10 Traditional Irish Breakfast Recipe Ideas
Since the first settlers reached Ireland’s shores in 8000 BC, Irish eating habits have changed somewhat dramatically. From foraging seafood and wild plants to the world-famous Irish breakfast, the people of Ireland have adapted to the evolving food supplies on the Emerald Isle.
Most people think of potatoes when they think about Irish cuisine (and they’re not wrong). But did you know that this is a relatively new addition to Irish diets? In fact, it was only 400 years ago that potatoes made it to Europe and became synonymous with the country. Since then, the humble potato has become a staple in Ireland, acting as the star of most Irish breakfasts.
Irish breakfasts are known for being hearty – we do come from a long line of farmers, after all. Hot, filling dishes gave farmers the energy for braving the elements during a hard day’s work in the fields.
While modern Ireland still loves a hearty cooked breakfast (a fry), this is usually reserved for weekends, holidays, and hangovers. During the week, a lighter breakfast is the usual choice, making use of fine local ingredients and some of the best dairy products in the world.
In this article, we look at ten of the best traditional Irish breakfasts you simply have to try on your next trip. Filling, fresh, and made with local produce, these dishes are sure to keep you satisfied on even the rainiest day.
Top 10 Traditional Irish Breakfasts
We may have moved away from our farming roots, but breakfast remains the most important meal of the day for many Irish people. From savory homemade bread to fruit-filled porridge, you’ll not go hungry in Ireland.
Here are ten delicious Irish breakfast recipe ideas you need to try.
Boxty is an Irish tradition, especially popular in the north midlands of Ireland. It’s a potato pancake made from finely grated raw potatoes and flour, although the recipe will vary depending on the county you’re in. The batter is then fried for a couple of minutes on either side until it’s golden brown.
Boxty has long been a popular Irish breakfast, but its popularity has soared in recent years as interest in Irish cuisine grows. Nowadays, you’ll find it on menus in top Irish restaurants all across the country (and outside of the usual counties it’s associated with). You can now even find pre-packaged boxty in supermarkets across the country.
Like many traditional Irish dishes, boxty used up leftover ingredients (potatoes) to create a filling and delicious new meal. Thanks to Ireland’s history and the effects of the famine, this was a common practice.
While there’s certainly no shortage of food on the island today, the delicious flavor of boxty still has locals cooking it up for breakfast. If you want some added protein, many Irish people throw corned beef into their boxty mix before frying.
2. Irish Soda Bread
Irish bread is a thing to behold, especially soda bread. For the unfamiliar, soda bread (or arán sóide in Irish), is a traditional bread that uses baking soda instead of yeast. The result is a light and fluffy bread that requires no proofing or mixer to make. Because it’s so quick (and cheap), it’s a must-have addition to every Irish pantry.
For a quick breakfast during the week, many Irish people will have a few slices of brown soda bread with a smear of salted Irish butter or some jam. Of course, washed down with a strong cup of tea.
If baking your own bread isn’t an option, Irish people love the brand McCambridge. Its soda bread is made using Irish flour, fresh buttermilk, and no preservatives, and can be found in kitchens across the country.
Soda bread is a versatile component in Irish cuisine, and also pairs great with a steaming bowl of soup as well as a full Irish fry-up (more on that later).
3. White and Black Pudding
I’ll admit that both black and white pudding are an acquired taste, but most Irish people love them.
Let’s start with black pudding, known as blood pudding or blood sausage in other parts of the world. This is made by mixing pig’s blood with oatmeal or barley groats and baking it.
While this is certainly not exclusive to Ireland (England, Spain, and many other countries have similar versions). But Ireland has its own varieties, for instance, Sneem, a small village in South Kerry, is famed for its black pudding. Made using beef suet, oat flakes, spices, and fresh blood (pig, lamb, or cow), Sneem black pudding has a distinct, rich flavor.
Black pudding is a common staple in a full Irish breakfast but is often also enjoyed in a breakfast roll or simply sliced on a piece of toast.
You’ve probably heard of black pudding, but what about white? White pudding is the same as black pudding but without the blood. Instead, it’s made by blending suet, oats, breadcrumbs, barley, and in some cases, pork or pork liver. The ingredients are then filled in a sausage casing to be fried.
Similar to black pudding, white pudding is a common element in Irish fried breakfasts or enjoyed solo on a piece of bread.
Simple, hearty, and humble, porridge is a traditional breakfast food in Ireland. Irish oats, or steel-cut oats, are the least processed type, made by cutting whole groats with steel blades. The end result is a nuttier, and chewier oat which takes longer to cook.
