Bubble and squeak

A wonderful combination of potatoes and cabbage.

Vegan. Hands-on time: 15 mins. Total time: 40 mins.

Contributed by Mike Lewis (November 2008).

Bubble and squeak

Photo © Veg World

Bubble and squeak is a classic British rustic dish. It's a simple blending of potatoes and cabbage, requiring very little skill but producing a truly delicious result. It's traditionally made with the leftovers from the Sunday roast lunch, but in truth this is such a good dish that it's worth making it even if you cook the veggies from scratch. (If you do, be sure to let the potatoes get completely cold before you start.)

Traditional bubble and squeak recipes call for lard or dripping (animal fat), which is, of course, out of the question for vegetarians. Happily, you can successfully substitute vegetarian oils such as sunflower, canola or corn oil. These alternatives might not be authentic, but in fact they are better because they give a much crispier finish. For really good results, try using olive oil.

Served with fried eggs, vegetarian sausages or a veggie burger (as in the photo), bubble and squeak makes a satisfying meal in own right. In fact, you can serve it with just about any dish where you might otherwise use potatoes. Alternatively, just serve it on its own for a lunch or light supper.

Although it's traditionally made with cabbage, you can substitute any leafy green vegetable. I've made it with kale, chard, Chinese leaf, leaks and Brussel sprouts. Feel free to experiment, and don't worry about exact quantities.

In case you're wondering about the name, nobody knows for sure why it's called bubble and squeak, but the usual theory is that it's because of the delightful sounds that emerge from the frying pan while it's cooking. I'll let you judge that for yourself.

This recipe will make two to four portions, depending on how it's served.



Coarsely mash the potatoes with a fork or potato masher. Take care not to mash too much you want them to be lumpy rather than a puree.

Cut the cabbage into large strips.

Gently fry the onion in a little oil until it's nice and brown.

Mix the potatoes, cabbage and onion.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy frying pan or skillet. Place the vegetable mixture in the pan and press down firmly so that it completely covers the base. Cook on a low-to-medium heat for about 25 minutes. Every five minutes or so, turn the mixture over to allow both sides to cook evenly, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. You won't be able to flip it all at once, so just turn it over a bit at a time. It doesn't matter if it breaks up this is rustic food, after all.

The bubble and squeak is ready when it's cooked through and golden brown all over.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.