What Eastern Europeans Eat for Breakfast

They start their day with a hearty meal

Easter breakfast
Pawel Wewiorski / Getty Images

If you are traveling around the globe, you will encounter various forms of breakfast in different countries. In Eastern Europe, while cold cereals are becoming more common, breakfast typically is a much more substantial meal, including pickled meats, smoked sausages, pickled and fresh fruits and vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, cheeses, pastries, jams, jellies, and breads. The waffles, pancakes, and sweet rolls so common for breakfast in the West are usually reserved for the main course or dessert in Eastern Europe. Omelets are becoming popular in the larger hotels and restaurants, but loose, moist scrambled eggs are more common.

Hungarian Breakfast

In Hungary, breakfast might consist of any combination of bread, rolls, or crescent-shaped kiflik (pastries with sweet or savory fillings), along with butter, jam, or honey. You will also find eggs prepared in many ways as well as sausages. Different cheeses and cheese spreads, such as korozott, a goat cheese spread, and liptauer, a soft, unripened sheep's milk cheese make their way to the breakfast table. Beverages are tea, coffee, or milk.

In summer, Hungarians sometimes have lecso (a tomato-pepper stew with paprika) as part of their first meal of the day.

Polish Breakfast

In Poland, where breakfast is known as sniadania, you might dine on an open-face sandwich, called zapiekanka or kanapka, made of cold cuts, meat spreads, kielbasa, cheese, tomatoes, and sliced pickles.

Bread and rolls of all types figure prominently at the Polish breakfast table and eggs prepared many ways—scrambled with bits of sausage or bacon, hard- or soft-boiled—are common. Hot oatmeal, muesli, or breakfast cereal with milk, as well as jams, especially powidla sliwkowe (plum butter), are popular.

Breakfast drinks include a somewhat weak coffee (unless you order espresso), milk (sometimes raw and straight from the cow), hot chocolate, or tea. In the spring and summer, fresh vegetables and fruits make an appearance at the breakfast table. And in the winter, it's not uncommon for hearty soups like rye-meal zurek to be served.

Romanian Breakfast

A traditional Romanian breakfast will always include eggs, which can be cooked in a variety of ways, including omelets that often incorporate onion and bacon. Cheese of some kind is another ubiquitous food item; telemea is a traditional Romanian cheese made from sheep's milk that is semi-soft, crumbly, and a bit salty, similar to feta cheese.

Every breakfast will include bread, such as a tara paine, a Romanian country bread. This will be accompanied by cold cuts, yogurt, and fresh vegetables like cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer. Strong, Turkish-style coffee, tea, or fruit juices also are served.

Russian Breakfast

The breakfast spread in a Russian home would undoubtedly include dark rye bread, possibly butter, and sliced smoked or cured sausage; the diner may turn these ingredients into an open-faced sandwich. Porridge made with buckwheat groats, millet, barley, or another grain (but not so much oatmeal) also is common, but sweet rolls, jams, and other sweets are rarely if ever, offered (except in hotels). Tea, and not coffee, is the favorite morning beverage.

In hotels or possibly on weekends in home kitchens, eggs—mostly scrambled—as well as pancakes (blinis) and crepes will be served with butter, sour cream, and jam.

Slovak Breakfast

Breakfast in Slovakia is also a hearty affair and includes a variety of breads with butter, jam, or honey. Ham and cheese are also served, as well as boiled or fried eggs, cold cuts, vegetables, and sausages, such as bobrovecke droby, a potato sausage. Sometimes cereal or yogurt is offered.

Other Breakfasts

In Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and parts of Croatia, breakfast usually consists of a sweet or savory pastry filled with cheese, meat, or fruit purée. A very common breakfast is burek, a cheese pie, with yogurt. As in Poland, open-face sandwiches also are popular for breakfast.