A Saint Patrick’s Day Tradition

A few years ago, I was able to visit Ireland with my husband and learned all about The Great Famine or Irish Potato Famine of the mid-19th century. It was an amazing experience and reminded me of one of our family traditions.

Every St. Patrick’s Day, my daughters and I make “Irish Potatoes.” Though not actually made with potato, these small confections have become a fixture around my house during this time of year.

What some Americans may not know is that “Irish Potatoes” are a Philadelphia creation dating back over one hundred. With parents and in-laws raised in the area, I grew up eating them and hearing stories about their place in local custom.

Jill's Irish Potatoes

If you ever get to Ireland, I suggest you visit the Guinness Storehouse for a pint and learn about the history. In the meantime, try some Irish Potatoes for a taste of an Irish American tradition my family has enjoyed for years.


1 8 oz package Philadelphia Cream Cheese

2 tbsp salted butter

14 oz shredded coconut

1 1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

2 16 oz boxes Dominos powdered sugar

Cinnamon (or cocoa) powder


In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese, butter, coconut, and vanilla extract. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar until well combined. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour. Take out and roll mixture into small balls. Finally, roll balls in a bowl of cinnamon powder – for a darker potato look substitute powdered cocoa. Keep refrigerated until served and enjoy!