When you hear the term breakfast food, you might automatically think of eggs, toast, and coffee. For some folks, mornings aren’t complete without a bag of fresh bagels loaded with cream cheese and lox, while for others, it’s impossible to face the world without a solid stack of pancakes with bacon on the side. These popular breakfast foods include classic traditional family fare and diner favorites, as well as a few newer additions to American foodie culture.
On any poll of America’s most popular breakfast foods, you’re sure to find eggs near the top of the list — which isn’t surprising when you consider just how versatile they can be. Whether they’re fried, scrambled, poached, boiled, or served as the centerpiece to a superb Eggs Benedict (our personal favorite), protein-rich eggs can be supremely satisfying, especially when they’re paired with something that’s loaded with carbs (think toast, pancakes, and waffles). Plus, they’re simply scrumptious with cheese — and anything that tastes great with cheese gets a high five in our book.
The word cereal might instantly evoke mages of a yummy variety of sugary, chocolaty frosted pebbles and flakes served cold with milk, depending on your childhood. In fact, for many adults, these sugar-laden concoctions still serve as a guilty-pleasure breakfast food or a satisfying late-night snack. For those who prefer a hot meal at breakfast, cereal can also include oatmeal (served sweet or savory), various creamy, wheat-based porridges, or, for folks from the South, cornmeal grits served with huge dollops of butter or cheese.
Did you know that pancakes have been around forever — or at least, since the beginning of human civilization? Around 5,300 years ago, Ötzi the Iceman (a glacier mummy now residing in an Italian museum) was apparently eating a primitive form of pancake when he met his demise, according to the remains found in his stomach. Whether they’re traditional or made of buckwheat, topped with butter, or slathered in syrup, there’s something immensely satisfying about pancakes for breakfast. They stick to your ribs and stay with you all day (after all, they stayed with Ötzi the Iceman for more than 5,000 years!).
There’s always something sublimely special about homemade waffles. Maybe it’s because, unlike some other breakfast foods, they actually take a bit of time and trouble — you’ve got to have a good waffle iron and wait for each individual waffle to finish cooking before you can chow down. In addition to classic waffles, you can order them made with whole wheat flour or sprinkled with pecans, chocolate chips, or anything else that’s yummy. And like all good breakfast foods, you can eat them plain with butter or drench them in your favorite rich, sugary syrup.
Bacon with everything, that’s our motto — and it seems that America agrees. There’s something about the smoky, salty, slightly sweet flavor of bacon that makes it pair perfectly with all those milder-tasting, carb-laden breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes, and breakfast wraps. Plus, bacon adds a delectable burst to all kinds of sandwiches and hamburgers, making it ideal for any time of the day.
Who knew that something so delicious could also be healthy? Avocado toast may seem like the latest trend, but this delectable dish first appeared on a café menu in Sydney, Australia, in the 1990s. New York’s Café Gitane began serving it to their customers a few years later, and the rest is history. Since then, foodies everywhere have embraced this no-frills breakfast dish for its simplicity, nutritional benefits, and downright deliciousness.
If you’ve ever visited a traditional American diner, you’ve probably been fascinated by the huge variety of items that can be stirred and smashed into hash browns. You can get hash browns smothered in fried onions and mushrooms, topped with cheese, covered with chopped tomatoes and peppers, or served just plain so you can taste all that potato-y goodness. It’s amazing how the lowly potato can lend itself to so many crispy, savory dishes.
Considered by many to be the Rolls Royce of breakfast dishes, steak and eggs are a staple in American culture; but because they take a bit more time to eat and prepare, many people prefer to save them for long, leisurely weekend breakfasts. Fun fact: steak and eggs were served to NASA astronaut Alan Shepard before his historic (and highly risky) first flight into orbit in 1961. Today, steak and eggs are still the traditional departure breakfast for NASA astronauts — prized not only for their deliciousness but also for their high protein.
While the very mention of sausage makes us think of the Monty Python “Spam” skit, we’re quick to give full homage to sausages of all types — from smoky breakfast links to savory ground patties. In the UK, breakfast sausages are often paired with baked beans (try it sometime), but in the US, we serve our sausages with eggs, pancakes, or other breakfast favorites. Like bacon, sausage adds zing and zest to many of our carb-heavy, popular American breakfast foods — and it also makes us feel like at least we’re getting some protein among all those calories.
What constitutes a breakfast sandwich? Typically the common denominator is that there's an egg somewhere in the mix, but in the US, breakfast sandwiches can differ greatly according to region. For example, in Texas or California, you’ll find a huge variety of breakfast burritos and tacos filled with eggs, avocado or chicken, potatoes, and beans. In New York, you’ll find the traditional egg, meat, and cheese breakfast sandwiches served on a bagel or bialy. Down South, you might find a breakfast sandwich filled with plenty of country ham and always served with a side of grits. Whether it's served as a taco or burrito, a bagel, or a bialy, breakfast sandwiches are a foodie favorite across the nation, any time of the day.