Syrniki - an option for a tasty Russian breakfast

What Russians Eat For Breakfast

We already described a festive Russian meal. Now it is time to talk about a typical daily eating habits. That does vary by region, so I will be writing about urban working population of Moscow. Check out whether your eating habits are similar to the eating habits of Russians!

Russian Breakfast

Although Russians also believe that eating a full breakfast is a good habit, many people skip breakfast. In winter night is long, so most people wake up to go to work when it is still dark and there is always a temptation to snooze. As a result, some people opt for additional minutes of sleep and just have a cup of coffee or tea as they hurry to get to work on time.

Russia is traditionally a tea drinking country. During Soviet Union time most people were choosing black tea as their preferred hot beverage for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tea was usually consumed with two tea spoons of sugar and lemon. Some people preferred to add milk to their tea instead of lemon. However, even at that time, there were some coffee lovers, who could not imagine a morning without a cup of coffee. At that time it was usually a Turkish style coffee. Later, multinational FMCG companies brought instant coffee to the market and spent large marketing budgets to introduce it. Now most people drink coffee for breakfast and even though consumption of instant coffee is still high, more and more people have coffee machines, french presses and other equipment to prepare the perfect cup of morning coffee. Most people drink coffee with milk and sugar.

Sandwich with kolbasa - Soviet version

Sandwich with kolbasa – Soviet version

And most people do eat breakfast. Typical fast breakfast is a pair of sandwiches with cheese or sausage (kolbasa). Russian sandwiches differ from US sandwiches a lot – it is usually a slice of bread, often some butter and a slice or two of cheese or sausage as seen in my post about Russian iconic “doctor” sausage. 

Fried eggs with kolbasa

Fried eggs with kolbasa and dill on top

If you have a bit more time you can cook eggs, porridge, pancakes or cheese dumplings, called “syrniki”. We almost never eat scrambled eggs – typically that would be sunny side-up eggs or easy over eggs. Sometimes that could be an omelette. Ingredients to add are: kolbasa (the sausage), tomatoes and bell pepper.

Porridge does not necessarily mean oatmeal. It could be oatmeal, but it could also be cream o’wheat (semolina) or rice or buckwheat, usually cooked with milk. Cream o’wheat is the most controversial – kids usually hate it, because there could be clumps inside. My sister prepared the best cream o’wheat for me when I was little – she made it really thick, as a pudding and made it jelly in a form of a pudding. Then she poured home-made raspberry jam over. That was tasty (and the only way one could feed semolina to me). Most kids do not like porridge and prefer pancakes.

Russian Maslenitsa tea time

Russian blinis (pancakes)

Preparing pancakes for breakfast does take more time, so for most people that treat is reserved for weekends. On any occasion pancakes are typically eaten with jam or sweet condensed milk or honey or sour cream. A good life hack is to prepare pancakes with fillings (typically meat or cottage cheese, sometimes cabbage) in advance and just re-heat them in the morning. Pancakes with minced meat with sour cream on top make a perfect breakfast for any Russian! (we do eat a lot of sour cream!)

Syrniki - an option for a tasty Russian breakfast

Syrniki – a tasty Russian breakfast

Another popular and relatively fast to make breakfast treat is “syrniki” (cottage cheese dumplings). Easy to make (cottage cheese, an egg, some flour and salt/sugar to taste) – they make a perfect and tasty breakfast, more nutritious and high on protein than pancakes. Needless to say – we eat them with either jam or sour cream or both.

You can find a great recipe of syrniki here.

Cereals and muesli are not as popular, although in the last 10-20 years advertising budgets of multinational companies have made them a breakfast option as well. Juices also have not been part of breakfast routine before (mainly because there were no juices in stores), but now are becoming more popular. Pastries have always been a popular and fast, although not the most healthy breakfast option.

Of course, this kind of breakfast is more typical for somebody, who works in the office, rather than has a day of physical activity ahead. And now, quite often, people go out to have a breakfast and have early breakfast meetings before work. People, who have to work in the field or in a mine eat much more substantial breakfast, which could include meat and potatoes. But for a typical urban office worker, breakfast is a small meal.

Stay tuned to learn what a person, who lives in Moscow eats for lunch on a typical day!


Leave a Reply

  • kathy - 7 years ago

    thats wierd…I usually ate my cream of wheat the same way. If there was no raspberry jam…well then I wouldn’t eat it. And there was rarely no raspberry jam. Home made raspberry jam. Ive never heard of cottage cheese dumplings but they sound very good. I”m going to have to make a batch.

    • Tanya Golubeva - 7 years ago

      It took some time for me to figure out the right proportion on cottage cheese and flour. My first several batches were horrible. But with more practice they got better. (so do not get upset if you do not like the first batch). It is a very tasty dish when cooked correctly. And I think that it is quite healthy, since you do not need a lot of flour, it is mostly a cottage cheese (great source of protein) and an egg.
      I recently read recipes of cottage cheese dumplings from the famous Moscow chefs. You know what their secret is? They first fry these dumplings over in a sauce pan and then put them inside the stove for some time. I did not try that yet, but thought that is a great tip! (sometimes if your cheese dumplings are thick, the outer parts already have crust, but the middle is still uncooked. I think that by putting them inside the stove you can avoid burned crust and have them cooked evenly.

  • Tanya - 6 years ago

    The link for syrniki is broken. Would you mind reposting it? I discovered your blog today. I love it!

  • sam - 4 years ago

    Tanya you look gorgeous

  • Anonim - 4 years ago

    Я из россии и мы не едим это каждый день. Например у меня каша на завтрак

  • Лещ - 2 years ago

    This is just a stereotype, but at breakfast most of us can eat any food we have at home

    • Tanya Golubeva - 2 years ago

      It really depends on the family. Some people indeed eat soup or meat for breakfast, but having kasha or syrniki or buterbrods or eggs seems to be much more common

  • Anonymous - 2 years ago

    Sposibo for this article,after that I made my way to the shop to look for the Russian items :)