As a self-proclaimed breakfast person who has savored the diverse flavors of Türkiye on my last two trips, I’m excited to share with you a guide explaining exactly what is a Turkish breakfast and what you can taste to really absorb the Turkish culture before you head off on a day of sightseeing.
Do you reserve a good breakfast just for a Sunday morning? Well, not in Turkiye. My guide covers all the best dishes and drinks that make up a typical breakfast in Turkey. And are sure to guarantee you a delightful experience that is a total social affair.
For those who share my enthusiasm for morning meals and relish the adventure of trying new culinary delights, prepare to be enthralled by a full Turkish breakfast experience.
In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to some must-try Turkish breakfast food and drinks that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. From rich, creamy Sütlü Kahve (Turkish coffee with milk) to savory Menemen (scrambled eggs with fresh tomatoes), brace yourself for a mouth-watering culinary journey through Türkiye’s vibrant breakfast culture.
So please grab a cup of tea and join us on this delicious traditional breakfast in Turkey adventure!
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Introduction To Turkish Breakfasts
Turkish breakfast, called kahvaltı, is a leisurely affair usually enjoyed on weekends by Turkish people – but you can eat it daily while on vacation in Türkiye. Breakfast in Turkey often consists of a spread of meze (appetizers), cheeses, eggs, green and black olives, bread, and pastries.
Oh, and of course, no typical Turkish breakfast is complete without a cup of strong coffee or tea.
Here are some of my favorite ‘kahvaltı’ Turkish breakfast food items to tantalize your tastebuds:
- Sütlü Kahve: this creamy Turkish coffee is made with equal parts ground coffee, water, and lots of sugar and milk. It’s traditionally served in small cups with no handles
- Simit: these sesame-covered bread rings are common on street corners in Türkiye. They’re often eaten for breakfast with cheese or jam
- Menemen: this dish of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions is commonly served for breakfast in Turkey. It’s often made with çaylak cheese, which is similar to feta
- Beyaz Peynir: this white cheese made from sheep’s milk is a staple of the Turkish breakfast table. It’s often eaten with honey or jam
- Kaymak: this rich clotted cream is made from buffalo milk and is commonly served on white bread or pancakes for breakfast in Türkiye
Must-Try Foods For Breakfast In Turkey
Breakfast in Turkey is a feast for the senses, with an array of colors, textures, and flavors to enjoy.
The most common dish is called menemen, a traditional egg and tomato scramble that is often spiced with peppers, and you’ll find it on all breakfast buffets in Turkey waiting for you. Start your day off right with one of these must-try Turkish breakfast foods…
1. Sütlü Kahve (Turkish Coffee)
The first thing you need to start your day with is Turkish coffee. Called sütlü kahve in Turkish, it is a traditional coffee drink made with finely ground coffee beans, water, and sugar. The coffee grounds are cooked in a pot with boiling water, and then the mixture is strained through a cloth filter. The coffee is served in small cups with the grounds still in them.
Turkish coffee is typically enjoyed with breakfast or after dinner. If you want to try something new for breakfast or add a little variety to your morning routine, try Turkish coffee! It’s a popular drink to enjoy while visiting Türkiye, and many tourists bring home boxes of Turkish coffee as souvenirs… well, I know at least we did.
2. Menemen (Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes, Green Peppers, and Onion)
Move over boring hard-boiled eggs. Menemen is one of Turkey’s most popular breakfast dishes, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a delicious combination of scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green peppers, and onion, all cooked in a lightly spiced tomato sauce. It’s the perfect way to start your day or enjoy a light lunch or dinner.
If you’re visiting Türkiye, be sure to try menemen at least once. You can find it on menus nationwide, but it’s especially popular in Istanbul. And if you’re looking for the ultimate Turkish breakfast experience, order menemen with a side of pita bread and some strong Turkish coffee.
3. Gözleme (Traditional Thin Crêpe Filled With Spinach, Cheese Or Meat)
Gözleme is a traditional Turkish breakfast dish made with thin crêpes filled with cheese or meat. The dish is believed to have originated in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey and is now popular throughout the country.
The dough for gözleme is made with flour, water, salt, and baking powder. It is then rolled out into thin sheets and cooked on a griddle. The fillings are typically made with feta cheese, spinach, or ground beef, and onion.
Gözleme is typically served with yogurt or kaymak (a type of clotted cream) and fresh herbs such as mint or parsley. It can also be enjoyed with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea.
4. Simit (Sesame Seed Bagel)
Simit is a type of Turkish bagel that is covered in sesame seeds. It is often eaten for breakfast with honey or pekmezi (see below). Simit can also be served filled with cheese or meat like a sandwich.
