Donal Skehan’s Irish Cheddar Potato Rolls

published Mar 15, 2022
Irish Cheddar Potato Rolls Recipe

Donal Skehan's Irish cheddar potato rolls are baked to cheesy, buttery perfection.

Makes10-12 rolls

Prep40 minutes

Cook50 minutes to 55 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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irish potato cheddar rolls in pan
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Irish people are incredibly proud of their traditional foods — just mention Irish stew (made with lamb and potatoes) and everyone and their mother will have an opinion on how it’s made. We are well-known for pints of the black stuff, soda bread, and bacon and cabbage, but if there is one ingredient that we are most synonymous with it’s the potato. It played a massive role in Ireland’s troubled past at the hands of the English. While not a native ingredient to the Emerald Isle, it was a crop our nation relied on so heavily in the 1840s that when it failed it caused a great famine that resulted in mass death and emigration. Despite its tragic past, the potato remains a staple ingredient in most Irish households and classic potato-based dishes like Dublin coddle, boxty pancakes, and colcannon immediately evoke nostalgia. 

Ireland’s modern food story also has a place for potatoes, even if our cuisine has evolved significantly. When I travel I often get asked about Irish food and my answer is always that to really experience it at its best, you have to visit. Only then can you see why we have some of the most incredible produce on our doorstep: Irish farmhouse cheese produced with raw milk from artisan pioneers like Gubbeen & Durrus in West Cork; smoked wild Atlantic salmon from Burren Smokehouse in Co. Clare and Sally Barnes Woodcock Smokery in Co. Cork; and some of the finest organic vegetables grown by the McNally Family in North Co. Dublin. Our produce is now put front and center in restaurants and cafés by a new wave of talented chefs who have travelled the world and returned home to hone their craft with some of the freshest and finest ingredients.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Today’s Irish home cooks are very lucky to have an exciting modern pantry of ingredients to choose from, so far beyond the staple potato our ancestors depended upon, yet there is still room for classic ingredients and flavors. The recipe I want to share with you is one that I’ve adapted from the great Irish food writer Theodora FitzGibbon, who left a lasting legacy on Irish home cooking as a columnist for the Irish Times. She uses the starch in mashed potatoes to create the lightest rolls you will ever make. They’re topped with a grating of mature Irish cheddar before going into the oven, which adds texture and flavor to the rolls as they bake. The rolls are wonderful served with Irish stew or torn apart while still warm and coated in a thick slather of Irish butter.

Irish Cheddar Potato Rolls Recipe

Donal Skehan's Irish cheddar potato rolls are baked to cheesy, buttery perfection.

Prep time 40 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes to 55 minutes

Makes 10-12 rolls

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium russet potato (about 8 ounces)

  • 3 3/4 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan and shaping

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more for the potatoes

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, plus more for the pan

  • 3 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packets

    instant dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

  • 2/3 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon whole milk, divided

  • 2/3 cup


  • 2 1/2 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)


  1. Cut 1 medium russet potato in half crosswise. Place in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the potato by about 1 inch. Season the water heavily with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potato is fork tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a 9 to 12-inch cast iron skillet with butter, then flour the skillet, tapping out the excess.

  2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid, then drain the potatoes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, peel the potatoes. Pass through the potatoes through a ricer or food mill, or place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth (about 1 1/4 cups). Cover to keep warm.

  3. Place 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter into chunks, add to the bowl, and rub it into the flour until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Make a well in the center. Add the potatoes, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 2 packets instant dry yeast, and stir until well combined.

  4. Heat 2/3 cup of the whole milk in the pot used to cook the potatoes over medium heat until just warm to the touch (105 to 110ºF), about 1 minute. Pour the milk, reserved potato water, and 2/3 cup water into the well in the bowl and stir until a rough dough forms. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it springs back when pressed, about 10 minutes.

  5. Shape the dough into a ball, then roll the dough into a rectangle 36-inches long and 3 inches wide, with a long sider closer to you. Cut crosswise into 12 (3-inch) pieces. Roll each piece into a ball: One at a time, cup each piece of dough beneath your palm and work in quick, circular motions to form a tight ball, with only a tiny seam along the bottom.

  6. Place in the skillet in a single layer. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour. About 20 minutes before the rolls are ready, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Grate 2 1/2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup).

  7. Uncover the rolls and brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon whole milk. Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until the rolls are cooked through and the outsides are browned, 15 to 20 minutes (check after 10 minutes and tent loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil if already browned). Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack of serving plate. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Pleasures of The Table, Rediscovering Theodora FitzGibbon by Donal Skehan and Theodora FitzGibbon