As you explore the rich culinary traditions of Italy, you may notice that breakfast, or “colazione” as it’s called in Italian, appears to be a lighter affair in comparison to the elaborate lunch and dinner meals. Indeed, the Italian breakfast emphasizes simplicity, ease, and a delicate balance of flavors to gently kickstart the day. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the most delightful Italian breakfast foods to help you understand and savor the essence of the Italian morning palate.
While a typical American or English breakfast might heavily feature proteins and grease, the Italians prefer to keep things much lighter and sweeter. You will commonly find pastries, coffee, and biscotti on an Italian breakfast table. These treats are designed not to overwhelm your senses but instead, help you ease into your day with a more refined touch.
Take, for example, the classic Italian pastry – the cornetto. Similar to a French croissant, it’s a flaky, buttery crescent roll generously filled with various sweet and satisfying contents like custard, jam, Nutella, or even a simple dusting of sugar. Paired with a strong shot of espresso, this duo makes for the perfect Italian breakfast, allowing you to indulge in a small piece of Italian luxury in the comfort of your own home.
Keep reading to find out more.
Italian cuisine is often thought of as luxurious and indulgent. However, while Italians have a talent for combining wonderful flavors and textures, they traditionally like to keep things simple when it comes to their food.
If you’re in the mood for an Italian breakfast, why not try this Italian breakfast frittata?
Not only can you put any ingredients you like in a frittata, but you can also eat it for any meal, and it’s a good dish to serve hot or cold.
Packed with onions, garlic, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and cheese, this couldn’t be an easier recipe.
Simply whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and mozzarella cheese.
Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the arugula and garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Stir in the roasted red peppers and tomatoes.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook until edges start to pull away from the pan. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the eggs are set. Serve!
If you have a sweet tooth, then these delicious ricotta pancakes are the perfect recipe for you.
The fluffy and moist texture is to die for, and it couldn’t be easier to recreate these delicious pancakes at home!
Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Combine ricotta, milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a separate, larger mixing bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta and milk mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until they start to form stiff peaks. Add the egg whites to the pancake batter a spoonful at a time, before carefully folding them into the batter.
Heat a griddle pan over a medium heat and spoon the batter onto the pan. Cook the pancakes until a few bubbles appear and flip.
Serve with maple syrup, berries, and powdered sugar!
Italian baked eggs and sausage is the perfect, hearty meal that will set you up for the day!
This recipe is incredibly versatile, so you can use make it with whatever you already have in the fridge! Featuring a rich tomato sauce, smokey sausage, and runny egg, this recipe is perfect for a quick breakfast or brunch and is low effort to make.
You simply saute onion, garlic, and sausage in a cast-iron skillet before removing the pan from the heat and stirring through the oregano and marinara.
Create wells in the mixture for the eggs, making sure to leave lots of room between them.
Breaks the eggs over these holes and sprinkle each with a little salt.
Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the egg whites are set, but the yolks are still soft.
Serve with burrata, fresh basil, and a drizzle of olive oil!
Although crepes originated in France, Italy also shares a love for this delicious breakfast dish with their version known as crespelle.
Crespelle are paper-thin pancakes and are crisper than their French counterpart. However, you can use sweet and/or savory fillings or toppings to flavor them, making them great for breakfast.
Simply start by separating the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar and salt. Following this, incorporate the flour and slowly add the milk.
Whip the egg whites to form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter carefully. Allow the batter to sit in a cool place for 1 hour.
Heat your crepe pan over a medium heat. Melt butter over the pan before spooning the mixture in, being careful to tilt the pan to spread the mixture evenly.
Cook and flip the pancake over.
Serve with toppings of your choice!
Croissants are a French pastry, however, the Italians have croissants known as cornetti. Unlike the French croissants, the Italian cornetti have more sugar in the dough.
Among the ingredients to make the cornetti dough, you also find eggs, vanilla seeds, and orange peel, that you traditionally wouldn’t find in the French croissant. This makes the Italian cornetti sweeter, slightly denser but more aromatic.
