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What is a Turkish breakfast?

Turkish breakfast, also known as kahvaltı, is a customary meal that holds a special place in Turkish culture. It is a leisurely meal full of fresh and flavorful ingredients and is considered the most important meal of the day. Turkish breakfast is renowned for its variety of cheeses, olives, bread, and jams, which are typically served with different kinds of tea and sometimes even coffee. This delicious and hearty meal is a great way to start off your day and is a must-try experience for anyone visiting Turkey. In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of Turkish breakfast and explore what makes it such a unique and beloved tradition.

The Components of a Turkish Breakfast

When it comes to Turkish breakfast, you can expect to be served a variety of dishes in small portions, allowing you to taste everything. Here are the common components of a Turkish breakfast:


Turkish Bread

Bread is a staple in Turkish cuisine, and a traditional Turkish breakfast always includes fresh bread. It can be a crusty loaf of bread, a round flatbread (pide), or simit, which is a sesame-covered bread ring.


Assorted Turkish Cheeses

Turkish breakfast is never complete without cheese, and there are different types of cheese served, including beyaz peynir (white cheese), kaşar (yellow cheese), and tulum peyniri (goat cheese).


Assorted Turkish Olives

Olives are also a staple in Turkish cuisine and are usually served at breakfast. In Turkey, you can find different types of olives, including green, black, and marinated olives.


Turkish Butter

Butter is another essential component of Turkish breakfast, and it is usually served with fresh bread. In Turkey, butter is often made from buffalo milk and has a creamy texture and rich flavor.

Jams and Spreads

Assorted Turkish Jams and Spreads

Turkish breakfast also includes a variety of jams and spreads, such as honey, apricot jam, kaymak (clotted cream), and tahini (sesame paste).

Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Assorted Turkish Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Tomatoes and cucumbers are commonly served at breakfast in Turkey and are often used to make a simple salad. They can also be eaten on their own as a refreshing and healthy snack.


Turkish Eggs

Eggs are also a common element of a Turkish breakfast. They can be boiled, fried, or made into a Turkish-style omelet called menemen.


Turkish Sucuk

Sucuk is a type of spicy Turkish sausage made with beef or lamb. It is often served at breakfast alongside eggs and fresh bread.


Turkish Tea

Finally, Turkish breakfast is always accompanied by tea. In Turkey, tea is brewed in a special pot called a çaydanlık and is served in small glasses.

The Social Aspect of Turkish Breakfast

Turkish breakfast is an important social event in Turkey, and it is often an opportunity for friends and family to gather and share a meal together. It is a leisurely affair that can last for hours, with people chatting and enjoying each other’s company over tea and food.

What are the Typical Foods Served in a Turkish Breakfast?

A traditional Turkish breakfast usually consists of a range of savory and sweet options. Here are ten typical dishes you might find on the table:



– This is a sesame-covered bread ring, usually served fresh from the oven. It’s often eaten with cheese and olives, or dipped into soup or coffee.



Feta Cheese

– Known as beyaz peynir in Turkish, feta cheese is a salty, crumbly cheese that’s served in large chunks. It’s often eaten alongside bread and olives.

Beyaz Peynir



– Turkish breakfasts usually include a variety of olives, from small, green ones to larger, black ones.



Tomatoes and Cucumbers

– These simple, fresh vegetables are often sliced and served with a sprinkle of salt.

Tomatoes and Cucumbers


Jams and Preserves

– Sweet jams and preserves, such as strawberry or cherry, are often spread on bread or eaten with cheese.

Jams and Preserves


Honey and Clotted Cream

– These two sweet spreads are often used instead of jam. The clotted cream is called kaymak in Turkish.

Honey and Kaymak



– Fried eggs are a classic Turkish breakfast staple. They’re often served with bread and a sprinkle of salt and paprika.

Turkish Breakfast with Eggs



– This is a popular Turkish egg dish that’s similar to scrambled eggs. It’s made with tomatoes, peppers, and onions, and often served with bread or simit.




– It might sound unusual to have soup for breakfast, but in Turkey, soups such as lentil or tomato soup are often consumed in the morning.

Turkish Lentil Soup


Turkish Tea

– No Turkish breakfast would be complete without a cup of strong, black tea. It’s usually served in small, tulip-shaped glasses and sipped slowly throughout the meal.

Turkish Tea

These dishes are just a few examples of the extensive range of foods you might find at a Turkish breakfast. With so many different flavors and textures to try, it’s easy to see why this meal is such an important part of Turkish culture.

3. Popular Turkish Breakfast Items


One of the most important elements of Turkish breakfast is cheese. In Turkey, there are many varieties of cheese from different regions. The most common types of cheese found during breakfast are beyaz peynir, kasar, tulum and lor. Beyaz peynir is a white cheese made from sheep’s milk and is a staple of many Turkish breakfasts. Kasar is a type of yellow cheese that is a little bit salty and has a slightly elastic texture. Tulum is a salty and tangy cheese that is often crumbled over eggs or eaten as a side dish. Lor is a type of soft cheese that is used in sweet pastries, but also eaten on its own during breakfast.

Beyaz Peynir cheese

Cheese Types Region Texture and Taste
Beyaz Peynir Made of sheep or goat milk White, crumbly and salty
Kasar Mostly East and Southeast Anatolia Yellow, elastic and nutty
Tulum Southern Turkey Salty and tangy
Lor All over Turkey Soft and creamy


Olives are another staple of Turkish breakfast and are often eaten as a side dish or used in pastries. Turkish olives come in many varieties and colors, such as black and green. The most commonly eaten olives are the black ones, which have a slightly sweet taste. Green olives are a bit more tart. Turkish breakfast wouldn’t be complete without a bowl of olives on the table.

Turkish Olives

Honey and Jam

Turkish people love their sweets, and breakfast is no exception. Honey and jam are commonly served during breakfast and are used as a spread on bread or served with cheese. Turkish honey is considered one of the best in the world due to the variety of flowers Turkish bees feed on. And Turkish jam is often homemade and made from seasonal fruits such as apricots, cherries, and strawberries.

Turkish honey

Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Tomatoes and cucumbers are also frequently found on Turkish breakfast tables. Tomatoes are often sliced and served raw, while cucumbers are sliced and chopped into bite-sized pieces. They are both a refreshing addition to the heavy breakfast dishes and are a good source of vitamins.

Turkish tomatoes and cucumbers


Turkish tea, or çay, is the drink of choice with breakfast and is served in small tulip-shaped glasses. Turkish tea is brewed using a double teapot called a çaydanlık. The bottom teapot is filled with boiling water, while the top teapot contains loose tea leaves, which are brewed using the steam from the boiling water below. Sugar is added according to personal preference, but it’s usually served without milk. Drinking Turkish tea is an essential part of the Turkish breakfast ritual and is often enjoyed for hours over a good conversation.

Turkish tea

Learn about the traditional Turkish breakfast spread and its cultural significance with Saveur’s guide.

Thanks for joining us for breakfast!

We hope you enjoyed learning about the delicious and diverse dishes that make up a Turkish breakfast. From the savory cheeses to the sweet jams and honey, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. So why not try recreating your own Turkish breakfast at home? With a little bit of effort and some adventurous taste buds, you might just discover a new favorite meal. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to sharing more cultural culinary experiences with you soon. See you next time!

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