Breakfast Around The World

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Traditional breakfasts around the world, from a lifetime of travelling for food! We cover some of the best traditional breakfast meals in the world in this post, from Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and parts of Africa, even the United States of America. This post has photos of typical breakfasts from dozens of countries.

Breakfast Around The World Chef Sri Lankan hoppers for breakfast
This breakfast was prepared for us by a private chef in a villa in Sri Lanka. Egg hoppers, a kind of pancake, served with spicy chutneys containing fresh coconut and hot chili peppers. These are a delicious breakfast food, one of my favorites. They’re hard to make at home though.

We’ve been sampling breakfast around the world on our travels, to 50+ countries over a full 6 years of full-time travel, plus numerous shorter vacations.

When you travel, trying local dishes is at least half the fun, don’t you think? Leave me a comment if you enjoy trying many and varied foods for breakfast and tell me what your preferred breakfast is.

One thing’s for sure, we shouldn’t be eating processed foods like cereal, toast and pastries for breakfast. Home made, “from scratch” breakfasts are better for us and much more tasty.

We try to seek out local and traditional breakfast specialities as we travel because life is more interesting that way. Some loal foods we love, some we don’t, but we’ll give most new dishes a try. What do you think? Do you like to try new things or stick to what you know when you travel?

Breakfasts Around the World

Breakfast in Sri Lanka

Breakfast dishes in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan breakfasts are delicious and feature curries, roti, string hoppers (idiappam) and sometimes fruits and toast too. This breakfast was served to us at a villa stay in Sri Lanka.

Of all the breakfasts around the world, Sri Lankan breakfasts are one of the very best. Forgive me for enthusing about how much I love Sri Lankan breakfasts (read more here), but they are just so good! My whole family are big fans too. When travelling in Sri Lanka breakfast is our most successful meal of the day, at dinner time options sometimes aren’t so great.

Egg hoppers are more common at tea time (late afternoon) but we have been served egg hoppers at breakfast in Sri Lankan hotels and villas.

Here we have spicy dal, various roti (flat breads) and hoppers served with delicious coconut curry and fresh coconut sambal spiked with hot chilies. Click through to the above post for more on authentic and delicious traditional Sri Lankan breakfast food.

Breakfast in Egypt

Egypt is our only African breakfast on this page and a typical breakfast spread in Egypt normally includes flat breads, cream cheeses, hard boiled eggs and salad. It’s a great breakfast, we really like Egyprian food, in some ways it’s similar to Turkey or Greece, with many influences coming together. We’ve spent months in Egypt but unfortunately I never took a photo at breakfast. Visit our post on Egyptian food instead!

Breakfast in Thailand

In Thailand expect congee, Thai donuts, pork skewers or a noodle dish for breakfast. Thai omelet rice or fried rice are also popular. In Thailand you really can get just about anything for breakfast. We have a full post on Thai breakfast here.

Another breakfast we’ve seen in Thailand is the mixed ham and eggs skillet in the photo below, it was rather like the Vietnamese “op la” which is a dish adapted from European meals. I’m not sure what our host in Bangkok called this dish, but it was very tasty.

Thai breakfast eggs dish
This Thai breakfast dish has eggs, sausge and ham.

Malaysian Breakfast

nasi lemak a Malaysian breakfast dish
Nasi Lemak, bought from a street vendor in Malaysia, to take back to our accommodation for breakfast.

Nasi Lemak is the classic Malaysian breakfast dish. Nasi means rice, nasi lemak means fat rice. It’s rice with lots of extras to make it “fat.” Sometimes it comes with chicken.

In nasi lemak the rice comes with a red sauce (sambal), cucumber slices, a hard-boiled egg, peanuts and tiny dried fish. I’m a big fan of anchovies, but these anchovies in Malaysia aren’t the same thing at all, they’re dried and sometimes smell of decomposition. You’ll notice a really strong smell in some supermarkets and stores that sell these dry fishes.

The sauce we had above was sweet and we would have preferred more spice, less sugar. Nasi lemak comes in plenty of varieties, you should be able to find one that you enjoy but we’ve never found one we liked. Friends of ours have, but we’ve failed.

As Malaysia has a huge Indian population we tend to eat Indian food for breakfast in Malaysia, dishes like idli and dosa sambal. Most cities in Malaysia have a “Little India” and you’ll always find an Indian restaurant serving breakfast dishes there.

Indian breakfast in Malaysia
Dosa (pancakes) with curries and chutneys at an Indian restaurant in Malaysia.

For other breakfast dishes in Malaysia try this post about food options on Penang.