However, you’ll need a few days free to make these breakfast treats, so preparation is key. This comes down to the fact that making croissants requires refrigeration and lamination, a process that involves adding butter to the dough to create the beautiful layers you see in pastry. Lamination is what makes croissants so deliciously flaky and buttery in their taste!
While many find the process cathartic, you might want to try to find cornetti at your local grocery store or Italian bakery to save time.
Who doesn’t enjoy dessert for breakfast? Another delicious Italian food you can eat for breakfast is cannoli. Cannoli is a tube-shaped pastry that is usually filled with ricotta cheese and mascarpone mixture.
Simply mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients.
Mix the egg yolk and marsala and add this to the bowl, then mix the whole lot together and knead to a smooth dough. Wrap the dough and allow it to rest in the refrigerator.
Cut the dough into pieces and, roll them out as thinly as you can. Wrap the dough around a cannoli mold, using some of the egg white to stick the top edge down
Heat the oil in a fryer or deep saucepan. Pop them into the fryer!
Beat the ricotta and mascarpone together, then stir in the candied peel and sugar. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it into the cannoli.
You don’t need to have been to Italy to know how passionate Italians are about coffee.
For Italians, drinking coffee is the only right way to start the day. However, there are many different ways to drink your coffee, with distinctions that match your preferences.
However you like to drink your coffee, there’s an Italian coffee out there that is perfect for you to start your morning in the best way.
Below are a few types of coffee and their differences:
- Un Caffe’ – A basic, single espresso shot.
- Decaffeinato – Also espresso, but decaf. Perfect if you get the caffeine shakes!
- Caffe’ al Vetro – An espresso served not in a ceramic mug but in a fancy glass cup.
- Caffelatte – An espresso topped with milk and served in a large, tall glass.
- Caffe’ Lungo – Watered-down espresso.
- Macchiato – An espresso shot topped with foamy milk.
- Latte Macchiato – The opposite of a macchiato, it is a milk-based drink with a shot of coffee, served in a tall glass.
Biscotti is a delicious, yet simple Italian biscuit that makes the perfect addition on the side of your Italian coffee for breakfast.
Mix the flour, baking powder, spice, and sugar in a large bowl.
Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands
Add the fruit and nuts, then work them in until evenly distributed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 pieces.
With lightly floured hands, roll each piece into a sausage about 30cm long.
Bake for 25-30 mins until the dough has risen and spread and feels firm to the touch.
When the dough is cool enough to handle, use a bread knife to cut into slices about 1cm thick on the diagonal, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets.
The biscuits can be cooled and frozen flat on the sheet at this point, then bagged and frozen for up to 2 months.
You might think this one is simple, but that’s exactly what Italian food is all about! There’s nothing quite like bread, butter, and jam for breakfast when you don’t have a lot of time to think about or prepare your breakfast.
Bread, butter, and jam is another traditional breakfast that is usually served with, as you may have guessed, coffee.
Take a slice of freshly baked bread, spread a thin layer of butter on top, and top it with your favorite jam. Simple, yet full of flavor.
You can choose to either bake your own bread or pop to your local bakery for a delicious loaf!
Cappuccino is another Italian coffee that is great for breakfast. The beverage is made with a double shot of espresso and creamy milk and topped with extra foamy milk.
Due to the fact it is fatty and heavy, Italians consider it a stand-alone breakfast and don’t drink it with other dishes.
Simply start by making the espresso.
Steam the milk in a heat-resistant milk jug. Hold the steaming wand just below the surface of the milk until it doubles in size and is very foamy.
Swirl the milk in the jug a few times. Pour the foamy milk into the center of the espresso.
Top the cappuccino with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and you’re good to go.
Italian Breakfast Foods (+Sliced Italian Bread with Jam and Butter)
- 4 thick slices of Italian bread
- Salted butter softened to room temperature
- A variety of jam and jelly flavors
- Buy your Italian bread or make homemade Italian bread.
- Bring the butter to room temperature so that it's soft.
- Slice the bread into thick slices.
- Spread the bread with butter and jam.