Everything You Need To Know About Traditional Turkish Breakfast

(1 vote)
12 minutes
April 16, 2024

Imagine what it would be like to enjoy Sunday brunch seven days a week. Well, that is precisely what happens with a traditional Turkish breakfast. Let me share with you a bit of my story about why I learned to embrace brunch.

Breakfast was never my thing growing up. I have never been a morning person and learned at an early age that I could sneak in an additional hour of sleep if I skipped breakfast.

Yet, as an adult, I began to appreciate the magnificence of brunch. A blend of breakfast and lunch, brunch offers the best of both worlds. My favorite menu items include Eggs Benedict, poached salmon, strawberry cheesecake flapjacks, and hashbrown potatoes.

Additionally, being from the South, I love biscuits and gravy loaded with bacon drippings. And there is nothing quite like ending brunch with a hearty portion of Brennan’s Banana Foster, an authentic New Orleans classic. However, even the best of Sunday brunch has nothing on a Turkish breakfast. Yes, you heard that right. Enjoy Turkish cuisine by digging into this essential meal. Dive into its culture as you learn about the dynamics of the food being served. Continue reading the article as I unravel these dishes. Have fun!

Turkish Breakfast

Turkish people love food and consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. For that reason, a classic Turkish breakfast, better known as “kahvalti,” is truly a sight to behold.

For example, a traditional Turkish breakfast includes a variety of bite-sized delicacies. Accordingly, a classic Turkish breakfast is generally comprised of black and green olives, cucumbers, cured meats, dips and sauces, eggs, fresh cheeses, fresh tomatoes, fresh-baked bread, fruit preserves and jams, honey, pastries, and sweet butter.

Besides those tasty treats, no Turkish breakfast is complete with plenty of freshly brewed black tea.

Although there are some regional differences in the menu, all the Turkish regions have five elements in common: bread, spreads, cheese, eggs, and black tea.

1. Bread – Typical Element of Turkish Breakfast

The real start of any Turkish breakfast is simit, a kind of Turkish bagel. However, you do not boil these sesame-seed coated bread rings before baking. For that reason, they have a softer texture than typical American bagels.

Typically, you tear your simit into smaller pieces before topping it with jam, olive spread, cheese, or cured meat. The sky is the limit with a Turkish breakfast. Live a little. Get creative.

Breakfast must always include bread. The tiny slices of bread are typically consumed after being dipped in olive oil, eggs, or menemen. Or, the slices are covered in jam before eating. Without bread, a Turkish breakfast would be incomplete.

2. Spreads – Traditional Part of Turkish Breakfast

A classic Turkish breakfast always features a selection of fruit preserves, jams, and spreads. For example, apricot, cherry, and fig jams are traditional options at any Turkish breakfast.

Likewise, black olive spread, molasses, and tahini are popular spreads. Also, the Turkish people love hazelnut spreads, and Nutella is included in many Turkish breakfasts these days.

3. Cheese for A Traditional Turkish Breakfast

A generous selection of cheese is mandatory at any Turkish breakfast. Typical favorites include Feta, Kasseri, Lor, Tulum and Beyez Peynir.

Feta cheese is a crumbly, brined curd white cheese made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or a mixture of both.

There are numerous varieties of cheese created exclusively in Turkey. The most popular is what Turks refer to as “beyaz peynir,” which means “white cheese” in English. Cow milk is used to make it. There are further varieties of cheese, including kasar, Tulum, and lor. Each one has a distinctive flavor and texture. If you are taking your breakfast outdoors, you should bring this cheese.

Kasseri is a hard cheese made from sheep milk, is common, as is Lor, Turkey’s version of cottage cheese made from uncured goat’s milk. Likewise, Turkey produces more than 10 different varieties of Tulum, crumbly semi-hard cheese with a buttery pungent flavor.

Lastly, a standard Turkish breakfast staple in the Black Sea region is a blend of melted cheese and cornmeal called mıhlama.

4. Eggs – Traditional Element

No Turkish breakfast is complete without eggs. Sucuklu yumurta, or eggs with sausage, is a Turkish breakfast favorite. However, if you’re a vegetarian menemen, scrambled eggs with veggies and oregano will be your preferred alternative.

