how to make a proper full english breakfast

April 6, 2011


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When I was at university in Sheffield, me and my friends used to pile into a place called Belly Busters after one of our weekly seminars and devour bacon baps, fried egg baps, and the occasional full English. The place was basically a mad house.

There was a dog that ran free in and out of the kitchen (hygienic) and on more than one occasion “escaped” out the front door and bounded into the busy street. Cue lots of drama and yelling. We loved that place.

The kind of full English breakfast they served was proper good stuff. No frills, no fancy ingredients; just lots of lard, runny eggs, and fried bacon. That may not sound like your cup of tea but

A few months ago I discovered real English bacon at my local food co-op in Minneapolis. This had previously been unheard of in these parts. I may have shrieked and embarrassed my husband, and I may have panic-bought way more than was necessary. The point is, I found a little slice of home.

If you google “full english breakfast” a few variations on the classic will come up and my version is of course a variation too. It’s all about where you grew up, what your family traditions are, and what you happen to have in the fridge. Plus, how bothered you are about gaining 8 pounds after one meal.

I used to make my full English at home with lard – it was really common in England for a long time, although it’s gone completely out of vogue now. Pah. Healthy eating.

Your Full English should include at least bacon (preferably English back bacon) and/or sausages (Cumberland for me, please), eggs (mine’ll be sunny side up and runny), toast or fried bread and most definitely some of the following:

> baked beans
> fried mushrooms
> fried tomato
> black pudding
> a mug of milky tea

Cooking a full English might read like a bit of a nightmarish juggle, but I promise it’s easy as can be. Bacon and sausages are very forgiving and personally I like them with browned edges so don’t worry if you’re waiting for things to come together. Get things going in the right order and you’ll be dandy.

Full English Breakfast
serves one


  • 2 rashers of English bacon
  • 2 English sausages, if you can find them
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup baked beans
  • 1 slice bread, to toast
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • H P Sauce (otherwise known as brown sauce), as desired


  1. Sausages take the longest (about 12-15 minutes), so get them going first. Fry in a pan with some preheated oil, turning regularly.
  2. After about 4-5 minutes add bacon to the same pan that the sausages have been cooking in and fry, until your preferred crispiness is reached. The cooked bacon can be kept hot on a plate in the oven.
  3. Place your baked beans in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low until hot and little bubbles are starting to appear (don’t boil them), about 7 minutes.
  4. Cut the tomato in half, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place cut-side down in the frying pan and cook in the bacon/sausage fat without moving for 2 minutes. Gently turn over and season again. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until tender but still holding its shape.
  5. For ‘proper’ fried bread it’s best to cook it in a separate pan. Ideally, use white sandwich bread that is a couple of days old. Heat a frying pan to a medium heat and cover the base with oil. Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes each side until crispy and golden. For a richer flavour, add a knob of butter after you turn the slice. You know you want to. Alternatively, just toast the bread. Your arteries will probably thank me for that suggestion.
  6. I am certain you don’t need instructions on how to fry an egg but just in case: gently crack an egg into a lightly greased pan and cook until white has set but yolk still wobbles, season, and gently remove.
  7. Serve everything on a warm plate and enjoy straight away with a good squeeze of brown sauce. Don’t forget your cuppa!
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