The full English breakfast often consists of bacon, fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, grilled tomatoes, and accompanied with tea or coffee.[1]
The full English breakfast often consists of bacon, fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, grilled tomatoes, and accompanied with tea or coffee.[1]

A full breakfast is a substantial cooked breakfast meal, often served in the United Kingdom and Ireland, that typically includes back bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding, baked beans, some form of potato, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, and a beverage such as coffee or tea. It appears in different regional variants and is referred to by different names depending on the area. While it is colloquially known as a "fry-up" in most areas of the UK and Ireland, it is usually referred to as a "full English" (often "full English breakfast"),[2] a "full Irish", "full Scottish",[3] "full Welsh",[4] and "Ulster fry",[5] in England, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, respectively.

It is so popular in Great Britain and Ireland that many cafes and pubs offer the meal at any time of day as an "all-day breakfast". It is also popular in many Commonwealth nations. The full breakfast is among the most internationally recognised British dishes along with bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, roast beef, Sunday roast and the Christmas dinner.[6]

On its origin, Country Life magazine states, "The idea of the English breakfast as a national dish goes right back to the 13th century and the country houses of the gentry. In the old Anglo-Saxon tradition of hospitality, households would provide hearty breakfasts for visiting friends, relatives and neighbours".[7] The fried breakfast became popular in Great Britain and Ireland during the Victorian era, and appears as one among many suggested breakfasts in home economist Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management (1861). Its popularity soared post–World War II and became a staple of the working class.[8] The protein-centric full breakfast is often contrasted (e.g. on hotel menus) with the lighter, carbohydrate-based alternative of a continental breakfast.


Great Britain and Ireland


"Full English breakfast" redirects here. For the tea, see English breakfast tea.

The British cafe (such as this one in Islington, London, with a "breakfast served all day" sign) typically serves the full breakfast throughout the day
The British cafe (such as this one in Islington, London, with a "breakfast served all day" sign) typically serves the full breakfast throughout the day

The "traditional" full English breakfast,[9] includes back bacon[10] (and/or more rarely, streaky bacon[11][12][13]), sausages (usually pork or Cumberland), eggs (fried, poached or scrambled), fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms (button or Portobello), and fried bread. Black pudding and baked beans are also very frequently included, and very rarely bubble and squeak: potato products are not generally included in a full English breakfast.[14][15] Buttered toast, and jam or marmalade are often served at the end of the meal although toast is generally available throughout the meal.[16] In recent years, hash browns have become a popular inclusion.[17] In the North Midlands, fried or grilled oatcakes sometimes replace fried bread. The food is traditionally served with tea or coffee,[18] as well as fruit juices.

As nearly everything is fried in this meal, it is commonly known as a "fry-up". As some of the items are optional, the phrase "Full English breakfast", "Full English", or "Full Monty" often specifically denotes a breakfast including everything on offer. One theory for the origin of the latter name is that British Army general Bernard Montgomery, nicknamed 'Monty', was said to have started every day with a "Full English" breakfast while on campaign in North Africa during the Second World War.[19][20]

Breakfast cereal (or porridge), often precedes the breakfast dish, and the meal typically concludes with buttered toast spread with marmalade, jam, honey or other conserves, together with additional tea and coffee.


"Irish breakfast" redirects here. For the tea, see Irish breakfast tea.

A full Irish breakfast
A full Irish breakfast

In Ireland, as elsewhere, the exact constituents of a full breakfast vary, depending on geographical area, personal taste and cultural affiliation. Traditionally, the most common ingredients in Ireland are bacon rashers, pork sausages, fried eggs (or scrambled or poached), white pudding, black pudding, toast and fried tomato.[21] Sauteed field mushrooms are also sometimes included,[22] as well as baked beans, hash browns, and brown soda bread.[23][24][25] Fried potato farl, boxty or toast is sometimes served as an alternative to brown soda bread. Limerick in particular has a long-standing traditional association with pork-based meat products.[26]

The "breakfast roll",[27] consisting of elements of the full breakfast served in a French roll, has become popular in Ireland due to the fact it can be easily eaten on the way to school or work.[27] The breakfast roll is available from many petrol stations and corner shops throughout Ireland.[27]

An Ulster fry served in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The potato bread is under the eggs, with the soda bread (soda farl) at the bottom.
An Ulster fry served in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The potato bread is under the eggs, with the soda bread (soda farl) at the bottom.

In Ulster, the northern province in Ireland, an "Ulster fry" is a dish similar to the Irish breakfast, and is popular throughout most of the province (chiefly in Northern Ireland and parts of County Donegal), where it is eaten not only at breakfast time but throughout the day. Typically it will include soda bread (soda farl) and potato bread.[28]

Similarly to the breakfast roll seen in the rest of Ireland, "filled sodas" are found throughout Ulster, which usually consist of a soda farl shallow-fried on one side and filled with fried sausages, bacon or eggs. Fried onions or mushrooms are usually added upon request. Filled sodas are a popular choice for breakfast from roadside fast-food vendors.