The fact that eggs are considered to be filling makes them an essential breakfast ingredient. There are numerous methods to prepare eggs. You may either fry them or boil them. Moreover, they can be used to prepare menemen or omelets.

5. Tea – The Traditional Drink at a Turkish Breakfast

Unlike American brunch, Turkish breakfast does not include coffee or any alcoholic beverages. Instead, black tea is served at traditional Turkish breakfasts. Feel free to substitute your favorite tea blend.

However, if you want authenticity, remember that most people in Turkey only enjoy herbal and green tea at bedtime.

6. Menemen

The Turks adore the dish menemen. Green peppers, tomato sauce, and eggs are used in its preparation. Add the tomato sauce and continue cooking it along with the green peppers in the same pan. The whisked eggs from a separate bowl should then be added. Until it is done, make sure to whisk everything together. Remember to sprinkle in some salt as well—some people like menemen with some onions.

7. Simit

It is a sort of bread with molasses and sesame seeds, giving it a crispy appearance. Simit, or Turkish bagel, is typically eaten as a snack. A simit can be found anywhere, even on the streets. It is typically paired with tea or ayran, a popular Turkish beverage. Sometimes they used Simit in breakfast instead of bread.

The Story Behind Turkish Food

The Ottoman Empire influences Turkish food. It is renowned for its incredible flavor and variety, and the types of food may vary according to the location. Even while some locations have their distinctive foods, there are many instances where identical foods are prepared in other regions using different ingredients or even different cooking methods. The Turkish breakfast is undoubtedly one aspect of Turkish culture in which many people are interested. The Turks treat breakfast like supper, with lavish tables and servers, in contrast to many other cultures. The Turks eat a hearty breakfast every morning because they think it’s the most crucial part of starting a good day.

Breakfast is the important meal of the day.

Breakfast is the most significant meal of the day for Turks. It is an essential component of society. Every family should sit down for breakfast together. Every member of the family must be present for breakfast. The table is set, a variety of foods are presented, the bread is sliced, and you are ready to go when the hot Turkish tea has been made. The flavors of Turkish breakfast include sweet, spicy, and salty. Foods that are salty and spicy are typically eaten first. The sweets are then consumed, leaving a sweet and delicious taste to end your meal. After breakfast, tea is typically sipped for a bit longer.

The Turkish prefer to spend time talking with one another at the breakfast table while still sitting down and sipping their tea even after they have finished eating, thus, breakfast is something to enjoy and take their time with. The breakfast also changes on holidays, weekends, and special events, and new items are prepared accordingly.

Regional Differences in Turkish Food

  • Turkish cuisine is well-known throughout the world. One of the most popular cuisines, after French, Italian, Mexican and Chinese. Turkish cuisine has a rich appearance and is renowned for its distinctive traditional dishes.
  • Turkish cuisine combines European, Asian, and even African cuisines due to its distinct geography and proximity to geographically distinct regions.
  • Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, European, and Mediterranean cuisines are all represented in Turkish cuisine.
  • Turkish cuisine also reflects a nation’s historical, social, cultural, and economic background. Because of this, Turkish cuisine features a wide range of flavors from other cultures.

Typical Turkish Breakfast Recipes

We selected four Turkish recipes to get you started with making your classic Turkish breakfast.

1. Simit Turkish Bagels

The first of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of Munaty Cooking. Simits are delicious, easy to make, and only require about 10 minutes of prep time.

What you need:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup sesame seeds

How You Cook Simit Turkish Bagels

  • Firstly, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Then combine the sugar and yeast with warm water and set aside for three minutes.
  • Secondly, mix the flour, salt, and vegetable oil in a medium-sized bowl. (I prefer using pyrex mixing bowls, as they are non-porous and don’t absorb stains or odors.)
  • Next, add the water and yeast mixture and knead for at least seven minutes.
  • Then, cover it with a clean, dry towel and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size. That will take about an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Meanwhile, mix the molasses, water, and sesame seeds and set them aside.
  • Thirdly, divide the dough into four equal-sized balls. Next, using a floured working surface, form each ball into a rope.
  • Then, fold the rope and twist both halves of the rope. Finally, join the ends to make a circle, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Lastly, dip each side of the limit in the molasses and sesame seed mixture. Then bake the simit for 15 minutes until golden brown.

