If you’re wondering what you might find on your plate in the morning while traveling to South Africa, you’re in the right place. The beauty of South African breakfasts and cuisine is that you’ll find something familiar and different, all in one country.
Influenced by settlers of the past and native cultures within South Africa, their popular morning meal choices reflect the unique and vastly different backgrounds that make up the heart of their cuisine.
What’s Special About South African Breakfasts?
You’ll find that many breakfasts in South Africa use maize meal as a staple ingredient which is the bedrock for many types of traditional South African breakfast, from the Zulu culture to the Afrikaans.
While the traditional English breakfast does feature heavily, Amasi, Samp and Beans, and various porridges are also favorites in the daily meals and breakfast in South Africa. However, much like the rest of the world, South Africans find it hard to start their day without a hot cup of coffee or tea!
Here are some of the popular South African breakfast choices and how you can explore this interesting cultural tapestry of cuisines and tastes.
Most Popular South African Breakfast
Rusks With Tea/Coffee
As one of the most loved and common South African sweets, you can be sure to enjoy a wide range of flavors and recipes, from cherry filled to chocolate chips. It’s also made from simple ingredients like self-raising flour, milk (most often buttermilk), sugar, and eggs.
Brought to South Africa by the Dutch, who had to find unique ways of preserving food, this double-baked biscuit is delicious and filling and perfect for dipping in your morning coffee or tea.
If you’re looking for a simple but mouth-watering breakfast in South Africa, Rusks will not disappoint!
Savory South African Breakfasts
For many South Africans, they could eat meat for breakfast, lunch, and supper. And Boerewors Rolls are a popular choice of South African breakfasts that are enjoyed across the entire country.
Traditionally made up of ground beef and spices like coriander and black pepper, it can also be made with pork and even mutton. Brought by the Dutch many hundreds of years ago, this traditional sausage has become a staple breakfast in South Africa.
A direct translation of Boerewors is Farmers Sausage which is one of the most popular meals for the Afrikaans. During a braai (flame grill), there is almost always leftover meat, and Boerewors is often served the next day as a delicious morning or lunchtime meal.
Fried Fish And Chips
South Africa has strong coastal communities and local fishermen rely on subsistence fishing to feed their families every day. Fried Fish and Chips are a much-loved South African food, even in non-coastal towns and cities. The most common varieties of fish are hake and snoek.
They are prepared by coating the fish in a spiced batter and deep-fried until golden brown and perfectly crispy. Served with lemon wedges, chips on the side, and often with tartar or garlic sauce.
The health benefits of eating fish regularly are an added bonus to the delicacy; it is also very fulfilling. Therefore, it’s not surprising that this is a popular choice for breakfast in South Africa.
Vetkoek (Fat Cake)
While the literal translation of Vetkoek is not enticing, it’s no surprise they’re called Fat Cakes in English: It’s because they’re delicious and far from expensive. Vetkoek is one of the most popular traditional South African snacks and is enjoyed across the country by many cultures.
Made with a dough almost identical to doughnuts, they’re shaped and deep-fried until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, while still soft and scrumptious within.
Vetkoak, called Amagwinya in Zulu, can be enjoyed plain or filled with a variety of choices, like minced meat, cheese, and bacon, or essentially anything your imagination desires. Simple and indulgent, you can find this perfect choice of breakfast in South Africa almost anywhere.
This worldwide favorite and well-established morning meal is also a popular and loved breakfast in South Africa.
The English Breakfast has evolved and taken on a South African twist, often called the Farmhouse Breakfast, and is a restaurant and household staple enjoyed by many every morning. Some of the most common ingredients include pork sausage, bacon, toast, fried tomato, baked beans, tea/coffee, and of course eggs.
Many South Africans, much like others worldwide, often have fond memories of gathering around with family and enjoying the delectable tastes of an English Breakfast.
Samp And Beans (Isitambu Or Umngqusho)
Samp and Beans are enjoyed by South Africans of all cultures and are a hearty, cheap, and satisfying breakfast in South Africa. Called Samp and Beans by the Afrikaans and Isitambu by the Zulus, this meal knows no boundaries by the peoples of South Africa.
Samp is made from dried corn, also called maize meal, and is prepared like a porridge served with spiced and curried beans. The beans are prepared like stew, often featuring vegetables and meat and spiced according to cultural preferences.
South African breakfasts also often just serve porridge called Pap, mixed with milk and sugar. Simple and delicious is the essence of this popular morning meal choice.
Sweet South African Breakfasts
Miele Pap (Maize Porridge)
Miele Pap, translated to maize porridge, brings back fond memories for many and is a common choice of breakfast in South Africa.
Afrikaans and Zulu peoples enjoy various forms of porridge which are at the heart of South African breakfasts. There are 3 main forms of pap, called Stywe Pap (Stiff Porridge), Slap Pap (Smooth Porridge), and Krummel Pap (Crumbly Porridge).
For a traditional South African breakfast of Miele Pap, Slap Pap is the most preferred and loved, mixed with milk, sugar, and sometimes even butter. If you’re looking for a hearty and stomach-warming morning meal, Miele Pap is a delicious and comforting choice, especially during the cold months of winter.
Mealie Bread (Corn Bread)
Mealie Bread, or Maize Meal, is believed to have been introduced by the Portuguese when maize was brought to Africa from America during the slave trade many hundreds of years ago. Since then, Maize Meal has become the core of many traditional meals and South African breakfasts, from popular porridge to bread.
Mealie Bread is made from mealie meal (called corn meal or maize in other parts of the world) and common ingredients like flour, sugar, and butter. The dough is then baked until crispy and golden on the outside, and soft and fresh inside. It has an almost sweet taste and is best served with jams and butter spread on warm, freshly sliced pieces.
Sorghum Porridge (Ting Ya Mabele)
One of the most traditional South African breakfasts is Sorghum Porridge.
The Tswana people in Botswana and other parts of South Africa have been making Sorghum Porridge for at least 4000 years. The practice of fermentation is highly important in the survival of their culture and people. Thus, this breakfast in South Africa holds an integral link to the ancestors and traditional methods once used and still practiced today.
Made from sorghum flour and water, often with milk added, and cooked until the porridge is thick and creamy. You can add a variety of extras, like cinnamon, honey, or sugar, and it is often enjoyed with butter and sugar.
Drinks For Breakfast In South Africa
Amasi (Fermented Milk Drink)
Amasi is by far one of the most popular and loved South African breakfasts. The name means sour or fermented milk, and try not to let that put you off before trying this delectable morning meal.
Many years ago, food couldn’t be refrigerated and creative methods were created to keep food items for longer periods of time. Made out of necessity, Amasi is still a top-tier favorite breakfast in South Africa that has amazing health benefits too.
With a creamy consistency and tangy flavor, some compare the taste of Amasi to a combination of plain yogurt and cottage cheese. This traditional breakfast drink is healthy, delicious, and budget-friendly, so be sure to give it a try – you might find your new favorite morning drink.
The Cultural Melting Pot of Breakfast In South Africa
It’s easy to see that the culture and foods are diverse and this includes South African breakfasts. From the Afrikaans/Dutch Rusks to the ancient tradition of the Tswana Sorghum Porridge, the beauty of South Africa is on full display, even at breakfast time. If you’re thinking of trying different types of South Africa breakfast recipes, you can be sure there’s plenty to uncover.