Introduction to Turkish Breakfast 101

Turkey’s food culture is quite advanced, and such a strong cuisine would of course not miss an important meal: breakfast.  Breakfast is valued in Turkey so that there is a concept known as “Turkish breakfast” and it is not just any kind of breakfast. With its richness and unique traditions, trying Turkish breakfast should be on your bucket list.

The well-developed breakfast in Turkey shows itself on various occasions. There are cafes that just serve as a breakfast place, even so, there are some streets in some cities that are known as “breakfast cafes street”, in which there are various breakfast cafes in only one street. 

See also: Turkish Tea and Tea Culture in Turkey

See also: Traditional Cuisine of Turkey (Region by Region) 

There are poems and songs referring to the cultural value of breakfast. For instance, in pop culture songs, you can observe lyrics about breakfast and the value assigned to it. Or famous Turkish poet Cemal Süreya’s one poem is about breakfast and it is a very famous poem in Turkey. He says:

I do not know what you think about eating,
But breakfast must have something to do with happiness.

Cemal Süreya

What is a Turkish breakfast?

In Turkish, breakfast means “kahvaltı”. And this word is composed of two separate words: kahve (means coffee in Turkish) and alt (means under in Turkish, but in this word, it is used as something that comes before). So, it was referring to something to eat before having Turkish coffee, to not have an upset stomach. Over time, it ceased to be a meal eaten to get something into the stomach before coffee and became a completely different culture.

Turkish breakfast is different from other cultures’ breakfasts’ by including fruits and vegetables in it. But there are different types of foods that are popular in different regions of Turkey. A common characteristic of Turkish breakfast all around the country is Turkish tea. Turkish tea is typically drunk in any kind of Turkish breakfast.

Turkish Breakfast
Turkish Breakfast

Turkish breakfast contains different kinds of cheeses, various dishes that are prepared with eggs, vegetables, fruits, homemade or store-bought pastries, olive, different kinds of jam, honey, and cream, some other breakfast foods, and of course, tea.

No, you do not need to eat all of them. A Turkish breakfast table can be consist of any combination of the foods below.

Kinds of cheeses that are consumed in Turkish breakfast

Different regions have various popular cheeses, and you can find region-specific cheeses in almost all cities nowadays. These are some of the most preferred cheeses in Turkish breakfast:

Different kind of cheese

Kars kaşar cheese

Kars is in Turkey’s eastern Anatolia region, is a convenient location for producing this cheese thanks to the high altitude of Kars. Kars kaşar cheese (it is very close to cheddar) reaches the table after going through many processes. It does not contain additive materials and has a higher nutritional value ​​than all other cheeses. Original Kars kaşar cheese’s milk comes from cows that were reared in Kars. In Turkish breakfast, it is preferred to be eaten with bread, fried in the pan, or grated into an omelet.

Kars Kasar Cheese

Erzincan tulum cheese

Erzincan tulum cheese is different from other kinds of cheeses by being prepared with raw milk. It is made from sheep milk and it is kept in a goatskin for a while, and this is why it is called “tulum”. Because tulum means goatskin casing in Turkish. Erzincan tulum cheese is famous due to the milk they collect from the sheep; they are reared carefully. And the way an animal is reared changes the taste of the product derived from it.

Erzincan Tulum Cheese
Erzincan Tulum Cheese

Ezine white(feta) cheese

One of the most loved cheeses in Turkish breakfast, ezine cheese is from Çanakkale, Ezine. It is also getting its delicious taste from specially reared animals in Mount Kaz only. Ezine cheese is made from a combination of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk that were reared in Mount Kaz. Unlike Erzincan tulum cheese, it is not made from raw milk and you can feel it while eating Ezine cheese. It is also low on cholesterol and can be consumed by those who need to watch their cholesterol levels. Besides breakfast, it is used in various dishes too.

Ezine white cheese(feta)
Ezine white cheese

Van herbed cheese

Van is a city that is located in the eastern Anatolia region. Its famous herbed cheese is known for its variety of herbs. 25 different kinds of herbs could be used in the making of Van herbed cheese. Helix, wild mint, and thyme are the most preferred kinds of herbs in the Van herbed cheese. Thanks to the herbs it contains, it is beneficial for health and is easy to digest. It is typically preferred in breakfast, but due to its filling properties sometimes it is added to other dishes.

