Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (2024)

Bubble and squeak might sound like an unusual name for a meal, but this traditional British dish is so easy, comforting and delicious, you’ll soon forgive the name. Plus it’s the perfect recipe to use up leftover vegetables.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (1)

British cooking has its fair share of strange-sounding names for foods: spotted dick, toad in the hole, and Yorkshire pudding (which is savory) among them. If you haven’t come across bubble and squeak before now, then it’s another to add to the list. And another that you need to try!

Why is bubble and squeak called bubble and squeak?

The origins of the name are unclear, and the ingredients of this dish can vary a lot as well.

Some believe the name “bubble and squeak” comes from the bubbling up and noise as the vegetables are cooking over the fire.

What is bubble and squeak?

What is clear is that this dish is fried leftover vegetables.

It is a typical way of using the leftovers after a traditional Sunday roast dinner or Christmas dinner. Since both of these meals would pretty much always include potatoes, that’s the one ingredient that is always consistent in bubble and squeak.

Mashed potato acts as the ‘glue’ for the other ingredients, which can be cooked cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or sometimes carrots and/or peas. Many versions add some meat as well, whether that’s leftover roast or some bacon cooked in the pan before you add the rest of the ingredients.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (2)

Bubble and squeak: a unique recipe to make with leftovers

There are, of course, many ways to use leftover vegetables, so you may be wondering what makes this dish special. The answer is that in bubble and squeak, the vegetables are always fried.

Then, you need to leave things alone in the skillet to cook long enough to get the bottom a bit browned and crispy. (Kind of like a hash, but with mashed potatoes that hold the other vegetables together, making it more like a thick, vegetable pancake.)

Often, it is made as one large cake in a small to medium skillet, but you can also make smaller patties.

If you cook it all as one, you typically stir things as you go to warm it all through before then pressing it down to crisp up on the bottom. If in patties, you leave them so they don’t fall apart then flip them once browned.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (3)

What is the difference between colcannon and bubble and squeak?

In case you are thinking this dish looks a bit familiar, just not with this name, that’s quite possible.

This dish is very typical in England but is similar to other dishes that are popular in Ireland and Scotland.

Probably the best known is colcannon from Ireland, which is a popular side to corned beef for a St Patrick’s Day meal, particularly in the United States. Colcannon is still relatively popular in Ireland, particularly as a way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

Colcannon is made with mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale, as well as typically leeks.

Unlike bubble and squeak, colcannon is much creamier in texture, more like mashed potatoes with vegetables mixed in than the vegetable pancake of bubble and squeak.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (4)

Similar recipes to use leftover vegetables and potatoes

There is also a Scottish dish that is similar to bubble and squeak called rumbledethumps.

Like colcannon, this dish is made with mashed potatoes and usually cabbage or kale and onion. Swede can also be added, which is a common vegetable in Scotland (although less popular now).

Rumbledethumps is generally made as a casserole so that the top crisps up.

Another popular ways to use leftover potatoes are to make potato pancakesor potato farl as they are known in Scotland. (In Switzerland, Potato pancakes are called rosti.) These make a great component to a traditional fried breakfast (alongside bacon, sausages, fried tomato, and egg).

When would you typically eat bubble and squeak?

This dish can be served as a hearty breakfast, often topped with an egg.

Alternatively, it can be a main meal in itself or served as a side to some leftover roast meat.

Since a roast dinner (often involving roast beef or lamb alongside roasted or mashed potatoes and other vegetables) is common on Sundays in England, this dish is a classic Monday meal.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (5)

Bubble and squeak for Boxing Day

It’s also something many associate with Boxing Day to use up leftovers from Christmas dinner. (Boxing day is celebrated in the UK and other countries with British influence on the day after Christmas.)

In the UK, a traditional Christmas meal is very similar to an American Thanksgiving meal. You typically serve turkey with potatoes (most commonly roasted), one or more types of stuffing, and Brussels sprouts.

Bubble and squeak is a tasty, hearty dish that’s a great way to use up leftovers. It’s also so versatile in when you can serve it and what exactly goes in it.

So give it a try, and adapt it often!

Yield: 2 servings (1 - 8 inch skillet)

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (6)

Bubble and squeak is a traditional British dish that is a comforting and delicious recipe to make with leftover vegetables.

Prep Time5 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Total Time25 minutes


  • ½ small-medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 slices of smoked bacon, cut into slices
  • 8-10 cooked Brussels sprouts* (approx 1 cup), shredded or cooked cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 8 oz mashed potato** (approx 1 cup)
  • Eggs to fry (optional)


  1. Finely dice the onion. Cut the bacon into thin slices. And slice/shred the Brussels sprouts.
  2. Warm the butter in a small (8 inch) nonstick skillet over a medium-high heat and add the onion and bacon. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens and the bacon starts to brown.
  3. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts and cook for a few minutes until they start to brown.
  4. Mix in the mashed potatoes so they are evenly distributed then flatten the mixture in the skillet. Leave the mixture to cook a few minutes (around 5) so that the bottom browns slightly.
  5. Place a plate over the skillet and flip it over so the vegetable cake falls onto the plate. Add a little bit more butter, if needed, to the skillet, then slide the mixture back into the skillet with what was the top on the bottom. Cook another few minutes until browned on the other side.
  6. Turn the bubble and squeak onto a plate. If you want to serve it with a fried egg, you can just fry it in the same skillet.


*If you don't have ready-cooked Brussels sprouts, you can cook them quickly in the microwave. Just trim the base, remove the outer leaves, cut them in half and put all pieces in a microwavable container with a little water. They should cook in around 2 minutes on high power.

**You can use ready mashed, boiled, baked or roasted potatoes for this. Just trim off any overly crispy parts and the skin, then mash them up to use in this dish.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/2 of recipe

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 531

If you liked this recipe, here are some similar dishes you may enjoy!

