When it comes to the best St. Patrick's Day recipes, savory favorites like tender corned beef with cabbage, hearty potato dishes and flavorful seafood chowders may come to mind. But there's also a sweeter side to the cuisine of the Emerald Isle — and the delicious baked goods go way beyond soda bread, which still makes the list (don't worry!). Our best St. Patrick's Day desserts include decadent delights like chocolate stout cake and sticky toffee pudding.
Before we dig into dessert, here's a brief primer on how to celebrate the holiday: Each March 17, to celebrate the Feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, Irish communities across the globe come together in honor of all things Irish. Celebrations include everything from music and dancing to festive parades, religious ceremonies and, of course, plenty of traditional Irish food.
After eating a rich, savory stew, indulging in some green snacks and sipping a few pints of your favorite Irish beer, end your celebrations on a sweet note with favorites from from Irish chefs and frequent TODAY guests such as Donal Skehan, Catherine Fulvio and Clodagh McKenna. Many of these recipes are made with Irish beers and spirits like stout and whiskey, so, to balance out all of the grown-up spiked sweets, we have also included plenty of family-friendly confections.
This year, don't just add a few drops of green food coloring to buttercream frosting and call it a day. Go beyond the basics and explore a variety of Irish-inspired desserts, from fun and creative dishes to time-honored classics. These party-ready desserts really (sham)rock!
In this fabulous, make-far-ahead recipe, apples are folded into a traditional loaf cake batter and swirled together with warming spices. The cake is baked and can be cooled, tightly wrapped and frozen as an easy option that will keep for weeks ahead of St. Patrick's Day.
Nothing says St. Patrick's Day quite like grasshopper pie. While traditional grasshopper pie has a chiffon filling made with eggs and gelatin, this no-bake version simplifies things with a luscious cream cheese filling. Poured into a chocolate cookie crumble crust, this dessert is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
A decadent, moist cake with booze — who doesn't love that? It's a showstopper at any function and guaranteed to disappear within minutes of serving. Skehan recommensd making and serving this cake the same day while it's still super moist. But if time is an issue, you can definitely bake the cake in advance, wrap very well and freeze a day or two ahead of time and frost it the day you serve.
Catherine Fulvio is the third generation on her family farm in county Wicklow, Ireland, and her mother opened their bed & breakfast in our 19th century farmhouse, over 50 years ago. This was one of her signature desserts. It is still much-loved by all the visitors to their home and cooking school all these years later. It's a quintessential Irish dish, with our beautiful grass-fed butter, Guinness and Irish whiskey in it.
Chocolate and mint are a classic duo — and taste even better in the form of a brownie. Bake a batch of classic chocolate brownies, then once they come out of the oven, spread a mint buttercream on top. To finish, add a layer of fudgy chocolate ganache, creating perfect layers with every bite.
Gur cake is an inexpensive but delicious cake that is popular throughout Ireland. The outer layers are most often comprised of thin layers of pastry. The filling is different in each bakery, depending on the baker's choice of spices or the type of leftover cakes used in the mix that day.
A crumble is one of Skehan's favorite desserts. Here, he uses apples, but no matter what fruit you use, this elevated crumble cake takes that classic and transforms it to a true showstopper and real centerpiece for special occasions.
McKenna makes this cake traditionally every year for St. Patrick's Day. It's majestically dark but surprisingly light and velvety in texture. We love how it looks like a pint of Guinness. Pro tip: Make sure you use regular cream cheese (not the low-fat variety) for extra creamy icing.
These little cupcakes might look innocent, but they are laced with good Irish whiskey. They're a perfect St. Patrick's Day sweet treat for grown-ups. The cake has a hint of espresso that gives them a bold coffee flavor.
This recipe is festive and customizable — win, win! Add a few drops of mint extract to the white chocolate for a refreshing peppermint flavor, or add a drop or two of green food coloring.
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day? This chocolaty Irish stout cake is practically required fare. Individually sized cupcakes make it easy to transport, share and enjoy this dessert at any celebration.
According to popular lore, this drink dates back to a stormy winter night in the 1940s when a group of air travelers became stranded in a small port town in Ireland. A resourceful bartender provided a double-dose of just what these weary people needed by adding whiskey to coffee, and the classic drink was born. Decades later, it remains perfect for sipping in the winter months when the temperature drops and the weather calls for something that warms from the inside out.
Guinness caramel brings a fun Irish twist to an originally Italian recipe. Try making the tiramisu in individual cocktail glasses for personal-sized portions. This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday but you can make this dessert a day or two in advance.
These little apple cakes are a delicious marriage of retro puddings and more modern desserts. "I love the comforting apple sponge cake," says Skehan. "But the addition of the salted caramel sauce truly makes all the difference."
This is a great dessert to throw together at the last minute before a St. Patrick's Day party because it contains basic pantry ingredients.
This DIY take on McDonald's Shamrock Shake only requires five ingredients. Get sweet satisfaction in just minutes and skip the trip to the drive-thru.
These adorable leprechaun hats are surprisingly easy to make. They only require a handful of ingredients to come together — jumbo marshmallows, chocolate-covered cookies, chocolate candy melts and green sprinkles. Kids will love making them just as much as eating them!
Everyone loves chocolate mousse, and this one has a light and airy texture. It's a perfect dinner party dessert as it can be made in advance and it only takes a handful of dark, delicious ingredients. What's not to love?
Tiny balls of foil are the trick to making clover-shaped cupcakes. To save time in the kitchen, use store-bought cake mix and frosting — so long as they're tinted green.
Rich, heavy chocolate Guinness cake and a luscious stout frosting taste better than finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Assembling the layered dessert in Guinness-branded glasses makes them even more festive.
Just sweet enough and with the perfect amount of moisture, Dylan's Irish soda bread is the perfect treat after dinner — or really, any time of day. Plump raisins make this a true delight, especially when served warm with a generous smear of Irish butter.
Skip the stout and enjoy a festive boozy milkshake. Crème de menthe loads this sipper with delicious minty flavor. Top it with whipped cream and sprinkles for a fun grown-up treat.
These cupcakes get sweetness and a deep color from a surprising ingredient: beets! And no, they don’t taste like the root vegetable. Paired with chocolate in both the cake and frosting, you’ll be in for a sweet surprise.
It only takes a handful of pre-made ingredients — boxed cake mix and instant pistachio pudding — to make this light and tender treat from Dylan's childhood. To really drive home the green theme, top it off with a pistachio pudding-infused frosting.
Sunny Anderson's take on bread pudding is rich and luscious. Made with chocolate that melts between soft layers of tender sweet bread, it's a total crowd-pleaser. Plus, it's topped off with a dollop of bourbon whipped cream.
This ode to chocolate combines a deeply rich, moist chocolate cake (made with chocolate stout!) with smooth chocolate pudding and dark chocolate frosting.
This is McKenna's go-to dessert when she's pressed for time. These take just 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to chill — plus, you can make them a day in advance.
Guinness is the secret ingredient you never knew your brownies needed. The Irish stout ensures they're moist and deeply flavorful.
Icebox cakes are the ultimate no-bake dessert. This one, made with pistachio pudding, Cool Whip and wafers, is festively green. The best part is that it can be made well in advance of your St. Patrick’s Day party, as long as you have the freezer space.