Bubble and Squeak is a simple, versatile recipe that is great for using up leftover cooked vegetables or make it from scratch with just 4 ingredients. It's really easy and super budget-friendly!
If you've been wondering what to do with leftover boiled cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, or any other cooked vegetables, then my very humble but delicious Bubble and Squeak is your friend.
We're talking soft, fluffy mashed potatoes mixed with mostly cooked green leafy vegetables (but any non-leafy ones can go in too), and then baked or fried until golden brown.
It's an incredibly versatile and budget friendly meal, and perfect for using up your leftovers after a roast dinner, or at Christmas or Thanksgiving.
But even though that's the real purpose of this recipe, it's still worth making from scratch from time to time. I do often because I love it so much. In fact whenever I make a meal with cabbage or Brussels sprouts I always cook more than we need so that I can make it the next day.
What is Bubble & Squeak?
Bubble & Squeak is a traditional English recipe thought to date back to the early 1800's and it was designed to use up leftovers, usually from a Sunday roast or Christmas dinner. It's a humble and hearty meal that can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Originally it was a combination of leftover cooked potatoes and vegetables, mashed up together then fried. It has evolved over the years and is now usually made with mashed potatoes, mixed up with leftover vegetables (mostly green leafy one like cabbage), but can also include leftover cooked potato chunks and any other cooked vegetables you have available. The mixture is then either fried or baked.
If you're a regular around here you will know that I am English, and Bubble and Squeak is a meal that I grew up eating for dinner on most Mondays. It was always made with the leftovers from Sunday's roast dinner. Yep, a Sunday roast is a real English tradition that happens in most households every single week, even in summer.
Wondering why it's called Bubble and Squeak? It is because of the bubbling and squeaking noises the mixture makes in the pan when it's fried in hot oil.
These days I tend to cook my Bubble and Squeak in the oven rather than frying it, so there is no bubbling and squeaking, but we can't let that adorable name go. But in case you want to have the full-on traditional "fried" bubble and squeak experience, I'm including both oven-baking and frying instructions for you here.
Wait, isn't Bubble and Squeak Irish?
Bubble and Squeak is English, but the Irish have similar dishes called Colcannon and Champ.
Champ involves warming milk with green onions, (or scallions as they are known in Ireland), so that the milk gets infused with the onion flavour. Then it's combined with mashed potatoes and served in a heap with melting butter pooling in the middle. It's incredibly good! Colcannon on the other hand, combines mashed potatoes with green onions and kale.
Interestingly the Scottish have a traditional dish called Rumbledethumps which is also very similar to Bubble and Squeak. Even more so than Colcannon.
What is the difference between Bubble and Squeak and Colcannon?
Colcannon is a mixture of mashed potatoes, green onions and usually kale, mashed together and served as it is without cooking it anymore.
Bubble and Squeak however was traditionally made with any form of leftover potato whether it be mashed, boiled, steamed or roasted, and green onions aren't something you would find in it. The green of choice is usually Savoy cabbage not kale, and once it's all mixed up together, unlike Colcannon, it then gets cooked again. In the old days it would have been fried in lard. Now oil or butter is used instead, or the Bubble and Squeak is oven-baked.
What you need to make my recipe and why
(For detailed measurements and instructions, see the printable recipe card).
To make my Bubble and Squeak recipe you need:
- Potatoes - Boiled and mashed. You can even add some chopped leftover cooked roasted or boiled potatoes too if you have them.
- Vegetables - Mainly cabbage and Brussels sprouts, but any others (whether leftover or cooked specifically for the job) are ok to throw in too.
- Onion - Sautéed up first to add lots of flavour.
- Vegan butter - (OPTIONAL) To give the mashed potatoes a great buttery flavour, but it's optional so omit it if you want to.
- Oil - (OPTIONAL) Just a little to brush or spray on the top to make it crispy. Again this is optional and it works just fine without it!
- Salt & Pepper - Flavour!
Savoy cabbage is my preference for making Bubble and Squeak because it gives good texture and the best flavour. It's the one with crinkled, ruffly, very dark green outer leaves that isn't as compact as other cabbages, like the one in the picture below. You can use any other cabbage though, except red that is, unless you want pink mashed potato!