A similar Scottish alternative
A similar Scottish alternative

In Scotland, the full breakfast, as with others, contains eggs, back bacon, link sausage, buttered toast, baked beans, and tea or coffee. Distinctively Scottish elements include Scottish style or Stornoway black pudding, Lorne sausage (sometimes called a "square" for its traditional shape), Ayrshire middle bacon and tattie scones. It commonly also includes fried or grilled tomato or mushrooms and occasionally haggis, white pudding, fruit pudding[29] or oatcakes.[30][31][32] Another more historical Scottish breakfast is porridge.

Early editions of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable referred to a Scotch breakfast as "a substantial breakfast of sundry sorts of good things to eat and drink".[33]


As in the rest of Britain and Ireland, the composition of a full Welsh breakfast (Welsh: Brecwast llawn Cymreig) can vary. However, with the new-found appreciation of Welsh food and recipes in the early 21st century, there have been attempts to establish a broad definition.[4]

The traditional Welsh breakfast reflects the coastal aspect of Welsh cuisine. Two key ingredients that distinguish the Welsh breakfast from the other "full" variations are cockles (Welsh: cocs) and laverbread (Welsh: bara lafwr or bara lawr) (a seaweed purée often mixed with oatmeal and fried).[34] Fried laver with cockles and bacon was the traditional breakfast for mine workers in the South Wales Coalfield, but a breakfast may have also included Welsh sausages, mushrooms and eggs.[4][35][36]

Full Welsh Breakfasts are accompanied by traditional breakfast drinks, with Welsh tea a ubiquitous choice. Today, as they are often served throughout the day in public houses or inns, Welsh beer or ale is not uncommon. Modern alternatives to the traditional full breakfast will often develop the traditional seafood theme. Smoked fish such as sea trout or sewin may be served accompanied with poached eggs.[4]

North America

Bacon and eggs with pancakes
Bacon and eggs with pancakes

See also: List of American breakfast foods

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This style of breakfast was brought over by Irish and British immigrants to the United States and Canada, where it has endured.[37] A full breakfast in these countries often consists of eggs, various meats, and commonly one type of fried potatoes – hash browns, home fries, potatoes O'Brien, or potato pancakes – and some form of bread or toast. Big breakfasts of this kind are most often served on special occasions or weekends only, owing to the time needed to prepare them and the calories involved. In the Southern United States, grits are typically included.

Canada and the US do not follow the trend of the rest of the Anglosphere, where tea is the usual hot beverage for breakfast, but rather both strongly prefer coffee, drunk black or with milk, cream, or sugar. Maple syrup is common to both nations, which have sugar shacks in their Eastern forests. Both nations have diners, and there the most common components are eggs, bacon and breakfast sausage served with one or two of either toast, English muffins, hash browns, home fries, pancakes, French toast or waffles. Omelettes are a dish where anything goes, and several kinds of cheese are added to the mix depending on the cook's desires, such as cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, and feta. Eggs Benedict originated in New York and bagels wherever Eastern European Jews settled, but both are now a staple in both countries.

There is great regional variety. Oatmeal, made with rolled oats, is commonly served at breakfast in much of Canada and New England, yet is generally replaced by grits in the Southeast, where the climate is too warm for growing oats, and eating oatmeal for breakfast has become more popular in that region only in the past fifty years. Biscuits leavened with baking powder or baking soda are a staple of the South and a component of biscuits and gravy. Country ham is very popular in every Southeastern state other than Florida and replaces Canadian bacon in recipes. Scrapple and pork roll are breakfast meats common to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey, and the sausages eaten in South Texas and Florida are sometimes a type of chorizo. Country-fried steak is a dish that is popular in Texas, and steak and eggs are popular in much of the Midwest.

The West is usually the home of dishes like migas, huevos rancheros, and the breakfast burrito; all three are spicy because they contain sizable amounts of chili peppers. Both coasts of Canada and the United States serve smoked salmon for breakfast, and it is a staple in particular of First Nations of British Columbia. Eggs Sardou and eggs Neptune are local variations on eggs Benedict from Louisiana and Maryland that change out the Canadian bacon with artichoke and crabmeat, respectively. Midwesterners used to eat calf brains with their eggs, Southerners did the same with pork brains, New Englanders eat johnnycake, and Spam is a staple in Hawaii.

Hong Kong

A few establishments in Hong Kong offer all-day breakfast or brunch options (hybrid of English and North American items) from formal restaurants to low-frills establishments.[38][39]

Foods included

Potato bread (top) and soda farl (bottom) are included in the Ulster fry.

