12 Old-Fashioned Breakfast Dishes That Deserve a Comeback

Old-Fashioned Breakfast Dishes

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Old-Fashioned Breakfast Dishes
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

An Oldie but a Goodie

Old-fashioned breakfasts hold a unique charm. These meals, often simple yet hearty, evoke a sense of nostalgia and the simpler joys in life. Perhaps they remind you of when you used to hang out in your childhood kitchen, peering over the stove or oven to see what your mom was whipping up. Or maybe they're reminiscent of family gatherings and slow, cozy mornings. 

Despite their simplicity, many of these breakfast dishes are not only delicious but also offer a comforting and nutritious start to the day. Here are 12 classic breakfast dishes that we think deserve a comeback. 

fried eggs  with fried spam and hash browns,

1. Spam and Eggs

Whether you love or hate it, Spam continues to rock the boat in the culinary world. First introduced in 1937, the salty, canned meat gained popularity due to its affordability and long shelf life — especially during WWII when certain foods like meat and canned goods were rationed. It became a staple in American households when families were looking for ways to make breakfast dishes more nutritious and filling.

Its popularity persisted post-war, despite some negative perceptions, and Spam remains a favorite of many — especially in places like Hawaii and South Korea (if you haven't tried Spam fried rice yet, you are missing out). 

Recipe: All Recipes

Soft boiled egg being served with slices of bread

2. Dippy or Soft-Boiled Eggs

Eggs have been a part of our diet for millennia. But while breakfast as a concept didn't become common in Western culture until the 17th century, soft-boiled or dippy eggs were first popularized in England as a nutritious morning meal. 

The appeal of dippy eggs lies in the runny yolk, which is perfect for dipping toast. Fun fact: The toast was known as "soldier toast" back in the day. The name is thought to come from the resemblance of the toast strips to soldiers standing in a row. When a soft-boiled egg is served in an egg cup, the thin slices of toast were the ideal size for dipping into the runny yolk. 

Recipe: BBC Good Food

Close up photo of white mochaccino cream toast with white plate and wooden table.
Tomy Ardiansyah/istockphoto

3. Milk Toast

Milk toast became popular in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in colder regions like New England. It was known as a filling breakfast that was also easy to digest (though my lactose intolerant folks would beg to differ). This made milk toast an easy choice for children, seniors, and those who were feeling under the weather. 

Typically made by soaking buttered toast in milk and then warming it up in a pan, it's super easy to make and calls for cheap ingredients. Milk toast is often sweetened with sugar and other spices or fruit like cinnamon, raisins, and nutmeg.

Recipe: All Recipes

Freshly cooked popcorn in a bowl on a wooden table. Traditional American maize snack.
Maryna Iaroshenko/istockphoto

4. Popcorn Cereal

If you ever wondered what our Founding Fathers ate for breakfast, look no further than popcorn cereal. Back in the 18th century, early American settlers combined popcorn (yes, literally the kind we eat while watching a movie) with milk (or cream), and a sprinkle of sugar, and ate that as a breakfast cereal

Popcorn cereal was considered a nutritious and filling breakfast option, because it was made from whole-grain and offered a nice burst of energy. Over time, its popularity as a breakfast item diminished with the introduction of modern cereals. 

Recipe: Tinker Lab

Related: Old-Fashioned Desserts We Secretly Still Love

Fresh homemade dutch baby pancake with powdered sugar, fresh berries and mint for breakfast with a glass of milk and apple juice on a light background. Delicious  breakfast in a sunny interior.

5. Dutch Baby Pancakes

Dutch baby pancakes — also known as German pancakes or Bismarcks — are another unique breakfast dish with an interesting backstory. Despite its name, these pancakes are actually derived from German cuisine. Compared to regular pancakes, Dutch baby pancakes are known for being thicker and puffier. This comes from baking the batter in a hot, buttered skillet to achieve a pancake that is custardy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

The dish was made popular in America at a family-run joint in Seattle, known as Manca's Cafe. The name "Dutch baby" originated from a mispronunciation of "Deutsch," the German word for "German;" legend says that the cafe owner's daughter would mispronounce the word "Deutsch" as "Dutch." 

Recipe: The Kitchn

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Stack of Rustic Sourdough Blueberry Pancakes

6. Sourdough Pancakes

Sourdough pancakes are another breakfast staple that date back to the early days of American frontier life — particularly during the Gold Rush era. During this time, sourdough pancakes gained popularity in California as a quick and easy breakfast for miners who needed something hearty and filling to help them stay energized.

