The first meal of the day
The traditional breakfast in Britain is called the full English breakfast. It's a big, cooked meal, made up of several different parts. Because lots of these parts are fried, it's also sometimes called a fry-up.
A traditional fry-up will contain some or all of these things:
- eggs (fried or scrambled)
- fried tomatoes
- fried mushrooms
- toast or fried bread
- hash browns (fried grated potato)
- baked beans.
There are variations of the full breakfast in different parts of the UK. In Scotland, for example, you might find some extra items in your full Scottish breakfast. But like the English breakfast, it will be a big meal with a lot of fried food.
Why is an English breakfast such a big meal?
Hundreds of years ago, most people in Britain only ate two meals a day – breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was a simple meal, such as bread with dripping (fat from roasted meat, eaten cold) or cheese.
In the 1700s, a full English breakfast was how the rich upper classes showed their wealth at social occasions, like weddings.
Then, in the 1800s, the working classes began to eat a hearty breakfast too, to prepare them for the long working day ahead. Breakfast time moved to early morning so that people could eat at home before work.
These days, you'll find a full English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish breakfast on the menu in hotels and cafés throughout the UK. In the next step we'll find out how often most people eat a full English breakfast.
Traditional breakfasts in different parts of the UK
Read more about the history of breakfasts in different parts of the UK.
Northern Ireland: full Irish or Ulster fry
What do you think?
- Does this kind of breakfast look nice to you? Would you like to try it?
- Do you think people in the UK eat this every day?
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
This kind of breakfast looks delicious, but in my country there is a light breakfast with odd mixed ingredients such are black tea and milk with walnut and butter. We typically can eat it every part of the day, it is delicious with unique taste.
Do you add the walnuts and butter to the tea with milk or is it a separate dish of milk, walnuts and butter mixed together? I have a couple of walnut trees in my garden and am always looking for ways to use them in recipes!
~ Tina ツ
Wow, that's a very heavy meal for me. In the early mornings around 6-7 am I prefer coffee, oatmeal and some fruits like bananas or apples. And then, my lunch it's more like a full English breakfast: eggs, baked beans and here in Mexico we use to eat 'Tortillas' and of course, spicy sauce.
I have a very similar breakfast to you ... porridge with a banana or an apple but I cook them in the porridge with milk. Do you tend to take lunch to work or do you buy lunch out?
~ Tina ツ
I have never eaten this kind of breakfast but it looks yummy. In my city there is a restaurant The Brunch Club where serves the British breakfast. I think is a good option for weekends or holidays because portions are big. In my country we have a wide range of options for breakfast, which are different in each region. For instance in Lima, we eat pan con chicharron with a cup of coffee.
I had eaten full english breakfast when i visited Hatfield. Though I liked verymuch of various itmes such as bread toast , cheese and some fired items only. I did not like the fried tomatoes and fried mushrooms. Because in India we prepared tomatoes and mushrooms with spices only. Earlymorning we drink coffee only. For breakfast we eat Idly with sambhar with banana / Apple/ Fig.
I love the sound of your breakfast, and I'm with you, I'm not very keen on fried tomatoes or mushrooms, and prefer them with Indian spices.
Where you visiting friends in Hatfield? I used to go on school trips to Hatfield house ... many years ago!
~ Tina ☺️
Hi, I think full English breakfast is not proper to everyone. Especially for people who have to wake up early and start to work early in the mornings. So I don't think that people in UK have this type of breakfast everyday. In Türkiye, most people generally like to eat pastries, menemen and eggs with sausage for breakfast. And as drink, tea is Turkish people's favourite.
It's true that the full English breakfast isn't the 'normal' breakfast that people have every day. Your Turkish breakfast sounds great. What's 'menemen'? I had a quick look online and it looks delicious but I'm not sure exactly what it is. I love to have tea in the mornings too. It's the first drink I have every day.
Jo - LearnEnglish team
Menemen is a Turkish dish generally eaten in the mornings. But if you want you can eat it at any time of the day. It is easy to prepare it. You need some eggs, tomatoes, long green peppers and onions. Actually there is a controversy about the onion. Some people claim that menemen should include the onion while others prefer it without onions. To me it is more delicious when added the onion. To prepare it firstly pour some oil into a pan and heat it. And then add green peppers and onion if you prefer. After that add chopped tomatoes and wait for cooking them. Then crack the eggs. Finally add some salt, red pepper and black pepper. And it is ready. But you will need a lot of bread.
So here is the trickiest question; which one do you prefer? Menemen with onions, or without..?
I am on you, the English Breakfast is not the usual in my country, Indonesia, specially in Java Island, here in Java Island, mostly we have a breakfast in full of formation. as the East Asian, we eat rice for the main menu in every serve, usually we have a breakfast with "Sego Kuning ( Yellow Rice )", it is a plate of rice cooked with turmeric ( to make the rice yellow ) and served with mix of fried chicken, a bit of fried noodle, couple sliced of cucumber, couple sliced of carrot, and stirred tempe cooked with soybean sauce, serve on a plate covered with a piece of banana leave. some people choose breakfast with "Bubur Ayam ( chicken porridge )". And will close with a cup of espresso mixed with honey. Then we are ready for a fullday of work. But I love English breakfast tea in the afternoon to drink after work.
