The Full English Breakfast – What Is It? (All About The Fry Up)

Full English Breakfast

The Full English Breakfast is possibly the best thing about Britain. At the very least, it’s most definitely one of the best things about British food. 

But if you’re not fortunate enough to have tried one, this is where you say…

“What Is A Full English Breakfast?” 

A Full English Breakfast (or ‘Full English’) is one of the most traditional and famous British meals, more specifically, a cooked dish originating in England, United Kingdom. Also known as a ‘Fry Up’, a traditional Full English Breakfast is typically made with sausages, bacon, black pudding, eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and fried bread.

But that’s not the half of it!

You also need to know what other ingredients can go into making a Full English Breakfast. Not to mention the Full Scottish, Welsh and Irish Breakfasts. Plus, what sauce and drink should you have with your Full English?

And is a ‘Fry Up’ healthy?

Then what’s all this about the Full English Breakfast being eaten in the afternoon and evening?

Answers on all of that coming right up.

But first…

What Does A Full English Breakfast Consist Of?

What is a typical British Breakfast

Here’s what a typical Full English Breakfast consists of:


Sausages are the backbone of a Full English breakfast. Depending on your appetite, you’ll opt for one or more sausages as the basis of your Fry Up. Traditionally, pork sausages are served (although alternatives can be used). 


Back bacon or streaky bacon? Smoked or unsmoked? The choice is yours, we won’t judge! Although, we’d go with smoked back bacon with our Fry Up every time (1-3 rashers is pretty standard).

Black Pudding

Black pudding is one of our most famous British delicacies, but some people are put off when they hear what it is. It’s ruddy scrumptious though! Black pudding is essentially just a delicious sausage, made with pork blood and fat and mixed with oatmeal.

Fried Eggs 

With the Full English Breakfast traditionally being mainly fried (hence ‘Fry Up’), fried eggs are the way to go. There’s nothing stopping you from scrambling, poaching or boiling your eggs if you really prefer, but ‘sunny side up’ fried eggs is most traditional.

Fried Bread (or Toast)

Another critical Fry Up decision to make is whether you go with toast or fried bread (literally bread fried in oil until crisp and golden). Naturally, fried bread is gives you a proper traditional Fry Up, but toast is more commonly served these days. You might say fried bread is the best thing since, well, sliced bread.

Bubble and Squeak / Hash Browns

Bubble and Squeak is a dish traditionally made from leftover potatoes and cabbage, which are then shallow fried together in oil or butter. This is probably the item you’re least likely to see on a Full English plate these days (other than at Christmas time). We’re not sure why to be honest, it’s jolly good all year round if you ask us!

Actually from the United States (we concede), but the fried shredded potato beauties known as Hash Browns, are just as popular on a Full English Breakfast plate in the modern day. Bubble and Squeak is what traditionally makes a Full English though.


Fresh, ripe, juicy red tomatoes are a magical addition to a Full Monty, whether fried or grilled. A nice alternative can be fresh vine cherry tomatoes roasted in the oven.


Button mushrooms are most traditional with a Full English Breakfast, but there’s no reason why other varieties can’t be used, like a nice big Field (Portobello) mushroom, chestnut mushrooms or even wild mushrooms. Whichever variety you choose, make sure your mushrooms are good quality and fried with butter to perfection (don’t let them boil!)

Baked Beans 

It’s difficult to understand how a Full English would work without the British food staple that is baked beans. Traditionally, Heinz baked beans are seen as the way to go. Baked beans are canned haricot beans in a tomato sauce and they’re just a must with a classic Fry Up.

Tomato Ketchup or Brown Sauce

There’s one final Full English related decision to make. Red or brown sauce? 

The Full English Breakfast is most often eaten with a dollop of either tomato ketchup or brown sauce (Heinz tomato ketchup and HP brown sauce being the most popular brands). There’s big debate in the UK about which is best, but there’s no ‘make or break’ – either will serve you well.

So there you go, that’s what a Full English Breakfast consists of, with the final product hopefully looking something like this:

Full English Breakfast

Why Is It Called A Full English Breakfast?

It’s called a Full English Breakfast because it’s a breakfast dish that originated in England, in the early twentieth century to be more precise. The term ‘full’ is used to reflect that this British dish was a heavier or ‘fuller’ meal to the lighter and healthier alternative, the Continental Breakfast, which was also served in the UK at the time.

You should also know that us Brits refer to the Full English Breakfast in the following ways: 

  • Full Breakfast
  • English Breakfast
  • Fry Up
  • All Day Breakfast (explained below)
  • Full Monty

What Is An All-Day Breakfast?

An ‘All-Day Breakfast’ implies a breakfast dish which is served or enjoyed all day, or rather, at any time of day. More specifically, the term ‘All-Day Breakfast’ is used in the UK to signal that a Full English Breakfast (or regional equivalent) is being served in cafes, pubs, restaurants (or homes) at a time of day that isn’t morning.

What Is The Difference Between An English Breakfast and A Continental Breakfast?

Continental breakfast

Historically, a Continental breakfast mainly consisted of pastries and fruit juices. These days, it usually also includes cereals, breads, crumpets, fruit, yoghurt and typically other cold items. The main differences with an English Breakfast is that it’s a hot meal, consisting of sausages, bacon, black pudding, eggs, and so on.

What Are The Main Differences Between An English, A Scottish, A Welsh And An Irish Breakfast?

Full English Breakfast vs Full Scottish Breakfast

In addition to (or in replacement of) the items found in a Full English Breakfast, a Full Scottish Breakfast would usually include the traditional delicacies from Scotland that are Haggis and Tattie scones. Also, square Lorne sausage would be used instead of regular sausages. 

What is a Full Welsh Breakfast? 

A Full Welsh Breakfast differs from an English Full Monty for two main reasons. First, the addition of Laverbread, one of the most famous foods from Wales, which is a seaweed dish. Second, Welsh cockles are added, which go great with bacon. 

Then of course there’s the Full Irish Breakfast…

What’s the difference between a Full Irish Breakfast and a Full English Breakfast?

A Full Irish Breakfast will usually contain white pudding as well as black pudding, whereas the English Fry Up only includes black pudding. Then there’s the Ulster Fry, which is from Northern Ireland specifically. A traditional Ulster Fry will usually contain potato bread and soda bread alongside sausages, bacon, eggs, black pudding and white pudding.

Then you’ve got the option of adding the other ‘Full English’ items like baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms etc.

The Full Cornish Breakfast

One more notable variation of the Fry Up is the Full Cornish Breakfast, which usually includes Cornish potato cakes and hog’s pudding in addition to the staple Full Breakfast items. 

What Do You Drink With An English Breakfast?


An English Breakfast is most commonly eaten alongside a drink of fruit juice (most commonly orange, apple or grapefruit), or a cup of English Breakfast Tea, or coffee.

Is A Full English Breakfast Healthy or Unhealthy?

With the main items of the Full English Breakfast (sausages, bacon, etc) being naturally high in fat and the traditional cooking method being frying, it’s not exactly the healthiest dish in the world. So eating a Full Monty every day is not something you’d want to do from a health perspective, but there are ways to make it less unhealthy.

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