How to Make Irish Potato Candy

Updated: May 07, 2024

Even though Irish potato candy looks like a pile of potatoes, the filling is made with cream cheese and coconut. Surprise!

You’re going to love the curiously named Irish potato candy. It’s curious because the candy is not an Irish dessert and not made with potato! They are, however, a unique and delicious candy, one that’s easy to make and perfect for sharing.

Made from a mixture of coconut, sugar and cream cheese, each bite is rolled into a potato shape and coated in cinnamon and cocoa. When finished, Irish potato candy looks like a heap of mini russet potatoes.

What is Irish potato candy?

Irish Potato Candy served in a plateNancy Mock for Taste of Home

This recipe is from Philadelphia, where it’s been a regional favorite for over a century. Historians believe that the candy was first created and sold in the late 19th century by Irish confectioners who immigrated to Philadelphia.

Shaping and coating the candy to look like potatoes makes them an easy sell for St. Patrick’s Day. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, boxes of the sweets can be found in candy stores all over the city. Commercially produced Irish potato candy, such as Oh Ryan’s, is made with powdered sugar, coconut and other ingredients like buttercream or fondant. But when made at home, the recipe calls for butter and cream cheese, which makes them even more delicious.

The candies are rolled in cinnamon, which adds a spicy contrast to the sweet filling—and makes them look like fun-size, freshly-dug potatoes. Some people even give the potato candies “eyes” made from pine nuts.

Irish Potato Candy Recipe

The recipe makes about 50 little potato-shaped candies. In this recipe, the candies are coated in a blend of cinnamon, cocoa powder and powdered sugar, for a deeper flavor and a color more like russet potatoes.


Ingredients for the Irish Potato CandyNancy Mock for Taste of Home


  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-2/3 cups shredded coconut


  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • Optional: Slivered almonds or pine nuts, for eyes


Step 1: Begin the filling

cheese and softened butter in the mixture bowlNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Place the softened cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer.) Mix them together on medium-high speed until they’re blended and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix.

Step 2: Mix in the coconut

adding shredded coconut in a mixture of cheeseNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Pour the shredded coconut into a mini chopper or food processor; pulse the machine several times to chop the coconut shreds into small pieces. Then, add the coconut to the mixing bowl and blend it into the cream cheese-sugar mixture.

Editor’s Tip: Pulsing the coconut shreds into smaller pieces in a food processor makes a smoother, finer-textured filling.

Step 3: Shape the candy

Rolled up mixture of cream cheese and coconutNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Line a large cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Scoop a level tablespoon of the candy filling. If you’re using a kitchen scale, each scoop should weigh about 1/2 ounce. Roll the filling between your palms to make a smooth ball. Then, roll the ball into an oblong, potato shape, about 1-1/2 inches long.

Place the candy on the lined cookie sheet, and repeat until all of the mixture is used.

Step 4: Coat with cocoa

Irish Potato Candy on a paper sheetNancy Mock for Taste of Home

To remove lumps, sift the cinnamon, cocoa powder and powdered sugar together onto a shallow plate. Roll the shaped candies in the mixture to coat them completely and make them look like little potatoes. To make the potato eyes: Use a toothpick to poke one or two holes in each candy. Then, insert a piece of slivered almond, leaving it sticking out a little to look like a potato eye.

Once all the candies are coated, put them into a tightly sealed container or on a plate covered with plastic wrap. Stash the candies in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Fully prepared Irish Potato Candy in a plateNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Irish Potato Candy variations

  • Add nuts to the filling: Toast a half-cup of chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans in a skillet, let them cool and then fold them into the filling with the coconut. They’ll give the candies a nutty flavor and crunch. (Learn the best way to toast nuts.)
  • Try pine nuts for eyes: I use mild-flavored slivered almonds to make eyes in the potato candies, but if you like the flavor of pine nuts, use them instead.

How to Store Irish Potato Candy

Because the candies are made with butter and cream cheese, they should be stored in the fridge, where they’ll last for a week. It’s important to keep the candies tightly covered with wrap or in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out.