Nasi lemak wasn’t our favourite, but it was an interesting experience as trying new things always is. After a while, we discovered vegan Malaysian food and we liked this a lot more.

Kaya toast is another popular Malaysian breakfast, kaya is a custard-like substance flavoured with pandan, it looks like green lemon curd. Again, we didn’t like this breakfast. We’ve also seen this kaya jam served in Thailand with “deep fried dough” in Chinatown on our night market food tour.

Breakfast in Singapore

Food in Singapore is very similar to food in Malaysia. We tend to eat Indian food in Singapore too.

Breakfast in Japan

Breakfast noodle soup in Japan
A delicious ramen noodle and pork breakfast in Japan

If you’ve read our post on Japanese food over on World Travel Family, you’ll know that we struggled to find anywhere open at breakfast time in Japan.

But what we did find a few times were noodle soup shops. The photo above is of a pork ramen soup in Osaka Japan, it was delicious!

There were also a lot of Western-style bakeries in Japan selling croissants, cakes, muffins and savoury baked goods. They were very good.

Breakfast in Australia

Breakfast in a small restaurant or cafe in Australia is likely to be eggs benedict or avocado toast, typical international breakfasts as are popular in Europe. You may see American-style sweet breakfasts too, like pancakes and waffles. Sometimes you’ll find an Australianised full English.

But the breakfast of champions in Australia is your Aussie meat pie or sausage roll. People grab these from bakeries early in the morning for a filling breakfast.

Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict with salmon (or bacon) was always my pick when we went out to breakfast back home in Port Douglas Australia. I guess it’s a fairly typical Australian restaurant breakfast but I can’t think of anything uniquely Aussie. You’ll find these two breakfast egg dishes just about anywhere in the world.

Most of the hotels in Port Douglas or anywhere in Australia have buffet breakfasts with the usual western dishes, bacon, eggs, pastries and so on. Sometimes with miso soup for our Asian visitors. When the four of us went out for breakfast in Australia we’d pay $50 upwards with drinks at breakfast time.

If Australians eat breakfast at home there likely to consume cereal, toast (with Vegemite probably) yogurt or eggs. There’s no particularly unique Australian breakfast.

Breakfast in El Salvador

Breakfast in El Salvador. Pupusas, black tortillas, enchiladas and pickles
Breakfast in El Salvador. Pupusas, black tortillas, enchiladas and pickles. This one is a big winner in our family, we love pupusas and refried beans.

In El Salvador, you’ll find pupusas, yummy little corn-based flat cakes filled with cheese, beans or chicharron (a pork crackling blend). They usually come with tomato sauce and a sort of vinegar-soaked coleslaw. We like pupusas a lot and ate them at roadside pupusarias, made and cooked fresh to order. My kids love these too.

We were also served enchiladas for breakfast often in El Salvador.

Breakfast in the United Kingdom

Breakfasts from around the world, The full English Breakfast
In the UK a ” Full English” or “cooked” breakfast is common. Despite the name, the “fry up” is found in all of the countries that make up the United Kingdom and will sometimes be called “Full Welsh” or “Full Scottish”.

The Great British breakfast originally from the United Kingdom will certainly keep you going all morning. We had a traditional full English breakfast every day while staying in hotels in Britain. We thought it was great value, room and a breakfast this size for around £10 each. Cereal, fruit, juices, toast, teas and coffees are also included in most full English breakfasts.

Just remember that it isn’t the healthiest of options and that much oil and carbs after a while isn’t good. While I exercise a lot as my Dr said ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’. Keeping this to only a few times is probably better in the long run. British people typically only eat a traditional breakfast like this as a treat.

Your traditional British breakfast will include eggs (poached eggs, fried or scrambled), sausage, bacon, occasionally black pudding and, hopefully, some vegetables, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and sometimes fried potatoes of some sort. Serve with ketchup or HP sauce.

Hash browns and fries are not part of a traditional English breakfast, but you will see these on the plate in some greasy spoon type cafes in the UK.

The beans served at breakfast in England and the rest of the UK are normally baked beans out of a tin, ideally Heinz baked beans, but you’ll often come across cheaper brands. I’ve never come across home-made baked beans on a full English breakfast plate, although you can make a version of British baked beans at home. Heinz is of course, an American company.

To make a full Welsh or full Scottish, local specialties like lava bread, potato scones or haggis may be added.

What do British people eat for breakfast? British people may eat a full English occasionally, often, or never. They are just as likely to eat cereal, toast, yoghurt, an omelette, or any of the usual breakfast foods. A sweet breakfast of cakes and pastries is much less common in the UK than it is in say, the USA or Italy.

