From donning shamrock shirts to pigging out on green candies, there are more fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than we can count. But if your St. Paddy’s Day plans include getting creative in the kitchen, you’re in (Irish) luck, because we’ve got the perfect dessert recipe for you: Irish potatoes, also called Irish potato candy. No, this candy isn’t made from actual potatoes, but it will make you feel like your taste buds have struck gold. Keep reading to learn more about this adorable Emerald Isle-themed sweet treat.
What is Irish potato candy?
Irish “potatoes” get their name not from their ingredients, but from the fact that the finished products look like freshly dug up potatoes. How cute is that? But the real treat comes when you pop one in your mouth and get a taste of the sweet, coconut-and-cinnamon flavor packed inside.
Now for a little history lesson: Did you know these sweet treats got their start over a century ago not in Ireland, but in Philadelphia? Now a well-known Philly tradition, classic Irish potatoes are made with lots of sugar, coconut cream, and a coating of cinnamon, and go on sale in candy shops and supermarkets all over the city in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
If that sounds like a candy you’d enjoy, don’t worry – you don’t have to go all the way to Philadelphia to get your hands on some. Scroll down to find an Irish potato candy recipe to try right in your own kitchen.
Irish potato candy recipes
Irish potato candy recipes abound online, so feel free to choose the one that’s easiest for you. The only criteria is that it results in a candy with the traditional flavors of cinnamon and coconut! Note that most DIY Irish potato candy recipes use a combination of cream cheese and flaked coconut to create the signature texture found in Philadelphia’s Irish potatoes.
Check out some Irish potato recipes from around the web to find the one that works for you:
- The Kitchn Irish Potato Candy Recipe
- AllRecipes Irish Potato Candy Recipe
- Homemade Hooplah Irish Potato Candy Recipe
- Simply Whisked Irish Potato Candy Recipe
How to make Irish potatoes
No matter which recipe you choose, the basic ingredients and steps remain the same. Consult your chosen recipe for exact amounts, but make sure you’ve stocked up on:
- Cream cheese
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Sweetened coconut flakes
You’ll also need an electric hand mixer or standing mixer if you don’t like the idea of working up a sweat beating the ingredients together. Finally, make sure you have a baking sheet and aluminum foil or parchment paper for when it’s time to set the candies to refrigerate.
Now to the fun part! First, you’ll mix the sugar, salt, butter, vanilla, cream cheese, and coconut together with an electric mixer. Consult your chosen recipe for detailed instructions, including the order in which to add your ingredients.
When that’s done, fill a bowl with enough cinnamon to coat all your “potatoes.” Taking small bite-sized pieces, roll each one in the cinnamon until it forms an evenly coated, oblong potato shape.
Finally, place your Irish potato candies on a lined baking sheet and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to let the candies set. No baking necessary!
Bonus tips for making Irish potatoes
- Irish potatoes can be made dairy-free for those with lactose intolerance. For a dairy-free version, use dairy-free butter (or butter substitute) and dairy-free cream cheese.
- This hands-on, no-bake recipe is perfect for kids who like to get their hands dirty in the kitchen.
- Some Philadelphia confectioners add pine nuts to the “potatoes” to look like sprouting eyes.
- For a chocoholic twist, mix a little cocoa powder in with the cinnamon. You’ll get a darker coat that might even enhance the potato look!
- If you’re having a St. Patrick’s Day party, turn these into extra festive party favors by serving them in small paper bags to look like potato sacks.
Love candy? Join the club!
Every occasion is sweeter with candy, whether you’d prefer to make your own or splurge on some professional confections. If you’re in the first camp, explore the Candy Club blog for more candy-tastic activities to try in the kitchen. And if your ideal shopping spree involves a candy shop, we’ve got you covered too – just check out our full selection and see if you don’t find your next favorite sweet treat.