Scotland, a land of rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and unique culinary traditions, offers a breakfast experience like no other. The Full Scottish Breakfast is a testament to Scotland's love for hearty meals, especially when it comes to kickstarting the day. Let's delve into the components of this traditional breakfast and understand what makes it so special.
We recently spent a couple of weeks showing the boys my husband's hometown. I can't tell if they loved all the attractions, meeting their Scottish family, or the food more! We stayed at a lovely Inn with a traditional Scottish Breakfast available every morning.
They had Yorkshire puddings (which my husband informed me is not traditionally a breakfast food in his family), haggis, square sausage, black pudding, bacon, tattie scones, fried mushrooms, tomatoes, fried egg, beans, link sausage, and toast. While we can't do traditional haggis or black pudding at home, I've learned to replicate the rest of it here in the U.S.!
What is a Typical Scottish Breakfast?
A Full Scottish Breakfast is often compared to an English breakfast. It is a very savory meal with the only sweet thing typically being sugar in your tea (or coffee). In both breakfast menus, you'll typically find:
- Bacon: Bacon in the UK is sometimes called streaky bacon, because of the streak of fat running through it. It is also called back bacon because it comes from the back of the pig instead of the belly like American bacon. Every breakfast menu in Scotland is going to include a few rashers of bacon.
- Eggs: Typically served sunny side up, they add a soft contrast to the other fried components. They pair perfectly with toast or a tattie scone…or two.
- Fried Tomatoes and Mushrooms: These add a touch of freshness and balance to the hearty meal.
- Baked Beans: British beans are not the same as baked beans in the U.S. Heinz beans are our favourite brand and they are tomato-based beans, not sweet or smoky. Don't try pork and beans as a substitute though. They are so not the same either.
- Sausage: Sausage links in the UK are a bit different than here, but you can order it online. There are many different kinds and you can get them from both your grocer or your neighborhood butcher. It's a bit of a splurge, so we typically do the smaller American breakfast sausages, in original only.
- Black Pudding: Black pudding is also called blood pudding, because it's made from either pig or cow blood, along with fat, oats, and spices. Every recipe is a little different and I've never had it taste the same at two different places.
- Toast: Perfect for mopping up the delicious juices and sauces on the plate.
- Tea or Coffee: To wash it all down, a hot beverage is a must. Whether you prefer tea or coffee, it complements the meal perfectly.
A Scottish fry-up has three main additions to the English breakfast: square sausage, tattie scones, and haggis.
- Lorne/Square Sausage: A unique blend of minced beef and pork, breadcrumbs, and seasoning, pressed into a square shape. It's unlike any other sausage you've tasted but anyone can make it at home with our Square Sausage recipe!
- Haggis: A traditional Scottish dish made from sheep's heart, liver, and lungs mixed with grains and spices. It's served loose with breakfast or fried at the local chippy. It's also used in Balmoral Chicken.
- Tattie Scones: These are flat, savory items made from mashed potatoes and flour, then fried on a griddle. Looking for a Traditional Scottish Tattie Scone Recipe? We've got you covered!
- What is the difference between a full English and a full Scottish breakfast? While both are hearty meals, the Scottish version includes unique items like the Lorne sausage, tattie scones, and haggis. An English breakfast can include poached or scrambled eggs, kippers, and bubble & squeak.
- Is a full Scottish breakfast healthy? Like any meal, moderation is key. While it's packed with protein, it's also high in fats. Enjoying it occasionally is the best approach.
- What's the difference between black pudding and haggis? Black pudding is a type of blood sausage, while haggis is made from sheep's organs mixed with grains and spices. Neither is available in its traditional form in the United States, but you can order haggis online with a few modifications to keep the US Dept of Ag happy.
- Are any other foods served with a Scottish breakfast? It depends on where you are eating and what part of Scotland you are in. During my first trip over, one cafe served their mushrooms with caramelized onions. Some menus include white pudding, but I haven't eaten anywhere that served it as part of breakfast yet.
Quick Scottish Breakfast Alternatives for Busy Mornings
While a full Scottish fry-up is a delightful treat, there are days when time just doesn't permit such an elaborate meal. Fortunately, Scotland offers a variety of breakfast options that are both quick and delicious. Here are some alternatives for those busy mornings:
- Porridge: A classic Scottish staple, porridge is made from oats simmered in milk or water. It's warm, and filling, and can be topped with fruits, honey, or a sprinkle of cinnamon for added flavor.
