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Traditional Irish Cookies: Favorites Across the World

Irish cookies, also called “biscuits,” are part of the grand tea tradition in the British Isles.

It’s impossible to talk about Irish tea cookies, Irish lace cookies, Irish soda bread cookies, and Irish shortbread without a discussion of tea time. The two go hand-in-hand.

Irish Cookies: Not Just a Snack

Irish cookies and tea with The Cookie Elf

In Great Britain and Ireland, tea and cookies are not just a snack. “Tea” is another term for a meal.

Afternoon tea, or low tea, is a light meal or time of refreshment in the mid-afternoon when you can enjoy a  cup of tea (or as the Irish say in Gaelic, a “cupan tae,”) and small sandwiches, cake, scones, and (yes) cookies. Your main meal comes later on.

Meanwhile, evening tea, or high tea, is another name for an evening meal, particularly among the middle class and working class. It includes a hot dish – often hearty – along with bread, cheese, perhaps a sweet, and of course tea or other beverage.

So it follows that Irish cookies are more a part of traditional afternoon tea.

Favorite Traditional Irish Cookies

Plenty of sweets have deep historical roots among the Irish from bread pudding to scones to whisky cake to oat cakes and even toffee. But a few  Irish “biscuits” are known as favorites the world over.

  • Irish Shortbread: although shortbread’s history is more closely associated with Scotland, the Irish have adapted it with their amazing butter, following the usual ratio of one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.
  • Irish Soda Bread Cookies: a shortbread-like cookie made with baking soda and buttermilk, flavored with raisins
  • Irish Lace Cookies: made with a flour-free, oatmeal dough, these spread in the oven and look like lace.
  • Irish Potato Cookies: round, no-bake cookies flavored with nuts and cinnamon that look like (what else?) potatoes

More Fun Facts

  • Tea was not introduced to the British Isles until the early 1800s. Its expense meant that at first it was consumed largely by the upper class. 
  • Early teas in Ireland were poor quality, which is why even today the Irish brew their strong and lace it with plenty of cream or milk, up to one-third of the cup
  • Since then, the Irish have earned a reputation as healthy tea drinkers. They consume more tea per capita than any other country in the world  -- between four and six cups of tea a day.


More Easy Irish Cookies

Irish Shortbread Cookies: an Irish Tea Cookies variation ...

Easy Irish Shamrock Cookies ...


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