Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD
A traditional English Breakfast, sometimes called a Full English Breakfast or a British Fry Up is a heavy, greasy meal. A hangover meal, essentially.
It typically has bacon, sausage, and a fried egg, along with some baked beans, potatoes, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, and bread.
If you wanted, all you’d have to do to make a vegetarian full English Breakfast is to replace the meat with mock meat options.
However, those aren’t my favorite, so I figured I’d try my hand at creating a recipe! One that doesn’t take special equipment like a griddle or a huge industrial oven, or a ton of pans.
Tips for a Perfect Vegetarian Breakfast
It’s super easy for everyone to have an easy, low-protein breakfast in the mornings.
But many people do best when they have a high-protein breakfast instead. This meal will definitely have you covered for that!
This is because starting your day off with a larger breakfast tends to help reduce mindless snacking during that 2-3 pm slump as well as the time between dinner and sleep.
Breakfast in America also tends to be low in produce, as we tend to rely on items like cereal, protein bars, and bagels with cream cheese for their ease.
Having a meal like this instead (or even a simpler one) will be another opportunity to get in some fruits or vegetables in, getting you closer to that 7-9 servings per day.
Crafting a Vegetarian English Breakfast
Between the beans, eggs, sausage, and bacon typically in an English Breakfast, there’s no shortage of fat in this meal!
Rather than try to find a vegetarian substitute for every component, I’ve decided to keep the egg and beans and use halloumi to replace the meat.
This is partly because you don’t really need both. And two, it’s simply 1 less thing to cook a meal that has quite a bit going on already!
I also like to bring a bit of color to the dish, as it’s a pretty beige plate traditionally. The tomatoes will bring a bit of color, but some green is definitely needed. I use avocado slices simply because it’s easy to add on at the end, with no more cooking.
However, I think that creamed spinach would actually be better. Go ahead and whip those up if you have the energy for that in the morning.
Or garnish the dish with fresh herbs, like I did for the pictures!
Your goal is to strike a balance between salty, fatty, and acidic.
The most difficult thing about making an English Breakfast is having the cooking space and timing it so all the components are ready at the same time.
I don’t have a huge cooktop or 20 pans like a professional kitchen does, nor do I have staff to clean all that up later. So, I decided to try a plan to use one pan multiple times, making use of the oven and a baking sheet as well.
I also find bread and potatoes to be too much, so I eliminated the toast as well.
Nutritional Benefits of a Vegetarian English Breakfast
Compared to a traditional English Breakfast, this vegetarian version will have significantly less saturated fat and less sodium.
Halloumi, my substitute for meat, is quite salty, so you do need to be mindful of this if anyone needs a low-sodium diet. However, this recipe will still be lower in sodium than a traditional version would be.
The good news is that with the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocados, there is tons of fiber from a variety of sources.
Overall, I’ve reduced the saturated fat and sodium and increased the fiber and unsaturated fat, making this recipe much better for your gut than the original. All while keeping a nice helping of protein!
The recipe is written as 4 servings, though I find I can’t eat a quarter of this for dinner, let alone for breakfast. Add a bit of fruit on the side, and you may be able to stretch this out to 6 servings instead.
How to Make a Vegetarian English Breakfast
Like I said, I’m aiming to use the fewest pans possible. If you have a griddle and enough skill, you could probably make all of the components of this meal at the same time. But we’re going to assume you don’t.
Essentially, we are going to layer the different components on top of each other, utilizing a baking sheet to cook some items, then keep everything warm until you’re ready to serve breakfast.
Roast the Potatoes and Tomatoes
- Preheat your oven to 425° F.
- Drizzle your chopped potatoes with olive oil and seasonings, spread out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
- They will not be completely done at this step.
- Remove the baking sheet, add the tomatoes, give the potatoes a quick stir, and spread it back out. Roast for 10 more minutes. Reduce heat to the “keep warm” setting, or about 170°F.
- Alternatively, you can boil the potatoes the night before. Then in the morning, roast your tomatoes and potatoes for 10 minutes. This will increase the resistant starch in your meal.
Cook the Mushrooms, Halloumi, and Beans
- While the tomatoes are roasting, heat olive oil in a large skillet, or frying pan. Add your cleaned, sliced mushrooms and seasonings until the water they release is resorbed. I like to use a medium-high heat to get a bit of a char/caramelization on the mushrooms.
- Pull out your baking sheet and push the potatoes and tomatoes to the side. Add your mushrooms and return the baking sheet to the oven.
- Add your sliced halloumi to the pan; no need to clean it! Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned to your liking.
- I strongly suggest NOT seasoning your halloumi. Or, at the very least, try it first. It’s saltier than you think. Again, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and add the halloumi to its own spot on the sheet. Put the baking sheet back in the oven.
- Open your vegetarian baked beans and pour them into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat according to the package directions.
- You could alternately do this on the stove in a small pot. Just start them earlier. I opted for the microwave because the difference isn’t that big, and a microwave-safe bowl is easier to clean!
Cook Your Eggs, then Serve
- Next, make your eggs. The easiest option here is just to scramble 4 eggs together. You’ll make everyone’s eggs in one go, with very little babysitting. But you have options here:
- If your skillet is large enough, you could be able to make 4 fried or Sunnyside up eggs at once. Just watch them carefully. I usually try to stick to a pattern, so I can keep track of who should be done in what order.