Guatemalan Breakfast

Guatemalan breakfast
In Guatemala we ate refried beans at almost every meal. We loved them but it did get very repetitive. This breakfast was in Flores where the beans came with fried bananas, eggs, home-made bread and good coffee.

Breakfast typicos is Guatemala, eggs, refried beans and fried plantains. The home-made bread was a bonus at Cool Beans in Flores, Guatemala. I joke about being over refried beans, they do serve them with everything in Central America, but they’re absolutely delicious. We also tucked into many plates of huevos rancheros while we were in Guatemala, eggs poached with tomatoes and vegetables,  Guatemalans know how to do breakfast.

Cruise Ship Breakfasts

Cruise ship breakfast
On a cruise ship, anything is possible, from something resembling dessert to breakfast pizza.

On a cruise ship, you can have anything you like for breakfast, so long as you don’t want Asian.

Made-to-order omelettes with lots of vegetables or smoked salmon with capers and lemon are favourites, but if you wanted ice cream, bacon and egg pizza or something resembling dessert (the above plate of waffles with cream and syrupy fruit was my breakfast one day), it was your lucky day!

Endless choices from a buffet that changed daily. Read about finding a budget cruise here, our next is costing us just $30/day.

Breakfast in the USA – The Bad

Hotel breakfast in USA
A cheap ($150) American hotel breakfast. We’ve never seen anything quite this bad before or since.

Breakfasts in cheap hotels during our 1 month USA road trip were interesting, but not the best. They filled a hole and were good value. We’ve not seen anything like this, with plastic disposable plates, anywhere else in the world.

This was one of the better ones, from a hotel in New York. American motel breakfasts were mostly highly processed carbs with eggs, even this microwaved variety, being rare.

A lot of places had waffle machines, which the kids adored. Most had oranges or apples alongside cakes and other sweet things. Coffee was always free, all day. That’s got to be good!

Breakfast in the USA – The Good

Biscuits and gravy, this one with egg and debris. Superb food in New Orleans.

The southern states and better quality restaurants gave us sensational breakfast dishes. In Mother’s Restaurant, New Orleans, we discovered what biscuits (similar to scones) SHOULD taste like. Superb!

We also sampled grits, gravy and collard greens. Beignets (sweet donuts) were another famous NOLA favourite.

Breakfast in India

Indian breakfast dosa
This Indian breakfast, from the south, a plain dosa served with sambar (thin vegetable and dal curry), coconut chutney and a third mystery curry. Very typical, very good.

In 2015 we spent a month in India and we also found some awesome Indian food in Malaysia.  Dosa, roti, vada or idli with sambar and coconut chutney are very typical of Southern India and they are delicious.

Above we have a huge dosa with sambar (thin veg curry), fresh coconut chutney and an extra veg curry dish on the side. Waiters with huge stainless steel buckets of curries weave between tables replenishing plates as diners enjoy. A dosa is a type of pancake and comes served in many ways, plain, filled or even sweet.

In Malaysia, you will also find Indian dishes like this served at breakfast time.

Breakfast in Laos

Laos breakfast noodle soup
Noodle soup from the noodle soup lady in Laos.

In Laos, like most places on the backpacker trail, you can get just about anything for breakfast.

We had cheese and onion roti, baguettes, excellent shakshuka, (an Israeli egg dish with vegetables), tofu with chilies and ginger and this yummy vegetable noodle soup bought from a street stall.

I guess this is the most typically Laos dish of the bunch and we all enjoyed it immensely.

Cambodian Breakfast

Breakfast in Cambodia. Breakfast around the world
Cambodian breakfast. Cambodia was hard work food wise, we ate a LOT of fried rice.

Cambodia has some interesting and tasty dishes, we even took a cookery class there and learned to make fish amok and a Cambodian style stir fry dish with chicken and greens. There didn’t seem to be any particular breakfast meal, we ended up eating a lot of fried rice, or, the backpacker special, omelettes and toast.

Oh, and deep-fried spiders. But not for breakfast.

Breakfast in Turkey

Breakfast in Istanbul Turkey Armada Hotel
Turkish breakfasts were superb!

Turkey gave us amazing breakfasts of local cheeses, olives, breads, fruits, vegetables and pastries plus good olive oil. It was foodie heaven. I had no idea Turkey produced such great quality, interesting foods. You could go there just to eat.

Read up on breakfast in Istanbul here, my husband has taken away a few great ideas for his 5 star hotels from the Turks.

Romanian Breakfast

Romanian breakfast
Romania is simplicity itself, milk, butter and cheese from the dairy, jams from the orchard, eggs, some home-made bread, rustic perfection.

