Breakfast is a big deal in Scotland, and while there are often lots of options on offer, it’s the Full Scottish Breakfast that’s the king of them all.
This Scottish fry up has many elements, and yes, most of them are fried! A full Scottish breakfast is by no means the healthy option, but it’s a fantastic treat every so often, like many Scottish dishes.
Unlike the more humble Breakfast Roll, a morning roll filled with one or two ingredients, or a simple bowl of porridge, a Scottish breakfast goes all out in showcasing the best of what Scotland has to offer in the morning.
You’ll find that homes, cafes, hotels, and B&Bs across the country all do their Scottish Breakfast a little differently, but there are many common elements to be found too.
One thing that can make or break a Scottish fry up is the quality of the products used. Luckily Scotland has some excellent butchers and local produce, so this isn’t an issue, more on that later.
What is a Full Scottish Breakfast?
A “full” Scottish breakfast basically means complete, with everything you could possibly want on it. In reality, you’ll likely be very full when you finish!
What constitutes a Full Scottish Breakfast is a little arguable. However, there are some classics you would expect to see and a few usual add-ons as well.
The questions can seem a little endless when you come to place your order, from how you like your eggs, what sort of sausage you want to what type of bread you have for your toast; it pays to read the menu!
But as we mentioned, there is a standard list of items you can expect to find when you order your Scottish breakfast. We’ll go through each one, but here’s a list of what you’ll find on your plate:
- Tattie Scones
- Lorne/Square Sausage
- Link Sausage
- Sliced Haggis
- Grilled/Fried tomatoes
- Baked Beans
- Black Pudding
- Fried Slice
- Fruit Pudding
Plus, the sauce of your choice, as long as it’s brown sauce or ketchup, that is!
All washed down with a mug of tea or coffee… this is also debatable… you might be getting the idea that your breakfast can include a LOT or not much at all, and it’s all down to personal choice.
Everyone will find their own perfect Scottish breakfast. You’ll know precisely what you like and don’t like on your fry-up to the point where you can order it without even looking at the menu.
The downside to finding out your preferences is that you have to try a lot of different breakfasts!
Or is that the upside…?
Must-Have Scottish Breakfast Ingredients:
Tattie Scones are a traditional dish that is best described as a thin triangle of mashed potato flatbread.
They are often fried in butter or bacon fat when served as part of a Scottish breakfast and are perfect for cleaning your plate of the very last remnants of your breakfast.
If you want to try making your own, you can find our recipe here – Traditional Scottish Tattie Scone Recipe
The famous Scottish Morning Roll has such a celebrated and specific taste that humble bakers, including ourselves, don’t even try to replicate it.
The morning roll has a light and airy inside with a crisp outside. It can even be “well-fired”, which appears burnt to some!
You can find them in bakeries and corner shops across Scotland, but if you want to try making your own, we have a Morning Roll recipe here.
We prefer toast with a full Scottish breakfast, but they are possibly the perfect bread to hold a slice of Lorne sausage with a squeeze of brown sauce.
Lorne or square sausage – it can be called either – is a tasty, lightly spiced meat square and is a Scottish classic.
Imagine a good quality pork sausage without a casing, squashed into a squarish shape, with a few extra spices, and there you have it.
Fried or grilled, a Lorne sausage is a must-try when you visit Scotland and it’s easily found on many breakfast menus in a Morning Roll, or as an addition to a Full Scottish.
If you want to try making your own, you can find our recipe here – Easy Homemade Lorne Sausage Recipe
Like the tattie scone and the square sausage, another key ingredient that separates the Scottish breakfast from its English cousin is sliced haggis. Which is precisely what it implies, slices of haggis fried and served in rounds.
Many people can be nervous about trying haggis when they first visit Scotland. But a Scottish breakfast is a perfect opportunity to try it; it’s part of a much bigger dish, so if it isn’t eaten, no one minds!
It’s actually unlikely that haggis was traditionally served as part of a breakfast meal, but slices have long been added to a Full Scottish Breakfast to distinguish it from that one over the border, so we think it’s here to stay now.
Must-Have General Breakfast Ingredients:
Eggs in a Scottish Breakfast usually come either fried or scrambled, but more and more, you are also being given the choice of poached as well. If you don’t want them sunny-side up, make sure you tell the cook.
Eggs are one of the standard items you can expect to see, and breaking that gloriously golden yolk with a piece of toast or tattie scone is one of the best parts about the whole Scottish fry-up experience!
Bacon is another standard item and is generally either back bacon or rashers of bacon, two different cuts of the same meat.
Back bacon is a thin, lean slice of pork and can be called Irish bacon, a round of meat with one side having a thin layer of fat.
Rashers are more common in the United States and are thin slices of meat lined with fat that is often served crispy.