Van Herb Cheese
Van Herb Cheese

Mihaliç cheese

Mihaliç cheese is a cheese that is from the Aegean and Marmara regions of Turkey. “Mihaliç” is the name of a district in Bursa, which is a city in the Marmara region. Mihaliç cheese is around 250 years old, and it was loved and consumed in the Ottoman empire. It is usually derived from sheep milk but in some cases, cows’ milk is also used, and sometimes it is produced by a combination of cow, goat, and sheep milk. Mihaliç cheese is preferred to put between two pieces of toasted bread with butter in a Turkish breakfast.

Mihalic Cheese
Mihalic Cheese

Turkish breakfast foods with eggs

Eggs are an indispensable part of Turkish breakfast, and Turkish people are pretty creative when it comes to preparing breakfast foods with eggs. For most Turkish people, breakfast without eggs should not be considered as breakfast. The following are some of the most popular Turkish breakfast foods that are prepared with eggs.

Menemen

The original menemen is prepared with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices of choice. But people are adding other ingredients that they love, such as mushrooms or potatoes. And there is a current debate in Turkey whether menemen should include onions or not. It is usually eaten with hot bread, you can add some spicy spices if you would like.

Menemen
Menemen

Egg with Turkish style fermented sausage (Sucuklu Yumurta)

The word sausage is not enough for Turkish sausage(also known as sujuk or sucuk), because it is quite different from what comes to your mind as you hear the word sausage. It is a kind of sausage, but it has various spices in it and it is fermented. Those processes make Turkish sausage have a unique taste. Even though it is eaten with other styles too, Turkish sausage with eggs is the most popular when it comes to breakfast. It is particularly preferred on Sunday breakfasts. It is made by cooking slices of Turkish sausage and then cracking eggs above. You can do it as a sunny side up or scrambled egg style.

Sucuklu Yumurta
Sucuklu Yumurta

Egg bread(French toast)

This is a perfect way to utilize pieces of steal bread. Egg bread is usually made with slices of loaf bread, and if you have leftover bread from yesterday you can use them as well. It is made by soaking slices of bread in eggs, and then frying them in a pan or cooking them in the oven. They are both delicious and nutritious. It is also quite delicious when added to thyme.

Egg Bread

Egg salad

As a healthy alternative, egg salad is another deliciousness on the Turkish breakfast table. Even though this breakfast food is not specific to Turkey, it is commonly consumed in Turkish breakfast. It includes dill, mint and parsley, onions, red pepper powder, lemon juice, and olive oil on top. It is a relatively light option in comparison to other Turkish breakfast foods, yet since it is eaten with lots of bread, the health part is debatable.

Çılbır

Çılbır can be eaten for breakfast or any other meal, but the chances of you to see çılbır in Turkish breakfast are quite high. It is made by adding yogurt to poached eggs and adding oil and pepper powder on top. It is known for its filling features and for being healthy. It is preferred in weight control. All regions in Turkey know çılbır but it is especially more common in the Trakya region.

Cilbir
Çılbır

Jam in Turkish breakfast

Jam could be made from any fruit, by boiling it in water and sugar. It is nearly impossible to see a typical Turkish breakfast table without any jam. It is sometimes combined with cheese for a sweet and savory taste, or with cream. All jam types are vegan. These are some of the popular jam flavors:

  • Strawberry jam
  • Peach jam 
  • Cherry jam
  • Apricot jam
  • Sour cherry jam
  • Quince jam
  • Fig jam
  • Walnut jam
Walnut Jam

Pastries in Turkish breakfast

Turkish people love pastry, this is a well-known fact. If you are watching your weight, the following breakfast foods are not serving for those purposes, but it is strongly recommended for you to try them out. The following are some of the popular pastries that are consumed at a typical Turkish breakfast.

