yes they can! Wrap and store them in the refrigerator and reheat them by frying them in a skillet with more butter.
Irish Boxty Recipe
Let’s get started!
Boil, drain, and mash the potatoes. Chill until cold or overnight.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Grate the potatoes, place them on a cotton clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as you can.
Note: The traditional method involves wringing the potato water into a bowl, waiting about 30 minutes to allow the starch to collect at the bottom of the liquid, pouring off the liquid and saving the starch to mix back into the boxty batter (the starch acts as a binder and helps make the boxty crispier). Many Irish chefs still do this and others don’t. You can decide which end result you prefer. If you skip this step you may need to cut back a little on the buttermilk.
Place the cold mashed potatoes, grated potatoes, and flour mixture in a large mixing bowl.
Add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and combine the mixture. If the mixture is too thick/dry, add a little extra.
Heat some butter, bacon grease, lard or oil in a heavy pan over medium-high. Scoop the potato mixture into the pan to form individual patties, pressing down on them to flatten them.
Fry until the bottom is nicely browned and then flip them over and fry the other sides are likewise nicely browned. Be careful not to cook them too fast or they will become browned before the raw potato is cooked. Adjust the heat as needed.
Transfer the boxty to a warm oven while you fry the remaining boxty.
The most important tip for frying boxty is “slower is better than fast.” Because boxty includes raw grated potato it needs enough time to cook to ensure the interior is done. If you fry them too fast you’ll end up with a brown and crispy exterior but an undercooked interior. Fry them over moderate heat to give the interior time to catch up to the exterior.
While you can use oil for frying we highly recommend butter, quality lard, or bacon grease for the best flavor.
Serve immediately while hot.
For more delicious Irish recipe be sure to try our:
- Colcannon (Loaded!)
- Guinness Stew
- Irish Stew
Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)
- 2 cups cold mashed potatoes (can be made well in advance), use a starchy/mealy variety such as russets
- 2 cups grated raw potatoes , use a starchy/mealy variety such as russets
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk , plus more as needed
- Butter, bacon grease, or lard for frying
- Optional add-ins: Chopped green onions/scallions, shredded white cheddar cheese
- Boil, drain, and mash the potatoes. Chill until cold or overnight.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.Grate the potatoes, place them on a cotton clean kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as you can (*see Note).Place the cold mashed potatoes, grated potatoes, and flour mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and combine the mixture. If the mixture is too thick/dry, add a little extra.Heat some butter, bacon grease, lard or oil in a heavy pan over medium-high. Scoop the potato mixture into the pan to form individual patties, pressing down on them to flatten them. Fry until the bottom is nicely browned and then flip them over and fry the other sides are likewise nicely browned. Be careful not to cook them too fast or they will become browned before the raw potato is cooked. Adjust the heat as needed.Transfer the boxty to a warm oven while you fry the remaining boxty. Serve immediately while hot.
Sue B says
Sorry, I looked forward to trying this very much but did not enjoy. The ratio of flour to potatoes was far too much. Fried over moderate heat to ensure cooked through but the overwhelming taste was of flour. Next time will try 3 parts potato to 1 part flour and larger ratio of grated to mashed.
Sofia Graf says
The recipe of potato pancake is a pleasure to cook in my kitchen. However, I have tried here pure ghee instead of butter. Ghee is a healthy butter substitute, nutritious, and pays well with potato recipes. It is 100% vegetarian food product too. If you are also intrigues to make the pancakes after reading this nice recipe, please try it with ghee.
Hi, sorry, but after I read your comment I felt that I need to answer to this, because the informations what you shared, are incorrect.
Ghee is not a butter substitute, is A butter, a clarified butter, a.k.a. butter that has been simmered and strained to remove all water.
Clarified butter (ghee) has uncooked milk solids, yielding a product with a very clean, sweet flavor.
Like butter, ghee is typically made from cow’s milk. Ghee is made by melting regular butter. The butter separates into liquid fats and milk solids. Once separated, the milk solids are removed, which means that ghee has less lactose than butter.
Declan Crotty says
Nice recipe. Just an observation as an Irish man – boxty largely died out about 60 or 70 years ago. I’ve asked lots of people and nobody has ever had them at home going back over decades except in the aforementioned Boxty House!!
Danny mom says
Boxty is NOT the same thing as Latkes. One is Irish and the other is Jewish. Some people are so rude. Btw, I was reading a book Angela’s Ashes and was curious about how to make Boxty. I’d like to try this recipe soon.
Chef Mimi says
A boxty is a relegation! I had my first one at the Boxty House in Dublin, a very nice family-owned restaurant! The one I ordered was filled with ham and a cheesy bechamel. Amazing!
Good serving quantity, clear recipe instructions, a bit tricky to get just the right temperature for frying and timing is crucial. Not for the beginner. Charred a few but turned out delicious anyway.
Boxty is virtually the same thing as the popular Ashkenazi-derived Chanukah dish, “potato latkes.” The main differences I see here are that traditionally made latkes generally include onions and boxty do not. Also, traditionally made potato latkes do not typically include milk, as do these boxty. Of course, there are numerous ways of making latkes, and many people now even include other vegetables, aside from potatoes. But I am going here based on what I have seen of more traditional potato latke recipes. Visually, though, these completed boxty look the same to me as many potato latkes.
Kathryn L Turbitt says
Latkes do not include dairy, are fried on oil, and do not use potato mashed up. Different flavor, and texture. Still delicious!
Similar yes, the same as a latkes – NO!
Boxies were created during the Irish famine because the time 3 million out of 8 million people in Ireland ate nothing but potatoes every day for every meal. It’s estimated they ate an average of 5 kg per day…yes 5. Anyways, read about something before trying to slam it. We call what you did here a false equivalence riddled with cognitive disassociation.