turkish breakfast

Turkish Breakfast: An Absolute Feast for Your Eyes and Stomach 

In case you haven’t already seen a picture of a full Turkish breakfast, let me show it to you: 

This is a full Turkish breakfast. As you can see it’s not just a plate, it’s the entire table! It’s a feast! So what is Turkish breakfast? 

The word “breakfast” in Turkish is “kahvaltı“, and it translates into English as “before coffee“. As Turks are among the first nations that adopted a coffee culture, even before Europe, coffee is closely linked to our culinary culture. So much so that the very word for breakfast has coffee in it. However, coffee is for after the meal, as the word suggests, breakfast is “before coffee”. 

So then what is the breakfast itself? 

The core of Turkish breakfast consists of three main ingredients: bread, cheese, and olives. This is the core. If you eat only these three ingredients with nothing else, you will still be qualified as someone who had a Turkish breakfast. The main drink is black tea, or as we call it “çay” (pronounced “chai”). However, fruit juices, lemonade, other types of tea, milk, ayran, etc are also sometimes preferred by others. 

So since the core is bread, cheese, and olives, Turkish breakfast is unimaginable without the perfect three. Cheese is typically either kaşar (similar to mozzarella but harder and more flavor) or beyaz peynir (similar to feta). However, many other types of cheese can be found on the cheese platter. 

Olives are pickled and wrinkled small black olives and smooth green olives. Sometimes green olives are stuffed with pepper or tomato, and sometimes you can also have olive paste, typically from black olives. 

Bread and Breakfast Pastry in Turkish Breakfast 

The standard bread in Turkey is “francala”, which is basically the same as the French baguette but it’s softer, shorter, fluffier, and wider. The taste is almost identical. 

Then there is simit of course, and other types of Turkish bread and breakfast pastries. For example, this is simit: 

turkish breakfast
Simit is a form of bagel in Turkey made from white flour and eggs, has a layer of grape molasses (pekmez) on it, and is topped with sesame. 

Simit is one of the best pastry creations that came out of Turkey. It is crunchy, it is flavorful, and goes with both sweet and salty. It even tastes good solo. 


turkish breakfast

Another variety of Turkish breakfast pastry is poğaça. Poğaça is a form of stuffed or filled pastry that is typically served warm or hot and is eaten either as a quick breakfast snack or with the rest of the breakfast. It can be filled with cheese, ground beef, mashed potatoes, different herbs and spices, and sometimes other ingredients. It typically has a hard crust and soft interior, and it is not very oily. Poğaça is always baked. 


Another excellent form of Turkish breakfast pastry is börek. Börek is not one particular piece of pastry, it’s a subdivision of Turkish pastries. It is a salty, typically baked form of pastry that has fillings. Can be pan-fried, baked, or even steamed, and it is almost always salty with a few exceptions. The most common ingredient in börek would be cheese, usually a form of white cheese similar to a milder version of feta, and the second most common ingredient would be ground beef. However, böreks can have spinach, mashed potato, eggplant, pepper and tomato fillings, and sometimes a combination of each other. Some of the yummiest forms of börek are: tabla böreği, su böreği, talaş böreği, avcı böreği, gül böreği, etc. 

turkish breakfast


Eggs and Menemen 

Eggs are also very fundamental in Turkish breakfast, apart from universal ways of making eggs, like fried, scrambled, boiled, etc, Turkish cuisine also offers a delicious egg recipe: menemen. 

turkish breakfast

Menemen is scrambled eggs with stir-fried vegetables. The most typical ingredients are tomatoes and peppers, although there is an endless discussion in Turkey about whether or not onions should be added to the pan. Various toppings and spices can also be added to perfect the taste. Some people add chili, some add sucuk (type of spicy Turksh sausage), some add pastırma (pastrami, did you know that word is Turkish by the way?), and many people like it with cheese on top. 

Jams and Breakfast Spreads 

And of course, sweets. Even though I’m not big on sweets, I wouldn’t count a full Turkish breakfast complete without sweets. Turkish cuisine is also very rich and creative when it comes to jams, such as sour cherry jam, orange jam, quince jam, fig jam, rose jam, blackberry jam, apricot jam, strawberry jam… you can even find eggplant jam or olive jam. The list goes on… 

Breakfast Spreads 

Salty and sweet breakfast spreads such as black olive paste, acuka (peppers and walnut spread), sweet lemon spread, hazelnut or chocolate spread, and my personal favorite, the impeccable combination of tahin and pekmez… it’s just too good to resist. 

A little word about tahin and pekmez, tahin is tahini, and pekmez is a form of grape or blackberry molasses that is almost syrup-like in texture. When sweet pekmez meets bitter tahini, something magical happens. It tastes almost like molten chocolate but better. It’s hard to explain its amazing flavor, you just have to try it for yourself. 

Bal & Kaymak 

turkish breakfast

Bal means honey in Turkish, and Kaymak is a dairy product that is made by boiling milk, skimming the cream, and letting it chill and form into this amazing creamy goodness. It is basically just cold, creamy milk fat. But oh, does it taste fantastic. Kaymak is also the word Turkish people use to describe the best of something, similar to that use of the word “cream” in English. For example, if you say “to eat the kaymak of something” in Turkish it means “to get the best of it”. When Kaymak meats honey, or jam, it creates another divine taste that is inexpressible with words. You could only eat that and nothing else for breakfast. Although I’m not sure it that much fat and sugar is good for your health on a daily basis 😄 


With different types of cheese, olives, jams, breakfast spreads, a rich variety of pastry and bread, eggs, menemen, bal & kaymak and tahin & pekmez, Turkish breakfast is truly a feast for your eyes and stomach. We highly recommend you spare a morning to fully experience the divine flavors of Turkish breakfast.

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