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Healthy Chip Butty Recipe: A Vegetarian French Fry Sandwich

Linda Crampton is an experienced teacher with an honors degree in biology. She writes about nutrition and the culture and history of food.

A chip butty with added vegetarian protein, HP sauce, and marmite

A chip butty with added vegetarian protein, HP sauce, and marmite

What Is a Chip Butty?

In the United Kingdom, the word “butty” refers to a sandwich made with buttered bread. A chip butty is a traditional treat in parts of the UK. It consists of white bread, butter—often thickly spread—and hot chips (French fries). The chips are stacked in layers and covered with tomato ketchup or brown sauce (HP sauce), according to the eater’s preference. Ideally, they are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. A traditional chip butty is loaded with carbohydrates, low in insoluble fibre, and high in saturated fat, but it tastes delicious.

I loved chip butties when I was a child, and I still do. As an adult, I make a healthier version that is more nutritionally balanced than the traditional chip butty but is still tasty. My version uses whole grain bread to provide insoluble fibre and is lower in fat than a typical butty. I add vegetarian protein to the sandwich to increase its nutritional value as well as a small quantity of some flavourful sauces. Eating this chip sandwich with a dark green salad would provide a complete meal.

HP sauce and marmite are great additions to chip butties.

HP sauce and marmite are great additions to chip butties.

Ingredients for a Healthier Chip Butty

One nice thing about chip butty recipes is that they can be very versatile. All you need to make a traditional butty is bread, butter, chips, and a sauce. Different breads, spreads, sauces, spices, and extras can be used to vary the taste and improve the nutritional content of the sandwich.

Here are the ingredients that I use most often for my chip butties.

  • Two slices of whole wheat bread
  • Light cream cheese
  • Marmite (small quantity)
  • Low-fat French fries cooked with a healthy oil (and with the skin on when I have time to make fries at home)
  • HP sauce (small quantity)
  • One egg
  • Low fat vegan "meat" that is sold pre-cooked—two slices of bacon or ham or slices of sausage

There are some low-fat frozen fries available, but I think the best kind are homemade and unpeeled oven-baked fries that have been sprinkled with a small quantity of a healthy vegetable oil, such as olive oil. Herbs and spices are a nice addition, too. You'll need about seven fries per butty, depending on the size of the fries and the bread. The video below shows the creation of fries baked without oil.

Nutrients in Eggs

The egg and vegetarian meat in my version of a chip butty provide protein. Eggs are a nutritious food. They contain cholesterol, but researchers say that in most people eating eggs doesn’t increase the cholesterol level in the blood.

A medium sized egg contains about 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. Only a small amount of this fat—about 1.4 grams—is saturated. Most health experts say that we should limit the amount of saturated fat in our diet.

Eggs are a good source of B vitamins and also contain vitamins A and D. They are rich in selenium and are a source of iron as well. Two additional nutrients in eggs are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are likely good for eye health. They are believed to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. The macula is a small spot near the centre of the retina that provides the best vision.

An egg is a nutrient-rich food.

An egg is a nutrient-rich food.

Some eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to have a number of health benefits. They may be helpful for the cardiovascular system and the brain.

What Is Marmite?

I like to add marmite to my chip butty to increase the flavour. Marmite is a dark brown and strong-tasting spread made from yeast extract, spices, and salt. I've eaten it since childhood and love the taste. Marmite is a vegetarian food but tastes meaty.

People seem to fall into two categories with respect to marmite—they either love it or hate it. Some of the haters might well turn into marmite lovers if they remembered to use a thin smear of the spread in their sandwiches instead of a spoonful. A thin layer of marmite can be very tasty; a thick layer can be overwhelming.

According to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), marmite was included in the food rations for the soldiers who fought in the first world war. I love marmite, but I would never spread it as thickly as shown in the photo below. I like it when patches of butter or margarine can be seen in between the patches of marmite, as shown in the first photo in this article.

The taste of thickly-spread marmite on toast may be overwhelming for some people.

The taste of thickly-spread marmite on toast may be overwhelming for some people.

