Buttered Leeks

This quick, simple dish tastes lovely and makes a great accompaniment to roast meats.

Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 (as a side)Difficulty: Easy


  • 5 leeks
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • A sprig of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried thyme)
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper

Make it vegan: replace the butter with a vegan butter or plant based margarine.

Special Equipment

  • A medium sized saucepan with a lid
  • A colander


  1. Remove the roots from the leeks and discard them. Chop the leeks into thin diagonal slices and pop them in a colander. Wash them thoroughly under a tap.
  2. Set a medium sized saucepan over a low-medium heat. Pop the leek slices, along with all the other ingredients, in the pan.
  3. Place the lid on the pan and allow the leeks to cook gently for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking time.
  4. Take the pan off the heat. If you used fresh thyme, remove it from the pan. Then serve the leeks immediately.
  5. Bon appetit!


  • If you’d like the leeks to look nice and neat, use a sprig of fresh thyme and white pepper. This will stop the leeks getting dotted with spots of black pepper and dried thyme.
  • Serve the buttered leeks as an accompaniment to a Sunday roast or haggis.


Home: Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Relatives: Braised Cabbage, Fried Onions (International)

Buttered Leeks are very popular in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and the leek is strongly associated with the latter. It’s the Welsh national emblem, and has been a symbol of Welshness since Shakespeare’s day. This might be because, according to legend, the 7th century king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, is said to have ordered his troops to identify themselves by tying leeks to their helmets whilst battling a Saxon army in a field of leeks. It might also be because leeks are associated with St David, the Welsh patron saint who was bishop of Mynyw, a settlement in south west Wales, in the 6th century AD. David often fasted and would purportedly only eat leeks while he did so.
Perhaps as a result of these legends, the leek is traditionally worn on St David’s Day in Wales, and is also the cap badge of the Welsh Guards. Leeks are used in a few Welsh recipes, including Cawl, and are also eaten in Wales as an accompaniment to roast lamb.

St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire
Chrisrivers, StDavidsCathedral
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StDavidsCathedral.jpg [accessed 11/09/2020] (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)
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