Pişi (Boorstog)

Boorstog is a breakfast pastry known as “pişi” in Turkish. If you are going out to a café or a restaurant to experience a Turkish breakfast, you will most probably see lots of pişi. It is really easy to make, you just need to fry bread dough in oil. It is not very healthy, but its deliciousness will make you forget everything. It is a vegan alternative to a Turkish breakfast. It is also preferred with chocolate, honey, or different kinds of jams.

Pişi

Simit

Besides being a part of a traditional Turkish breakfast, simit (that could be the equivalence of “bagel” in English but there are differences) is also loved and consumed as a snack. Simit is also known as street food in Turkey. There are different kinds of simit according to the way the molasses are put on it, but it is typically a kind of bagel with molasses and sesame on top. For example, Ankara simit is relatively softer in comparison to Istanbul simit due to the way of putting molasses. The other simit types are Adana simit, Eskisehir simit, Rize simit, and İzmir simit. Simit and tea is a legendary duo in Turkey.

Simit
Simit

Tahinli Çörek(Tahini roll)

As a sweet alternative, tahini roll is another Turkish breakfast component. Baking tahini requires some skills. Sesame, Walnuts or hazelnuts could be added on top. It is usually preferred to eat with molasses. Yet tahini rolls are typically not present in everyday Turkish breakfast, it is relatively for special occasions, for example, if someone has guests for breakfast or if it is Sunday. It is sometimes made in a flat circle shape rather than a roll.

Tahini Roll(Tahinli Çörek)
Tahinli Çörek (Tahini Roll)

Açma

Açma is similar to Turkish simit, but it contains more fat, and it does not contain molasses. Unfortunately, there is no translation for this word, or a similar food to compare it with. It can be plain or with black olive paste, and you can both do it at home or buy it from a bakehouse. It is an inseparable duo with Turkish tea.

Acma
Açma

Akıtma

Akıtma is the Turkish version of a crepe. It is pretty much made with crepe, it is made from eggs, milk, oil, flour, and baking powder. After mixing all of these ingredients, you need to fry it in a pan with a circle shape. Then it is preferred to eat with jam, honey, chocolate spread, or molasses.

Akitma
Akıtma

Bazlama

Bazlama is a special kind of bread that is preferred in a Turkish breakfast, and it is easy to make. It contains oil, water, flour, dry yeast, milk, and sugar. It is fluffy, flat, and has a circular shape. After you prepare your dough, you need to fry it in a pan. Bazlama is also made with different ingredients such as potatoes.

Bazlama
Bazlama

Börek

Börek is a traditional Turkish food that has multipurpose. It also can be a part of Turkish breakfast. There are different types of böreks regarding their filling and shape. At breakfast, mostly börek which has different kinds of cheese in it is preferred. And there are easier börek types to make, like sıkma. 

Borek with Kasar Cheese
Börek

Sıkma is a börek type that is prepared with cheese filling and phyllo dough, and it takes a short amount of time to prepare it, so it is preferred at breakfast. Börek with potatoes filling (as a vegan option) or sometimes börek with mince filling is preferred at breakfast. Gözleme, which is another type of börek which is made with sausage, cheese, and potatoes is also preferred at a Turkish breakfast.

Sigara Boregi
Sigara Böreği

Sigara börek (sigara means cigarette in Turkish) is another common börek type at Turkish breakfast.  Like sıkma, it is relatively easy to prepare it from other kinds of böreks. It is prepared with cheese filling and phyllo dough as well, but sigara börek is fried in oil.

Kaşık dökme

It is another kind of fried dough. Kaşık means spoon in Turkish and this breakfast food gets this name because the dough is divided into portions with a spoon. You need to take a spoon of dough and then “pour” it into the pan with oil. Pouring means dökme in Turkish, so kaşık dökme means spoon pouring if I translate it word by word. It can be filled with various cheeses, and as the cheese melts in fried dough, it becomes super delicious.

Olives in Turkish breakfast

There are more than 20 types of olives grown in Turkey. Turkey is known to be one of the few countries that consume olives for breakfast. Particularly in the Aegean territory, olives are very popular. The most popular olives are gemlik olive, saurani olive, and erkence olive. There are different breakfast foods like olive salad which is made with green olives, salamura olives, or green olives filled with red peppers. Store-bought or homemade olive pastes are also popular in Turkish breakfast, it can be eaten with bread or it can be put inside of various pastries. Açma with olives is quite delicious and preferred.

