Irish Pub Food For Diabetics on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day green Shamrocks with fork, spoon, and napkin on rustic brown wood board background.

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Traditional Irish pub food is just the best thing ever on St. Patrick’s Day. From bangers and mash to creamy potato soup, from shepherd’s pie to classic beef stew, I feel like you can’t go wrong with traditional Irish dishes. Why is St. Patrick’s Day only once a year when it boasts these kinds of flavors?

Irish Pub Foods Made Diabetic Friendly

How to Make Irish Pub Food Diabetic Friendly

Not only are Irish pub foods delicious (that’s my Irish heritage speaking), but classic Irish pub food can be made diabetic friendly with a few tweaks and additions. Remember, it’s not about not being able to eat certain foods. It’s about making wise decisions about how to make meals in a better way for you.

The key to stable blood sugars is to include fat, fiber, and protein in your meal. These three nutrients are a diabetes trifecta that slows digestion a bit to help avoid the dreaded blood sugar spike from carbs and sugars. I will explain in the recipes below how to make each of them more diabetic friendly.

Let’s take a look at what I mean with a few traditional Irish appetizers.


Irish Pub Nachos

Who can say no to Irish nachos? I mean just look at that tasty goodness! In place of the tortilla chips in traditional nachos, this recipe uses thinly sliced potatoes. Add some cheese and bacon, dip it in sour cream with some green onion, and I’m in heaven. Potatoes are a major part of Irish culture, as you will see in many of these recipes.

This recipe has ample protein and fat from the bacon and cheese, but we need more fiber to make it more diabetic friendly. Might I suggest some mashed avocado in place of the sour cream? Avocados are packed with fiber. Did you know a medium avocado contains 9g fiber? Another option would be to eat a mixed fruit salad with berries and other fruits high in fiber along with it. But fiber is what it needs to be more blood sugar friendly.

Irish Pub Food - Irish Nachos
Irish Pub Nachos by Cooking with Curls

Brown Bread

Irish cuisine is famous for its classic soda breads, but this Irish brown bread is just as well known. I picked this one over the classic Irish soda bread because there are equal parts white flour and whole grain flour, which is more diabetic friendly from the start. So grab some Kerrygold butter, and you’re all set for a good time.

Because this bread is made with equal parts all purpose flour and whole wheat flour, it’s already pretty diabetic friendly for a bread recipe. It contains 7g protein, 2g fat, and 3g fiber. Honestly, to make this more blood sugar friendly, I would suggest you simply eat it along with some soup in one of the recipes below.

Irish Brown Bread
Irish Brown Bread by The View from Great Island


Seafood Chowder

There are few things more warm and comforting than a nice bowl of chowder. And this recipe is a healthier version of a traditional Irish seafood chowder. It’s full of fresh shrimp and fish, with a variety of vegetables as well. Not to mention — it looks so delicious!

This recipe is pretty low in carbs with only 13g per serving. But it contains 19g protein, 7g of fat, and only 2g of fiber. So in order to raise the fiber, I would recommend including some additional vegetables. For this soup, I would consider edamame (11g per serving), artichoke (7g per medium artichoke), or some Brussels sprouts (3g per cup). And now you have a diabetic friendly chowder!

Irish Pub Seafood Chowder
Irish Seafood Chowder by Kim’s Cravings

Irish Potato Soup

A collection of Irish pub food recipes just isn’t complete without classic potato soup. It’s like a big Irish hug in a bowl. Potatoes are a big deal on the Emerald Isle. In fact, my Irish roots have ties to potatoes. It was during the Irish Potato Famine in the late 1840s that a couple of my ancestors on my father’s side traveled to the United States as Irish immigrants. So it goes without saying that I love a good bowl of potato soup.

This recipe actually does have good fat, fiber, and protein. One serving gives you 3g fat, 7g protein, and 5g fiber. I don’t know that I would add a whole lot of anything to make it more diabetic friendly. Except maybe more bacon. But that’s just because bacon is delicious.

Irish Potato Soup with Bacon Cheese and Green onion
Irish Potato Soup by Ethnic Spoon

Irish Beef Stew

Another bowl of Irish comfort comes in this Irish stew. It’s a classic and a staple on Irish pub menus. So St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to try this recipe! Plus, this hearty meal is made in a slow cooker. That means more time to do other things while the food does it’s magic over several hours. (And the house will smell delicious!)

