What Is a Full English Breakfast?

Ever tried a full English breakfast? The traditional meal is famously hearty and filling.

The full English breakfast is known around the world. This meal dates back to around 1300s, when the Anglo-Saxons believed that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. (Sound familiar?) Back then, only very wealthy families could afford to eat it. The full breakfast often appeared on the tables of country gentry, especially when guests or family were visiting. It’s still a grand tradition today!

Here are more charming English breakfast customs.

What’s in a Full English Breakfast?

Also known as a “fry-up,” a full English breakfast includes an assortment of hearty, savory breakfast foods. Think eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms. Other potential dishes include potatoes like hash browns or potato pancakes, corned beef hash and black pudding. On the side, expect buttered toast. Mugs of hot tea or coffee wash down the feast.

Even our best brunch recipes are modest by comparison.

Why Is It Called a “Full English”?

The name “full” refers to the completeness of the breakfast, with its wide variety of foods. The full breakfast is typically eaten on weekends, while a smaller breakfast suffices for during the week. As with brunch in the US, the full English is often eaten later in the day, even after lunchtime.

What’s the Difference Between Irish, English and Other European Breakfasts?

Around the UK, countries have their own unique additions to the traditional full breakfast:

Full Irish: Soda bread might stand in for the buttered toast in a full Irish. Here’s a closer look at the full Irish breakfast.

Full Scottish: Look for tattie scones, also known as potato scones. You may also find distinctly Scottish foods like haggis.

Full Cornish: In Cornwall, expect to see hog’s pudding, which is a kind of sausage, as well as potato cakes.

See what breakfast looks like at McDonald’s around the world.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.