5. Kızarmış Yumurta (Fried Eggs)
A traditional Turkish breakfast wouldn’t be complete without kızarmış yumurta or fried eggs. These are usually served with a dollop of kaymak (clotted cream) and a sprinkling of pul biber (red pepper flakes). Another popular option is to add sucuk (Turkish sausage) or pastırma (cured beef) to the dish.
6. Sucuklu Yumurta (Sausage & Eggs)
One of the most popular items on the breakfast table is sucuklu yumurta, a dish made with eggs and spicy Turkish sausage.
The sausage, or sucuk, is first fried in olive oil until it is nicely crisped. Then, eggs are added to the pan and cooked until they reach your desired level of doneness. The yolks and whites should be well combined before adding salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste. Sucuklu yumurta is often served with crusty bread for dipping!
7. Ispanakli Yumurta (Eggs With Spinach)
Ispanakli yumurta, or spinach and egg, is a typical Turkish breakfast dish. The eggs are cooked with spinach, onions, and garlic and are often served with freshly baked bread on the side. This dish is hearty and filling and makes a great start to the day.
8. Poğaça (Fried Pastry)
Poğaça is a savory fried pastry that is popular in Türkiye. It is typically made with a mixture of flour, water, salt, and yeast and then filled with either cheese or meat. Poğaça can be served as a main dish or as a side dish and is often eaten for breakfast and also for lunch
9. Su Boregi (Pastry Filled With Cheese)
Su Boregi is a type of breakfast pastry that is made with phyllo dough and filled with a variety of different cheeses. The most common fillings are feta cheese, kasseri cheese, and white cheese. Other common ingredients include eggs, parsley, dill, and black pepper. The pastries are typically baked in the oven until they are golden brown.
Turkish Su Boregi is a delicious breakfast option for those who want something savory and cheesy. The flaky phyllo dough pairs perfectly with the creamy filling, making for a light and satisfying meal. Whether you enjoy them on their own or with a cup of coffee, Turkish Su Boregi are sure to start your day off right!
10. Zeytin Ezmesi (Olive Spread)
There are loads of pastes and spreads on offer at breakfast in Turkey, but Zeytin ezmesi was our favorite. It’s a spreadable olive paste that is a staple of Turkish breakfast. It is typically made with green olives but can also be made as a black olive spread. Zeytin ezmesi is often served with a delicious range of fresh pieces of bread and can also be used as a dip for vegetables or crackers.
11. Pekmezi (Molassses – Kind Of Jam-Like)
Turkish pekmez is a molasses-like syrup made from boiled grape juice, and it’s a popular breakfast condiment in Türkiye. Pekmez has a deep, unique flavor and is often used to sweeten coffee or tea. It’s also delicious on pancakes or waffles. Our favorite was the mulberry pekmezi, but also the grape molasses was also divine.
We loved it so much that we returned home from Turkey with three jars of it for us to savor.
12. Beyaz Peynir
Beyaz peynir is a type of white cheese that is commonly used in Turkish breakfast dishes. It has a mild and slightly salty flavor and is often used as a spread on fresh bread or as an ingredient in savory dishes such as menemen (a type of omelet).
13. Turkish Ayran Yogurt Drink
Ayran is a Turkish yogurt drink that is traditionally made with water, yogurt, and salt. It is a refreshing and healthy drink that is perfect with your eggs.
Note: Turkish Ayran is also drunk on hot summer days and served up with kebabs or köfte at lunch – my kids drank this at almost every meal; it was that good.
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More Traditional Turkish Breakfast Dishes
14. Pastirmali Yumurta (eggs with air-dried cured beef, mutton, or buffalo)
This dish combines the rich flavor of air-dried cured beef, mutton, or buffalo with the simplicity of eggs. A hearty breakfast where the robust taste of the meat complements the creamy texture of eggs.
15. Kıymalı Yumurta (fried eggs with ground meat)
A fusion of fried eggs and ground meat, typically beef or lamb. Seasoned and cooked meat is topped with eggs for a protein-packed meal.
16. Çılbır (poached eggs with yogurt)
A unique dish featuring poached eggs over creamy yogurt often spiced up with melted butter and paprika or sumac.
17. Omlet (omelette with various ingredients)
The Turkish omelet is versatile, accommodating a range of ingredients for a fluffy and light staple breakfast.
18. Açma (a soft, bun-like pastry)
A soft, fluffy bun, often compared to a bagel but lighter. Açma can be plain or filled, perfect for on-the-go breakfasts.
