Boxty is one of the first things that comes up when you search for Irish recipes.  They are potato pancakes, something I had never tasted from any culture before making this recipe.  I was surprised by how soft and pancake-like they were, but with the grated raw potatoes it also had the texture and taste of hash browns.  There are so many variations of the recipe out there, but they all seem to call for mashed potatoes, grated potatoes, and flour, in varying ratios.  This one I tried is from Chowhound.  It doesn’t include baking powder like some others do, but does seem to call for more flour than others.

Boxty (Bacstaí)


  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled (about 7 average-sized potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Butter for frying

Notes for ingredients:

    • Some recipes use a waxy potato, like Yukon Gold, and others say to use starchy ones, like Russet.  I used waxy this time around and I was happy with that.
    • You can make a buttermilk substitute by adding 3/4 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to the 3/4 cup of regular milk, or by using watered-down plain yogurt.
    • Variations include adding chopped onion, a bit of nutmeg, using all grated potatoes and no mashed, boiled as a dumpling, deep fried as fritters, or even a skillet bread.


  1. Dice half the potatoes into large cubes, place in a medium-sized pot, and fill it with cold water until it is an inch above the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer uncovered until fork tender.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, grate the other half and toss with about a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and place in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl.
  3. When boiled potatoes are tender, drain them.  Add 1/4 cup of milk and mash the potatoes until smooth.  (Or, if you have some leftover mashed potatoes, you need about 2 cups for this recipe.)
  4. Press the grated potatoes against the strainer to squeeze out as much liquid as you can, or wring them out in a cheesecloth.  Add them to the mashed potatoes.  Then add the egg, remaining milk, flour, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until smooth.
  5. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat.  If cold water sprinkled on the surface skips, it is ready.  Lightly coat with butter and drop dollops of about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle, and cook until golden brown on each side.

My biggest challenge was figuring out what to serve them with.  My North American instincts called for eggs and ketchup.  Bangers or bacon would probably be fabulous.  Some recipes recommended a sprinkling of sugar or a drizzle of honey.  I ended up deciding on sour cream, this time.

What do you put on your boxty?

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

Frying up potatoes in butter is certainly more appealing than putting colcannon in your stocking…