There are thousands of delicious Thai dishes, but not many of them are considered breakfast-only dishes. Instead, lots of Thai foods can be eaten at many points during the day. That’s why it can be challenging to work out the difference between Thai breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. That said, there are some foods that are more commonly enjoyed in the morning and considered traditional Thai breakfast food. These foods are typically less spicy and easier to eat, perfect to get you started for the day and give you the energy you need to move forward.
1. Jok (Rice Porridge)
Jok is very similar to the Chinese style of congee. It’s made by boiling rice until it dissolves and forms a porridge. The consistency is thick and mushy, almost the same as instant oatmeal. It’s served piping hot, commonly with a partially cooked egg cracked over the top as an extra hit of protein. You’ll have the option to add your choice of meat (minced pork, beef, chicken, etc.), slices of ginger, green onions, garlic, and fish sauce.
Due to its hot temperature and thick texture, jok isn’t only a classic dish that everyone enjoys in the morning, but also a popular comfort food to eat while sick. You can find jok in street vendors and markets every morning.
2. Khao Tom (Rice Soup)
Khao tom is possibly the most common Thai breakfast. You can find it in almost every stall, restaurant, and hotel. It’s basically a thick rice soup and is very similar to jok. However, instead of the rice being dissolved into a porridge, the rice is cooked on its own first then cooked into a soup with broth and other ingredients. There are many variations of the dish, but it most commonly contains meat (chicken or pork) or seafood (shrimp, squid, or fish) along with lemongrass, Chinese celery, thinly sliced ginger, and other herbs. You can also find plain versions of khao tom, usually served alongside stir-fried Thai dishes.
Since there’s no chillies or fiery spices in khao tom, the dish is relatively mild with no intense flavours that most Thai foods are known for. It’s thin, salty, and easy on the stomach. Although khao tom is more commonly eaten as breakfast, it can be just as good for supper or comfort food.
3. Khanom Krok (Small Coconut Pancakes)
Although you can enjoy khanom krok any time of day as a snack or for dessert, these small coconut pancakes may also be eaten as a light breakfast. It’s easy to pick up and eat, making it a great breakfast choice if you’re in a hurry. The sweet smell of khanom krok being prepared wafts through almost every market in Thailand as street vendors whip up large batches in the morning.
Khanom krok is a small gelatinous treat made from rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar cooked on a purpose-shaped cooking plate. They can be both savoury and sweet, depending on the fillings included. Spring onions, chives, sweet potatoes, and sweetcorn are some of the most common fillings.
4. Pa Thong Ko (Chinese Doughnuts)
Pa thong ko or patongo is the Thai version of deep-fried doughnut. It’s basically the same as Chinese doughnuts or yao tiew. Made from wheat flour with yeast, pa thong ko come in various shapes. The light and fluffy dough are twisted, shaped into small balls, or made into x shapes before being fried in hot oil. There are many different ways to enjoy pa thong ko. Sugar, pandan custard, and condensed milk are some of the most popular toppings. However, you can also eat it as is with a cup of coffee or dip it in some soy milk. Another way to enjoy the crispy doughnut is by dipping it into a bowl of jok.
Although pa thong ko might not be the heartiest breakfast option, they’re delicious and easy to find for breakfast. Whenever you see a street vendor with white flour scattered across a big surface next to a wok full of hot oil, you know there’s pa thong ko available.
5. Khao Kai Jeow (Thai-Style Rice and Omelette)
Khao kai jeow, or Thai-style rice and omelette, is another simple and cheap Thai breakfast that is available in many street stalls and most restaurants around the country. Thai omelette is pretty different from what you typically expect from an omelette. Instead of being folded and shallow fried like their Western counterparts, Thai omelettes are deep-fried in a wok until the edges are crispy and the insides are fluffy and airy. You can choose to have it plain, but numerous different ingredients can be added to the omelette. Minced pork is the most common, but you can also get omelettes with the meat of your choice and a selection of vegetables.
Once cooked, the omelette is put over the top of a bed of rice and served with a sweet chilli sauce on the side. If you can’t face rice for breakfast, you can always skip it and just have the omelette on its own. Besides breakfast, Khao kai jeow is an excellent meal for dinner as well.
6. Moo Ping (Grilled Pork)
If you’re looking for a convenient, filling, and delicious Thai breakfast on the go, grilled meats can be a great option. You can often find them at street food stands, and the meat is usually skewered on a stick, making them incredibly easy to eat.
There are various different types of grilled meats, but moo ping (pork) and gai ping (chicken) are especially popular. Some meats are seasoned, while others are plain. You can also add different types of sauces to your own taste. The meat is sometimes accompanied by a bag of khao niao (sticky rice) for a more filling breakfast. The sticky rice adds some carbohydrates and can be eaten easily with your fingers.
You can easily find grilled meats from street vendors all over Thailand. They’re available almost 24 hours a day, so if grilled meat isn’t something you want to eat for breakfast, you can eat them at any time of day.
7. Nam Tao Hoo (Soy Milk)
If you don’t feel like consuming anything solid for breakfast, you should definitely try nam tao hoo. Nam tao hoo is fresh soy milk that is often served at the same street vendors as pa thong ko. While you can drink the hot soy milk as is, nam tao hoo is often served more like a soup rather than a beverage. The vendors usually add some sugar, jelly ingredients, fruits, and even seeds into the soy milk.