This is another recipe that I would recommend basically eating as is. It’s got great protein from the meat (30g per serving), fat is decent at 9g per serving, and the carrots bring the fiber up to 4g per serving. This is a pretty diabetic friendly meal from the get go. If you want to add fiber to bump that up a bit, consider adding more fibrous vegetables to compliment the carrots.

Traditional Irish Pub Food - Beef Stew
Irish Beef Stew by Savory Nothings


Dublin Coddle

I was not all that familiar with a Dublin coddle before scouring around for these Irish pub food recipes. But I am already a fan. It’s a meal full of Irish sausages, cabbage, and potatoes. This meal is true Irish fashion!

This one-pot meal is heavy on the protein and fat from the sausage. (You could always use chicken sausage or another more lean choice instead.) But it’s missing some fiber to be more diabetic friendly. I would recommend the red peppers or roasted root vegetables down below as a great pairing.

Traditional Irish Pub Food - Dublin Coddle made Diabetic Friendly
Dublin Coddle by Fed and Fit

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage is on the menu at any Irish local pub. And I love this recipe because it comes with instructions for oven and slow cooker both. So you can enjoy this salt cured beef brisket however you like.

Like the Dublin coddle above, this dish is high in protein and fat. And, honestly, brisket is high in fat. That’s just the way it is. You could always sub in ham or another lower fat substitute if you like. But to make this particular recipe more diabetic friendly, you should eat it with some veggies. Try a spring mix salad or the roasted root vegetables below. That will add the fiber we need in the meal to help us avoid a blood sugar spike.

Traditional Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned Beef and Cabbage by The Suburban Soapbox

Shepherd’s Pie

A warm shepherd’s pie is what I crave when the skies are gloomy and the days are rainy and cold. Traditional Irish food has a way of combining meat with veggies and potatoes, and it’s absolutely the most comforting and delicious dish.

Personally, to make this more blood sugar friendly, I would cut the ground beef down to one pound (and/or omit the bacon) and increase the vegetables. That will help balance the fat, fiber, and protein a little better. You could always add in additional high-fiber vegetables if you like as well. But the shift that needs to happen is less fat overall. And with 33g protein per serving, you could stand to cut the meat a bit. Again, personal opinion.

Irish Shepherd's Pie made Diabetic Friendly
Shepherd’s Pie by Once Upon a Chef

Bangers and Mash

Again with the potatoes? Yes! Bangers and mash is an absolute staple in Irish foods. I personally love the different textures together.

To make this a more diabetic friendly meal, you could sub in chicken sausage for lower fat. Or opt for another lower-fat sausage instead of this standard pork sausage. The other change we need to make is the addition of fiber. I would suggest serving this with steamed broccoli. And eat that first to help avoid a quick blood sugar spike. You could also forego the sauce, or only use half as well.

Irish Pub Food Made Diabetic Friendly - Bangers and Mash
Bangers and Mash by Daring Gourmet

Reuben Sandwich

This sandwich is an Irish bar food favorite. And it’s the solution for the leftover meat from the corned beef and cabbage recipe above. This Reuben sandwich is a classic Irish favorite, and it makes the perfect lunch!

This recipe can be made more diabetes friendly in several ways. First of all, you could choose a more diabetic friendly bread in place of Rye. (Try Killer Dave’s bread that I love and swear by!) You could make it with a less fatty meat, but if you’re making it to use up the corned beef, that won’t work very well. Another idea is to serve it with fiber-rich veggies, and eat those first. And finally, you could ditch the bread altogether and serve it in a cabbage wrap.

Traditional Reuben Sandwich made Diabetic Friendly for St. Patrick's Day
Reuben Sandwich by Spend with Pennies

Irish Roasted Salmon

We know salmon is a super healthy choice for a lean protein in our diets. And this one makes for a quick and easy 30-minute dinner, too. Pair it with some veggies like asparagus or broccoli, or eat a side of beans, and you are all set. But don’t forget the potatoes. I mean, this is an Irish dish, right?

This plate below is actually a super diabetic friendly meal. The great lean protein is coming from the salmon. We have fiber from asparagus (nearly 2g per half cup cooked). Or you could sub in a more fiber-rich veggie. And a small serving of potatoes. Fat, fiber, and protein. Check!