- Scottish Oatcakes: These are savory oat biscuits that can be quickly toasted and paired with cheese, jam, or butter. They're a great grab-and-go option.
- Rowies or Butteries: Originating from Aberdeen, these are flaky, buttery rolls that are perfect with a spread of butter and jam or even just on their own.
- Fruit Scones: While tattie scones are a fry-up favorite, fruit scones are a sweeter alternative. Best served with clotted cream and jam, they make for a delightful quick breakfast.
- Drop Scones: Similar to pancakes at any American diner, but a little smaller and thicker. Instead of maple syrup, they are typically served with honey or fruit & cream.
- Roll and Sausage: This is simply a yeasty roll, cut open and buttered, with a slice of square sausage. Typically served with brown sauce or red sauce (ketchup).
- Smoked Salmon on Toast: Scotland is famous for its smoked salmon. Layer it on a piece of toast with some cream cheese, and you have a quick yet luxurious breakfast.
- Eggy Bread (French Toast): While not exclusively Scottish, eggy bread is a quick fix. Dip slices of bread in beaten eggs, fry them up and serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
- Berries and Yogurt: Scotland boasts some delicious berries, especially raspberries and blackberries. A bowl of fresh berries with yogurt can be a refreshing and quick breakfast option.
- Tea and Shortbread: For those super rushed mornings, a cup of strong Scottish tea paired with a piece of shortbread can tide you over until a more substantial meal.
While nothing can quite replace the experience of a full Scottish breakfast, these quicker alternatives ensure you can still start your day with a taste of Scotland, even on the busiest of mornings.
How to Make a Scottish Breakfast At Home
Ready to make it yourself? Or as Nick says “Ready to give it a go”?
- Mise en Place: Before you begin, get everything in its place. Slice the mushrooms, cut the tomatoes, prick the sausages, and have all your ingredients ready to go. If you've made homemade tattie scones, prepare them the night before. Make sure you've prepared and sliced your square sausage too. This prep work ensures a smooth cooking process.
- Cast Iron Skillets: These are your best friends for frying. Not only do they distribute heat evenly, but they can also be placed in the oven to keep food warm. Set your oven to its lowest setting, ideally around 170°F.
- The Sausage Dance: Start with your link sausages. Depending on their size, they might take 15-20 minutes. If unsure, always refer to the cooking instructions. You can par-cook them under the grill (broiler) and finish them off in the skillet for that perfect sear. Or you can cook them in the air fryer to save a burner on the stovetop/hob.
- Veggies and More: While the sausages are cooking, begin frying your half tomatoes and mushrooms. These usually take about 10 minutes. Once done, transfer them to the oven to keep warm, ensuring they don't stay there for more than 20 minutes to avoid drying out.
If you choose to use canned/tinned tomatoes, start them in a saucepan later when you make the beans. I prefer using fresh tomatoes or even grape tomatoes over the tinned ones our hotel served, but it is a personal preference.
- Bacon and Tattie Scones: These require minimal time, just a few minutes on each side. Keep a close watch to ensure they're cooked to perfection.
- Beans on the Burner: Reserve one burner for your baked beans. They can be warmed up as the eggs are frying. If you choose to do canned tomatoes, remember to do them on a burner now too.
- Egg-cellent Eggs: In our home, we simplify things by only offering fried eggs. If Nick is making eggs, he does 6 at a time on our electric skillet. If I'm cooking, I do them in the same skillet I used for the bacon.
- Serving Time: As the eggs cook, get your toast ready. Once everything is cooked, start plating. Aim to have the eggs and toast be the last items you plate since they cool down the fastest.
A Scottish Breakfast is like a special morning feast in Scotland. It might look a bit tricky to make, especially if you're cooking for many people, but it's actually fun once you know the steps. The key is to get everything ready before you start (that's called “mise en place”) and to use good pans, like cast iron skillets.
By following the right order and using the right tools, you can make this awesome breakfast at home. It's a great way to taste a bit of Scotland and share a yummy meal with family or friends. So, why not give it a try? Happy cooking and eating!