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How To Make A Ploughman’s Lunch with an Irish Twist for St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Ploughman’s Lunch: The perfect easy and delicious way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, with a really simple Brown Irish Soda Bread recipe included.
Irish Ploughman's Lunch: The perfect easy and delicious way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, with a really simple Brown Irish Soda Bread recipe included.

Yesterday I shared by St. Patrick’s Day table and bar cart, and today I’m sharing the food.  We had a delicious Ploughman’s Lunch with an Irish twist.  It’s perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day -easy, and so, so delicious.

Irish Ploughman's Lunch

What’s A Ploughman’s Lunch?

A traditional ploughman’s lunch is served all over the UK.  It’s real pub grub.  Some say it was made popular in the 1950’s in Britain when the cheese bureau at the time popularized it to help with cheese sales.  Other’s say it was the milk marketing board in the 1960 in a campaign to promote cheese.  

A ploughman’s lunch usually consists of some classic cheese, good bread, and cold meat, sometimes hard-boiled eggs, and condiments like pickled onions, english mustard, or pickle.  It also sometimes includes a bit of fresh fruit like an apple or salad or vegetables like peppery radishes, cherry tomatoes,.  A ploughman’s lunch was commonly served in local pubs as a lunch time meal accompanied by a glass of ale.  It is a British classic served all other the English countryside, and at every traditional pub.  It’s quite a simple meal, but it really is the perfect combination of robust flavors.  

The name ploughman’s lunch is because it’s associated with the substantial mid day meal served to agriculture workers, and it dates back hundreds of years in England, much earlier than the 1950’s or 60’s.  People had been eating a traditional combination of a thick wedge of crusty bread, English cheese, and beer in English pubs or at home for as long as anyone can remember.  Unfortunately the ploughman’s lunch had fallen out of favour during rationing times during WW1 and WWII, when they didn’t have the resources to make it.  The advertising campaigns were to bring it back into popular use.  They worked very well.

Irish Twist

We’ve put a fun Irish twist on ours with some special Irish ingredients, making it the perfect meal for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with friends.

Ploughman's Lunch with an Irish twist


We started out first with some homemade Brown Irish Soda Bread.  This recipe is easy and delicious.  I originally had this recipe at my sister’s house.  She got the recipe from a friend of hers after having it many, many times at her house.  Those are always the best kind of recipes.  

This bread uses soda as the raising agent, not yeast, so it’s quick and easy to make.

homemade Irish soda bread recipe

Yield: Makes 2 loaves.

Brown Irish Soda Bread

Brown Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups buttermilk


  1. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients: both flours, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Add in the buttermilk and gently mix to combine. Do not knead or over mix.
  3. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans, and divide the batter evenly between them. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (I made mine round in two cake pans, and reduced the cooking time slightly because they were more shallow. Bake until the tip of a knife comes out clean.)

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 208Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 580mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 7g
Brown Irish soda bread recipe

Irish Cheese

Next along with our amazing Irish Soda Bread, we knew we needed some Irish cheese.  A traditional ploughman’s lunch uses English cheddar so as part of our Irish twist we looked for some Irish semi-hard cheese.  I found some good varieties at the local grocery store

  • Kerrygold Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese
  • Blarney Castle Gouda
  • Bradbury’s Mature Irish cheddar.

Irish Ploughman's Lunch idea

I feel like I have a special connection to Ireland, although I’m not Irish and I’ve never been there.  My best friend, Heather, is from Dublin.  She’s passed onto me a certain appreciation for all things Irish.

how to make an Irish Ploughman's Lunch

Irish Butter

We were discussing Irish butter in preparation for the ploughman’s lunch.  Unfortunately you can’t buy Irish butter in Canada, something to do with the milk pasteurization laws here (but for my American readers, you should be able to find Kerrygold).  

As we discussed Irish butter and what made it better we came up with the milk fat content being higher, and the cow’s being grazed on grass -which is a certain problem here in Canada where the grass is under the snow for half the year.  

I was able to find a few substitutes though.  We had one grass fed cows butter, and one with a European style butter with a higher milk fat content.  They were a splurge, but so, so yummy, and really fun to hunt down for a special occasion like this.

Irish Butter

The Rest Of The Ploughman’s Lunch

We also served:

  • a generous slice of carved ham
  • crisp slices of apple,
  • hard-cooked eggs.

Ploughman's Lunch ideas


Lastly we also needed some condiments,

  • a good mustard
  • pickled onions
  • and traditional Branston pickle, or any good chutney would be great.

We served our Irish inspired ploughman’s lunch on individual cheese boards, which worked really well.  You can either serve the condiments and butter on each individual board, or have them available in the middle of the table for everyone.

Irish Ploughman's Lunch condiments

Irish Beer


The traditional accompaniment to the ploughman’s lunch is a pint of beer, which is why it’s so popular on a pub menu.  So we decided to go with

  • Irish Guinness, which is a very dark beer,
  • and Irish hard apple cider, both are favourites around here.

Any Irish beer would be a great addition to this lunch.

St. Patrick's Day Irish Ploughman's Lunch

In short, this is the perfect easy no cook meal for a party.  The ingredients are best served at room temperature.  Bake your bread and cook your ham ahead of time and assemble this lunch in a matter of minutes.  You can sit a long time, savour good simple food, and then have another pint and another story in the Irish way.

St. Patrick's Day party ideas

More St. Patrick’s Day Inspiration

If you need some inspiration to set the perfect table for St. Patrick’s Day, check out this beautiful St. Patrick’s Day table we set.

st. Patrick's day table

With an Irish Ploughman’s Lunch to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, life really is a party!

You might also like our Irish Burger here.

Also check out our Steak, Guinness, and Mushroom Pie recipe here.

You might also enjoy our Scotch Egg recipe here.

Scotch Eggs Recipe: How to make home made Scotch Eggs, the perfect British snack or picnic food. Hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage and breaded.

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