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Breakfast is the first meal of the day eaten after waking up, usually in the morning. The word in English refers to breaking the fasting period of the previous night. There is a strong likelihood for one or more "typical", or "traditional", breakfast menus to exist in most places, but their composition varies widely from place to place, and has varied over time, so that globally a very wide range of preparations and ingredients are now associated with breakfast.

While breakfast is commonly referred to as "the most important meal of the day", some epidemiological research indicates that having breakfast high in rapidly available carbohydrates increases the risk of metabolic syndrome. Present professional opinion is largely in favor of eating breakfast, but some contest the positive implications of its "most important" status. The influence of breakfast on managing body weight is unclear.

There are two main types of breakfasts: traditional and quick. Traditional breakfasts, often eaten on weekends, consists of any combination of eggs, preserved meats, and breads such as pancakes, waffles, toast, or biscuits. Variants of the full breakfast and continental breakfast (see above) are also common. In the Southeastern United States, biscuits and gravy are popularly eaten at a traditional breakfast. In some regions, such as the Northeast, bagels are a common breakfast item, and are often served sliced in half, toasted, and spread with butter or cream cheese or other toppings. Another popular breakfast item in the United States are doughnuts, which are often consumed exclusive of other breakfast foods, and commonly eaten with coffee.

Breakfast sandwiches are also a common choice. Typical sandwiches are composed of egg, cheese, and cooked preserved meat such as bacon or sausage, between bread slices or on a roll, although regional varieties are common. In New Jersey, bacon is often swapped out of the breakfast sandwich and replaced with a processed meat called pork roll. Other areas alter the breakfast sandwich medium with regional favorites, such as biscuits. A variation is the breakfast burrito, which originates from Southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisines.

In the early 20th century breakfast was served at the table, each place set with a breakfast doily, between nine to 12 inches square, with doilies serving as coasters for coffee and water glasses. Coffee was served on silver trays with pot, hot water pitcher, cream, milk and sugar. Different napkins were used for breakfast than for dinner. Breakfast napkins were smaller and usually made of linen, fringed or hemmed by hand. For more elegant napkins, borders of heavy lace or white embroidery decorations were added. Breakfast (served with coffee) could be as much as six dishes of salt fish or meat, omelette or other types of eggs, warm bread, pancakes or waffles, coffee cake, fruit or cereal.

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