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Full Irish Breakfast: Ingredients, Fun Facts and More!

A Traditional Full Irish Breakfast
A Traditional Full Irish Breakfast (Photo: Szakaly via Canva)

Traditional Irish breakfast 

Breakfast is a great way to start the day. In Ireland, the traditional Full Irish Breakfast is quite a feast and is known for setting you up all day long.

This cooked breakfast would have been traditionally eaten at the beginning of a long working day filled with strenuous physical activities. 

Today, the Irish Breakfast is more typically associated as comfort food that people enjoy and associate with lazy weekend mornings or special occasions such as family get-togethers or new year. Some claim that it is the perfect cure for a hangover. Perhaps you need to try it yourself to find out!

(Vegetarians, please don’t despair, there are also tasty alternative meat-free substitutes for the Irish fry breakfast. Just take a look in the FAQ section.)

What is an Irish Breakfast?

An Irish Breakfast (also called an “Irish Fry” or “Irish Fry Up”) is the hearty breakfast Ireland is known for and it is a large, warm cooked meal, consisting of meat and vegetables typically fried in a pan. There is usually generous helping of Irish traditional soda bread to accompany the meal, although in some regions other pancake or bread types are used.

Depending on personal preferences, as well as the area or region of Ireland, the exact ingredients of the traditional Full Irish Breakfast Recipe tends to differ.

The typical Irish Breakfast served in Dublin, is not quite the same as one served in Limerick, where they tend to specialize in pork products, for example.

It is not surprising that this variation in the Irish Breakfast developed as there is a long standing tradition of sourcing local products for this meal. 

What is in an Irish Breakfast?

An Irish Breakfast Sign and and Irish Breakfast Fry-Up (Photo: (l) lillisphotography, (r) foodandwinephotography both via Canva)

The main Irish Breakfast ingredients include a selection of different Irish breakfast meats. Bacon rashers, pork sausages, black and white pudding are the most commonly included and are found in Irish breakfasts served throughout the country. 

Eggs are another quintessential part of the Irish Breakfast dish. While eggs are very often served fried, scrambled or poached eggs are other popular options. 

As well as these staple ingredients, Irish Breakfasts often included hash browns and fried tomatoes.

Irish Breakfast beans are simply baked beans and are a regular addition on the side. Occasionally sautéed mushrooms are also served as part of the full Irish breakfast.  

Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread (Photo: styxclick via Canva)

Slices of Irish soda bread with plenty of Irish butter typically accompany the meal. In some areas, white or brown soda bread is replaced with boxty, a form of potato pancake or potato farl, a flatbread made from Irish Breakfast potatoes, flour and salt

Irish Rashers 

The bacon rashers included in an Irish Breakfast are known as “Irish bacon” or simply “rashers” in Ireland and the UK.

This Irish bacon meat is cut in thick slices from the back of the pig like Canadian bacon and differs from the thin, crispy American-style bacon, which is cut from the pork belly. 

A layer of fat surrounds the round shaped rashers and helps to enhance the flavor of the meat and give it the characteristic, slightly salty Irish rasher taste.  

Irish Sausages or Bangers

Irish Breakfast sausages served as part of an Irish Breakfast typically include ground pork meat. The texture of the sausages is achieved by mixing the ground pork with raw egg and rusk, with crumbed breadcrumbs that are baked twice.

Many different seasonings, such as thyme, rosemary, garlic and marjoram are added to enhance the aromatic flavor

Black and White Pudding Irish Breakfast

While “pudding” usually conjures up ideas of a creamy dessert for many, Irish Breakfast pudding is distinctly different and is in fact a kind of sausage made from grains and animal products.

It is safe to say that black and white pudding is an almost essential component of an Irish Fry Up. Thickly cut slices of black and white pudding are fried with a little oil or Irish butter in a frying pan or skillet.

Pudding can also be served boiled or grilled as part of an Irish Breakfast as well. 

Black and White Pudding

The origins of black and white pudding dates back centuries as a practical and non-wasteful way of using the offal. Black pudding recipes, thought to have also been used in Roman times, are probably older than white pudding ones. 

It is possibly fair to say that one of the most famous types of pudding in Ireland are those from Clonakilty in County Cork.

The unique flavor of the puddings is a closely guarded family secret that has been handed down through several generations of the Harrington and Twomey families since the 1880s.

If you happen to be in the west Cork area you can even stop by their visitor center and sample the variety of meat products they have to offer.

Sneem black pudding is another very popular brand of black pudding in Ireland.

What is black pudding?

Irish Black Pudding (Photo: Szakaly via Canva)
Irish Black Pudding (Photo: Szakaly via Canva)

Black pudding is a type of blood sausage that originates in the UK and Ireland. 

