Toad In The Hole a recipe for vegetarians that doesn’t involve Toads

Before I kick in with a recipe let’s make it clear no Toads were actually harmed in the making of this post – nor any other post I’ve blogged (or not blogged as the case may be).

I have Toads in the garden, they come from a near neighbour who has a pond for them to breed in and off they potter, well clamber and crawl into the neighbouring gardens and there they settle in for the duration; living off the lie of the land eating slugs and bugs, settling themselves into nice cosy corners, under plants, sometimes creating a hole where they bury themselves a few inches – their faces peering out – no doubt cooling themselves off.

In winter, they will find themselves somewhere sheltered and warm (ish) and there they will stay – they like our wood pile, crawling underneath it, out of harms way and tucked away from the worst that winter throws at them. Toads don’t need water to live in, only to breed in, so come Spring they start a migration back across walls and through gaps back to my garden to carry on with their peacable lives. And the cycle starts all over again.

I freely admit to spending far too much time watching my amphibious friends. On a summer’s evening, after a warm day, and especially if it rains in the early part of the evening before it gets dark I can sit on the back steps and watch them criss-cross the garden off in search of, well I don’t really know, maybe more food or perhaps better accommodation.

We built a pond in our garden a few years ago and I have yet to master the art of water gardening – it’s been a bit hiss and miss, I’m slowly “getting it”, but it’s been slow progress. Gradually a few plants have settled in, a few have died off pretty rapidly – or come to nothing. And in all of this time I’ve never seen a toad in the pond – that is until this year. Late Spring / early Summer, on warm days I wander over to the pond and often spot one of my Laydee Toads soaking up the atmosphere. For your information, the ladies, or as I like to say the Laydees, are big girls – nice and rounded, rather plump, or frankly expressed much bigger than their male counterparts.

And there my amphibious laydee friend would sit, barely moving, her head above the water, nestled up against the pebbles that we placed at one end of the pond – a combination of a beautifying effect and practicalities so creatures could get in and out of the pond easily – we’re very accommodating around here you know!

And there my laydee friend would sit, and sit and sit. I watched her do this over a period of a few weeks. Lazing  around, taking a dip, bathing and basking in the waters.  And then she stopped visiting.

Humph, no toad watching for me! But eventually my brain made a few connections, a few internal lightbulbs flashed, and the words “BY JOVE!” formed a convenient speech bubble. She was getting all Jiggy !! You know all frisky and ahem, how do I express this delicately, she was hanging out waiting for a man. Well maybe not a man, but a male toad.  As I said earlier Toads only really need water to breed in, there are times I’ve found them wallowing in murky  rainwater that has collected in an upturned plant pot, but that is a purely for fun. Going to the pond is a business matter.

So my lovely laydee hung out at the rock pool bar, she had decided it was a cool place to hang out, a place where maybe the guys would like to hang out too. For days after seeing her in the water I would peer into the water in the hope of seeing eggs, and later tadpoles.

But there were none. Maybe the guys had decided to go back to the original pond, maybe the guys were a bit shy at coming forward, maybe the guys weren’t here this year. I don’t know. I’m hoping they all return in Spring, and fully avail themselves of our pond, I love to see them in the garden, and besides they are a real gardeners friend, they eat my foes the slugs!

Toad In The Hole

For those of you unfamiliar with this classic British dish – it is, as I said earlier Toad free;  who knows where it got its name from, and yes I did look it up, but no-one really knows so I’m not going to add further to the speculation. The dish apparently dates back to the 17th century, making early appearances in cook books. The recipe seems to have stayed stayed pretty much the same throughout – it’s a cheap meal. A winter meal. Filling and warming. Hale and hearty.

A mix of batter and sausages and nothing else. Ignore those recipes I’ve seen online that add mustard, or heaven forbid prosciutto, and yes I’ve even seen recipes that add sugar. Now stop this nonsense right here and right now. Toad In The Hole doesn’t have herbs, spices, extra stuff and certainly doesn’t have SUGAR added. Yes I’m shouting! I double checked online before I wrote this recipe up, and I wish I hadn’t . It rather put me off, oh and annoyed me. There is simply no need to “play around” with this recipe – it is brilliant as it is, no need for adding extras and sugar is not an option – Toad In the Hole is not a sweet, if you want sugar have a pudding and stop messing !

Oooo I got all grumpy there didn’t I ! but honestly why mess with a classic? This is a meal of childhood, of feeding families cheaply and well, where a simple batter is made, sausages part cooked, oil heated up and in the oven it goes. The batter mix is a classic Yorkshire Pudding mix – flour, milk, eggs and water.  The trick as with all Yorkshire Pudding is to get the oven HOT and a small amount of oil in the baking dish HOT. Do those things and the Pud will rise.