In Ireland, porridge is made by slow cooking these oats in milk or water until they’re soft. Then, you can add your topping of choice. Some go for just a pinch of salt, while others top with honey and fruit for a sweet and fibre-rich breakfast that will keep you full until lunch.
5. Breakfast Roll
If you stop off at any deli counter or cafe in Ireland, you’re bound to see a breakfast roll on the menu. It’s a great alternative for those who want a full Irish breakfast but are short on time.
As the name suggests, it consists of a soft bread roll or a baguette filled with cooked ingredients such as sausages, bacon, black or white pudding, fried egg, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
There’s usually a generous smear of Irish butter on the bread and a healthy smattering of ketchup or brown sauce to finish.
The blaa has been a staple in Ireland, especially Waterford, since the Reformation, when the French are said to have introduced it to the southeast of the country. It’s a soft, fluffy white roll that resembles a hamburger bun or bap.
Although not technically from Ireland, Waterford blaa has become an institution since its first appearance. The story goes that the blaa was made by collecting the scraps of leftover bread dough that couldn’t make a full loaf, and so was made into these deliciously doughy rolls instead. They’re the perfect partner with some salted Irish butter, a rasher (Irish slang for a slice of bacon), or some nice jam.
There’s some speculation about the origins of the word blaa, with some claiming it comes from the old French word for flour and others arguing that it comes from the French word for white.
We may never know the exact history, but they have certainly stood the test of time in Ireland.
7. Irish Salmon with Cream Cheese
It’s hardly surprising, considering it’s an island, but Ireland is home to some of the best salmon in the world. In particular, the west coast of Ireland produces excellent quality wild salmon. The salmon swim wild in the Atlantic Ocean, making the fish firm, low in fat, and incredibly healthy.
As a result, many Irish locals enjoy fresh or smoked salmon with cream cheese and soda bread for breakfast. This is usually topped with some dill or capers. Irish wild salmon is expensive, thanks to the high demand, so this is more of a treat on weekends than an everyday breakfast choice.
8. Coddle, or Cadal
There are two things you should know about Irish cuisine. Firstly, most traditional dishes were first invented to use up leftovers. Secondly, almost everything contains potatoes.
Coddle, or cadal, is no exception. It’s another hearty cooked breakfast that uses up whatever meat and veg you have left over. The only rule is that there must be potatoes.
To make an Irish cadal, simply simmer potatoes in stock with your other ingredients (sausages, bacon, onions, and leeks are common) until it thickens to the consistency of stew. Then, eat with some fresh bread and enjoy. There’s a reason why coddle was a favorite with famous Irish authors, such as Jonathan Swift and James Joyce.
9. Full Irish Breakfast
This is the most iconic dish on the list. The full Irish breakfast (known locally as a fry) is the pride of the Emerald Isle. Although it was originally intended to fuel farmers for the long, wet days in the field, it is now enjoyed by everybody.
The exact ingredients of a fry vary from location to location, but there are a few constants. A traditional fry is cooked in one pan, alongside a generous dollop of salted Irish butter. Locally sourced ingredients are a must, too. The most common ingredients of a full Irish are pork sausages, bacon rashers, eggs (fried or sometimes scrambled), white and black pudding, a fried tomato, and bread.
You may find baked beans, sautéed mushrooms, and even hash browns on some plates, but these are not technically part of a traditional fry. The bread will also vary depending on your location. Some regions like Cavan, Leitrim, or North Connacht will serve boxty and others regular toast.
For instance, in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Fry is served with potato farls and soda bread, fried on the pan until golden. Generally speaking, you’ll never find black pudding, mushrooms, or chips in a traditional Ulster Fry.
There are a few rules you should know about an Irish fry up. Number one is that everything must be fried in bacon fat (which would rule baked beans out of a traditional fry), and the second is that the egg mustn’t be overcooked. Ideally, the fried egg should be runny enough to be soaked up with your bread of choice.
Finally, let’s head further north in our culinary adventure to Belfast. The Belfast bap is a beloved breakfast dish in the North of Ireland. It’s essentially a large bap, resembling a hamburger bun, but with a crusty outside and a fluffy inside. Its large size (about half the size of a small pan loaf) makes it perfect to hold all the ingredients of an Ulster fry on the go.
The Belfast bap was first created by local baker Bernard Huges, in an attempt to feed Belfast’s poor during the Great Famine. Its fluffy, light texture made it a hit, and it’s remained a staple in the North.
You can find Belfast baps in local bakeries, cafes, and breakfast establishments across Northern Ireland, typically filled with sausages, bacon, and eggs. However, you’d be hard-pushed to find it outside the North of the island.
Whether you have a trip to the Emerald planned or just fancy having an Irish-inspired breakfast this weekend, these ten dishes are a must.
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