The ultimate big breakfast.
A traditional full English breakfast counts among the world’s most satisfying breakfasts. With eggs, meat, vegetables, and good bread, this English breakfast recipe means breakfast with a capital B. Here’s how to make one, and more.
What Is Traditionally in a Full English Breakfast?
If you find yourself in Great Britain and want to start the day off with a tasty and full breakfast, you’re in luck. A traditional English breakfasts are close at hand. With eggs, meat, vegetables, beans, and bread, an English breakfast means breakfast with a capital B.
But if you can’t make it to the U.K., or want to enjoy a big breakfast at home, a traditional English breakfast recipe, also known as a full English breakfast or a fry up, counts among the world’s most satisfying breakfast feasts. Other countries may subsist mainly on coffee, cigarettes, and a small pastry or some bread in the morning (hi, France and Italy!). But in Great Britain and the UK, breakfast is done right.
Learn all about a fry up, and how to make traditional English breakfasts, below.
What Goes in an English Breakfast?
If you would like to stick with tradition, English breakfasts consist of a combination of eggs, beans, bread, and pan-stewed vegetables. You might also see bubble and squeak, but this is far more traditional and would only be made if leftover cabbage and mashed potato was on hand to cook like a hash brown.
Specifically, the traditional elements of an English breakfast recipe are:
- Fried eggs,
- Sausages (specifically pork sausages in the form of black pudding),
- Any medium-sized tomatoes, such as plum tomatoes — though plum tomatoes can be flavorless; I prefer heirloom.
- Baked beans with their sauce (Heinz, preferably),
- Grilled bread or toast,
- A hot beverage like strong black tea or some coffee. (If you want some orange juice, go for it!)
What’s the difference between a full Scottish and an English breakfast recipe?
This is a very interesting question. Understanding the differences between a full traditional Scottish breakfast and a traditional English breakfast comes down to variations on a theme.
Both types of British breakfasts have the same food “categories”: eggs, meat, vegetables, beans, and starch or bread. But a traditional Scottish breakfast incorporates oat cakes and tattie scones — griddled potatoes — and may use haggis as the meat. Contrast this with an Irish breakfast, which features soda bread instead of regular toast or griddled bread.
What kind of baked beans to use for an English breakfast
The traditional baked bean of an English breakfast? Heinz British-style baked beans. Feel free to make your own from scratch or use your favorite brand of baked beans. But if you want to stick to the traditional English route, use Heinz English-style baked beans.
What to serve with an English breakfast
A full English breakfast demands no extra food. It’s a filling meal with vegetables, protein, and lots of savory flavor. The most important thing to serve with a traditional English breakfast is a hot cup of strong British tea.
But if you’d like to balance out the salty, heavy combination of meat, eggs, beans, and skillet-fried vegetables — and still have a little room — a little fruit or fresh orange juice makes a nice complement.
What Are the Full English Breakfast Ingredients?
A full English breakfast consists of a well-rounded, filling plate of eggs, vegetables, beans, and bread. There are, traditionally, seven main ingredients to an English breakfast recipe, eight if you count the hot beverage:
- Fried eggs: Serve the eggs sunny side up or over easy for a runny yolk, or according to your preference.
- Sausages (specifically black pudding): Breakfast sausages for protein. Black pudding is the most traditional, but feel free to use your preferred style. (Psst — Unpeeled has a great homemade breakfast sausage recipe!)
- Bacon: Fried in the pan, and served hot.
- Tomatoes: Skip little grape or cherry tomatoes. You’ll want to use halved, medium-sized tomatoes, which will cook primarily face-down in the griddle until they are warmed through and stewy, with a lightly-charred surface.
- Baked beans: Feel free to make your own from scratch or use your favorite brand of baked beans. But if you want to stick to the traditional English route, use Heinz English-style baked beans. You’ll know it by the teal label.
- Grilled bread or toast,
- A hot beverage like strong black tea or some coffee. (If you want some orange juice, go for it!) You can also use ketchup if you’d like.
Making a traditional English breakfast recipe, or full English fry up, is a multi-step endeavor, with lots of ingredients that need to come together at the same time — cooked mostly in the same pan — so that the entire meal is served hot and fresh. That’s why the order of the recipe steps is key.
This recipe uses just one skillet or frying pan to do the entire breakfast, except for toast and reheating the beans in the interest of time. You could, however, grill the bread in the skillet or frying pan as a last step with the eggs if you like.
So here are the steps to making the full English, in order:
- Warm the canned baked beans in a small, separate pan or pot over medium heat. Stir every now and then until warmed through and bubbling.
- While the beans are warming, heat a cast-iron skillet. Cook the sausages and bacon until they are fully cooked. Drain on a paper towel, and keep warm in a very low oven.
- Add the mushrooms to one side of the skillet, and the halved tomatoes, face down, on the other. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and lightly browned, and the tomatoes are hot, a little stewy, and lightly charred on the bottom.
- Set the vegetables aside. Add a little oil to the pan if it looks dry. Fry the eggs while starting your toast.
- Spread your toast with a little butter, get a nice big plate, put everything on it, season with salt and a little black pepper, and enjoy.
Enjoy your English breakfast with a nice cup of tea or coffee, and most of all your full appetite.
More traditional British recipes you will enjoy:
English Breakfast (Full English Breakfast)
- 2 to 4 slices good bacon
- 2 to 4 links good breakfast sausage, preferably pork
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil or olive oil, as needed
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, halved
- 4 ounces sliced white mushrooms
- 4 large eggs
- 1 13-ounce can baked beans, preferably Heinz
- Good bread and butter, for toast
- Salt and black pepper
Cook the English breakfast Ingredients -- in the Right Order
- Preheat the oven to 185°F. This will be your warming oven to keep everything warm as you go. Get the baked beans heating in a small pot with their sauces.
- Cook the meats. Heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and sausage and cook until the bacon fat has rendered, the bacon is cooked to your desired brownness, and the sausage is cooked through and lightly browned. Lower the heat to medium-low if the bacon is browning too quickly. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and place the dish in the oven to keep warm.
- Cook the vegetables. Drain any excess bacon fat from the skillet. Add the tomato halves, face down, to one side of the skillet. Add the mushrooms to the other. Season. Cook until done, stirring the mushrooms a couple of times and flipping the tomatoes once. The mushrooms should release their moisture and brown, and the tomatoes should be stewy inside with just a little grilling marks on the surface.PRO TIP: You should still have a little grease to cook the vegetables. If you do not want to cook the vegetables in the meat fat, wipe it all out and add the vegetable oil instead.
- Cook the eggs and make the toast. Remove the tomatoes and mushrooms from the skillet and add them to the warming plate in the oven. (Remember to use a pot holder on the plate!)Re-grease the pan as necessary. Cook the eggs in the hot skillet sunny-side up, or turn them to more easily cook to your desired doneness. Now's the time to make your toast.
To Finish Your Traditional English Breakfast
- Remove the warming plate from the oven and turn off the oven. Divide the meats, mushrooms, tomatoes, and a scoop of beans onto each plate. (You will have extra beans.)
- Add the eggs and buttered toast. Season all over with salt and pepper and serve hot, preferably with a hot cup of English tea or coffee.