The traditional Full English Breakfast is an institution in its own right. Served everywhere in England, Wales, Scotland and N Ireland it should really be called the full British or full UK breakfast, but each country has it’s own twist on what should be served on the plate. From small “greasy spoon” cafés to London’s top name hotels, the sort I work in, this breakfast dish is enjoyed by people from all walks of life. This full breakfast is not restricted to the British Isles, it’s also served in the US, Australia, Canada, NZ and more. I’ve cooked, eaten and served a few full Aussie breakfasts in my time. People in England may also call it a “fry up” or a “cooked breakfast” to distinguish it from a very ordinary breakfast of cereal or toast.
The dish has many different names. Fry up is by far the most common alternative, although the Welsh, Scots and Irish would name it after them with Northern Island calling it an Ulster breakfast or fry up. Sunday or country breakfast is another name it goes by in the US.
What’s in the Traditional Full English Breakfast?
Regional differences abound but there are core ingredients that go into making this the traditional full English breakfast. As the nick-name suggests everything, where possible, is fried.
Starting with fried eggs it also includes bacon, sausage, tomato, mushroom, baked beans, black pudding and fried bread. Certainly enough to fill any hungry traveler
The Scottish version will often include haggis, sheep’s heart, lungs and liver, minced then encased in the stomach and simmered. An acquired taste outside of Scotland.
The Welsh include Laverbread which is made from pureed seaweed. Again this is rarely seen outside Wales.
If you order a full English breakfast in a cafe, don’t be surprised if it comes with a few chips ( French fries) on the side, although these days hash browns are becoming common in the UK, years ago they were unheard of.
Is the Traditional Full English Breakfast Healthy?
No, lets face it, with so many fried things on one plate it isn’t going to win the heart foundation tick of approval anytime soon.
That said, it is just so delicious that really you need to throw caution to the wind and tuck in every once in a while.
Currently staying on the southern English coast our accommodation is B&B. Yes you guessed it, we have the traditional full English breakfast each and every morning. Now on our 5th day, I’m still not bored with it.
Best of all it keeps me going past lunch and almost into dinner.
A traditional Full English Breakfast can save you money on lunch!
What Makes a good full English breakfast?
The biggest factor for me in making a good full English, is the quality of the ingredients.
What can be a great dish can fail badly if cheap products are used. Sausages make or break the meal, they can go either way, great, full flavoured, plump, well cooked delights or over cooked dry processed guts. Bacon is another component which needs to be right regardless of who is cooking. British bcon is quite different from American or Australian
The remaining ingredients need to be fresh and, of course, cooked correctly to really make this dish the great dish it can be. Go for the best qulaity eggs you can find and make sure your tomatoes or mushrooms are fresh not tinned. ( although tinned tomatoes may be served instead of fresh if you prefer, tinned mushrooms just don’t work).
I must confess to be a huge fan of the traditional Full English Breakfast, in fact it was a major highlight of our 5 weeks in the UK Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Sri Lankan string hopper breakfasts but nothing beats a Full English for me. Read more about Sri Lankan breakfast food here.
What can be served in a traditional full English Breakfast?
Pick from any of the following ingredients, fry, or grill if you prefer. Frying the bacon along with the eggs, mushrooms, fried bread etc, gives everything a nice bacon flavour. Purists would fry in lard, but any oil or mixed oil/butter, will do. Don’t just use butter to fry, it will burn.
eggs, fried, but scrambled is acceptable
sausages, pork is usual in the UK, but feel free to use another variety
bacon, fried, but you can grill
tomatoes, halved and fried or grilled.
fried potatoes, sauteed, chips or hash browns
mushrooms, fried or if large, grilled
toast with butter and marmalade on the side
Serve with tomato ketchup or HP sauce and a hot mug of tea.
Cooking the dish is a real pleasure for me too, I like nothing more than getting all those ingredients together and turning them into something the whole family can enjoy. Other than my semi-vegetarian wife of course, she’s happy with a plate of spinach and mushrooms.
What is your favourite breakfast dish?