Is There A Difference Between A Full English And An Irish Breakfast?

All around the globe, breakfast reigns as the most important meal of the day. Even in Italy where the meal usually consists of a pastry and coffee, it's still well regarded as a necessary start to the morning. What people eat for breakfast around the world changes from each country to the next, but sometimes there is of course crossover between neighbors. Nowhere is this more true than in the British Isles where you can find a Full Irish, Full English, and Full Scottish breakfast depending on where you're starting your day.

The tradition of these heaping plates of fried breakfast foods supposedly started in the 14th century with the English gentry living in the countryside. It was considered good hospitality to host guests with lavish plates of food, and so the breakfast became an opportunity to show off all that was locally available.

The tradition then spread  to neighboring Ireland and trickled down to the farmers. They needed a hardy meal to fuel their work in the fields and harsh weather, and so the Irish Breakfast was born.

While there are tons of variations for both of these breakfast offerings, more often than not they are each defined by a few key pieces. 

What is an Irish Breakfast?

An Irish breakfast or Full Irish is one of the most popular Irish foods. Just the smell of good Irish butter sizzling in a pan can start a craving for an Irish breakfast. While there are some variations, there are a few key items that are almost always on the plate of a Full Irish.

Typically, it consists of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomatoes, and fried mushrooms. Other options that might be encountered on the plate are Irish soda bread and both white and black puddings. Of course, all of this is typically accompanied by a cup of tea as well.

What might be more important than what's on the plate though is how the food has been prepared. Everything should be prepared in the same pan. It usually starts with a hunk of good Irish butter, followed by the meats, then vegetables, and then finally the eggs. Those eggs also need to be runny every time. There's no room for hard yolks, or scrambled eggs at an Irish breakfast.

What is an English breakfast?

The Full English, Fry Up, or just English breakfast has a lot of similarities with the Full Irish. A classic breakfast usually consists of eggs, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, back bacon, sausage (a.k.a. bangers), toast, and baked beans. Other optional items include a black or white pudding, and maybe some hash browns.

One of the best features of the English breakfast is its undoubtedly delicious meats. England has a great tradition of crafting some of the ultimate breakfast sausages, and there might not be a better way to enjoy them than in an English breakfast.

Really though, the Irish and English breakfasts have more similarities than they do differences. Both prefer rashers of back bacon as their meat of choice, and no matter what the regional variations are the eggs, bacon, sausage, and tomatoes all seem to be key parts of any breakfast. Some people might have stronger opinions however when it comes to baked beans or black pudding's place on the table. Luckily there are plenty of other treats there to enjoy instead.