The trick with Toad In The Hole is to part-cook your sausages in a small amount of oil, in the HOT oven, before you add the batter. Do this and all will be well. The batter mix is based on my mum’s recipe and Delia Smith’s, so let’s call it fusion shall we…


  • 3 oz / 75g Plain Flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3 floz /75ml Milk
  • 2 flooz / 50ml Water
  • Pinch of salt

FOR THE TOAD IN THE HOLE – 4 vegetarian sausages, the choice is yours, but herby Quorn ones work well.


  • Turn the oven on to 220 C (Gas 7 / 425F) and then start preparing the ingredients.
  • When the oven is hot, place 4 sausages in a metal oven dish (about 11 x 7 ” / 28 x 18 cm – or smaller) which has a small amount of vegetable oil in it – approx.  2 tablespoons into to the oven on a middle shelf.
  • Cook the sausages for about 10 minutes – they don’t need to be cooked right through at this stage.
  • While the sausages are cooking make the batter (Yorkshire Pudding)
  • In a large bowl sift the flour and create a well, crack the egg into it and pour a tiny bit of the milk/water mixture into it. Using a hand held electric mixer start beating or as Delia would say ‘incorporating’ the ingredients, gradually pour the rest of the milk/water mix into the bowl as you beat away. You are looking to make a fairly runny batter mix. Beat until all the ingredients are fully absorbed and ‘incorporated’.
  • Add a pinch of salt at this stage.
  • When the sausages are warmed through and the oil is piping hot – about 10 minuets, give the batter a final whizz / beat and then pour it straight onto the sausages and put the dish straight back into the oven.
  • Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes. Don’t be tempted to peek into and open the oven, leave it be. At the 25 minute stage peer into the oven, if the batter is looking golden-brown and is starting to turn a darker brown / crispy it is ready. Oh yes, and the batter will have risen. If the batter isn’t golden-brown cook for a further 5 minutes – no more.
  • Remove from the oven and serve straight away – the longer you leave the Yorkshire Pudding mix out of the oven the more it will collapse.

Serve with an onion gravy, mashed potatoes (you can get all fancy-schmancy here and add as many herbs and spices as you like) and veggies – I like steamed greens of cabbage, kale, chard or spinach picked from my allotment, but the choice is yours.

For photos of the finished recipe I’ll refer you to Delia Smith and the BBC Good Food site – we made this dish on Sunday, after a long walk in the Sussex countryside and needed warming filling food and frankly I was too hungry to get the camera out. It was a case of focus on the food not focusing the camera. But we do eat this dish fairly often throughout winter, so I hope to take some photos of the finished dish later in the year and when I’m not totally ravenous! In the meantime I hope you enjoyed seeing photos of my amphibious friends the toads in my garden.


  • Haha toad friends are the best friend right? She looks so at home and carefree 😀
    And thank you for the lack of toad recipe, it sounds awesome!


  • I thought Toad in the Hole was the one where you cooked an egg inside a hole in a piece of toast – so glad you’re around to set me straight, Claire!
    We have toads in the garden, and bullfrogs that live in the pond, which makes more tadpoles than you can imagine!

  • Love toad in the hole – a couple of years since I had it. Your garden toad – is a cute little thing – but fat … he must enjoy living with you. Brilliant photos, Claire. Last one my favorite. Hope he will survive the winter – because even down there .. it can be rough during winter. You have to keep me posted. I love frogs and toads ..

  • I love your toad photos! Toads are wonderful creatures to have in your garden. They are great for eliminating insect pests!

  • Hope your toads come back in the spring and that you get lots of baby toads (toadlets?) I haven’t made toad in the hole for ages, thanks for the reminder!

  • A real classic – thanks for reminding me about it! We don’t often eat veggie sausages, but I shall have to keep my eyes open for some. And your toad photos are charming! 😀

    • Hi Cathy, we don’t often have them, but every now and then they fill a hungry gap ! I’ve noticed over the years shopping in France that more and more items like veggie sausages are making an appearance, I wonder if Germany is the same.

      • It has certainly improved in recent years, but there is still very little on offer and veggie sausages and burgers are mostly tofu, rather small, very expensive and not very tasty. British supermarkets are far better geared up for vegetarians. Food labelling is appalling here!

        • interesting about the food labelling Cathy, to be honest I’m not a great fan of veggie sausages, but we did find some nice Quorn ones that had the Lincolnshire flavour thing going, and they work really well in this dish.

  • I love garden toads–I fear it is too hot and dry for them here. Maybe a tortoise? The recipe looks yummy, and your site grow more beautiful every time I visit.

  • I would love to have a little ponds with toads, frogs, dragonflies, etc. It is high on my wish list. I only have a little concrete fountain/birdbath and a few extra birdbaths. As to the culinary toad, I’d like to try it, though I’d probably prefer meat sausages.

