What is a Full Irish Breakfast?

From baked beans to bacon, this plateful of traditional Irish food has it all.

When someone invented the phrase "meal fit for a king," we have a sneaking suspicion they might have been referring to a full Irish breakfast. With a plate overflowing with traditional Irish food and regional favorites, these hearty breakfasts were originally made for Irish farmers to keep them fueled throughout the day of hard labor. While nowadays it's not on as many Irish breakfast tables, it's still a meal that's enjoyed throughout the country as a weekend treat.

What Makes Up a Full Irish Breakfast?

What exactly goes into an Irish breakfast depends on the region, but there a few main items that are a standard. Each plate is meat-heavy with bacon or rashers (thinly sliced bacon with a similar appearance to ham) and sausages (also called black or white puddings depending on the ingredients). Baked beans are a must-have, along with roasted mushrooms and tomato halves. Don't forget the eggs, which are often cooked over easy but some prefer them scrambled. And what Irish meal would be complete without some type of potatoes? Typically Irish breakfasts include potato farls (pan-fried potato flatbread), boxty (potato pancakes), or some type of leftover potato mash from the evening before.

While your plate may already be overflowing with the options listed above, your full Irish breakfast isn't complete. On the side you might have Irish soda bread or brown bread, toasting optional. Also set out the butter and your favorite jam for spreading.

What Do You Drink With an Irish Breakfast?

There are two traditional beverage choices for an Irish breakfast. While you can definitely sip on coffee during your Irish feast, it's true Irish fashion to enjoy freshly brewed tea, preferably Barry's Tea, by the mugful. Glasses of orange juice are also regularly served as a cold option.

What Are Some Variations?

A full Irish breakfast is a close cousin to the full English or Scottish breakfast, both of which usually skip the soda bread and serve bubble and squeak (fried cabbage and potatoes) in place of the traditional Irish potato options. The Ulster fry, popular in Northern Ireland, is extremely similar to the full Irish breakfast, but it's served at all times of day. And one other popular variation is the "breakfast roll," which contains ingredients of a full Irish breakfast but served on a French roll as portable grab-and-go breakfast option from convenience stores.

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