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12 rules for the perfect Full English breakfast

Whats in an english breakfast?

First things first, the good old fry-up is not a healthy meal so don’t pretend it is. Whether you’re preparing for a big day out, trying to get rid of a stinking hangover or simply, it’s just part of your daily life, you need to get it spot on to make it the perfect Full English Breakfast.Full english breakfast

Despite many associating the fry-up with the lower classes, interestingly its origins lie with England’s land owning gentry who would treat their guests to big breakfasts as a sign of their wealth. The second half of the 1800s however saw the rise of the Victorians and they brought in the concept of a leisurely breakfast which would, in some cases, involve a three hour sit down. Their ability to do that, while reading newspapers, showcased their high end status to the public.

It may have all started there but by the mid 20th century the Full English breakfast was being eaten by the majority of British citizens. That was largely down to efforts by the hotel industry, as they attempted to boost business for the bed and breakfast trade in the post WWII era.

Phew, history lesson over! Now down to the nitty gritty bit of telling you what you should be doing and expecting from a fry-up.

1) Drink with a large mug of tea

Before anything else make sure you order or make yourself a mug of tea to accompany your breakfast. Yes, coffee may have overtaken tea as the preferred hot drink in this country but the narrow spectrum of flavours in a full English breakfast means the taste from your coffee can become too dominant.

Add to that, many people prefer to drink coffee on its own nowadays, as they allow themselves to savour the hundreds of different flavours available!

mug of tea

Start it all with a mug of tea

2) Make fried eggs

If you don’t have the frying space available, then you can get away with scrambled eggs (just!) but poached is a massive no! You don’t want any of that watery residue adding any unnecessary juices to your plate, do you?

The main case for team fried however is that choosing how and when to pop your yolk is one of the favourite past times of British food and why would you take that away?

Fried eggs

Yes fried eggs all the way!

3) Egg yolks must be runny

Before deciding whether to pop your yolk with a bit of toast or a sausage, you need to get it spot on first. None of this frying your egg on both sides, leave that for sandwiches. Gently spoon a little fat over the yolk as it cooks and then serve once the white around the yolk has hardened slightly.

Runny yolks

Them yolks look nice and runny!

4) Cook your bacon perfectly

The first rule with bacon is buy the best you can and buy back bacon, not streaky. Once you have cut off the rind (retain the fat!) it’s time to cook it to perfection. That may be easier said than done but if you keep an eye on it, it’s easy.

You don’t want wobbly bacon that looks like it’s come straight out of the packet but neither do you want to be tucking into a cremated piece of meat. So get it in the middle, and cook it crispy but not too crispy!

Uncooked bacon

That bacon looks a bit undercooked! Don’t even get started on the chips…

5) Use normal pork sausages

Your plain, run-of-the-mill pork sausages are what you want for a fry-up. Maybe add a little salt and pepper when cooking them but avoid adding too much else. Spicy sausages are also a big no, leave them for another meal.

Maybe add a black pudding as well if that’s what you’re into or a white pudding if you’re reading this from over the water!

Sausages in a frying pan

The perfect sausages for a fry-up

6) Use cooked tomatoes

If you’re considering adding tinned tomatoes to your breakfast, just don’t. The thought of all that juice running into your beans is not worth thinking about!

Instead, either grill or preferably oven roast them and you’ll have tomatoes fit for a king!

tinned tomatoes

Urgh! Those tomatoes are just all kinds of wrong

7) Use fresh mushrooms

If you’ve got much room left, it’s time to add your mushrooms. Button or field will do the trick but just promise us you won’t use tinned, please…

tinned mushrooms

Quick! Put them back in the tin and we’ll pretend we never saw them

8) Don’t let the beans touch the eggs

Heinz baked beans are the only kind up for discussion here. If you’re considering adding cheese or milk to them… honestly?

With that far from our minds, one of the big discussion points with beans in a fry up is how far do you keep them from your eggs? The best thing to do is keep them on the opposite side of the plate, maybe through the use of your sausages. You will probably end up eating it all together anyway but at least you’ve got that choice!

beans and egg

Wait a minute! Where’s the barrier? That egg is going to be soggy!

9) Have your toast on a separate plate

Whether you have your fry up with bread or toast it’s up to you but many prefer the former due to its ability to soak up all that tasty grease and bean juice. If you opt for the latter however you need to get it right. Toast means toast, so make sure it’s a decent shade of brown and not so you can’t decide if it has been in the toaster or not!

There’s no need to use any of this posh bread for a Full English Breakfast either, plain white and brown, of course, will suffice. A big must however is that it is served on a separate plate to your breakfast. That allows you to decide when it gets soaked in bean juice and egg yolk, you don’t want it turning up like a drowned rat (hope there’s none of them in the kitchen!).

Of course, if your not bothered about your arteries, there’s always a nice slice of fried bread too.

toast on separate plate

Toast on a separate plate. Just as we like it!

10) Hash browns, no chips!

Chips on a fry-up? Do me a favour! The only potato based food that you can get away with on a breakfast is a hash brown or two but still, it doesn’t seem right.

Chips on breakfast

Why didn’t you just order egg, beans and chips?

11) The bigger portion, the better!

If you’re happy to settle for a cheap breakfast expect one ration of each component but with a fry-up it’s the case of go large, or go home. Once you tuck into a sausage or one of your delightful fried eggs you are guaranteed to want more so make sure you order a bigger breakfast or if preparing it yourself throw in an extra rasher of bacon!

small portion

Hope you’re not hungry?

12) Eat every last bit

The simplest and most important step of all. Eat every last bit. But you don’t need us to tell you that…

empty plate

Hope you enjoyed it!


How about you guys, what do you agree with or what have we missed off?

4 Thoughts on "12 rules for the perfect Full English breakfast"
  • Happy to say that I tick all the boxes, except that I grill the bacon, so it’s not as greasy, and don’t serve has browns here at Number 36 B&B, Oxford.

  • Hmm… Agree with much of it but, inevitably not all. If someone serves you watery poached eggs, sure, fling ’em straight back. They don’t need to be watery; just rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel. 90% of our guests have poached eggs and love them.

    Something even better than a hash brown is a slice of potato bread, fried and tucked under the (poached) egg. A combination at least as good as ham & (fried) eggs.

    The beans/egg point is well made. I’d never thought of it, but it makes sense. Thank you.

    Oh, and I so agree with you about cooked tomatoes. We once had a guest who looked at our (superb, of course) grilled tomatoes and said: “But i wanted tinned tomatoes”. Some people!! 😎

    Finally you didn’t address the issue of brown sauce. Simple. It’s banned. Why choose a high-quality breakfast and then reduce it all to the lowest common denominator of s**t-coloured mush?

  • Oh no. You didn’t detail the correct way to COOK the mushrooms. Far too many times have I experienced the thinly sliced, dried out and over-fried fungi. I feel sympathy for the mushroom, so simple it is overlooked by far too many. I take care of my mushrooms when cooking and give them the treatment they deserve. I use whole button mushrooms mostly but sometimes closed cup will suffice, if quartered or halved. And gently fry them in a non stick saucepan with butter…not margarine or oil in a frying pan!!! Occasionally, I have used great big whopping mushrooms, brushed them with butter and grilled. I have had people who usually despise mushrooms, eat (and enjoy) mine.
    I’m so hungry now, off to make breakfast….

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