Skip Nav

What Is English Breakfast?

Hearty Helpings: An English Breakfast Handbook

British food customs can seem, well, a bit wonky to the uninitiated. Just as "afternoon tea" refers to a ritualistic midday meal rather than the consumption of the actual beverage, an English full breakfast, as it's known, has its own set of guidelines. More hearty than dainty, full breakfast is comfort food at its finest and is generally reserved for weekends — perhaps after a night of indulgence — much like the American custom of brunch.

While the exact offerings may vary from establishment to establishment, we've broken the usual suspects down:

  • Eggs: Generally fried or poached; either way, we'd argue that a runny yolk is imperative.
  • Back bacon: Thick and fried til crisp-tender, it's often referred to simply as "bacon" but is in fact a different cut from what is customary stateside. Back bacon is leaner (similar to Canadian bacon), as it's cut from the back of a pig, rather than the fattier pork belly.
  • Sausage: Plump and juicy, but sparse on seasonings. After all, this isn't the time for novel flavor combinations.
  • Black pudding: Unctuous and deeply savory, this is the British version of blood sausage. Generally composed of pork, blood, and oatmeal, it's an ideal comestible to sop up the prior night's excesses.
  • Toast: White bread, please, grilled or toasted, and lavished with salted butter.
  • Milky tea: The English love their tea, so naturally it's the beverage of choice. Skip the cream and stick to milk; it's the proper English way.
  • Mushrooms: Pan-fried and golden, their earthy umami-punch complements this often meat-centric meal.
  • Tomatoes: Generally served grilled, broiled, or roasted, tomatoes provide a bright counterpart to the heavier offerings.
  • Baked beans: A nostalgic "nursery food," Heinz is the standard-bearer, and hard to beat.

Have you ever experienced England's full breakfast? Is there anything we've left off this list?

Source: Flickr User JohnSeb
Latest Food