What's Really In A Full English Breakfast?

If you've ever traveled around England, or have eaten at an American diner with a loaded menu, then you might have seen a full English breakfast as an option. The decadent meal dates back to the 14th century and was later popularized during the Victorian era — but it's still an integral part of British cuisine that can be ordered at bed and breakfasts, cafes, and restaurants today. This breakfast order is far more complex than a bowl of cereal or a plate of biscuits and gravy; it's full (hence its name) of an array of fried foods, some of which you might not be familiar with if you haven't yet visited the British Isles.

The main components of a fry up, like some call it, are bacon, baked beans, black pudding, eggs, mushrooms, sausages (or bangers as they are called across the pond), toast, tomatoes, and fried potatoes. Black pudding, which might sound the least familiar, is a type of sausage made with beef or pork and flavored with pig or cow blood. The eggs in a full English breakfast are typically fried with a runny yolk, the bread is often fried in butter or lard so it's full of flavor, and the tomato is commonly halved and grilled. The meal will be served with a cup of tea or coffee, juice, and sometimes fruit like orange or grapefruit. To finish it off like a true Brit, go ahead and douse everything in HP sauce, a popular English condiment.

Bubble and squeak completes a proper full English breakfast

Any full English breakfast will be made up of the same core ingredients, but specific components will vary depending on the region where it's ordered. Some argue that an authentic full English breakfast's starch must be bubble and squeak which is a combination of potatoes and cabbage. However, you might get fried potatoes instead, or on some occasions no potatoes at all. Sometimes the bread will be toasted instead of fried, and you might get the option of swapping the black pudding with white pudding, but any substantial variation might actually turn your full English into a full Irish or Scottish breakfast, or a mixed up combination of the trio.

With all of the different foods that make up a proper full English breakfast, it might be easier to try it at a restaurant before tackling it in your kitchen. If you find yourself in England, popular spots to eat an authentic full English breakfast are Terry's Cafe in London and Trof in Manchester. Here in the U.S., look for it on the menu at your local diner or try it at Tea & Sympathy if you have an upcoming trip to New York City. And if you're daring enough to make it yourself, some of its main ingredients like baked beans and sausages can be bought pre-made to save yourself some time in the kitchen.