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These bubble and squeak cakes are absolutely perfect for using up leftovers from your Sunday roast or even Christmas dinner. You can make these with pretty much anything you like (or have left) and mould them into whatever portion size you want!
What is it?
Bubble and squeak is a traditional British dish. I was historically eaten for breakfast the day after a large meal, but is also commonly eaten for lunch or dinner too. I think the most similar American ‘dish’ would be a breakfast hash – although if I’m wrong let me know in the comments below!
This really is more of a concept than a strict recipe. The only two ingredients that are non-negotiable are potato and cabbage… and, to be honest, you could drop the cabbage in place of sprouts or kale or something similar.
And why is it called bubble and squeak? It’s actually after the noise that the cabbage makes when pan fried. Although I can’t say I’ve ever ‘heard’ a squeak from the pan!
How do you make it stick together?
I see a lot of people asking about how to make sure they get the ‘patties’ or cakes to stick together. The truth is that it really doesn’t matter if they break up a bit. Just tell yourself you’ve gone for the rustic look and it will be fine!
- If, however, you are determined to get a perfectly formed cake then there are a few things that can help:
- If you are using mashed potatoes, dry them out a little first. The soggier the dish then less it’s going to stick together.
- When you cook the cakes then allow them to cook for a full 2-3 minutes before you attempt to move them. This will help ‘meld’ everything together and seal the surface. Do the same on the other side.
- Use a spatula or fish slice to carefully turn the cakes – tossing is most definitely going to break them up.
Can you freeze it?
Bubble and squeak is perfect for freezing! Make the patties as directed and then pop them in a freezer bag. Store for up to 3 months and defrost thoroughly before serving. When you want to eat them simply follow the instructions as below to fry them up.
Since there is no real ‘set’ recipe for this dish you can really use whatever you have available. Substitute, replace and add what you like!
All the ingredients I’ve mentioned are also already cooked – as this is intended to be made from leftovers.
- Leftover roast potatoes. Chop them up and then use a masher to get a lumpy but more ‘spoonable’ consistency. You can also use mash potatoes instead
- Braised red cabbage – you can use any colour cabbage or boil some up if you don’t have any available. I like the extra pop of colour that the red cabbage gives
- Carrots – chop into small pieces (alternatively use leftover swede, peas, cauliflower, sprouts, beans…. you get the picture!)
- Egg – poached. Eggs are a common addition but not traditional. Omit if you prefer or use a fried egg instead
- Meat – if you have leftover meat from your roast you can add this. Either chop it up and add directly into the mixture before frying or heat separately and layer it on top. If you don’t have any leftover meat but you want to include some then you can cook some sausage or bacon to add to the meal.
- Gravy – if you have any leftover gravy then it goes REALLY well!
Serve with a good dollop of brown sauce for extra British-ness. A scoop of ketchup or mustard also goes well.
How to make it
Chop up the potato (if you are using roast potatoes) and then transfer to a bowl and use a potato masher to get a smoother consistency. It does not have to be perfect!
Chop your leftover veg into fairly small pieces and add to the bowl and give them a brief ‘smash’ with the masher too.
Mix everything together well and then use your hands to form the ‘cakes’. Make them as big or as small as you like – just don’t make them too thick otherwise they will take too long to heat through to the middle.
Heat some oil in a frying pan and then add the cakes. Fry for around 4 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 4 minutes on the other side.
If you are adding a poached egg then have your water ready before you start to cook the cakes. Add the egg to the water for the last 3 minutes of cooking time.
Transfer the cakes to a plate and serve!
If you are looking for other great British classics then check out these bangers and mash with redcurrant jus or this freezable sticky toffee pudding!
Products that work great for this recipe:
Food Hugger Set
Beeswax Food Wraps
Veggi storage containers
Bubble and Squeak Cakes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 1x
Never have leftovers go to waste again! These bubble and squeak cakes are incredibly versatile and simple and you can tailor them to whatever ingredients you want!
The below recipe includes what I used to make 2 cakes which is 1 generous, single person portion. However, this is less of a recipe than a guideline so substitute what you want, in whatever measures you want – just make sure that you include potatoes (roasted or mashed).
This is what I used in the cakes you see pictured, however, you can make this with anything you have leftover!
- 150g (5oz) leftover roast potatoes (around 3 medium-sized potatoes)
- 80g (2.8oz / 1/2 cup) leftover braised cabbage
- 70g (2.5oz) leftover roasted carrots
- 1 egg, poached
- fresh herbs, for scattering (parsley, rosemary or thyme work well)
- If you are using roast potatoes then cut them up, place in a bowl and then mash with a potato masher. If you are using mashed potatoes you can put them straight in the bowl.
- Chop whatever veg you are using into small pieces and then place in the bowl with the potatoes and mash a little also.
- Season if needed (you’ve likely already seasoned any cooked ingredients so taste before adding more). Mix everything together well.
- Mould the mixture into cakes using your hands. They can be as big as you like but make them no thicker than 1 inch.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the cakes when hot. Make sure the oil isn’t too hot as you want to leave it undisturbed in the pan for 4 minutes to allow the bottom to ‘seal’. They should sizzle gently when you drop them in, but not bubble or spit.
- After 4 minutes, turn the cakes gently using a spatula or fish slice. Cook for a further 4 minutes on the other side.
- If you are adding a poached egg then have the water ready before you start to fry the bubble and squeak, and add the egg at the time you flip the cakes over. Time them for 3 minutes for a runny yolk.
If you are using mashed potato then make sure they aren’t too soft. If you added a lot of milk or cream when you made them then you can dry them out by layering them on a baking tray and placing over a low heat on the hob or in the oven.
If you want to add meat to the dish then you can cut it up and add to the cakes after you add the chopped veg, or heat separately and serve on top of the cakes. Alternatively, fry up some bacon or sausages to serve alongside if you don’t have any leftover meat!
Serve with some brown sauce, ketchup or mustard on the side. If you have some leftover gravy that goes incredibly well too!
To freeze, pop the cakes into freezer bags before cooking and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Fry
- Cuisine: British
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 350
- Fat: 10g
- Carbohydrates: 18g
- Protein: 9g
Keywords: dinner, brunch, breakfast, lunch, roast, british, leftovers, potatoes