How to Make an Amazing Israeli Breakfast Buffet

The Dishes Lean Toward Savory Versus Sweet

Israeli Breakfast

Photostock Israel / Getty Images

If you've ever visited Israel, then you can vouch that one of the most fantastic ways to start the day is with an Israeli breakfast. What began as kibbutz fare—a big breakfast spread with lots of variety that made sense for collective living and dining—has turned into a common and well-loved fixture in Israeli hotels and restaurants.

When it comes to entertaining, it's also a nice change-up from the standard bagels and lox brunch. Even if you're looking for a different weekday breakfast, these dishes are ideal inspiration for those days when you want something more exciting than cereal or an egg. After all, hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes in a pita are a great way to fuel up in the morning.

  • 01 of 12

    Classic Israeli Hummus

    Hummus with Chickpeas and Olive Oil

    Jean-Yves Tran / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Hummus—that much loved, humble chickpea dip—is a vital part of the cuisine throughout the Middle East. In Israel, where it's served at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times, it's practically iconic. 

    Nowadays, you can find tubs of hummus in supermarkets worldwide, in all sorts of flavors. But nothing beats homemade hummus, and once you get the hang of the basic recipe, you can tweak it to get exactly the texture and flavor you desire.

  • 02 of 12

    Pita Bread

    Freshly baked pita breads

    The Spruce / Miri Rotkovitz

    This recipe for Israeli pita bread makes it easy to enjoy your own fresh pita breads (pitot in Hebrew) warm from the oven. If you want to make them ahead, you can store them in the freezer so they stay fresh, then warm them up before serving. 

    Pita, by the way, isn't the only bread you'll find in a typical spread. Rolls, multigrain breads, challah, and bagels are all popular choices, too.

  • 03 of 12

    Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Israeli Salad

    Israeli Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Salad

    The Spruce / Miri Rotkovitz

    This chopped tomato and cucumber salad is so iconic of Israeli cuisine that it has been dubbed "Israeli salad," and shows up on the table any time of day—breakfast included. It's virtually impossible to imagine stuffing a falafel sandwich or enjoying some freshly baked pita and hummus without it.

    The truth is, Israelis aren't the only ones who appreciate this simple salad; you'll find similar recipes throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean region. Some include fresh herbs, other vegetables, or vinegar.

  • 04 of 12

    Baba Ghanoush Eggplant Dip Recipe

    Baba Ghanoush, garnished with pomegranate seeds and parsley

    The Spruce / Miri Rotkovitz

    Popular throughout the Middle East, Baba Ghanoush—also known as Baba Ghanouj and Babaganoush—is a dip or spread made of roasted eggplant and tahini. The recipe is straightforward: simply roast the eggplant, spoon out the softened pulp, and then puree with tahini and seasonings. Scoop it up with fresh pita bread or raw veggies.

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  • 05 of 12

    Chocolate Spread

    Chocolate Spread

    Photostock Israel / Getty Images

    Think of chocolate spread as Israel's answer to Nutella, only without the hazelnuts. Like its much loved Italian counterpart, Israeli chocolate spread first hit the market in the mid-1940s and has been popular as a breakfast spread, snack, and dessert ever since. Unlike Nutella, the most commercial chocolate spread is pareve, so it can be enjoyed any time of day or night.

    The original and arguably most popular brand in Israel is called HaShachar Ha'Ole—literally "the rising dawn"—so how can one not associate it with breakfast? Try it on challah or warm pita, or as a filling for crepes. Add some banana or strawberries if you want to up the nutrition factor.

  • 06 of 12

    Bourekas

    Potato Borekas

    The Spruce / Miri Rotkovitz

    In Israel, freshly baked bourekas with all sorts of fillings are a bakery mainstay, and the supermarkets sell frozen ones as a convenience item. Kosher supermarkets in the U.S. and elsewhere often carry them, too, but they can be hard to find otherwise.

    Fortunately, they're not at all hard to make at home. Cheese or potato bourekas are often included as part of a breakfast buffet at Israeli hotels, and you can grab them on the go from countless bakeries or shuks (open-air markets).

  • 07 of 12

    Labneh

    labneh or labaneh middle eastern soft goat's milk cheese with olive oil, za'atar or hyssop, pita bread
    Yana Margulis Rubin / Getty Images

    Labneh is a thick, tangy strained yogurt that's delicious with cucumber and tomato salad, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with za'atar, or served as a spread for pita and breakfast breads. It's easy to make your own from plain yogurt and salt. Simply strain the yogurt and mix with seasonings. Then use as is, or form into small balls and store in olive oil in the fridge for up to 2 months.

    Fruit yogurts also tend to make an appearance on Israeli breakfast buffets, so if you prefer things on the sweeter side, feel free to add.

  • 08 of 12

    Shakshouka (Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce)

    Traditional Israel food Shakshuka
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    Eggs of all sorts are a staple of the Israeli breakfast. Shakshouka, eggs cooked in an aromatic, tomato-based sauce, is an Israeli specialty and becoming more popular across the globe. This recipe makes individual shakshouka, but you can cook it in one large pan for everyone to share. The great thing about this egg dish is that you can prepare it up to cracking the eggs and then once your guests arrive, add the eggs and cook until hot and set.

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  • 09 of 12

    Chocolate Rugelach

    Rugelach

    PhotoStock-Israel / Getty Images

    Just think of these chocolate rugelach as mini chocolate croissants, and it's not so hard to get your head around the idea of cookies as a breakfast food. This recipe includes a cream cheese pastry dough baked around a dark chocolate-cinnamon filling.

  • 10 of 12

    Olives

    Green and black olives

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    Israeli breakfasts feature plenty of locally grown produce, and olives are no exception. Plus, they're a natural fit for a meal featuring savory fares like hummus, cheese, and eggs. It is simple to bring home a container from the supermarket olive bar, but it is also pretty easy to add your own flavors to green and black olives.

  • 11 of 12

    Fruit Juices

    Fruit juices

    Ligia Botero / Getty Images

    Mitz (juice) is a well-loved thirst quencher any time of day in Israel, and you'll always find it at breakfast. Grapefruit, mango, and orange juices are especially popular.

  • 12 of 12

    Coffee

    Cafe Hafuch, or upside down coffee

    lina aidukaite / Getty Images

    Israel has always had a strong coffee culture, with Turkish coffee a perpetual mainstay. But espresso-based drinks have gained lots of ground, too. One favorite is the "cafe hafuch," or "upside-down coffee," a latte-like drink made with steamed milk on the bottom, espresso, and sometimes foamed milk on top.