With so much fried food you would think adding toast would be a step too far, but it’s actually, in our opinion, the perfect accompaniment!
Phil, for example, swears by using the toast to make a sandwich out of his Scottish breakfast. Hot buttered brown or plain white toast may be a step too far for some, but don’t knock it until you’ve used it to wipe up your egg yolk!
So far, we’ve talked a lot about fried meat, scones and bread. But even a Scottish fry-up has to have a vegetable or two!
Generally, the token gesture veg (or fruit if you want to go down that route) is a half tomato grilled or fried.
These add a little burst of flavour to break up the various types of meat we’ve mentioned. They tend to be very hot when it first comes out, so do watch out for them.
Some people always swear by tinned tomatoes on their Scottish Breakfast. Each to their own!
Potentially not classed as one of your five a day, a splodge of baked beans helps add a little moisture to the plate.
Heinz beans are very popular, but some places have begun making their own, and these can really bring a lot of extra flavour to a Scottish Breakfast.
Whichever you have, these, along with the infamous egg yolk, will likely be what drops onto your clothes.
Every time we mention a Scottish Breakfast in our Facebook Group, we’re inevitably met with arguments for and against the addition of beans. It’s quite the polarising topic. We’ve put them on the must-have you you know our thoughts…
Nice To Have Breakfast Ingredients:
Although fruit pudding is a Scottish dish, it doesn’t seem to be commonly served as part of a Scottish breakfast much anymore.
It’s a mix of beef suet, sugar, currants, raisins, sultanas, wheat flour, and breadcrumbs. All served as a round slice like a black pudding.
Like a lot of the other things on the plate, you fry the fruit pudding to really bring out its flavour, and, despite its sweet taste, you’ll find it works perfectly as part of this savoury plate.
You can try our homemade Fruit Pudding recipe here.
Black Pudding is not solely Scottish but is still popular when it comes to a Scottish fry-up. It’s important to understand there is very little that is pudding-like about black or white pudding.
Black pudding is made like a blood sausage, sliced and fried. This may not be for everybody and doesn’t always feature on every menu.
Many will see these as a more traditional shaped sausage made in links, hence the name.
They are often pork or steak sausages and can be made with a wealth of different ingredients and seasonings. These are grilled or fried and often served in pairs.
Many people would place these in the must-have section of this list, but we think a Lorne sausage is crucial to the Scottishness of your breakfast.
A link sausage is tasty but not necessarily traditional, although again, it depends where exactly in Scotland you are, as in some places, you’re more likely to get Link than Lorne!
The other vegetable that regularly appears in a Scottish breakfast is the fried mushroom.
Salt, pepper, butter and heat make the common sliced mushroom fit perfectly with the rest of the delicious elements we’ve mentioned.
Polony is one of the rarer items on our list and is not seen everywhere, but if you find it on offer, be sure to try it!
Better known in the North-East of Scotland, Scottish Polony is another sausage-like breakfast item made from rounds of cured pork and a little spice and is perfect fried – obviously.
Another of the rarer items, a fried slice, can be a step too far for even the biggest lover of a full Scottish breakfast.
A fried slice is a slice of bread added to the frying pan during cooking which soaks up all of the butter or oil and crisps nicely. For many, it’s a tad heavy and toast is preferred.
How to Make a Full Scottish Breakfast – Step by Step
Making your own Full Scottish Breakfast is all about the timing!
You don’t want half of your ingredients to go cold while you make the other half. If you’re just making a fry-up for two people, this isn’t such a problem, but for more than that, timing is everything.
Firstly, take your ingredients and prep everything you can – slice mushrooms, cut tomatoes, prick sausages, open packets etc.
If you’re using your own homemade tattie scones, then these can be made the night before. The more you can do to save time once you start cooking, the better.
Also, in our house, we limit the choice of eggs because this can be a chore if everything wants something different. Fried or scrambled in our house, we’re afraid!
Next, consider how long everything takes to cook and what can be cooked together. Although it’s a “fry-up”, don’t be afraid to use your grill if you don’t have enough space to fry everything.
Start with any link sausages you might be using. They can take 15-20mins depending on the size; refer to instructions if you’re unsure. We par-cook ours under the grill, then finish them in the frying pan, but each to their own.
Next, the black pudding, half tomatoes, fried mushrooms, Lorne sausages and haggis can all be fried. These take roughly 10mins.
Once these are all cooked, pop them in the oven on a low heat to keep them warm. Pop the plates you’ll need for service into the oven to warm them at this stage too.
The bacon and tattie scones only take a few mins on each side, so keep an eye on them!
In a new pan, start frying the eggs. At the same time, pop the baked beans into a saucepan or into the microwave. As the eggs begin to cook, put the toast down.