The ingredients of a full breakfast vary according to region and taste. They are often served with condiments such as brown sauce or ketchup.[40]

Some of the foods that may be included in a full breakfast are:

See also


  1. ^ “The 15 most British foods ever. Full English Breakfast”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2018
  2. ^ "The full English". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Traditional Scottish Food". Visit Scotland. Archived from the original on 13 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "So what is a 'full Welsh breakfast'?". Wales Online. 25 October 2005. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014.
  5. ^ Bell, James (29 January 2014). "How to... Cook the perfect Ulster Fry". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  6. ^ Spencer, Colin (2003). British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13110-0.
  7. ^ "10 reasons why the Full English Breakfast is one of the world’s great meals". Country Life magazine. Retrieved 21 February 2018
  8. ^ "History Of The Traditional English Breakfast". English breakfast society. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  9. ^ in fact this "tradition" is rather new, probably developed since World War II. For the massive and varied Victorian Middle-class breakfast, see Flanders, Judith (2003) The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed, Harper Perennial, pp. 228–229. ISBN 0007131895
  10. ^ "The Traditional full English Breakfast". The English Breakfast Society. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Full English Breakfast Recipe". BBC. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  12. ^ "The Full English Breakfast – What Is It?". British Grub Hub. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  13. ^ "What is a traditional English breakfast?". Fraser's Fryups. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  14. ^ "The Full English". Jamie 29 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Stress-free full English breakfast". BBC. 29 March 2018.
  16. ^ "How to make the perfect full English breakfast". 25 June 2015.
  17. ^ Foad, David (1 December 2020). "Popularity of hash browns changing the face of traditional English breakfast". Public Sector Catering. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  18. ^ "How to get all-you-can-eat breakfast with unlimited tea and coffee for just £5 in Coventry". Coventry Telegraph. 16 October 2017.
  19. ^ Parkinson, Judy (2011). Spilling the Beans on the Cats Pyjamas: Popular Expressions – What They Mean and Where We Got Them. Michael O'Mara Books
  20. ^ Dent, Susie (2009). What Made The Crocodile Cry?: 101 questions about the English language. Oxford University Press. pp. 151–152. ISBN 9780191650604.
  21. ^ "Traditional Irish Breakfast recipe from". Food Ireland. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  22. ^ Traditional Irish Breakfast recipe Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine from Barry's Tea
  23. ^ "Breakfast at Riva: full Irish breakfast" Archived 13 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "Breakfast". Archived from the original on 27 October 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  25. ^ Gerald, Paul (12 July 2012). "The Full English". Memphis Flyer. Contemporary Media, Inc. Retrieved 30 July 2012. The Irish might have soda bread, a potato pancake called boxty, white pudding (what you're used to, but with oatmeal in it) or black pudding (the same, but with blood cooked in).
  26. ^ "The silence of the hams". The Irish Times. 14 July 1999. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  27. ^ a b c McDonald, Brian (12 May 2008). "Top breakfast baguette rolls into Irish history". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  28. ^ "Is the Ulster fry the best cooked breakfast in the UK?". BBC. Retrieved 29 October 2018 Archived 24 June 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Gerald, Paul (12 July 2012). "The Full English". Memphis Flyer. Contemporary Media, Inc. Retrieved 30 July 2012. The Scots like to have tattie (potato) scones, fruit pudding (actually a sausage made with very little fruit), and, of course, their curse on the earth, haggis.
  30. ^ Foyster, Elizabeth and Whatley, Christopher A. (2009). A History of Everyday Life in Scotland, 1600 to 1800. Edinburgh University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0748621576.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ Davidson, Alan and Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford companion to food. Oxford University Press. p. 185. ISBN 0192806815.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ Maw Broon's Cookbook. Waverley Books. 18 October 2007. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-902407-45-6.
  33. ^ Brewer, E. Cobham. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 812.
  34. ^ "This is how to cook the perfect full Welsh breakfast". Wales Online. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  35. ^ Welsh Government. " – Food". Government of Wales. Archived from the original on 1 June 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012. Laverbread, not actually bread at all but seaweed, is rolled in oatmeal, fried into crisp patties and served with eggs, bacon and fresh cockles for a traditional Welsh breakfast.
  36. ^ Rodenas, Angeles (13 July 2021). "Welsh caviar: should we all start eating laver?". Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  37. ^ "The Full English Breakfast Hops the Pond". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 21 February 2018
  38. ^ "Hong Kong brunch: 10 best bargain all-day breakfasts".
  39. ^ "Hong Kong's best-kept secrets: all-day breakfasts for HK$48 in a sleepy border village". 6 April 2016.
  40. ^ “Stress-free full English breakfast”. BBC. Retrieved 30 October 2018

Reference bibliography

  • O'Connor, Kaori (2013). The English Breakfast: The Biography of a National Meal, with Recipes. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-0857854919.
  • Scotney, John (1 November 2009). Scotland - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture. Kuperard. ISBN 9781857336214.