With Zendaya and Florence Pugh taking an interest in "spice bags," one of Ireland's most popular takeaway dishes, a culinary expert has shared tips for making it at home!

Pugh, who starred alongside Cillian Murphy in "Oppenheimer," mentioned that although she’d heard about the dish, she missed the chance to try it while filming "The Wonder" in Ireland in 2022.

"I don't know why I didn't, but I had a lot of Guinness," Pugh admitted during a recent interview alongside  her "Dune: Part Two" co-star Zendaya.

Zendaya, on the other hand, said she had never heard of it, stating, "I feel left out, cause, actually, I'm Irish and Scottish on my grandmother's side... Y’know, that's all I got."

@entertainment.ie Spice bags and feminism... @Brian certainly kept Florence Pugh and Zendaya on their toes. 😂 Watch the full interview over on entertainment.ie and our YouTube channel. 'Dune: Part Two' is out in cinemas this Friday (March 1st). Read our ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review over on entertainment.ie now. #zendaya #florencepugh #dunepart2 #junketinterviews #spicebags ♬ original sound - entertainmentie

Reflecting on this unexpected crossover, Head of Culinary, Hannah Duxbury from food box delivery service HelloFresh Ireland, commented "It's surreal seeing Hollywood stars Zendaya and Florence Pugh inspired by an Irish classic, the spice bag - it's such an unlikely clash of cultures.

"Who knows, maybe we’ll see spice bags popping up on takeaway menus across America."

She added: “A spice bag is essentially a mix of crispy chicken, red peppers, onions, chili, and chips, all seasoned with a mix of spices, and served in a paper bag.”

If you’re wanting to perfect one at home, HelloFresh Ireland have shared their top tips:

It’s all in the seasoning

The key to a flavourful spice bag is the seasoning blend. Combine 1 tsp of chili flakes, 1 tsp of Chinese five spice, 1/2 tsp of white pepper, and 1/2 tsp of chili powder in a bowl. For the marinating process, prepare a separate seasoning blend using seasonings such as garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and black pepper to create a unique flavor profile distinct from the prepared mix.

Ensure your chips are fluffy

For fluffy chips with a crispy exterior, use floury potatoes like Roosters or Kerr's Pinks. Cut them into evenly sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Soak the potato slices in cold water for at least 30 minutes to remove excess starch, then dry them thoroughly before frying. 

Fry the chips at a lower temperature (around 160-180°C) until they're just cooked through but not yet golden. Remove them from the oil and let them rest before frying them again at a higher temperature (190-200°C) until they're crispy and golden brown. This double-frying technique ensures your chips are crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside.

Make your chicken extra crispy

Start by marinating the chicken pieces in a mixture of buttermilk and your marinade blend for at least an hour, or overnight if possible, to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. When your chips are underway, coat the marinated chicken in seasoned flour or cornflour. 

Fry the chicken in hot oil for about 6-8 minutes per side until it's golden brown and cooked through, ensuring the internal temperature reaches 74°C. 

Perfect your red peppers and fried onions

While your chips and chicken are cooking, thinly slice the red peppers and onions. Cook them over medium-high heat in a pan with a bit of oil until they're caramelized and tender. This step should ideally finish around the same time as the chips and chicken. Season them with a pinch of salt and pepper, and ensure not to overcrowd the pan to ensure even cooking and browning.

Don’t forget the curry sauce

For the curry sauce, melt butter in a pan, then stir in flour and curry powder to create a roux. Gradually whisk in chicken stock, honey, a dash of soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce until it thickens to your desired consistency.

Once the chips and chicken are done, toss everything together in a paper bag for that authentic experience or if you prefer, you can serve it in a bowl or on a plate.

Homemade Irish spice bag recipe


  • 500g skinless chicken breasts or beef strips
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into fries
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the potato fries with a drizzle of vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them out in a single layer on the prepared baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy.

While the fries are baking, heat some vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions, bell peppers, and minced garlic, and sauté until softened and fragrant.

Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the chicken or beef strips. Cook until browned and cooked through, then mix them with the vegetables.

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, chili powder, Chinese five-spice powder, and garlic powder. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken or beef and vegetables, tossing well to coat evenly.

Once the fries are done baking, transfer them to the pan with the chicken or beef and vegetables. Toss everything together until well combined and heated through.
Serve your homemade Irish spice bags hot and enjoy the explosion of flavors with each mouthful.

Whether you're craving a late-night snack or looking to impress your dinner guests, Irish spice bags offer a delightful blend of taste and tradition that's sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate. So, the next time you find yourself in Ireland, be sure to indulge in this culinary gem for a truly unforgettable dining experience.