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History and heritage of Northern Ireland Food

What’s for Dinner in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland cuisine involves much more than potatoes. The Northern Irish heritage is full of delicious and traditional recipes that have been passed down for more than a century. Cheeses, venison, seafood, special butters, and delicious breads are just a few of the foods known there.

Northern Ireland Food History

Farming families helped set many of the food traditions in Northern Ireland. Staples of bread and potatoes were a go-to, especially during lean years in Northern Ireland’s history. Because of their Irish and British roots, people from Northern Ireland have food traditions from both regions to draw on.

In the early 20th century, there wasn’t a huge variety of ingredients to choose from or many newcomers to the area, which limited the diversity of food choices. People got creative with what they had—the Irish created a variety of recipes for both potatoes and breads. With increased immigration in recent decades, Northern Ireland’s palate has broadened significantly.

Ulster Fry—One of Northern Ireland’s Best-Known Dishes

ulster fry, a northern Ireland food

The Ulster fry is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known dishes, and many other recipes spring from it. It is a traditional English breakfast, elevated several notches. Ulster fry often includes bacon, sausage, and eggs—that is the English part. To get the Northern Irish part, add white and black pudding, soda bread (often called soda farl), and potato bread (often called potato farl). The key to this breakfast dish is that everything is fried in some way. For many, the best part of the Ulster fry is the bread—specifically the soda bread.

Soda Bread or Soda Farl

Northern Ireland's soda bread

Fried breads are considered a delectable treat in Northern Ireland and throughout the world. Soda bread is most common in Northern Ireland. It is often called a soda farl, which is short for “fardel.” A fardel is a quarter; soda farl has this name because its dough is cut into four pieces before it is fried. It can be a described as a “soft little pillow of a loaf.” The best way to eat soda bread is hot from the pan, with savory dishes such as sausage and eggs. It also tastes delicious with generous helpings of fresh butter and jam. Soda bread is cooked in a dry skillet and can be put together easily, which is why it became so popular—it is easily prepared for guests who drop by. This easy soda bread recipe from can help you try it yourself!

Other Delectable Northern Irish Dishes

Irish Champ, a northern ireland dish

Potatoes are abundant in Northern Ireland; they are grown in all colors and sizes. Unsurprisingly, there are many recipes for a variety of potato dishes. The champ recipe is popular and consists of mashed potatoes mixed with butter, scallions, milk, salt, and pepper.  The Comber potato is also popular and unique to Northern Ireland. With its world-class nutty flavor, it is grown in and around the town of Comber, County Down. Potato bread is also popular—it combines potatoes with a traditional bread recipe for a tasty result.

And of course, we can’t forget Irish stew. This dish can be
found in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. It calls for all the traditional
ingredients in stew—carrots, onions, and potatoes—but rather than beef, lamb or
mince is used in the stew.

Do You Have Northern Irish Family Recipes?

If you have family recipes hiding around, posting them on is a great idea. That way, those recipes can be passed down through generations to be enjoyed and remembered. Talking about your family history while eating delectable food from the land of your heritage is a memory-maker in and of itself!

Source: Family Search

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