Different kind of Turkish Olives
Different kind of Turkish Olives

Fruits and vegetables in Turkish breakfast

Different from other countries’ breakfast cultures, Turkish breakfast includes fruits and vegetables both inside of some breakfast foods and raw. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of Turkish breakfast. Tomatoes and cucumbers chopped up on a plate is a very common thing to do in a Turkish breakfast. Some prefer adding olive oil on it, some prefer putting salt on it and some prefer eating them plain. In the summertime, eating watermelon and melon at breakfast is quite common. Watermelon or melon with ezine cheese is an amazing duo.

Watermelon and White Cheese
Watermelon and White Cheese

Tea at Turkish breakfast

As I mentioned before, tea is an important component of Turkish breakfast. You cannot see any Turkish breakfast without tea. Turkish people typically love tea, and there are lots of tea addicts all around the country, especially in the Black Sea region, where most of the tea is produced. There are different herbal teas that are a part of Turkish culture, but when I talk about Turkish breakfast I must talk about black tea. 

Turkish Tea
Turkish Tea

Black tea is made in a special teapot that is formed from two separate pieces. Even though nowadays tea bags are becoming more and more popular, the traditional way to make Turkish tea is with those teapots, giving them time to brew. It needs at least 15 minutes to brew before serving. You may or may not add sugar to your Turkish tea, according to your taste. It is strongly recommended in the Turkish breakfast.

Honey and cream in Turkish breakfast

This perfect duo is another indispensable part of the Turkish breakfast. Store-bought or homemade milk cream is quite tasty and nutritious. Honey is a healthier sweet option compared to canned creams with a lot of sugary ingredients such as chocolate cream or peanut butter. Some prefer spreading cream in a slice of bread and pour honey on it, and some prefer to mix honey and cream in a cup and dip bread slices in the mixture. Both ways, honey, and cream together are delicious.

Honey and Cream with Pistachios
Honey and Cream with Pistachios

Other breakfast foods in the Turkish breakfast

Maybe all of those seemed like a little bit too much for you, but not all Turkish breakfasts include all of them. Those are the options that you can see in a Turkish breakfast and there are more. The following are other breakfast food that you can see in a Turkish breakfast.

Ajika in Turkish breakfast

It is originally a Georgian dip, but it is also common in Turkey and Turkish breakfast. It is a spicy dip that contains pepper paste, garlic, and some spices. You can spread ajika to your bread or dip your bread to it. Optionally, walnuts can be added on top. After you have made ajika, you can keep it in your refrigerator for a long time.

Ajika
Ajika

French fries in Turkish breakfast

French fries were not as popular as it is today back then. But you can see it at any café or restaurant that you go to try a Turkish breakfast.

Nuts and dried fruits in Turkish breakfast

Besides being a snack, nuts and dried fruits are preferred in a Turkish breakfast. Dried apricot and walnuts are consumed as a duo, and they are quite delicious and healthy. If you are looking for healthy alternatives for meeting your body’s sugar needs, dried fruits are recommended.

Dried Fruits
Dried Fruits

Boiled eggs

As I mentioned before, Turkish people love eggs. Eating boiled eggs for breakfast is very common.

Sujuk(Fermented Turkish sausage)

Turkish sausage(sujuk) is not only eaten with eggs. Some prefer to cook sausages separately and eat them plain. Sometimes it is put between two pieces of toast, or sometimes it is eaten just by itself.

Toast

Turkish breakfast contains toast, but it is not the same thing that had appeared in your mind when you first heard the word toast. When saying toast, it is not just toasted bread in Turkey. Indeed, the explanation of toast refers to that, but toast is known as a kind of sandwich in which there are different ingredients in it such as cheese, Turkish sausage, or both. You can find toast in buffets or it can be made at home. A lot of people in Turkey have a machine for that. The most common type of toast is the one made with cheese. You can also make toast with Turkish sausage or regular sausage. Adding both cheese and sausage to the toast is pretty common, too. It is usually preferred with Turkish tea or orange juice.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

You may also like...