Usually it is pork blood that is used in Irish breakfast black pudding, although in some areas cow’s blood or sheep blood is used instead. (Clonakilty black pudding uses cow’s blood for example).

Other ingredients in black pudding include onions, oatmeal, herbs and spices such as pennyroyal.

While black pudding is usually eaten as part of a meal, some creative people have created a black pudding flavored ice-cream. It probably isn’t for everyone though!

Annual World Black Pudding Throwing Championships

Black pudding has a long history. One of the more memorable tales involves soldiers during the War of the Roses in Britain throwing black pudding when their ammunition supplies were empty.

Each year in Ramsbottom, England the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships are held to mark this event. Black puddings are hurled at a high plinth and the person who knock down the most Yorkshire Puddings with three black puddings is the champion!

What is white pudding?

Irish White Pudding
Irish White Pudding (Photo: Szakaly via Canva)

In contrast to popular belief, white pudding does not contain any blood. White pudding is made from a mix of oatmeal, breadcrumbs, pork meat and liver and suet. Some versions of white pudding included no meat at all, which is why it was a particularly popular food to eat during lent in the past.

Salt, pepper, coriander and sage are common seasonings used to flavor white pudding. 

Traditionally, sheep intestines were used to case the white pudding, but nowadays these are usually made from a synthetic cellulose

What is a typical Irish Breakfast drink?

Orange juice is often served with an Irish Breakfast.
Orange juice is often served with an Irish Breakfast. (Photo: atlasstudio via Canva)

Tea is probably the most common drink served with Irish breakfasts. In recent times, coffee has become more popular and fashionable in Ireland, particularly with the younger generations.

However, tea consumption in Ireland is still quite high and a significant amount of the population drink one or more cups of tea on a daily basis. 

A typical Irish full breakfast menu often includes a glass of orange juice as well. 

Just to clarify when it comes to Irish Breakfast recipes, an Irish Breakfast shot is not included in a traditional Irish Breakfast. This Irish Breakfast drink recipe includes Irish whiskey, orange juice, butterscotch schnapps and last, but not least, some bacon.

Irish Breakfast Tea

Tea traditionally accompanies an Irish Breakfast, although some people prefer coffee.
Tea traditionally accompanies an Irish Breakfast, although some people prefer coffee. (Photo: Beng Hooi Wong via Canva)

In Ireland, this popular drink is not known as Irish Breakfast Tea, it is simply referred to as “tea”. Contrary to what the name may suggest, drinking this beverage is not just confined to the morning. Irish people enjoy a good cup of tea, or cuppa tea, throughout the day and often drink it with their lunch and dinner too. 

The dark red to brown colored tea popular in Ireland is a blend of black Ceylon teas and Assam teas. These teas grown in India, Kenya and Rwanda are the ones most frequently used in Irish tea.

Black teas, particularly the Assam tea in combination with other blends, helps to give the tea in Ireland its distinctive bold flavor.

While some people opt to drink their tea black, adding a dash of milk to tea is quite common in Ireland too.

Depending on personal preference, the addition of a spoonful of sugar or two is also quite normal.

How to make the perfect cup of tea can certainly be a matter of debate with some. For example, some people feel quite strongly about whether you add the milk to the cup before pouring the tea or after!

Tea bags containing a blend of prepared tea leaves are generally used in Ireland when making a pot of tea. All of the major brands also have loose leaf tea available for purchase.

Did you know? Breakfast in Irish is bricfeasta

Full Irish Breakfast FAQ

Full Irish Breakfast vs English Breakfast – What is the difference?

A Full English Breakfast
A Full English Breakfast (Photo: Lisovskaya via Canva)

The Full Irish Breakfast and the Full English Breakfast are undoubtedly quite similar.

One of the main differences is the type of bread the breakfast is served with. An Irish breakfast is often (although not always) served with Irish soda bread, boxty or potato bread farls.

As part of an English breakfast, the bread type accompanying the meal is often white toast or fried bread, which comes with a plentiful serving of butter, jam and marmalade. 

Black and white pudding are commonly served in Irish breakfasts and both are seen as a very traditional Irish Breakfast food, while English breakfasts sometimes only include black pudding.

What is a Scottish Breakfast?

A Full Scottish Breakfast
A Full Scottish Breakfast (Photo: LauriPatterson via Canva)

As well as the bacon, fried eggs, baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, a typical Scottish Breakfast includes square lorne sausages and link sausages. Black pudding or haggis, as well as tattie scones are some of the more traditional elements of a Full Scottish Breakfast.

What is an Ulster Fry? 

An Ulster Fry
An Ulster Fry (Photo: machdas via Canva)

An Ulster Fry is another variation of the full breakfast that is typical of Northern Ireland.