    • Our garden is small, so the pond is equally small. I know friends who have made ponds out of barrels and it’s amazing what can flourish and do well in a small area. I hope you get a pond one day, I spend ages just looking at it – mostly thinking it needs work !
      I thought I’d do a veggie version just to let people know you can, and remember you need LOTS of gravy 🙂

  • Oh, Claire, what wonderful, personality-filled toad photos these are! I keep halves of old crockery pots throughout my beds, to provide protection and a cool shelter for the toads in my garden. This sounds like another hearty and interesting recipe, well worth trying. By the way, I came back from the mainland yesterday with a bottle of vodka and a big bag of lemons to start my holiday Limoncello, thanks to your inspiration and good recipe. Thank you!

    • Fabulous Cindy, I hop eth eLimoncello works for you. I think Teresa’s recipe is nice and simple – we will have to do a taste test together 🙂

  • Ok, I’ll admit I have never tried Toad in a Hole! I am always “modifying” classic recipes and sometimes not for the better! But usually after trying the recipe in it’s classic form. Usually. LOL I am enchanted with the toad photos! What a healthy and thriving ecosystem!

    • I think when I saw the other recipes I just sort of flipped ! I rarely follow a recipe exactly to the letter, so I’m no angel 🙂 You can make individual portions in smaller dishes if you prefer Deb

  • “No toads were actually harmed in the making of this post.” Comedienne. Where I come from “toad-in-the-hole” is a hair-do, a kind of a bun, but what’s not to like about sausages cooked with Yorkshire pudding?

  • Haha this reminds me of the baby toads I kept as ‘pets’ when I was a wee girl. This involved looking at them in their dank hole for very long periods. So totally get this obsession. We now have a huge pond in our front yard which has an alarming frog mating fest every year. It’s carnage, literally!

    • Yikes, carnage!! Wildlife certainly can be wild can’t it! Next year I want to try and work on the pond, with more planting – sort of build it up, but I do love watching it, an dwatching nothing in particular happen 🙂

  • I love your little toad, Claire! I tried to keep a couple in our pond, but they never stayed. I never figured out why, but I may just have to try again next spring! And I apparently did not know what an authentic Toad in the Hole was…now I do! And I love the vegetarian option. That works beautifully. I do love a good Yorkshire Pudding, although you remind me with this post that it’s been a very long time since I’ve had any. I will have to do something about that! 🙂

    • Hi Debra, looking at the comments it seems that my US friends know toad in the hole as the egg dish – the joy of the English language eh? 😉
      Its not something we eat very often but when I do I really do tuck in !! Hope you are having a super weekend

      • I have so much fun with what I’m learning from others regarding word usage and terms. I still use “courgettes” quite often and think of you. When others look at me funny I can give them the backstory! 🙂

  • Fun name for a tasty dish. When I was small I thought there were real toads in the hole and would have nothing to do with it! Now I love this quick and easy dish. Thanks for your very easy recipe.

    • Excellent, I don’t often use the “recommended” links that WordPress suggest but this one as you say was worth reading! Hope you have a great weekend

  • Claire has already said it: a real British classic all of us in the ‘British Commonwealth’ had as a staple when growing up [not necessairly my today’s diet, but history counts . . . 🙂 !] Oh, I love the real little froggies also – have a long triple line of veg/herb pots on the side of the house – whenever it rains and I go out, I am welcomed by the loudest of choruses from ‘ittle ones about’ 5 cms long singing their hearts out!! How can one mind 😀 !

    • I love it when frogs and toads sing in the rain 🙂 I remember visiting friends in Queensland a few years back, and they had frogs who lived in the house (not every ones idea of fun…) and it was hilarious to watch them leave the bathroom at night and make their way outside. Oh and when you took a shower, they started to sing, my friends husband always joked that I had pulled 🙂 Happy days… x

  • Oh no, poor Ladyee Toad! Here’s hoping she will be back with a beau in tow next Spring.
    Toad in the hole is something my Mom and I enjoy together on occasion when it’s just us girls – not sure why as both my hubby and dad both enjoy it too.
    Have a lovely day Claire.
    🙂 Mandy

    • I hope she meets her Prince Charming too Mandy 🙂
      And how funny that you eat it with your mum, that’s so sweet and I trust you have LOTS of gravy !!

  • Brilliant post Claire – Toads, romance, and yorkshire pudding….a perfect combination! I love my TITH (ooh that sounds a bit rude!) with gallons of gravy 🙂

    • Hi Tanya and thank you ! Who’d have thought that “Toads, romance, and yorkshire pudding” would make a prefect combination 🙂
      And GALLONS of gravy is compulsory. In fact I get all Northern when it comes to gravy, I could eat it by the bucket load 🙂

  • I wonder why the girl toads are bigger than the male toads? I too like Marie, thought that a toad in the hole was the egg cooked in the bread dish… thanks for enlightening us on this.