How to make Bubble & Squeak
This Bubble and Squeak recipe is incredibly easy to make and there's no need to worry about looks because rustic is what we are going for. Here's how it's done:
Step 1 - Peel, chop, and boil the potatoes until tender.
Step 2 - Lightly cook the cabbage and Brussels sprouts, or gather together your already cooked leftovers.
Step 3 - Sauté some onions.
Step 4 - Mash the potatoes.
Step 5 - Add all the vegetables to the mashed potatoes, season and mix together.
Step 6 - Spoon into a dish.
Step 7 - Bake until golden.
My top tip for mashing and mixing
Got a KitchenAid mixer or similar? If you do, use it for this recipe to save on manual labour. I always make my mashed potato with it. Tip the boiled and drained potatoes into the bowl along with the optional butter, and use the flat beater to beat them until creamy. Add a drop of plant milk (it must be unsweetened) if they seem a bit dry then beat again. They come out so good! And then instead of making your arm ache when mixing in all of the vegetables, you can just tip them right in with the potato and seasoning, and keep beating with the mixer on slow until everything is combined.
- Use potatoes that are good for mashing. Yukon Gold are the best in my opinion because they are the perfect mix of starchy and waxy. If you're in the UK, Desiree, Maris Piper and King Edward work well. I don't recommend Russet potatoes for mashing. They get too waterlogged and make for a soggy, bland mash.
- Cut the potatoes into small pieces before boiling so they cook evenly.
- Don't over-boil the potatoes. Keep an eye on them and as soon as you can poke them with a knife or fork with minimal resistance, they are ready.
- Drain the potatoes as soon as they are tender. Don't leave them sitting in the water.
- Let the potatoes steam dry in the pan after draining.
- Mash them really well, and for ultimate flavour don't skip the vegan butter!
- Drain the veg thoroughly.
- Don't skimp on the salt and pepper. They are so important for flavour.
- Darker green veg like Savoy cabbage and Brussels sprouts make the most flavourful Bubble and Squeak.
- Bake (or fry) until golden and crispy. The crispy bits are the best ;O)
What to serve with Bubble and Squeak
Wondering what Bubble and Squeak goes with? Our favourite way to eat it is with a side of vegan sausages and vegan baked beans (homemade or from a can). And of course a very big squeeze of Original HP Sauce (another English favourite). For me it's a Bubble and Squeak must.
Here are some other ideas for what to serve with it:
- sliced vegan roast, gravy and Vegan Yorkshire Puddings
- holiday leftovers like red wine vegan gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce
- mushroom gravy and sautéed mushrooms
- tomato ketchup
- tofu scramble or vegan scrambled eggs
- vegan bacon and sausages
- vegan green bean casserole
- Portobello Pot Roast or Instant Pot Portobello Pot Roast
- Vegan Meatloaf
- Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuits
- seitan steaks
Storage, freezing & reheating tips
Make ahead of time - Prep the ingredients in advance. Peel and chop the potatoes up to 2 days before and keep them covered in water in the refrigerator. I recommend changing the water after 24 hours though to keep them nice and fresh. You can also wash and shred the cabbage and Brussels sprouts and store them in an airtight container until needed. To prepare the entire dish in advance, make it as instructed, and spoon the mixture into an oven proof dish. Cover well and refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking.
Storing leftovers - Transfer leftovers to an airtight container, or once cool, cover the dish you baked it in with cling-wrap. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Bubble and Squeak is such a versatile recipe and as long as you keep the proportions of mashed potatoes and other ingredients roughly the same (about 50/50 'ish) you can add whatever you like. I think it's best with the majority of vegetables being green and leafy though so bear that in mind.
If you don't have Brussel's sprouts use all cabbage, if you have lots of Brussels sprouts that need using up, use them instead of the cabbage.
Feel free to also add:
- cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn
- cooked broccoli florets
- cooked chard or kale
- diced leftover crispy roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes or steamed potatoes
- cooked and diced sweet potato
- diced vegan sausages/bacun or other meat alternatives
- soft-stemmed fresh herbs
- sautéed leeks
- raw green onions
- vegan cheese
You can bake it, fry it or make patties with it and it is also amazing as a substitute for the regular mashed potatoes used to top my Lentil Shepherd's Pie.