Not too dissimilar from Turkey, Romania gave us cheeses, tomatoes, home-made bread, milk and butter straight from the cow and jams from the fruits in the orchard.

There were a few processed meats and some interesting dishes such as fried hard sheep’s cheese. We had our best breakfasts in Romania when we were staying with families in home-stay type accommodations with well-practised home cooks, passionate about good food.

We liked Romania so much we kind of never left, but that’s another story! Romanian breakfast can involve eggs, cured meats, bread, jam, butter, pastries, cheeses, and usually some fresh vegetables, often cucumber and tomato. We experienced many variations on Romanian breakfast during our 3 years in Romania. Also we sometimes grabbed mici (skinless sausages) or placinta, sweet or savoury, for breakfast

Breakfast in Jordan

Jordanian breakfast

In Jordan expect a fairly typical Middle Eastern breakfast of breads (usually flat breads) hummus, salad, cold meats, cheeses and olives. Jordanian Ka’ek, Arabic cookies, or Halaweh Tehiniyey may also be on the breakfast table. Vegetables and salad are commonly eaten at breakfast in most of Europe and the Middle East. In Jordan, expect salads of red pepper, green pepper, cucumber and tomato to be sprinkled with sumak and thyme as in the photo above.

Mint tea may be served, which in Jordan doesn’t contain as much sugar as tea in Egypt, or you may find regular tea and coffee.

Breakfast in Greece

What do they eat for breakfast in Greece? Pastries are common at the Greek breakfast table, either sweet or savoury, along with various types of bread, eggs, vegetables like tomato and cucumber, olives, fruits, and nuts.

You may also find cooked dishes like gigantes, fava bean in a Greek style tomato sauce. Our full post on Greek food is here. You could also see Greek salads like tzatziki, yogurt and cucumber salad or Greek zucchini fritters.

Vietnamese Breakfast

Mi Quang what to eat in Hoi An Vietnam
Breakfast in Vietnam is always best taken at a street stall. Here mi quang, noodles with pork, quail egg, prawn and herbs, our favourite Vietnamese breakfast

Vietnam is currently one of our favourite breakfasts from around the world. In Vietnam it’s hard to pick between some of the country’s very best dishes, pho, mi quang, cau lao and op la, but the picture above shows our personal favourite, mi quang. For more on these Vietnames dishes, see here.

What’s The Number 1 Breakfast In the World?

Eggs have to be the most commonly eaten breakfast food in the world. Every country we’ve ever visited has eggs available at breakfast time. The only countries I can think of where we didn’t see eggs quite as commonly would be Sri Lanka and India, where fermented grain products like idli or dosa are more common. You would see egg curry or an egg dosa, but they were just one of many options. I would also say that eggs are the most healthy breakfast food in the world, if they are good quality eggs.

Fruit juice is also commonly served at breakfast, in almost every country.

Other International Breakfasts

International Breakfast Menu
This international breakfast menu was at a restaurant in Thailand.

International breakfasts include the Full English, American, and Continental (European) breakfasts. As you can see from the photo above, American breakfast items like pancakes and bagels, French toast and more, can be found alongside more typial Thai and Asian breakfasts.

Other international breakfasts include the all American breakfast, (a pared down version of a full English, with the possible addition of pancakes, butter, and syrup), Café Con Leche y Pan Tostado in Cuba, (milk coffee and Cuban bread toast) or Jok (congee, rice porridge) in Thailand. The world of international breakfast foods is very diverse and always interesting!

That’s it for now, our breakfast around the world favourites from the last few years. What’s your pick of the breakfasts from around the world?

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Author

Chef

Chef is James Long, a professional chef, world traveler and endurance athlete. He has spent almost a decade traveling and working internationaly.

2 thoughts on “Breakfast Around The World”

  1. Hi,its interesting to read your vlog…i just wanted to add that since i am from India,i recommend you to taste north eastern breakfast where eggs are savoured n enjoyed thoroughly….boiled eggs,poched eggs,omelette are the most deeired one and can be found in anywhere ranging from the street side stalls to expensive hotels….waiting eagerly for your visit in North East India

    Reply
    • I’d love to visit NE India Mamta, my grandmother was born and raised there (Shimla) and we’ve never been able to go. The thing is with eggs, they’re served in every country, so unless there’s a way of doing them that’s unique to a country, they’re not interesting enough to mention usually. Obviously we’ve eaten hundreds of different breakfasts in India, we just mention the ones that might be most interesting to our predominantly Western readers. Hopefully you find American waffles and a full English interesting too!

      Reply

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