The History of Marmite

The label on a jar of marmite shows a large, covered cooking pot made of earthenware or metal, which is called a "marmite" in French. The earliest versions of marmite spread were sold in small earthenware containers. Even today, the product is sold in a container that has a shape resembling a marmite.

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Justus von Liebig, a nineteenth-century German chemist, is considered to be the creator of marmite. He discovered that concentrated brewer's yeast could make a tasty food.

The Marmite Food Company was established in 1902 in Burton-upon-Trent, England. This company made a product resembling the modern marmite from leftover yeast provided by a brewery. The British version of marmite that is sold today generally contains added B vitamins—including vitamin B12—and is therefore more nutritious than other versions. Vitamin B12 is an especially important nutrient for vegans to obtain, since their diet usually contains a low level of this vitamin.

HP sauce contains tamarind extract. This is a tamarind tree and pod.

HP sauce contains tamarind extract. This is a tamarind tree and pod.

The tamarind plant (Tamarindus indica) is a tropical plant. The pulp from the elongated fruits is a popular food ingredient.

What Is HP Sauce?

HP sauce is a brown sauce made from vinegar, tamarind extract, dates, tomatoes, spices, salt, and a sweetener, which is usually molasses. The tamarind is a leguminous tree that produces fruits in the form of pods. The fruit is flavourful and has a sweet-sour taste.

HP sauce has a distinctive taste that is both savoury and sweet. Like marmite, the sauce contains salt, but this may not be a problem if the diet is otherwise low in salt and if the sauce is used in small quantities as a condiment. Some people like to cover their food with large quantities of HP sauce, though.

You'll notice that the bottle of sauce in my photo above has a label showing the Houses of Parliament. This is a significant image in relation to the history of HP sauce. In the late nineteenth century, a grocer from Nottingham named Frederick Gibson Garten created the first version of the sauce. He heard that his brown sauce was being served to MPs in the Houses of Parliament (or so the story goes), which gave him the idea for the HP name and picture.

The only HP sauce that I use is the classic variety. Nontraditional varieties including a fruity version and a barbecue version are also available, but I've never tried them. I love the classic version. As a child in the UK, I alternated adding HP sauce and tomato sauce (ketchup) to my chips. Today I prefer adding HP sauce.

A chip butty that is ready to eat

A chip butty that is ready to eat

Instructions for Making the Chip Butty

  • Cook the frozen French fries according to the package instructions, or make your own fries.
  • Hard-boil the egg while the fries are cooking.
  • When the fries and egg are nearly ready, toast the bread slices.
  • Spread each piece of toast with cream cheese and a thin layer of marmite. The marmite shouldn't completely cover the cream cheese unless you like a thick layer. If you've never eaten marmite before, you might want to spread it on only one slice of bread until you discover how much you like to eat.
  • Place one layer of French fries on one of the pieces of toast.
  • Pour HP sauce on top of the fries. The sauce tends to come out of the bottle in dollops. Only a few dollops are needed to provide flavour.
  • Place slices of hard boiled egg on top of the fries.
  • Place the slices of vegetarian meat on top of the egg.
  • Top with the other piece of toast.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Sweet potatoes with orange flesh are often known as yams in North America. They are very nutritious and are loaded with beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A.

Some Possible Ingredient Substitutions

Many different ingredients can be added to a chip butty. Some ingredient substitutions that work well are listed below.

  • Sprouted whole grain bread instead of regular whole grain bread
  • Bread that is made from a mixture of whole grain flour and white flour
  • Sweet potato fries instead of regular fries
  • Fries made from purple, red, or yellow-fleshed potatoes
  • French fries with the skin left on
  • Butter, margarine, a vegan spread, or mashed avocado instead of cream cheese
  • Tomato ketchup, mustard, pesto, tzatziki, hummus, or melted cheese instead of HP sauce (Check for suitable thickness in a sauce and for suitable ingredients if you want to use a healthy type).
  • A different type of vegetarian meat

You can also change the recipe in other ways, such as by:

  • leaving out the egg and using a vegan spread to create a vegan chip butty
  • leaving out the marmite, the HP sauce, and possibly the vegan meat if you are following a very low salt diet
  • adding spices for flavour instead of sauces
  • adding slices of mushroom, tomato, bell pepper, onion, or pickled onion
  • adding leafy green vegetables such as salad greens (Peppery ones such as mizuna or arugula work well. Arugula is also known as rocket.)