    • I’ve now idea BAM, I have trie dto look it up – maybe I should try again, but they really are much bigger – nice and round and fat 🙂
      I’m wondering if the US / Uk versions have got all mixed up?

  • I love your laydee friend, I just wonder whether she stayed a spinster or she found Mr. Right! I don’t have toads those huge in my garden, I only see loads of small ones and they are sage green. Don’t know what they are. I’ve never seen veggie sausages on sale here in Italy but apparently I could cook toad in the hole with standard ones too. I don’t eat Yorkshire pudding since my first experience in UK, where I used to live hosted by an old lady (not a laydee!). I should try and make it, food is always a good way to remember… 😉

    • I wonder if they are frogs Alberto? But any wildlife in the garden is a good sign, a sign of a healthy environment !
      And you are right food does come loaded with memories, I like this dish with fresh greens or red cabbage – good winter fuel for the body after a day working in the garden !

  • You have given us a real toad in the hole! Your title made me laugh.. I love your sense of humor, Claire! I’ve never made the “real” toad in the hole.. well, I’ve never made any, but I will now, because my son loves sausages and I love a yorkshire pudding!! xx

    • I was obviously feeling a bit frisky when I wrote this post 🙂 And I admit I’ve had the photos for ages, but wans’t going to make this dish until it got cooler, its certainly winter food. Oh and it’s delicious with red cabbage too, not sure how much your son would like that though 🙂

  • I’ve never had your English dish but have heard of it. I agree with Marie, here in the US the egg in the toast is also called toad in the hole.

    • Hi karen, it’s become quite popular in pubs that serve food – traditional and always tasty!
      reading the comments I think there is a real variation between English US and English UK. But that’s great as I now know the US version 🙂

  • I just loved your shots of the toad, what a treat, I had one who lived quite close to the back door in a shallow water barrel with rocks in it for the frogs and toads, but i could never get a decent shot! Yours are great! nice recipe too.. c

    • Thank you Miss C, basically the shots were the best of a bad bunch as the toads like to goi for an evening stroll just as dusk arrives – never a great time for photography !

  • The toads amaze me. Wherever do they come from? We live in a dry dry desert with cactus and harsh elements and I am ever so surprised when a toad dashes across my drive. I also love to watch them and am pleased that you didn’t put one in the dish.

    • I know there is a pond a few gardens away, but after that I’m stumped ! But that is amazing that the toads live and prosper in your dry and arid area, fascinating how creatures survive and are adapte dto live in harsh environments.

  • Oh what my kids wouldn’t give to see a toad up close and personal
    I have seen toad in the hole a couple of times before and each time I think that I really need to give this a try. I think the kids will love this!

    • That would be lovely for them to see Sawsan, I remember a friends boy was here one time, he was only about 4 and he was captivated by th etoads, and oh so gentle and quiet around them. Lovely to see.
      Misky made the toad in the hole last night and has just posted a gorgeous photo if it helps to tempt you any more 🙂

  • What a lovely post – gorgeous pictures of your garden companion! So agree with you about mucking around with alien ingredients in a classic dish – I feel the same about coconut in creme brulee or friands, and jelly in a trifl, and about six different ingredients in a delicious scone which only needs butter and/ strawberry jam!.

  • Adore your toad pictures Claire! We get both toads and frogs, I was told that the boy frogs bury themselves in the mud in the bottom of ponds in the winter while the ladies stay up on top eating away and getting fat and fertile for Spring, then the boys just jump out and… I draw a discreet veil over the ensuing proceedings. Anyway I just scooted over to see your post from Misky’s blog where she has made your fab TITH. I have a freezer full of sausages so might have to make it later on this weekend. Brian says that they used to have the Yorkshire pudding for pudding when he was a kid, after the Sunday dinner, with sugar sprinkled on the top, but no never ever sugar in the batter with the Toad. Lovely, lovely post I did enjoy reading this xx

    • Interesting to hear about the male frogs Joanna, you know that I now want to peer into the depths of the pond to see who is living there 🙂
      And I’ve heard of having Yorkshire pudding as a pudding before but had forgotten about it, thank you ! And how good is Misky’s Toad In The Hole – the photo is drool worthy ! Hope you have a good weekend – it’s peeing it down here at the moment …. humph!

  • This recipe was one I’d never heard mentioned until my ex-in-laws entered my life. They were from Buffalo and Toad in the hole is a commonly served family meal there..I always asaumed it was a recipe of German or Polish I origins. …interesting to learn its actually British!

  • the recipe sounds tempting claire, but your real toads are even better, i love your laydee in the pond, hope she is back this year with a partner 🙂

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