19. Börek (a flaky dough pastry with various fillings)
A versatile pastry made with flaky dough and filled with cheese, spinach, or ground meat.
20. Sigara Börek (crunchy rolls with cheese filling)
Slender, crispy rolls filled with cheese, resembling cigarettes in shape.
21. Açması Börek (layered pastry similar to lasagna)
A healthier, layered pastry with layers of dough filled with cheese, meat, or spinach.
22. Pide (boat-shaped flatbread with various fillings)
Often called Turkish pizza, pide is a boat-shaped flatbread with a variety of toppings.
23. Bazlama (a flat, round bread cooked in a pan)
A basic breakfast item that is a round bread cooked in a pan, resembling a thick tortilla, often served warm with cheese or butter.
24. Pişi (Turkish-style donuts)
Soft, deep-fried breads that are either sweet or plain, often paired with jams or honey.
25. Kuymak or Muhlama (a mixture of cheese, butter, water, and cornmeal)
A rich, cheesy dish made from a mixture of cheese, butter, water, and cornmeal, often scooped up with bread.
26. Izgara Hellim Peyniri (grilled halloumi cheese)
Grilled halloumi cheese is known for its firm texture and ability to hold its shape, adding a savory touch to breakfast.
27. Bal Kaymak (honey and Turkish savory whipped cream)
A luxurious combination of honey and a creamy dairy product, often spread over bread for a decadent breakfast treat.
28. Acuka or Muhammara (a type of paste with spices and lemon)
A spicy and tangy paste made with red peppers, walnuts, and a blend of spices, adding a kick to breakfast dishes.
29. Tahin Ezmesi (sesame paste)
A paste made from ground sesame seeds, nutty and creamy, commonly paired with pekmez for a sweet and savory spread.
30. Findik Ezmesi (hazelnut spreads)
A smooth, rich hazelnut paste, similar to nut butter, spreadable and sweet.
31. Turkish Tea & Coffee
Turkish coffee and tea are two of the most popular breakfast drinks in Turkey. Turkish coffee is made by brewing finely ground coffee beans with water and sugar.
The resulting coffee is thick and strong, making it a perfect drink to start the day. On the other hand, Turkish tea is made by steeping black tea leaves in hot water. It is typically served with lemon and honey, making it a refreshing and healthy beverage.
All Turkish Breakfast Are Not Created Equal – What You Should Know
When exploring Turkish breakfast options, you’ll encounter three distinct breakfast spread styles, each offering a unique culinary experience.
First up is Kahvaltı tabağı, the quintessential choice for a light and quick breakfast. Picture a single plate neatly presenting a boiled or sunny-side-up egg, slices of cheese and ham, a choice of jam or paste, olives, and fresh vegetables. It’s a common sight in hotels, perfect for those who prefer a straightforward, no-fuss meal to start their day.
Açık Büfe Kahvaltı
For those who relish variety and abundance, Açık büfe kahvaltı is the way to go. This ‘open breakfast buffet’ is packed with local ingredients and is a total feast for the senses and the appetite. Available in many restaurants and especially popular in larger hotels, it invites guests to indulge in an array of dishes, selecting whatever catches their fancy. It’s a celebration of choice and abundance, perfect for leisurely mornings when you want to taste a bit of everything.
Lastly, there’s Serpme kahvalti, the Turkish word that in English translates to ‘mixed breakfast.’ This is where the magic of Turkish breakfast truly unfolds and is a must for breakfast lovers. Designed for sharing, it features an array of small, colorful small plates, each bearing a different delicacy. The selection is standard for all, with the only choice being how you prefer your eggs. This breakfast is a communal affair, often enjoyed with friends or with Turkish families during a relaxed weekend morning. Prices for two can range from €8-20, depending on the breakfast place.
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Regional Differences In Türkiye For Breakfast Options
There are regional variations in what is served for breakfast. For example, cornbread is a popular option in the Black Sea region. In the Aegean region, types of seafood can be served for breakfast. And in the southeastern Anatolia region, köfte (meatballs) are a popular choice.
One cool regional breakfast food in Turkey we discovered was Boyoz. This pastry is of Sephardic Jewish origin, associated with Izmir, Turkey – and makes the perfect breakfast on the run while sightseeing.
Before we headed out for a day of sightseeing while in Turkey, we always made sure to have a big and delicious breakfast. We loved starting our day with a hearty meal that would give us the energy we needed to explore all the fantastic sights and sounds of Turkey.
No matter what region you’re in, there’s always the perfect Turkish cuisine on any breakfast menu for your first meal to kick-start your day! Afiyet olsun.