  • Cottage Pie
  • Homity Pie (British Cheesy Potato Leek Pie)
  • Corned Beef Hash
  • Swiss Potato Rosti With Eggs
  • British Fish Pie
  • Boxty (Irish Potato Pancakes)
  • Hachis Parmentier (French Beef and Potato Casserole) and Merlot Pairing #MerlotMe
  • Sweet Potato Hash Breakfast Skillet

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (15)


Caroline lived and traveled various places before settling in Cambridge, MA. She still fits in some travel with her family, but often settles for traveling through food instead. She shares her recipes at CarolinesCooking.com, where there’s plenty of international inspiration using seasonal ingredients, as well as creative recipes for all to enjoy. Caroline is originally from Scotland, where she grew up hiking and skiing, both things she still loves to do when her two young boys give her a chance. You can follow along with her cooking adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Bubble and Squeak (British Potato Cakes) Recipe • Curious Cuisiniere (2024)


What do British people call potato cakes? ›

Bubble and Squeak (or Potato Cakes) is a British classic, and an easy and flexible recipe. You can make it from scratch OR use up leftover veggies. Flavorful, colorful, fluffy, creamy and so so good. Perfect as a breakfast or brunch recipe!

What do the British call bubble and squeak? ›

Cabbage is approximately 92% water, per Healthline, which releases as the cabbage wilts, bubbling and sputtering in the hot pan. The appeal of the name 'bubble and squeak' is a matter of opinion, but if you don't fancy it, you can always call the dish by its Scottish name, 'rumbledethumps' (via Britannica).

Why does my bubble and squeak fall apart? ›

How to make bubble and squeak stick together? The beaten egg in the ingredients should prevent the bubble and squeak from falling apart. As our method states: "Beat the remaining egg, add to the potatoes and mix well."

What is the difference between bubble and squeak and Colcannon? ›

He comments that although the basic ingredients of bubble and squeak and colcannon are similar, the two are very different dishes, the former being traditionally made from left-overs and fried to give a brown crust, and the latter "a completely separate dish of potato, spring onion and cabbage, served almost as creamed ...

What are potato cakes called in America? ›

In some states it's known as a 'potato scallop', in others it's a 'potato cake', and for years the debate has been bantered back and forward between protagonists. “It might be a 'scallop' of potato but let's not confuse it with a serve of scallops!

What do the British call mashed potatoes? ›

Mashed potato or mashed potatoes (American, Canadian and Australian English), colloquially known as mash (British English), is a dish made by mashing boiled or steamed potatoes, usually with added milk, butter, salt and pepper. It is generally served as a side dish to meat or vegetables.

Is bubble and squeak Irish or English? ›

Bubble and squeak is a fried British dish made with potatoes and cabbage. It's quite similar to the Irish colcannon. Bubble and squeak, which often contains meat such as ham or bacon, is traditionally made on Monday with the leftovers from Sunday's dinner or on Boxing Day with leftovers from the Christmas feast.

What do you serve with bubble and squeak? ›

A great leftover recipe that can be made with any vegetable leftovers. Serve with a poached, fried or scrambled egg and crispy bacon or with poached smoked haddock fillets or grilled trout. Pop them in the freezer at the end of step 4 for a delicious snack on another day.

Is bubble and squeak a London dish? ›

London. For such a curiously named dish, the classic British dish known as bubble and squeak is, well, kind of boring: It's just vegetables, usually potato and cabbage, pan-fried together and served as a side dish.

What is another name for bubble and squeak? ›

The dish's name supposedly derives from the noises made when the ingredients are fried. Similar dishes, also based on fried vegetables, include colcannon (Ireland) and rumbledethumps (Scotland).

How do you flip a bubble and squeak? ›

Halfway through the cooking, flip it over using a fish slice, or like a pancake if you're brave. If it breaks don't worry, just push it back together. Let it crisp up on the underside then nick a bit and taste it.

Is champ the same as colcannon? ›

Champ is similar to another Irish dish, colcannon, which uses kale or cabbage in place of scallions. Champ is popular in Ulster, whilst colcannon is more so in the other three provinces of Ireland. It was customary to make champ with the first new potatoes harvested.

What is colcannon made of? ›

Colcannon is an Irish dish that's made of mashed potatoes, shredded cabbage or kale, green onions and tons of butter and whole milk. Sometimes crumbled bacon is added for an extra-succulent, salty flavor.

Why do they call it colcannon? ›

The first syllable 'col' is likely to be derived from the Irish 'cál' meaning cabbage. The second syllable may derive from 'ceann-fhionn' meaning a white head (i.e. 'a white head of cabbage') – this usage is also found in the Irish name for a coot, a white-headed bird known as 'cearc cheannan', or 'white-head hen'.

Does the UK have potato cakes? ›

In parts of England and North America, a potato cake is a patty of hashed potatoes, a kind of rösti or hash brown. These are available both fresh and frozen in supermarkets, and are served by many restaurants, such as fast food restaurants like McDonald's and Whataburger, often as part of the breakfast menu.

What is UK slang for potatoes? ›

'Spuds' or 'tatties' are potatoes.

What is a potato cake called? ›

Potato pancakes are associated with almost every European cuisine and are referred to as a variety of names including latkes (Jewish culture), kartoffelpuffer (Germany), bramborak (Slovakia and Czech Republic), draniki (Austria), tattifish (England) and rosti (Switzerland) (“Potato Pancake Background”, n.d).

What is another name for potato pancakes? ›

A latke is a small pancake usually made with grated potatoes. Latkes are traditionally eaten during Hanukkah. Most latkes are crispy little potato pancakes that are served with apple sauce or sour cream during the eight days of Hanukkah.

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