What’s For Breakfast in the UK?

So.., what’s for breakfast in the UK?

The Full English Breakfast is the most recognized British dish. It’s also known as a ‘fry up’ or ‘The Full Monty” and, if you’re a Brit, is usually eaten on a Saturday or Sunday. 

Eating a ‘fry up’ became popular during the Victorian era, but became a staple in bed and breakfasts in the 1960s when people started to travel more.

All full breakfasts in the UK and Ireland come with eggs, usually fried, scrambled or poached, meat, usually back bacon or pork sausages, vegetables, such as grilled tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and potatoes, and some form of bread. It is also usually served with a strong cup of steaming tea.

Although the ‘full breakfast’ is more of a concept than a recipe, it is usually built around the mainstays that are sausage, bacon, and egg, with the other ingredients optional and variable, depending on where you are.

Here is what’s generally included in full breakfasts from all over the U.K. and Ireland:

The Full English Breakfast

Traditional Full English Breakfast with Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Baked Beans
  • Eggs: Free-range eggs that are scrambled, poached, or fried.
  • Meat: Crisp, grilled back bacon, and link sausage.
  • Vegetables: Mushrooms, fried in butter and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, tomato, halved and grilled, and a big spoonful of baked beans.
  • Bread: Fried bread, made with homemade bread or toast, white or brown, with butter.
  • Additions:
  • Potatoes:  in the form of chips, hash, or patties.
  • Kippers: a whole, smoked, small fish.
  • Kidneys: usually lamb because they’re small & delicate.
  • Muffins
  • Crumpets: a griddle cake made from flour and yeast
  • Black Pudding looks like a sausage patty and is made of minced pork meat, fat suet, pork blood, and oatmeal.
  • Bubble & Squeak: -is a traditional English dish made from leftover vegetables from “Sunday Lunch” (Sunday roast dinner). The main ingredients are potatoes and cabbage, but carrots, peas, Brussel sprouts, or any other leftovers can be included. It is often served with cold meat from the Sunday roast and pickles or HP sauce (brown sauce).

The Full Irish Breakfast

  • Eggs: Free-range eggs that are usually fried.
  • Meat: Bacon rashers, pork sausages.
  • Vegetables: Tomato, mushrooms, and potato, all fried in creamery butter.
  • Bread: a generous helping of homemade Irish brown soda bread or plain toast, white or brown, with butter.
  • Additions:
  • White Pudding looks like a sausage patty and is made out of minced pork meat, fat suet, breadcrumbs, and oatmeal.
  • Black Pudding: made out of minced pork meat, fat suet, pork blood, and oatmeal and then formed into a large sausage.
  • Baked Beans
  • Hash Browns
  • Liver

The Full Scottish Breakfast

  • Eggs: Eggs that are fried, poached, or scrambled.
  • Meat: Back bacon and link sausages; Lorne sausage which is a square sausage made from ground pork and rusk (hard bread); black pudding.
  • Bread: Tattie Scones – a savory griddle pancake made from boiled potatoes, butter, salt, and flour.
  • Buttered Toast
  • Additions
  • Haggis: a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs) mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the sheep’s stomach.
  • White Pudding: is similar to black pudding, but does not include blood; it consists of pork meat and fat suet, bread, and oatmeal formed into a large sausage.
  • Fruit Pudding: a mixture of wheat flour, beef suet or rusk, brown sugar, currants and/or sultanas, salt, and cinnamon formed into the shape of a large sausage.
  • Oatcakes: a type of flatbread, similar to a cracker or biscuit. They are made with oatmeal, and sometimes include the addition of plain or wholemeal flour.

A lot of hotels in Wales serve what they call a “full breakfast” which looks and smells and acts just like a Full English breakfast.

But, if you’re really serious about eating a Welsh breakfast, then you MUST seek out a breakfast where all the ingredients are Welsh…and they are DISTINCTIVELY Welsh. And, while you’re in Wales, to do anything different would dilute your Welsh experience.

The Full Welsh Breakfast (Brecwast Cymreig Llawn)

  • Eggs: Free-range eggs, served fried,  sunny side up, scrambled or poached.
  • Meat: Welsh dry cure back bacon.
  • Penclawdd cockle and laverbread cakes:
    Two quintessential Welsh items, blended together to create something new. Penclawdd cockles (saltwater clams) are considered the best Welsh cockles and are found, along with the best laverbread, down on the Gower Peninsula in West Wales. Laverbread, not actually bread at all, but seaweed, is rolled in oatmeal and fried into crisp patties and served piping hot.
  • Additions:
  • Glamorgan sausages: vegetarian sausages made from cheese, eggs, and breadcrumbs. You can find the recipe
  • Oatmeal: A hearty addition not found in the English iteration of the breakfast. It’s steaming hot and filling down to the last bite.
  • Smoked sea trout: Light and carefully smoked.
  • Welsh Cakes: You can find the recipe
  • Laver:  is pronounced lay-ver, not lav-er, and is made from the most nutritional varieties of seaweed. It is gathered and washed, then cooked into a soft, greenish, black paste. Laver is rich in vitamins and minerals, is full of protein and is low in calories. It’s considered a real superfood. It’s also a rare plant source of vitamin B12, and is full of iron and iodine.

Here is our homemade Welsh breakfast, made with Penclawdd cockles and laverbread, fried egg, back bacon, pork link sausages, and fried tattie scones:

What’s your favorite ‘fry-up’? Send me photos of your favorite Brit ‘fry-up” at lisa@mylifeinwales.com and we’ll feature them on our social media.

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