Irish Pub Food - Roasted Salmon with asparagus
Irish Roasted Salmon by The Cafe Sucre Farine

Irish Pub Food Side Dishes


It might feel like potatoes are Irish people’s favorite thing. And you might be right. They even have a couple different mashed potato-type side dishes that aren’t just mashed potatoes. One is called “champ” and it’s basically potatoes and scallions (green onions). The other is this recipe for colcannon. It’s a combination of potatoes, greens, and green onions.

An easy way to make this a more diabetic friendly side dish would be to cut some of the butter to decrease the fat a bit. And I would consider using a lower fat milk for the same reason. Then I would pair it up with a lean meat for some protein. The fiber in this recipe is 5g, but if you’d like to add more, you could do a side of steamed vegetables as well.

Irish Colcannon
Colcannon by Downshiftology

Irish Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are a big deal in Ireland as a traditional side dish. Once you cut up all the veggies, you have a healthy variety in a roasted side dish in about 45 minutes. This recipe includes a wonderful variety of fresh vegetables including fennel, turnips, beets, rutabaga, carrot, potatoes, and onion. How delicious!

The carbs, fat, and fiber are in check in this recipe. But we need to add in some protein. And that’s why this makes for a great side dish. Pair this up with some bangers and mash or Dublin coddle, and you are set for a delicious authentic Irish meal.

Irish Root Vegetables made diabetic friendly
Irish Root Vegetables by Tastefully Grace

Irish Pub Food DESSERTS

Bread Pudding

Top off your St. Patrick’s Day meal with this classic Irish bread pudding. This simple, yet delicious dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth for sure.

This recipe has 8g fat and 8g protein. With it being primarily bread, of course, it’s heavy on carbs. So to make it more blood sugar friendly, we need to add fiber. I would suggest berries, as they would pair well with this dessert. Strawberries boast 3g fiber per cup, and raspberries have a total of 8g fiber per cup. Either would be a delicious choice!

Irish Bread Pudding
Irish Bread Pudding by I Heart Eating

Irish Apple Cake

If bread pudding isn’t your jam, perhaps an authentic apple cake would do the trick. This recipe offers you the apple cake itself, a streusel topping, and a custard cream. With tart Granny Smith apples and warm cinnamon and nutmeg, this will have your kitchen smelling amazing in no time!

To make this more diabetic friendly, I would recommend subbing out part of the all purpose flour for whole grain flour. I would also suggest you eat it along side some fruit like berries or more apples to add fiber. You could also go without the custard sauce if you like.

Traditional Irish Apple Cake
Apple Cake by The View From Great Island

Irish Shortbread Cookies

Let’s round out this recipe collection with some Irish shortbread cookies. These may not be on all the pub menus in Ireland, but I felt like they deserved to be included. Also, mine won’t look like this because I don’t own a cookie stamp! Serve with a cup of tea or Irish coffee if you like. This is a traditional Irish cookie using Kerrygold Irish butter to help with the crisp texture. Again, this would be perfect with Irish coffee or some tea.

Some changes you could make to this recipe would be to use a sugar substitute in place of the granulated sugar, if you use sugar substitutes. (There’s a ton of info on substitutes in my Christmas Cookies post.) You could also add fiber by pairing it with some berries, apples, or pears. You could add protein by eating yogurt along with it. If you prefer not to alter the recipe, you can simply eat it along with your meal that already has protein, fat, and fiber.

Traditional Irish Shortbread Cookies
Irish Shortbread Cookies by Kendall Kreations


The goal in what I shared here is to remind you that it’s not about what we “can’t eat” because we have diabetes. We just need to think through what we are eating and what we can do to make it more diabetes friendly. Sometimes it’s not about eliminating things from our diets as much as it is adding something intentional.

So enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, and enjoy these Irish pub food recipes. And may the “luck of the Irish” be with you.


If you’ve made these recipes, would you please leave a comment? I would love to hear from you!

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NOTE: I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician. Nothing here should be taken as professional medical advice. Any nutritional information provided should be used as a general guideline and estimate only. For the most accurate information, please calculate based on the specific ingredients and brands you use, as well as any changes you make to the recipe.

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Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

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