Jack McGrath had an impressive first outing in the number 1 jersey, with a busy 60 minutes earning him the man-of-the-match award, while winger Dave Kearney came off the bench to score a brace of second half tries.
It was in the closing 15 minutes that Ireland really began to hit their stride, with Fergus McFadden's fourth try in two Tests sandwiched by Kearney's debut double.
That late surge supplemented earlier tries from flankers Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien, and Ulster youngster Paddy Jackson contributed 15 points from the kicking tee.
The 31-point success represented Ireland's biggest ever winning margin against Samoa, beating the 27-point wins from 1988 and 2010.
However, the hosts will want to forget a sloppy first half display and that was a concern for head coach Joe Schmidt as he looked ahead to next Saturday's showdown with Australia.
"There was some good endeavour, but not the accuracy we were looking for," admitted Schmidt following his first game in charge.
"I think the Samoans were missing a few players and we need a reality check, probably on Monday. We've got a real step up to take next week.
"I just think our ball security wasn't great. We turned over six balls in the first half, just from poor handling. We've got to be a lot better than that.
"You can't offer full strength sides opportunities like that and with the Wallabies coming next week that's a risk we can't afford to take."
If the collective performance was lacking at times, there was some satisfaction for Schmidt in key men like Brian O'Driscoll and newly-appointed captain Paul O'Connell both getting some much-needed game-time.
"It wasn't vintage Drico, but it's a step towards it," said the New Zealander. "And Paul really enjoyed it, enjoyed stretching his legs. I thought he brought real value off the bench."
He also had a word for the two players he gave Test debuts to, telling RTÉ: "It was nice to see some elements. I thought the drive for the first try was top drawer, and a couple of other tries.
"The one from the scrum where Dave Kearney managed to finish it in his first game for Ireland - I think that will be a special moment for him.
"Jack started really well. We asked a fair bit of him, putting him out for the first 20 (minutes) of the second half as well. He hasn't had a huge amount of game-time lately but we felt we had to get that running into his legs and he didn't disappoint us."
There were two scrums in the first 90 seconds and that pattern continued, as handling errors and turnovers led to set pieces and resets during a mostly stop-start first half.
O'Mahony got in over a ruck ball to force a fourth minute penalty which Jackson slotted for the opening points.
But Ireland were untidy over the next few phases, Gordon D'Arcy dropping the restart, Conor Murray failing to find touch and Mike Ross was caught offside with the resulting penalty converted by Tusi Pisi.
McGrath's confidence was boosted by some solid early scrums, with the 24-year-old newcomer showing well against Logovi'i Mulipola, who picked up an injury, and his replacement James Johnston.
A strong run from Alapati Leiua was one of the few breaks in the first quarter, while O'Driscoll did well to haul down Fa'atoina Autagavaia as the Samoan full-back ran from deep.
Leiua found more space on the left as he broke between D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe, before O'Mahony won a relieving penalty in the Irish 22.
Ireland's work at the breakdown was particularly effective, with the bearded D'Arcy poaching a ball in the lead-up to Jackson's second penalty which came from a Samoan scrum infringement.
John Plumtree, Ireland's new forwards coach, will have been pleased with the play that created the opening try of the game.
The home side won a penalty at scrum time again before Jackson found a very touch on the left, and the ensuing maul - piloted by Chris Henry initially - ended with O'Mahony being driven over in the corner for his first Test score.
Jackson's difficult conversion attempt fell wide and a well-struck Pisi kick closed the gap back to 11-6, however the Samoan stand-off hit the post with a very kickable attempt in the 34th minute.
A hamstring injury ended Henry's night prematurely, with O'Brien replacing him, and then a McGrath turnover got Ireland going again as did a late counter from Rob Kearney.
The ensuing attack saw George Pisi singled out for a tip tackle on Bowe and the Samoan centre was sent to the sin-bin. McFadden and O'Driscoll were both thwarted in the left corner at the end of the move, with Jackson's penalty the final act of the half.
A well-timed tackle from Bowe was followed by a strong carry from O'Mahony as Ireland sought to take advantage of Pisi's absence on the resumption.
They did just that, six minutes in, as Jackson used a Best turnover to kick downfield and the ball stood up for O'Driscoll to flick a delightful between-the-legs pass to McFadden. From the ruck, Murray was quick off the blocks and fed replacement O'Brien who evaded two tacklers and stretched for the line.
O'Brien's third try for Ireland was converted by Jackson to stretch the lead to 21-6 and as the tempo increased, the likes of O'Mahony, McGrath, Best and O'Driscoll began to wield more influence in open play.
A nasty clash of heads between Tusi Pisi and winger Brando Va'aulu led to a lengthy injury stoppage, but when play resumed the Samoans responded with some of their best play of the night.
Into the final quarter, the Irish management emptied the bench with Dave Kearney coming on for Bowe, Declan Fitzpatrick winning his sixth cap and Ian Madigan replacing O'Driscoll.
Good carries from Fotuali'i and replacements Fautua Otto and Joe Tekori got the tourists back into scoring range and Fotuali'i fired over the three points on offer.
But Ireland went on to dominate the closing quarter hour, running in three tries as their attacking game clicked into the gear and the tiring, under-strength Samoans were unable to hold out.
McFadden and D'Arcy made the initial incisions in the visitors' 22 before replacement Eoin Reddan got quick ball away for Rob Kearney to put his younger brother over in the right corner.
Kearney junior deftly dotted down under pressure from covering full-back Fa'atoina Autagavaia, and Jackson crowned the debutant's effort with a smashing conversion from the touchline.
After the Kearney brothers almost combined for a second try, with Rob's pass failing to go to hand, Ireland worked an overlap from a scrum where D'Arcy neatly drew in two defenders to provide a simple finish for McFadden to the left of the posts.
Jackson made it six kicks from seven by adding the extras and there was still time for thrilling breakaway try.
The clock showed 78 minutes when O'Brien won turnover ball in the 22. Madigan and Reddan swiftly spearheaded an attack out of the Irish half and Dave and Rob Kearney got their hands on the ball before Reddan, who made quite an impact in the closing stages, fed the 24-year-old to complete his brace.
Jackson was off-target with the conversion attempt but it mattered little in the end as Ireland, thanks to a much-improved second half, were left to celebrate an ultimately comfortable win.