Frequently asked questions
The bubble in bubble and squeak relates to the noise the mixture makes in the pan. The moisture in the mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables makes them "bubble and squeak" when they come into contact with the hot oil that it was traditionally fried in.
Yes Bubble and Squeak is gluten-free.
The mashed Potatoes are the "glue" that holds Bubble and Squeak together so make sure they are mashed really well.
If you oven-bake rather than fry it, and limit or omit the optional oil and vegan butter, then Bubble and Squeak is a really healthy dish consisting of 100% vegetables.
You can microwave it to reheat leftovers but I do not recommend you microwave it to cook it initially.
Hungry For More?
- Vegan Potato Soup
- Vegan Potato Leek Soup
- Lemon Garlic Air Fryer Roasted Potatoes
- Lentil Shepherd's Pie
- Healthy No Oil- Crispy Roasted Potatoes
- Green Bean Potato Curry
- Dilly Smashed Potatoes
If you tried this recipe, let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
Bubble and SqueakAuthor:
- 1250g / 2¾ lbs white potato , chopped into chunks(amounts to roughly 9-10 medium potatoes)
- 500 to 550g / 1 to 1¼ lb / about ½ a large cabbage , shredded (Savoy or any other green one)
- 20 (approximately) Brussels sprouts , shredded
- 1 tablespoon oil of choice (optional) plus more for brushing
- 1 medium onion , chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter (optional)
- Salt & Pepper , to taste
- a few tablespoons unsweetened plant milk , if required
OR instead of raw cabbage and Brussels Sprouts use:
- around 1000 to 1200 grams / 2 to 2 ½ lbs / about 5 cups leftover cooked vegetables , mostly greens but others are ok to add too
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 °C).
- Place the potatoes in a large pan, cover with water, add a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Boil until you can insert a knife or fork into them with minimal resistance. Do not overcook them.
- While the potatoes are boiling, place shredded cabbage and shredded Brussels sprouts in a separate pan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil, then cook for 3 minutes. After that time drain them and set aside. Skip this step if you are using leftover cooked vegetables.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and then sit the colander with them in it over the now empty pan you used to boil them. Leave it uncovered so they can steam themselves dry.
- Heat a small fry pan over a medium heat with about one tablespoon of oil and sauté the onion until golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. Use a few drops of water to sauté with to keep the recipe oil-free.
- Mash the potato really well with the optional vegan butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a bit of unsweetened plant milk only if the potatoes seem a bit dry but don't add much because with all of the moisture from the cabbage things could get soggy.
- Add the cooked vegetables and onions to the mashed potatoes. Mix everything together really well. Check seasoning again and add more if necessary.
To oven bake
- Spoon the mixture into a large oven proof dish then rough up the top with a fork. You can spray the top with oil or brush with melted vegan butter to make it extra crispy or leave it as it is. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is going brown and crusty. You can make it extra crispy by putting it under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.
To pan fry
- Heat a couple of large frying pans or skillets over a medium heat with a good coating of oil or vegan butter. Swirl the oil or butter around the pan and once it is hot add the Bubble and Squeak mixture. Dollop it in them smooth it out into a big, thick pancake shape. Cook it until it's really golden brown on the bottom. Then you can either be brave and flip it by placing a large plate or cutting board over the top of the pan, carefully inverting it so it comes out, then sliding it back into the pan so the crispy bottom is on the top, or you can just take it off the heat, brush the top with some more oil or vegan butter, then broil it (grill in the UK) until it's golden brown and crusty. The 2nd option is much easier!
To make patties
- Prepare the mixture as above but instead of spooning into an ovenproof dish, take handfuls and roll into balls (you want them kind of mid way between golf and tennis ball size). Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and press down gently with the palm of your hand to make a patty shape. Smooth them out a little around the sides if they crack a bit.
- Brush or spray with oil (optional) then either pan fry over a medium heat with some oil or butter until golden brown on both sides, or place in a preheated oven (400 °F / 200 °C) and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Nutritional information is provided for convenience & as a courtesy. The data is a computer generated estimate so should be used as a guide only.
This recipe was originally published on September 22nd 2015. I've updated it with some new content and a video and am now republishing it for you. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for following A Virtual Vegan!