I'm italian and in Italy we have generally a sweet breakfast
I love Italian breakfasts, especially the 'cornettos', is that what they are called? Like a croissant with jam in the middle? And the cappuccinos are to die for! ♡
Would you like to try a 'full English' or is it too heavy for you?
~ Tina ツ
Hi, I'm from Peru. This breakfast is very comun in Peru but my mother say that this is a bad breakfast and She preffer gave us cereal from her culture andean.
I prefer cereal it's more healthy than a Full English breakfast.
Well, it's sounds delicious! But as for me it's too hard to prepare such breakfast every morning for my family. May be, at weekends! Or holidays. Usually we have cereals or sandwiches, sometimes something what remains from supper. And coffee, of course! Mmm... Good morning for everyone 😊!
Hi @Sajeni, 😊
I always have to have a coffee first thing ... my day would not be complete if I didn't! I love a 'fry-up' but tend to only have one about once a month or have it for a Sunday brunch ... so between breakfast and lunchtime as they are very filling. You mention 'the remains from supper', we'd normal say 'leftovers' for this ... I think food often tastes better the next day. Do you like to cook?
I agree with you. This breakfast is too difficult to cook it. I live in France and i ate this morning some brittany biscuit called 'sablés'.
I like them very mutch with a coffee. I eat more on the lunch and dinner.
Hi there yvesfrombritany!
What type of biscuits are 'sablés'?
I once had a school trip to Paris and remember having big bowls of hot chocolate and lovely warm, freshly baked baguettes. We were encouraged to 'dunk' the bread into the hot chocolate. Is this a normal breakfast? It's a lovely memory!
~ Tina ツ
Actually, I!d like to try these kind of breakfast. When I looked at the picture of the British breakfast, I see some kind of mushrooms and I guess the good combining of bacon and mushroom. They will be tasty for me. On the other hand, the preparation of this reakfast plate will take much more time. So I think the people in UK doesn't eat these kind of breakfast in every morning. for example, eating cereal is the easiest way to start with a hurry day.
You're right @FILIZ YAVUZ, it does take time to prepare but it is really delicious. I like to start my day with porridge and banana as it fills me up until lunchtime and is easy to prepare. What sort of cereal do you like to have?
Well, full English breakfast sounds delicious but in Türkiye you can see much more items for breakfast, such as several kinds of cheese, lots of different jams and honey, fried or boiled eggs, salad, bread, butter, precious olives and traditional food! First of all, food choice for breakfast varies from region to region in Türkiye. For example, in Black Sea region, you can see different kinds of bread like the famous one made of cornflour; or 'Kuymak' which is made up of cornflour, butter and a special cheese of Black Sea region. On the other hand, in the West of Türkiye, you can find Menemen(soft-scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers and onion), olives, raspberry jam, fig jam, strawberry jam, cherry jam and even aubergine jam! When moved to the East, I can say that the East of Türkiye is rich in cheese kinds. For instance, Van(a city in Türkiye) is quite famous for its breakfast, especially different kinds of cheese and as it is believed, there are more than 190 kinds of cheese in Türkiye!
So, I strongly recommend you to try Turkish breakfast as soon as possible! :)
Your description of these breakfasts has made my mouth water! I'd love to visit Turkey and try one of these (or several!) one day.
It seems to be good eating early in the morning for health concern because you get ready to go work, after i don’t think the British people still use that kind of breakfast.
I love having a full English breakfast but I only tend to have one when I'm staying at a hotel, or on a Sunday when I have time to cook it. What sort of breakfast do you like to eat?
In Spain, breakfast is completely different. We are very concerned about a balanced and healthy diet. A few years ago, we decided to change our habits in order to include more protein, fruit, cereal, and less fat in our breakfast
However, I must say that a full English breakfast, now and then, is delicious and a pleasure for me.
Hi @Miquel, I normally have porridge for breakfast with a banana, and I use skimmed milk instead of full fat milk (which I prefer!) as, like you mentioned above about Spain, I'm trying to be 'more healthy'!
~ Tina ☺
In libya we eat in breakfast eggs ,fried tomato sauce and fried potatoes and milk and tea
I think breakfast is important for us because with it we can start a good day.
Hi @alimelic, I agree that breakfast is important. I always try to get my sons to start the day with a good breakfast.
LearnEnglish team educator
I have tried a British breakfast. I think it's a bit heavy considering it has a lot of fried ingredients, but I must say I never thought baked beans along with fried eggs and toasts would taste so good.
Hi @Elena Shusterman, I know what you mean! It's almost the only time I actually eat baked beans, but they go together perfectly with all the other flavours.
LearnEnglish team educator
mm...Actually i wanna try that kind of breakfast. It looks delicious because of the ingredients.
I don't think people eat that everyday in UK even that is like traditional because these days many of people in the world become the same. They go outside and try many kind of food so people coming don't like caring traditional but that is not a bad things in my opinion. Also now people are eating 3 meals.
I don’t think people in the UK could have this kind of breakfast every day. As I know, a large part of the population has become health conscious in recent years. But at the same time, the long period of Covid lockdown had a bad impact on eating habits. To relieve stress, comfort eating has become widespread.
This kind of breakfast looks lovely to me, because I always wake up starving. So, it is a good idea have a variety of foods. I would like to try it.