15 Store-bought Irish Cookies (Aka Biscuits) You Simply Have to Taste
When you walk into almost any kitchen across Ireland, there is one staple you are almost certain to find. Forget milk, butter, or eggs, no Irish household is ever without a packet of biscuits (cookies to our American friends).
Indeed, most Irish would agree that it’s poor form to welcome visitors into your home without offering a cup of tea and a cookie. That, however, is where the agreement ends.
The Irish love their cookies, which makes selecting the 15 most popular no mean feat. Whether you’re team Hobnobs or Custard Creams, there’s a cookie out there for you. (Oh, and don’t forget to bring a tin of cookies when you visit your Irish friends at Christmas. It’s sort of a tradition.).
Irish Cookie Culture Explained
Before we dive into our list of scrumptious cookies, we must first touch on Irish cookie culture. First of all, on the Emerald Isle, American cookies are called “biscuits”. In Ireland, cookies specifically refer to a round biscuit that usually contains chocolate chips.
Irish people take their cookies very seriously. The Irish drink more tea per capita than any other nation in the world. And no cup of tea is complete without a crumbly cookie on the side.
While tea and cookie can be enjoyed at any time, there are a couple of prime moments in the day. It’s popular to have tea and a few cookies during the 11 o’clock mid-morning tea break and after dinner while watching the telly.
Let’s talk about how Irish cookies are eaten
To dunk or not to dunk? We can’t talk about cookies without discussing the controversial topic of cookie dunking. As the name suggests, dunking is the act of dipping your cookie into your tea before eating it. While some people are against this sacred act, the general consensus in Ireland is that dunking your cookie is the only way to eat it.
You may think your views on dunking have little bearing on your cookie choice. Wrong. In Ireland, this plays a huge role in the cookie selection process. After all, nobody wants their cookie to disintegrate and fall into their tea, do they? A proper cookie should be sturdy enough to survive the dunking process, but not too hard either.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, pop the kettle on and prepare to salivate. Here are 15 of the most popular Irish cookies you have to taste to believe.
1. Irish Shortbread
Although shortbread started off in Scotland, Irish shortbread is a thing to behold. Thanks to our impossibly creamy Irish butter, shortbread in Ireland is a truly delectable treat.
Shortbread got its name thanks to its unique texture. The butter gives it a high fat content that creates a crumbly consistency and stops the formation of long protein strands. It’s made of white sugar, butter, and wheat flour and doesn’t contain any leavening (baking powder or soda), giving it a slightly dense texture.
One brand that is a real hit with the locals is the Irish Shortbread Company. Made with grass-fed Irish butter, these shortbread cookies are baked to perfection. Graham’s bakery also does a great selection of authentic Irish cookies, including mouthwatering shortbread with just the right amount of snap.
2. McVities Plain Digestives
The humble plain digestive hails from our neighbors in Scotland. But it has been thoroughly embraced by the Irish population. mainly because it embodies Irish cuisine – simple, but undeniably delicious. The cookie of choice for Irish mums everywhere, plain digestives are affordable and adaptable.
If you fancy an elevated version of the digestive, you’re in luck. Several top Irish food companies, like the Lismore Food Company, have created artisan digestive cookies. The Irish Digestive with Atlantic Sea Salt is particularly delicious. It’s a savory biscuit with a pinch of salt flakes from the Wild Irish Atlantic. Perfect on any cheeseboard.
So, what exactly is a digestive? And does it really aid your digestion?
Digestives are the same as graham crackers in the United States. They are wholewheat baked biscuits with a slightly sweet flavor. These cookies were originally invented by two Scottish doctors to aid digestion because they believed the sodium bicarbonate had antacid properties. While they have never been proven to actually improve digestion, they certainly don’t harm it.
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies
The iconic chocolate chip cookie may have started out in Massachusetts, but it has well and truly made its way into the hearts of Irish people. Indeed, you can find artisanal chocolate chip cookies on shelves all over the country.
Chocolate chip cookies need no explanation. But, if you want to sample a world-class Irish variety, then the East Coast Bakehouse Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies won’t disappoint.
These award-winning cookies use the finest Irish ingredients. Irish oats are baked with pure Irish butter and silky-smooth milk chocolate chunks for an unforgettable cookie experience. They’re great for dunking (if you can wait long enough for the kettle to boil).
4. McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives
The ultimate dunking biscuit, McVitie’s digestives are the sweeter, tastier cousins of the original digestive. And, as a result, one of Ireland’s most beloved cookie. Humble yet decadent, they really are the nation’s favorite.
Milk chocolate digestives are the original golden-baked wheat cookies but with a top layer of smooth milk chocolate. You can also find dark chocolate and caramel digestives, which are both delicious but no match for the milk chocolate variety.
5. Jacob’s Rich Tea
Originally called ‘Tea Biscuits’, Rich Tea biscuits are one of the best dunking biscuits you can find. The biscuits were first baked in Yorkshire, England in the 17th century for the upper classes to enjoy as a light snack between courses.
They have since made their way to Ireland where they are most commonly enjoyed dunked in a cup of tea or eaten with a smear of butter.
The round biscuits are light, slightly sweet, and have plenty of crisp. It’s this crisp texture that earns them the title of the gold standard of dunking biscuits.
6. Bourbon Creams
Bourbon creams are another popular biscuit found across Ireland and the UK. They are chocolate-flavored sandwich cookies filled with cream. Dunkable and delicious, you can even split the cookies in two and lick the filling when nobody is watching.
