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!
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 is well fired, light and airy roll with a crisp outside. You can find them in bakers across Scotland. 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 with a few extra spices mashed into a square, and there you have it. Fried or grilled, a Lorne sausage is a must-try when you visit Scotland.
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, sliced haggis 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. 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!
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. 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 various meats we’ve mentioned. They tend to be very hot so do watch out for them!
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 flavours to a Scottish Breakfast. Whichever you have, these, along with the infamous egg yolk, will likely be what drops on to your clothes.
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. 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.
Black Pudding is not solely Scottish but hugely 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 seasoning. 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. That being said, we’d definitely still have them on our plate!
The other vegetable that regularly appears on 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 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.
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 just too heavy and toast is preferred.
How to Make a Full Scottish Breakfast
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 more than that, and timing is everything.
Take your ingredients and prep everything you can, slice mushrooms, cut tomatoes, prick sausages, open packets etc. If you’re using your own 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. 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 to 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.
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!
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, 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 and now we’ll look out for it on every breakfast menu! Delicious!
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, 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!
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.
We would suggest using Macsweens award-winning veggie (and vegan-friendly) haggis, or you could of course make your own, recipe here, and we love Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages, plus our tattie scone recipe can easily be made suitable for a vegetarian diet.
Frying up your mushrooms and tomatoes in butter or a vegan alternative with some spinach and seasoning adds a nice balance to these, plus we are huge fans of baking our eggs in avocado. 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!