While most of the ingredients of the full breakfast are the same as the Irish breakfast (bacon, fried eggs, black and white pudding, fried tomatoes and mushrooms), the main difference is the potato farls.

These are made from a fine mix of mashed potato, salt and flour, usually rolled into a circle and then cut into quarters. These quarters are then cooked at a medium heat in the frying pan until they have a golden brown color.

What is an Irish breakfast roll?

In recent times, there has been an increased demand for the Irish Breakfast for people on the go.

One solution for this has been the creation of the Irish Breakfast Roll, whereby the main ingredients of the Irish Breakfast are filled into a baguette bread roll. Many deli counters in local shops, as well as petrol stations offer such take-away options. 

Is an Irish Breakfast healthy?

An Irish Breakfast includes a lot of fats and is high in salt and cholesterol, so it cannot be considered as a particularly healthy breakfast option. The portions are also generally quite large, so there is a tendency to eat a little bit more than you might actually need. 

The Full Irish Breakfast calories can be 1300 or even higher, depending on what is included, so it is better to have this breakfast option as a treat rather than as a daily ritual.

By grilling rather than frying, reducing the quantity of the food and opting for wholegrain or Irish brown bread, it is possible to reduce some of the calories and make the meal (slightly) healthier.

Is there a vegetarian Irish Breakfast?

The traditional Irish Breakfast is a meaty feast, however there are now some alternative products that allow vegetarians the chance to sample the flavor of a true Irish breakfast, without the meat products. 

For example, Clonakilty butchers, those responsible for the famous black pudding recipe, have a vegetarian black pudding that is made from oats, vegetables and spices and is meat and blood free. (We can say from personal experience that it tastes quite good!)

They also have veggie sausages that accompany the veggie pudding perfectly. 

Irish Potato Farls
Irish Potato Farls (Photo: spectrumblue via Canva)

Irish soda bread, boxty and potato farls, as well as hash browns, tomatoes and mushrooms are also a great option for vegetarians.

Do Irish people eat an Irish breakfast regularly?

In the past, an Irish Breakfast was seen as a meal of sustenance for those involved in hard physical labor for example on farms. However, today the majority of Irish who enjoy Irish Breakfasts only do so on a once or twice weekly basis.

It is common to have a fry up on a Sunday morning, for example. Some say that it is even great as a hangover cure!

What is the most popular type of breakfast in Ireland?

Fancy trying out some other Irish breakfast ideas? The breakfast Irish people regularly opt for is bread or toast with some butter, jam or marmalade at breakfast time.

Snacking on bread rolls, (including the Irish Breakfast Roll and the famous Waterford blaas) bagels and other pastry types have also become more common as Irish Breakfast foods.

Breakfast cereal served with milk is also common, particularly with younger generations. Warm breakfasts cooked at home are usually more of a breakfast treat at the weekends.

Where can you get an Irish Breakfast in Ireland?

Irish Boxty or potaot pancake
Irish Boxty or potaot pancake (Photo: bhofack2 via Canva)

Many cafés and bistros offer brunch menus throughout the week and these are typically good places to find tasty, as well as authentic Full Irish Breakfast menus

If you happen to be staying in Ireland then many different accommodation types offer an Irish breakfast in the morning. Irish Breakfasts are commonly served in bed and breakfast accommodation throughout the country, as well as in many hotels

Is an Irish Breakfast only served at breakfast time?

Due to the demand and popularity, Irish breakfasts are served all day long in some establishments. It is also available as lunch and dinner options as well. 

If you want to sample an Irish Breakfast in your Bed and Breakfast or hotel accommodation, it is good to know that Irish breakfasts are usually only served in the morning time.

In Ireland breakfast is commonly served between 8:00 and 10:00 am, although sometimes it starts earlier and ends later. It is always good to check in advance, if having an Irish breakfast is a must during your stay in Ireland.

Irish breakfast Tea vs English Breakfast tea – What is the difference?

Irish breakfast tea and English Breakfast tea are similar, but there are some differences in taste.

Irish tea is largely a blend of Assam tea blended with another black tea and it is this combination that gives the tea the signature “Irish Breakfast Tea” flavor.  

Where to get an Irish Breakfast in Dublin?

An Irish Fry-Up
An Irish Fry-Up (Photo: foodandwinephotography via Canva)

Dublin offers a wide selection of great Irish breakfast in cafes and restaurants throughout the city. 

Full Irish Breakfast Dublin

Some of the more well known Irish Breakfast restaurants that serve a great Irish Fry Up include:

As these tend to be very popular, especially at the weekends, make sure you have some extra time to enjoy your breakfast!

Tip: Discover our 3 Day Guide to Dublin or our guide to the best hidden spots in Dublin on our website. 

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