Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether concrete that includes un-graded recycled aggregates can be manufactured to a comparable strength to concrete manufactured from virgin aggregates. Design/methodology/approach – A paired comparison test was used to evaluate the difference between concrete made with virgin aggregates (plain control) and concrete including recycled waste. Un-graded construction demolition waste and un-graded ground glass were used as aggregate replacements. With regard to concrete, compressive strength is widely used as a measure of suitability as being fit for purpose. Therefore compressive strength was mainly used to compare the different concrete batches; however density was measured across the range of samples. Findings – The findings show that a lower average compressive strength is achieved when compared to the plain control sample manufactured with virgin aggregates. Correct particle packing may not be achieved and grading of aggregates is essential prior to mix design. The recycled aggregate was highly variable in terms of the fine particle content, which affected the water demand of the concrete. Practical implications – This manufacturing practice is considered necessary because of the current trend in using waste products in concrete to replace binders and aggregates; thus reducing the impact on the environment and use of finite natural resources. The research shows the risk of mixing concrete using a simple aggregate replacement without careful aggregate grading and adjustments to the mix design. Originality/value – The paper examines 100 per cent ungraded aggregate replacement with glass and demolition waste.