Remove the plates while the bacon, eggs and toast finish and lay them out. Plate up everything that’s ready, aiming to have the last thing to be plated be the eggs and toast as they go cold quickest.
Some people like to not have the items touching on a plate; we prefer a full and busy plate where it looks like you just couldn’t possibly finish that much food… with a side of toast.
Obviously, we’ve gone overboard with our images here to showcase everything – we’d be hard-pressed to finish this whole plate ourselves!
Whether you have tea or coffee with it is your choice, but we would strongly suggest you have both ketchup and brown sauce on the table. Everyone in Scotland has a preference of their own.
- 1 egg
- 2 rashers of bacon
- 1 lorne sausage or link sausage
- 1 tattie scones
- 1 slice of haggis
- Half a cup of baked beans
- Half a tomato
- 5 button mushrooms
- Optional extras like black pudding or fruit pudding
- Firstly, take your ingredients and prep everything you can – slice mushrooms, cut tomatoes, prick sausages, open packets etc.
- Next, consider how long everything takes to cook and what can be cooked together. Although it’s a “fry-up”, don’t be afraid to use your grill if you don’t have enough space to fry everything. We often grill the bacon and link sausage and just finish it in the pan.
- Start with any link sausages you might be using. They can take 15-20mins depending on the size; refer to instructions if you’re unsure.
- Next, the black pudding, half tomatoes, fried mushrooms, Lorne sausages and haggis can all be fried. These take roughly 10mins.
- Once these are all cooked, pop them in the oven on a low heat to keep them warm. Pop the plates you’ll need for service into the oven to warm them at this stage too.
- Put the bacon and tattie scones in the pan for a few minutes each side. Add the bacon a bit earlier if you like it crispy.
- Break the eggs in the pan if there's space, or use a new pan. At the same time, pop the baked beans into a saucepan or into the microwave. As the eggs begin to cook, put the toast down.
- Remove the plates while the bacon, eggs and toast finish and lay them out. Plate up everything that’s ready, aiming to have the last thing to be plated be the eggs and toast as they go cold quickest.
- Serve with tea or coffee and red or brown sauce!
Where to get your Scottish Breakfast Ingredients
Like anything, people have their favourite brands and the products they prefer. We believe quality is vital for the perfect Scottish breakfast.
We were fortunate to have been sent a breakfast pack by MacDonald & Sons, an excellent family butchers that have been based in Dundee since 1935.
They provide quality, locally sourced meats, and use old family recipes, and their experience really does shine through.
We are more than happy to both review and recommend the excellent quality products we received because they took our Scottish breakfast to another level!
We particularly loved the pork sausages, which had a lovely warming spice that added a little extra and the black pudding that was one of the best we’ve had.
We had also never tried Scottish Polony before, so it was nice to give that a go, and the verdict was very good.
With regards to the value, we received the produce as a no-obligation gift but think that for the quality of ingredients you receive and comparison to general supermarket prices, it’s great value and supports a local business.
If you live in the UK and are keen to enjoy excellent Scottish produce and particularly breakfast ingredients, then check out their website here.
That being said, not everyone will have their meat delivered from award-winning butchers, which was a very new experience for us.
To make sure your Scottish breakfast gets rave reviews, we suggest buying good bread and good sausages. Everything else can depend on a budget!
Making a Vegetarian Scottish Breakfast
We’ve talked a lot about the general Scottish breakfast, and a lot of it is traditionally very meaty.
However, the joy of a cooked breakfast is that the items you use are up to you.
Looking at our list of Scottish breakfast items, there are undoubtedly vegetarian and vegan variations that can be used.
You’ll often find a Vegetarian Scottish Breakfast option when eating out. Check what the menu says is included, as each one will be a little different.
We love Linda McCartney’s red onion and rosemary sausages, plus our tattie scone recipe can easily be made suitable for a vegan diet with a butter alternative.
Frying up your mushrooms and tomatoes in butter or a vegan alternative with some spinach and seasoning adds a nice balance to these.
You could also add some fried halloumi, but this is beginning to move away from the idea of a traditional Scottish Breakfast.
With the addition of beans and toast, you would have a vegetarian fry-up fit for a king!
And that brings us to the end of our post.
If it hasn’t made you hungry, then we’re sorry. The Scottish breakfast deserves to be written up in a way that will make your mouth water! We can only thank MacDonalds & Sons for thinking of us and sending us their breakfast pack*.
It was both delicious and inspiring, leading us to this very post.
Enjoy your next Scottish breakfast!
Phil & Sonja
*This post was a collaboration between Scottish Scran and MacDonalds & Sons. No money was involved, just a request for us to try their products. So pleased we did!