Sourdough starters were popular in the 19th century due to the lack of commercially available yeast. Over time, the popularity of sourdough pancakes has waned in favor of quicker, easier-to-make breakfast options.

Recipe: The Clever Carrot

Related: 45 Best Homemade Pancake Recipes

Homemade Reuben Sandwich

7. Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast (S.O.S.)

Creamed chipped beef on toast, also known as "S.O.S." (short for "Sh*t on a Shingle"), is another traditional American dish that was commonly enjoyed in the military. Known as a simple yet hearty meal, S.O.S typically consisted of sliced dried beef in a white gravy sauce, served over toast. It was a common breakfast staple seen in mess halls because it was cheap, easy to make, and could feed a large number of troops. 

Over time, various adaptations were made to the classic recipe — including the addition of vegetables like peas and carrots, or Worcestershire sauce for more flavor. 

Recipe: For the Love of Cooking

southern grits with biscuits
Lynne Mitchell/istockphoto

8. Hominy Grits

Originating in the South, hominy grits gained popularity due to their affordability and versatility. Hominy is a type of corn that has been treated in a process called nixtamalization. The result is a grain with a soft, chewy texture and a sweeter, more earthy taste. Hominy grits are made by grinding this treated corn into a coarse meal, which is then cooked to create a creamy, porridge-like dish.

Hominy grits are made by boiling ground hominy until it reaches a thick, porridge-like consistency. Grits are often seasoned with butter, cheese, salt, and pepper, and can be served as both a savory or sweet dish, depending on the accompaniments.

Recipe: Hell Yes It's Vegan

Chicken with Mushrooms

9. Fried Salt Pork With Gravy

Salt pork was popular in early American cooking, especially in rural areas. The slices of pork were salt-cured and aged and were a staple in many kitchens — especially before modern refrigeration was invented. The dish, which was commonly enjoyed for breakfast because of its hearty properties, is made by frying slices of salt pork until crispy, then using the rendered fat to create a rich and velvety sauce. 

The gravy-like sauce would then typically be served over the pork and accompanied by sides like bread, vegetables, or mashed potatoes. Salted pork was also commonly used as a way to add more flavor to dishes like stews and chowders

Recipe: A Summer of Little House Living

Philadelphia, PA  US  Oct 14, 2023  Plate of Scrapple an ethnic food of the Pennsylvania Dutch. A mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour.
Brian Logan/istockphoto

10. Scrapple

Originating from German settlers in Pennsylvania during the 17th and 18th centuries, Scrapple was developed as a way to use up the leftover parts of a pig that were not suitable for other dishes. This included scraps of meat and offal (liver, heart, and other trimmings), which were boiled to create a broth. Cornmeal and spices were then typically added and the mixture would be cooked until thickened. Lastly, it was poured into a loaf pan and left to solidify. 

The result is a meatloaf-like dish that was commonly enjoyed for breakfast. Scrapple's popularity peaked in the mid-20th century but has since declined due to changing taste profiles and an increased interest in healthier breakfast options.

Recipe: Forager Chef

Oatmeal porridge bowl with berry fruits in female hands

11. Cream of Wheat

Cream of Wheat was known as a popular breakfast porridge made from ground wheat kernels. Its origins in the U.S. can be traced to the late 19th century when it was first introduced in 1893 by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Developed during a time of rapid industrialization and growth in the packaged food industry, the oatmeal-like dish became known as a convenient, nutritious, and easy breakfast.

It's made by boiling the ground wheat in water or milk, and is typically sweetened with sugar, honey, or syrup; it can also be enriched with fresh fruits, or nuts. While Cream of Wheat has declined in popularity, it's still a breakfast staple in some American homes.

Recipe: The Spruce Eats

Homemade corn meal Johnny cakes  on a white plate, side view. Close-up.
Liudmyla Chuhunova/istockphoto

12. Johnnycakes

Johnnycakes — also known as journey cakes or hoecakes — are another traditional dish with a history that spans several centuries. These simple cornmeal flatbreads or pancakes are thought to have originated in Rhode Island, but they're also tied to Native American cuisine and were known as a breakfast staple in Colonial and early American diets.

Traditional Johnnycakes are made using just a few basic ingredients: cornmeal, water, and salt. The batter is then fried on a buttered griddle and results in a crispy exterior with a soft, dense interior. Over time, variations have emerged, with some recipes including milk or eggs for a richer texture, or sweeteners like molasses or sugar.

Recipe: The Daring Gourmet