7. Custard Creams
While custard creams originated in the UK, Ireland has welcomed this classic cookie with open arms. Indeed, our very own local cookies makers Boland’s do (in our opinion) the best custard cream around.
Equal parts smooth and crunchy, custard creams are an institution all over Ireland. They are lightly golden sandwich cookies filled with a creamy vanilla center. An excellent cookie for dunking, sharing, or sneakily stashing away for later.
8. Jacob’s Gingernut
Another classic, Jacob’s Gingernut biscuits have long been an Irish staple. Irish cookie makers Jacob’s have passed their family recipe down from generation to generation. Sweet and warming, Jacob’s Gingernut are crunchy cookies with a nutty, ginger flavor.
They are a firm cookie with plenty of snap, making them perfect for dunking in a cup of tea. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of ginger, the flavor is nice and subtle. Enjoy them on a cold evening with a hot drink.
9. McVitie’s Hobnobs
Hobnobs are the ultimate dunking cookie. Made with 100% wholegrain oats, they have just the right consistency to dunk in your tea without collapsing. Golden-baked with a crunchy, oaty bite, Hobnobs are a great cookie for any time of day.
Beware though, you may leave a trail of crumbs in your wake thanks to their crumbly texture.
If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Hobnobs. They have the same oaty, crunchy texture with a layer of milk chocolate on top. Absolutely scrumptious.
10. The Holy Trinity: Jacob’s Mikado, Kimberley, & Coconut Creams
Jacob’s is the leader in Irish cookies. They make all of our firm favorites right on our doorstep. This includes the iconic biscuit trio, affectionately known as the Holy Trinity. Let’s start with the Mikado.
Jacob’s Mikado cookies feature a crumbly cookie base topped with two strips of pink mallow. A line of tart raspberry jam runs through the middle of the cookie to offset the sweetness. To top them off, the cookies are sprinkled with coconut flakes. Soft, sweet, and tart – what’s not to like?
A word of warning, though. Mikados are not suitable for dunking.
Next up is the Kimberley. This divine creation boasts two ginger-flavored cookies made into a sandwich with a soft and sweet mallow center. The cookies are then sprinkled with sugar to finish. A truly delicious and established Irish staple.
P.S. don’t miss out on the delectable chocolate Kimberleys (although most Irish mummies only crack these open for visitors or special occasions).
The final cookie in the Holy Trinity is coconut creams. We’re not sure where they got the cream from, but these are scrumptious nonetheless. A crumbly cookie is topped with velvety sweet mallow and coconut flakes.
11. Boland’s Fig rolls
The humble fig roll divides the Irish population. But, whether you love it or love to hate it, you have to agree that it’s a household name in Ireland.
A lot of big cookie brands have their own version of fig rolls, but our personal favorite is Bolands’. Bolands is quintessentially Irish, and the proud creators of many of our most well-loved cookies.
Fig rolls contain a yummy fig paste filling wrapped in a soft golden biscuit. While their popularity has waned slightly in recent years, they are still an Irish classic.
12. Pink Wafers
Is it a cookie or a wafer? Who knows. But we do know that Jacob’s original wafers are a true Irish institution. Any Irish household knows that Pink Wafers hold a special status in the cookie tin, so never grab too many.
Our favorites are by Jacob’s. Founded by two brothers from Waterford over 150 years ago, Jacob’s still make some of the best cookies in Ireland.
As the name suggests, pink wafers are two gorgeously light pink cream sandwich wafers covering a creamy filling. Delicate, moreish, and ever so decadent. They’re the perfect after-dinner treat.
13. Burton’s Lyons ToffyPops
All hail Burton’s Lyons Toffypops. These cookies have a strong hold over cookies lovers all over the Emerald Isle. They are particularly popular with those with a sweet tooth and a penchant for toffee.
Toffypops are soft and crumbly golden cookies filled with rich and creamy toffee. They are then coated in milk chocolate. Sweet, chewy, with a slight crunch, Toffypops are absolutely irresistible.
14. Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers
They may not look like a conventional cookie, but Cadbury’s chocolate fingers certainly tick all the boxes. Best enjoyed with an afternoon cup of tea, these finger-sized biscuits add a splash of luxury to any tea break.
They are crisp and crunchy cookies covered in a layer of creamy Cadbury’s milk chocolate. Their firm texture makes them an excellent dunking cookie. Pro tip: you can dip more than one finger into your tea at a time.
15. McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes
Full moon, half moon, total eclipse. McVitie’s iconic television ad propelled Jaffa Cakes into the kitchens of Irish people everywhere. While technically a cake, we’ll make an allowance due to their sheer deliciousness. Plus, you find them in the cookie aisle.
Is there any better duo than chocolate and orange? We don’t think so. Jaffa cakes have a light spongy bottom, a tangy orange middle, and a dark chocolate topping. And, despite being made in the UK, Jaffa Cakes have become a firm favorite in Ireland. So much so that when a Jaffa Cakes spokesperson revealed the correct way to eat the tasty treat, it made a splash in the local Irish news. (In case you’re wondering, the chocolate part is actually the bottom, not the top).
Whether you call them cookies or biscuits, there’s no doubt that the Irish love this crumbly snack. The perfect companion to a cup of tea, no Irish tea break is complete without a couple of cookies. And don’t forget, if you plan to visit friends or family over Christmas, a tin of cookies is a must.
While the simple classics like digestives and rich tea biscuits are found in almost every Irish kitchen, we’ll always get the fancy cookies out when we have company. Sure it would be rude not to.
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