- Make a large omelet instead, tucking in your avocado or any other stray veg you may have. Quarter it before serving.
- If your skillet is deep enough, you could poach the eggs. This takes a bit of practice, but once you get it, it’s not so bad. I find that about a tbsp of white vinegar really helps and that swirling the water absolutely does not. Using a deep skillet instead of a pot was the game changer for me. Find what works for you, though.
Slice or cube your avocado, and now all of your components are done!
I plate each egg, then put the baking sheet on a trivet in the middle of the table and let everyone grab what they want. You could also serve this buffet style or plate everyone’s food for them.
It’s really up to you, your space, and the pickiness of your breakfast mates.
Vegetarian English Breakfast
- 2 Tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 lb baby potatoes halved or quartered to bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbsp Your favorite seasoning blend
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 16 oz cremini or button mushrooms halved, quartered if very large
- 8 oz halloumi cheese sliced
- 4 eggs
- 1 can vegetarian baked beans
- 1 avocado sliced
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- In a mixing bowl, add the cubed potatoes, salt, pepper, and seasonings and mix well. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove the sheet, add the tomatoes, and return to oven to continue roasting, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to the "keep warm" setting (~170°F)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and it is resorbed. Add them to the baking sheet.
- In the same skillet, heat the halloumi slices until browned on both sides. Add to the baking sheet.
- Heat your baked beans in the microwave. You could also put them in a small pot on the stove, but will have to start them earlier in the cooking process.
- In the same skillet, cook 1 egg per person. Fried eggs are traditional, but you do you. It's easiest to scramble them. If you do this, add some spinach for a pop of green. You should be able to fry 4 eggs at once. You could also poach them, but you may need a separate pan and honestly, more egg cooking skills!
- For ease, give everyone their egg and allow them to serve themselves, buffet-style from the baking sheet. Have your sliced avocado ready to go as well!
- Serve with tea and orange juice.
*Nutrition Facts are an estimate only. Differences are expected when making substitutions for any ingredient or when different brands are used.
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Special Dietary Needs
Because this recipe is essentially a grouping of components, it is actually pretty easy to tailor to individual diet needs. Here are just a few ideas.
Allergies – for an egg allergy, you can do scrambled tofu instead of the egg, or you could omit the egg altogether and have a slightly bigger portion of halloumi or beans.
For a dairy allergy, omit the halloumi. You could have more egg or beans, or sub the halloumi for tofu or tempeh strips.
Gluten-Free – this recipe is gluten-free as written. Just make sure that any seasonings you use don’t have gluten in them.
Vegan – replace the egg with a tofu scramble or Just Egg. Omit the halloumi altogether, or use vegan sausages.
Diabetes – this recipe, divided between 4 people, is approximately 4 carb counts. This is from the beans and the potatoes, neither of which will make as big of an impact as simpler carb sources would, but should still be accounted for.
If you are counting carbs, adjust according to the goals you have set with your dietitian. And have a carb-free beverage to go with it.
Low-sodium – choose a low-sodium baked beans recipe or can. If you do that and don’t eat the halloumi, you will probably get pretty close to your sodium goal for one meal.
Cultural Influences on Vegetarian English Breakfast – Introducing Variety
In reality, this is actually quite a simple dish; it just has quite a few components. What’s cool about this is that you have infinite possibilities for customization.
I think there’s a lot of room for bringing in flavors from around the world. The idea that I’m sitting on the most is an Indian-inspired English breakfast.
So instead of baked beans, I would use a prepared tikka chana or dal. Season the potatoes with cumin, turmeric, and garlic, or even a garam masala.
But you could do something like this for any region or style that you wanted! For a Greek twist, use lemon juice and a Greek seasoning blend on your potatoes. Mix in tzatziki with your scrambled eggs or put it on the side. Swap out the avocado for some olives.
Go Tex-Mex with refried black beans, sliced bell peppers instead of tomatoes, and some taco or fajita seasoning on the potatoes.
I think you can get creative and have a lot of fun with this! Let me know what flavor combo you tried in the comments!
Of course, this can vary, but typically the foundation of an English Breakfast is sausage, bacon, and eggs. This sausage could be a regular breakfast sausage, but can also be black pudding, or blood sausage.
Typical sides are grilled mushrooms and sliced tomatoes, potatoes of some type, toast, and baked beans.
I’ve made this vegetarian by swappin the meat for halloumi slices and saved time and pans by roasting the tomatoes potatoes in the oven.
This totally depends on the vegetarian! I’m actually not a big eater in the morning, so this is actually a brinner situation for me.
I have small meals, such as prepped breakfast tacos, yogurt with fruit, protein oatmeal or even a small portion of leftover dinner.
Other vegetarians may prefer bigger meals, and could have veggie omelets, a full breakfast such as this one, or simply larger portions of my small breakfast.
For a newbie vegetarian, the easiest optino would be vegetarian bacon (or sausage). There are quite a few companies that make products like this. You could also use thinly sliced halloumi or tempeh if you don’t want to go the faux meat route.
Eggs are already vegetarian, so you can just have those. If you prefer no eggs, you could use a product like Just Egg or make a tofu scramble instead.
Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, mom, wife, and vegetarian in North Texas. She has dedicated Dietitian Jenn to be a source of information, ideas, and inspiration for people like her, vegetarians that live with people with different dietary beliefs and/or needs in a multivore household.