2. Spicy Turkish Tapenade

The second of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of Panning the Globe. This tasty tapenade is easy to make and packs a lot of punch.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup shelled walnuts or walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted black olives
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

How You Prepare Spicy Turkish Tape

  • Firstly, chop the walnuts by giving them a few pulses in a food processor. (I love my seven-cup Cuisinart, but whatever you have is great.)
  • Then, pour them into a medium-sized bowl and set them aside.
  • Secondly, add the olives, garlic, and spices to the food processor and pulse a few times until the olives and garlic are finely chopped.
  • Next, add the oil and lemon juice and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  • Thirdly, transfer the mixture to the bowl containing the walnuts.
  • Next, add the parsley and mix until combined. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

3. Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal (Mıhlama)

The next of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of The Spruce Eats. Authentic mıhlama calls for the use of a sahan, a copper pan with two handles that is similar to a paella pan. However, you can use a non-stick frying pan if you prefer.

What you need:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ounces Feta cheese, grated (or similar goat or sheep milk cheese)

How you make Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal

  • Firstly, melt the butter completely in a sahan or frying pan.
  • Then add the cornmeal and stir using a large wooden spoon until it changes color to a deep golden brown.
  • Secondly, add the water once the butter begins to separate and bring it to a boil. Next, add the grated or crumbled cheese.
  • Then, stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture becomes smooth.
  • Thirdly, continue cooking over low heat, occasionally stirring until the butter appears on the top. Serve hot.
  • Note: Feel free to substitute any goat or sheep milk cheese or a combination of the two for the Feta cheese.

4. Turkish Menemem

The last of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of BBC Food. This classic Turkish recipe is delicious and simple to make.

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 to 2 red chili peppers, deseeded and diced
  • 1 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes (about 400 grams)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • A small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons creamy yogurt (plain)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

How You Cook Turkish Menemem

  • Firstly, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a non-stick frying pan. Next, stir in the onions and peppers and cook until they begin to soften.
  • Then add the tomatoes and sugar and mix well.
  • Secondly, cook until the liquid has reduced and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Next, create four pockets in the tomato and veggie mixture and crack an egg into each one.
  • Then cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat until set.
  • Thirdly, beat the yogurt with garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the minimum with the parsley and serve hot with a dollop of garlic-flavored yogurt.

Nutritional Information

Per serving

Calories475 kcalCarbohydrates32 g
Protein26 gFat26 g
Saturated Fat4.6 gPotassium0 mg
Iron4 mgSodium0 mg
Cholesterol444 mgDietary Fiber5 g
Sugar3 gVitamin A
Vitamin CCalcium4 mg

Enjoy Your Turkish Breakfast!

We hope you enjoyed our article discussing the glory of partaking in a traditional Turkish breakfast. Sure our Sunday brunch is a spectacular feast. However, nothing compares to a traditional Turkish breakfast. And we suspect that once you try some Turkish breakfast recipes, you will want to make them a weekly part of your menu planning.

Now, we would love to hear from you. Using the comments section below, tell us your favorite Turkish breakfast idea. And, as always, until we meet again, bon appetit.



9 months ago

I have been watching lots of Turkish serials and noticed the meals with great interest, so have decided to incorporate them into my diet. I live in South Australia, so will be seeking turkish restaurants from now on in as well.

2 years ago

I’m definitely going to try these
Recipes. I am a big breakfast person.

1 year ago

Hi, Nikki! Great! I have become a morning person, and I do love putting so much effort into preparing breakfast. And I guess my son is also loving it! Share a photo of your breakfast preparation, and let’s see that delicious meal.

J. Taş
2 years ago

I loved reading all of this. Our family always called it “menemen”, rather than your “menemem.” I’ve never seen it that way before. Where in Turkey did your recipe come from?

1 year ago

Hi, J.Tas! My grandmother loves Turkish breakfast because, according to her, it features a wide range of flavors from other cultures. Although there are some regional differences in the menu, all the Turkish regions have five elements in common: bread, spreads, cheese, eggs, and black tea. This is a kahvalti, or a classic Turkish breakfast.

Leave a Reply

Your rating

Related Recipes