Traditional: Traditional breakfasts in the United States and Canada derive from the full English breakfast and other European breakfast traditions and feature predominantly sweet or mild-flavored foods, mostly hot. Typical items include hot oatmeal porridge, grits (in the South), other hot grain, porridges, eggs, bacon, ham, breakfast sausage or small link sausages, pan-fried potatoes (hash browns), biscuits, toast, pancakes, waffles, bagels, French toast, cornbread, English muffins, pastries (such as croissants, doughnuts, and muffins), and fresh or stewed fruits of various types (stone, citrus, etc.). Steak may be served with eggs on the traditional menu. Cold cereal has become nearly ubiquitous in recent decades, and yogurt is widely popular. Coffee, tea, milk and fruit juices are standard breakfast beverages. Grits are usually part of a Southern breakfast in the United States
Many regions of the U.S.A. have local breakfast specialties
that are less popular nationally.
- In the South, homemade biscuits served with country-style gravy (also called sawmill gravy), country ham and red eye gravy and grits are one traditional breakfast menu; Note: It's also popular for the deep south to eat breakfast foods that are not traditional to the rest of the United States- Fried foods such as: fried squirrel, fried frog legs, fried catfish, fried chicken liver & gizzards, fried cornbread and fried green tomatoes (see Southern Breakfast)
- the Southwest has huevos rancheros and spicy breakfast burritos; scrapple is a favorite in the Mid-Atlantic states;
- Salmon bagels are popular in the Northwest and pork roll is rarely available outside New Jersey and Philadelphia;
- and New Englanders still occasionally indulge in fried salt-pork, and pie.
- Fried eggs with bacon or sausage and American cheese on a seeded kaiser roll is a popular breakfast sandwich in parts of New York.
- Many Soul food breakfast menus across the country include fried chicken wings, catfish, pork chops and salmon croquettes. (see Chicken and waffles)
Specialty items also vary in popularity regionally, such as linguiça sausage and Spam in Hawaii, crab cakes in southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions, andouille sausage, chicory coffee, Chisesi ham and beignets in Louisiana, chorizo in the Southwest, lox and smoked salmon in the Northwest, goetta in Greater Cincinnati, et cetera.
- Some regions of Canada especially Quebec, New Brunswick and Parts of Eastern Ontario will commonly include maple syrup with crêpes, French toast, pancakes, or waffles.
Hotels now often serve breakfast buffets for a fixed price, or offer sweet rolls, cereal, and coffee as a free "continental" breakfast. Traditionally, hotel breakfasts were made to order at a restaurant or by rooms service.
Today, most Americans and Canadians eat a reduced breakfast most days, but may still enjoy a traditional hearty breakfast on weekends, holidays, and vacations. Having only coffee or skipping breakfast entirely is also common. Eating out for breakfast or brunch is common on weekends and holidays.
Eggs are strongly associated with breakfast, to the extent that many Americans and Canadians consider egg dishes out of place later in the day.
Waffles with fruit and sausage patties are a contemporary hearty breakfast, and would likely be enjoyed on a weekend or special occasion.
A typical contemporary combination of food for a hearty breakfast consists of eggs (fried or scrambled), one type of meat, and one or two starchy dishes; commonly hash browns and toast.
A more basic breakfast combination would be a starchy food (such as toast, pastry, breakfast cereal, (see National Oatmeal Month for gruel information) oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles) either alone or served with fruit and yogurt. This second option, similar to the Continental Breakfast breakfasts served in Europe, is especially common in institutional situations where serving hot food is difficult, expensive, or impractical.
Restaurants that serve breakfast typically base their menus around egg dishes and meats such as sausage and bacon. Pancakes and waffles are also popular. (see Types of Pancakes)
An assemblage commonly known as a country breakfast in restaurants consists of eggs or omelette, sausage or bacon, hash browns, sausage gravy, coffee, biscuits or toast with jam or jelly, and fruit juice.
A typical breakfast for those that eat ordinary breakfast as a home meal is instant oatmeal or a cold breakfast cereal with milk. Leftovers from the previous day's meals may also be eaten, such as cold pizza.
A worker's breakfast often consists only of coffee and prepared food purchased on the way to work or brought from home, eaten during the morning commute or at the workplace just before clocking in. Food items that fit this eat-on-the-go strategy include various sweet breakfast breads and pastries, bagels (often with cream cheese), sweetened flavored yogurt cups, smoothies and milkshakes, fresh fruit, granola or "energy" bars, toaster pastries, and fast food. Many fast food restaurants sell breakfast versions of their typical offerings that include eggs and are usually sweeter and less spicy. Examples of such breakfasts-to-go are: egg-filled sandwiches on croissants, biscuits or muffins, and breakfast burritos filled with eggs, cheese and sometimes sausage.
Healthier breakfasts are gaining in popularity in some parts of the country such as California, featuring yogurt, whole-grain cereal, fresh fruit or egg-white omelets.
Coffee is the most common breakfast beverage.
In the United States, 65% of coffee drunk during the day is with breakfast. Also common are tea, (see TeaTime-How do you take your tea?) milk, hot chocolate, orange juice, and other fruit juices (grapefruit, tomato, etc). Occasionally, caffeinated carbonated beverages may be substituted for the more traditional coffee or tea. Espresso drinks such as cappuccino and latte have become increasingly popular since the 1990s. In Washington State and British Columbia, the cappuccino and latte are the default way of buying coffee for breakfast.
The modern options typical of the U.S.A. and Canada are representative of Western-style breakfasts that have become common worldwide, especially in industrialized nations.
Breakfast is thought as the foods typically eaten during morning hours, that are distinct from other foods even if eaten outside of the morning. In this sense, some serve breakfast for dinner. There are several fast food and casual dining chains in North America that specialize in hearty breakfast-style foods, such as pancakes and country breakfasts, that offer these all day long. Like greasy spoons in the UK, American coffeeshops and diners typically serve breakfast foods all day.