What is a typical Turkish breakfast?


Turkish cuisine is known for its rich flavors and diverse dishes. One of the highlights of Turkish cuisine is breakfast, which is considered the most important meal of the day. A typical Turkish breakfast is a feast for the senses, with an array of savory and sweet dishes that will leave you satisfied and energized for the day ahead.

Traditional Turkish Breakfast

A traditional Turkish breakfast, known as kahvalti, typically includes bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a variety of spreads such as honey, jam, and tahini. Other staples of Turkish breakfast include boiled eggs, pastirma (cured beef), sucuk (spicy sausage), and menemen (a type of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers). Turkish breakfast also often includes a variety of fresh fruits, such as grapes, peaches, and figs.

The Importance of Breakfast in Turkish Culture

Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day in Turkish culture. It is a time for family and friends to gather together and enjoy a leisurely meal before starting the day. In fact, the word kahvalti itself comes from the words kahve (coffee) and alti (under), which refers to the practice of having a light meal before drinking coffee.

Regional Variations

While the basics of Turkish breakfast are similar across the country, there are regional variations that reflect the local cuisine and ingredients. For example, in the Black Sea region, a typical breakfast might include hamsi (anchovies), cornbread, and butter made from the milk of cows that graze on the lush green hills. In the southeast, breakfast might include spicy lamb sausage and flatbread.

The Essentials: Bread, Cheese, and Olives

Bread, cheese, and olives are the essentials of Turkish breakfast. Bread is usually freshly baked and served warm, and there are many different types of bread to choose from, including simit (sesame-covered bread rings) and pide (a type of flatbread). There are also many different kinds of cheese, such as beyaz peynir (white cheese), kaşar (a type of cheddar), and tulum (a tangy cheese aged in a goatskin). Olives are another staple, with many different varieties available.

The Role of Tea in Turkish Breakfast

Tea is an essential part of Turkish breakfast, and it is usually served in small, tulip-shaped glasses. Turkish tea is brewed strong and served black, and it is often sweetened with sugar or honey. Tea is not only a beverage in Turkish culture but also a symbol of hospitality and friendship.

Sweet and Savory Options

Turkish breakfast offers a balance of sweet and savory options. For those with a sweet tooth, there are many sweet spreads to choose from, such as pekmez (grape molasses), kaymak (clotted cream), and Nutella. Savory options include pastirma, sucuk, and menemen.

Common Side Dishes

In addition to the main dishes, Turkish breakfast also includes a variety of side dishes. These might include acılı ezme (spicy tomato and pepper paste), muhammara (a dip made from roasted red peppers and walnuts), and börek (a type of pastry filled with cheese or meat).

Modern Takes on Turkish Breakfast

While traditional Turkish breakfast is still popular, modern takes on the meal are also becoming increasingly popular. For example, some restaurants offer a brunch menu that includes dishes such as avocado toast and smoothie bowls.

Eating Out for Breakfast

Eating out for breakfast is a common practice in Turkey, with many cafes and restaurants offering kahvalti menus. These menus often include a variety of dishes to choose from, and the meal is typically served family-style, with everyone sharing the different dishes.

Breakfast Etiquette in Turkey

In Turkey, it is customary to sit on the floor when having breakfast. The meal is usually served on a large tray, known as a tabak, and everyone sits around the tray and shares the dishes. It is also common to use your hands to eat, especially when eating bread and olives.


Turkish breakfast is a delicious and important part of Turkish culture. With a variety of savory and sweet dishes to choose from, there is something for everyone. Whether you enjoy a traditional breakfast at home or venture out to a cafe, Turkish breakfast is a must-try experience for anyone visiting Turkey.

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Elise DeVoe

Elise is a seasoned food writer with seven years of experience. Her culinary journey began as Managing Editor at the College of Charleston for Spoon University, the ultimate resource for college foodies. After graduating, she launched her blog, Cookin’ with Booze, which has now transformed into captivating short-form videos on TikTok and Instagram, offering insider tips for savoring Charleston’s local cuisine.

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