Although nam tao hoo isn’t very filling, it does make a tasty, soothing, and nutritious Thai breakfast. It’s also common to enjoy nam tao hoo at night after a meal.
8. Khao Rad Kaeng (Curry on Rice)
If you’re looking for a hearty Thai breakfast to fill you up for the day ahead, khao rad kaeng might be just what you’re after. Khao rad kaeng literally means curry on top of rice. You can easily buy this dish from street vendors throughout Thailand starting from around 5 am. Usually, you get a plate of rice, then you pick out two or three pre-cooked curries to top it. The dish is often served with a fried egg on the side as well.
While the rad in khao rad kaeng sometimes gets transliterated as ‘rat,’ you don’t have to worry about the meat. The curry usually consists of pork, chicken, or fish. It might be weird to have spicy curry first thing in the morning, so if you can’t stomach it, you can always eat khao red kaeng for lunch or dinner.
9. Khao Tom Mud (Banana in Sticky Rice)
Although the name is very similar, khao tom mud is very different from the khao tom (rice soup) mentioned above. Khao tom mud is made of sticky rice stuffed with banana and wrapped in banana leaf. In some cases, it may also be filled with black beans. Since the rice is cooked with coconut milk and sugar, this hearty snack is aromatic, sweet, and delicious.
You can have khao tom mud for a quick breakfast or munch on it as dessert after a heavy meal.
10. Tom Luad Moo (Pork Blood Soup)
Tom luad moo is a popular Thai breakfast among locals, but maybe not so much among expats and tourists. It’s a type of soup that is usually served with rice. The soup is fairly bland, but you can add fish sauce, soy sauce, chilli flakes, vinegar, or any other condiments to enhance the flavour.
The blandness of the soup isn’t the reason tom luad moo isn’t popular among foreigners. Most foreigners shy away from this Thai breakfast because it consists of congealed pig’s blood. It may include a combination of different pork parts as well, such as intestines, lungs, and liver. These combinations might not be appealing for most people, especially for breakfast. But if you’re brave enough, it’s definitely worth a try!
11. Dim Sum
Dim sum obviously isn’t traditional Thai creations; this quick and easy finger food is adapted into the Thai culinary scene from the Chinese. However, it’s a popular breakfast food in many parts of Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and Southern Thailand.
Various forms of dim sum are available across the country, both fried and steamed versions, including dumplings. The dumplings can be stuffed with a wide range of ingredients, including tofu, shrimp, steamed chicken, and mushroom. In China, pork is a popular filling for dumplings. However, it’s not very common in Thailand, especially in the southern part of the country due to the vast Muslim population. Dim sum is usually served with a sour dipping sauce.
12. Salapao (steamed buns)
Salapao is similar to Chinese steamed buns (baozi). However, the Thai versions are usually smaller, with fewer filling options. The choice of filling is limited to minced pork, red barbecued pork, cream, or sweet red beans. While many people argue that salapao can’t live up to the Chinese version of steamed buns, it’s still an easy and tasty breakfast that you can simply pick up and eat.
13. Khao Neow Sang Kaya (Sticky Rice with Custard)
Khao neow sang kaya can be an interesting breakfast choice if you’re craving something slightly sweet. It consists of sticky rice topped with a slice of custard, drizzled in fresh coconut cream, and wrapped in a banana leaf package. This Thai sweet snack can be made with white sticky rice or black sticky rice. Different types of sticky rice mean different flavour profiles. However, both are delicious and perfect for a quick breakfast.
14. Roti Canai
Roti canai also known as roti chenai, roti cane, and roti prata, is an Indian-influenced flatbread dish popular in Southeast Asia. This tasty street food was introduced to Thailand by the Muslim community and is now one of the most common street food in the country. While roti canai can seem a little like crepe or pancake, they’re actually very different. Roti canai is basically fried bread made of wheat flour. You can choose a wide range of fillings and toppings, including condensed milk, chocolate spread, peanut butter, mango, and jam. A popular topping combination is egg, banana, and condensed milk. Yes, this combination sounds odd, but it’s surprisingly delicious!
15. Fresh Fruit
If eating an oily and spicy dish in the morning sounds too much for you, you can always have fruits for breakfast! Just like other countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand is blessed with an abundance of delicious tropical fruit. You can find a lot of street vendors selling bags of ready-chopped fruit, which is perfect for a healthy breakfast. Any fruit you want is available, including mango, banana, papaya, guava, pineapple, rose apple, watermelon, and more. When buying fruit from a street vendor, you might be given thick, sweet and spicy dipping sauce or dried chilli flakes.
The dishes on this list are easy to find – all you have to do is wake up in the morning, walk around a local market, and you’ll find most of them. They’re also available in various restaurants and hotels across the country. Because most dishes can be eaten at any time of day, you don’t need to ask for a breakfast menu when you’re in a restaurant; just order anything you want.
Whether you’re visiting Thailand for a vacation or you’re an expat living in the country, be sure to experience some of these fantastic meals to start your day! For more delicious Thai food, check out our article on the Best Noodle Dishes in Thailand!
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