The great thing about a chip butty is that you can make it according to your own preferences. You can add the ingredients that you like for a tasty or nutritious meal and leave out any ingredients that you don't like. The process enables a person to be creative, which is always fun. In addition, I enjoy the challenge of making an old favourite healthier while still maintaining its delicious taste.

A traditional chip butty with white bread, tomato sauce, and extra chips

A traditional chip butty with white bread, tomato sauce, and extra chips


  • Nutrients in an egg (raw) from SELF Nutrition Data (This site gets its data from the USDA, or United States Department of Agriculture.)
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin information from the American Optometric Association
  • Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from WebMD
  • Facts about marmite from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Brown (HP) sauce information from the online version of The Guardian newspaper
  • Sweet potato nutrient information from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

© 2012 Linda Crampton


Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 15, 2012:

Thank you for the comment and the rating, Prasetio. I hope that your mother enjoys the recipe. I like to eat tasty food, but I also like to make it reasonably healthy if I can. Have a great weekend!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 15, 2012:

Wow...I love your recipe. It sound delicious and healthy as well. Good job, Alicia. I really enjoy this hub. I can't wait to share this hub with my mother. Rated up and take care!


Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 13, 2012:

Hi, b. Malin. Thanks for the visit! I make my chip butties with ketchup instead of HP sauce sometimes - they taste just as good. I hope that you and Lover Man do enjoy the recipe!

b. Malin on April 13, 2012:

Hi Alicia, your "Chip Buddy" sounds good to me...Anything with Ketchup sounds good to me. Lover Man and I are definitely going to make this Recipe and ENJOY!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 12, 2012:

Hi, Peggy. Thanks for the votes. Marmite has a very distinctive taste. I can't think of any other spread - except for vegemite - that tastes similar. They're both made from yeast extract. Nutritional yeast powder tastes somewhat like cheese and could be sprinkled on the chips in place of the marmite. The marmite can be left out, though - chip butties taste good without it as well as with it!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2012:

Hi Alicia,

This is definitely an education for me. I have never heard of the term "butty" with regard to a sandwich nor the ingredient marmot. What is the closest taste to how you would describe marmot. Any substitutions? Thanks for an interesting and useful hub. Voted that and up.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 12, 2012:

Thanks for commenting and for the vote, Tom. I hope you enjoy the chip butties!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on April 12, 2012:

Hi my friend,now this is something i could sink my teeth into, i will try a chip butty or two over the weekend.

Vote up and more !!!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 12, 2012:

Hi, Om Paramapoonya. Chip butties do have an interesting name, and they are simple to make - or you can make them more elaborate, depending on what you add! Thanks for commenting.

Om Paramapoonya on April 12, 2012:

BUTTY!!! Okay, that's a new culinary term I learned today. The recipe sounds really nice and simple. I guess I'll fix myself a butty sometime soon. :)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 12, 2012:

That's so funny, drbj!! Some people need a while to get used to eating marmite. I certainly don't think they would accept marmot in a recipe! Thanks for the visit.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on April 12, 2012:

OMG, Alicia, I read your title quickly, thought it included the word, marmot, and was astounded. Marmot? A big rat? In a recipe? Read it again and realized my mistake. Thanks for the butty education.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on April 11, 2012:

Hi, teaches. I love fries too! I'm able to get marmite at my local supermarket. You might be able to get it in a health food store or a speciality food store that sells imported food if the supermarkets in your area don't sell it.

Dianna Mendez on April 11, 2012:

My hubby would love this recipe, anything with fries is an A on his list of good eats. The marmite looks interesting, but where do you buy this? Thanks for sharing.

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