Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

thai breakfast 1 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Eating Thai breakfast

There are thousands of different Thai dishes, and only perhaps a few of them are considered Thai breakfast only dishes, meaning exclusively available in the morning for breakfast.

Instead, in Thailand you can pretty much eat the same foods for breakfast as you might eat for lunch or for dinner.

In Thailand the distinction of what is eaten for a specific meal, is much less set in stone, than it is, in for example, some of the western world where one might think of eating bread or cereal for breakfast.

One of the things I love so much about Thailand is that I can go to the market early in the morning and eat a delicious breakfast of just about anything I want, from little snacks, all the way to Thai stir fried chicken with basil, grilled chicken, or even rice and curry (which is quite common to eat for breakfast).

Anyway, all that being said, now I’m going to share some of the most popular things that many Thais love to eat in the morning for breakfast.

In Thai, breakfast is known as ahaan chow (อาหารเช้า), meaning morning food.

Bonus: Download your FREE copy of the “Bangkok $1 Menu” that includes 50 of the best single plate Thai dishes to eat!

Here are 19 Thai breakfast dishes to try:

thai breafast congee Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Probably the most common Thai breakfast is Joke (โจ๊ก), rice congee

1. Joke (โจ๊ก)

If there’s one food that immediately pops into my mind as a Thai breakfast dish, it’s the thick rice congee porridge known as joke (โจ๊ก).

Joke (โจ๊ก) is very similar to the Chinese style of congee, rice boiled until it dissolves, and forms a thick porridge that’s almost the consistency of instant oatmeal.

It is served piping hot, usually with an egg cracked in the middle, some pieces of minced pork made into meatballs, sometimes a few pieces of liver, and finally garnished with thin slices of ginger and cilantro. When I eat joke (โจ๊ก), I like to then load it up with black pepper and squirt in a few drops of sauce Maggi.

Perhaps if there’s one morning meal in Thailand that would be the rough equivalent of a Western style bowl of cornflakes and milk, joke (โจ๊ก) would be it, a classic dish that everyone enjoys in the morning from time to time, if not frequently.

khao tom X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) – Thai rice soup

2. Khao tom (ข้าวต้ม)

Khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) is sort of like the cousin of joke (โจ๊ก), but instead of the rice being dissolved into a porridge, khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) includes rice that’s cooked on its own first, then cooked into a soup with other ingredients and broth. Unlike a smooth congee porridge, khao tom is much more coarse, and you can still see each grain of rice.

You’ll find a number of different types of khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) in Bangkok and throughout Thailand, but it’s often eaten with a mix of seafood or with fish, and a few small vegetables like Chinese celery.

Another style of eating khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) in Thailand is to just get a plain bowl of rice soup, and eat it along with a variety of stir fried dishes.

Khao tom (ข้าวต้ม) is not only available for breakfast, but it’s very common also to eat for dinner, or for a late night meal.

thai breakfast dishes 20 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Tom luad moo (ต้มเลือดหมู) – boiled pork soup

3. Tom luad moo (ต้มเลือดหมู)

One of the local Thai breakfast favorites, and this is one of the dishes on this list that’s most commonly known as a breakfast dish, is tom luad moo (ต้มเลือดหมู).

It basically translates to boiled pork blood, so you can imagine it’s quite a meat protein option to eat in the morning. The soup is a combination of different pork parts, often intestines, liver, lungs, and then the necessary chunks of coagulated pig’s blood that live up to its name.

The soup is quite plain, mostly pork flavored, and you can then add in as much chili or vinegar as you’d like to enhance the flavor. Tom luad moo is usually eaten with a bowl of rice on the side.

breakfast thailand 4 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Tasty Thai style omelet

4. Khao kai jeow (ข้าวไข่เจียว)

Along with Thai style rice congee soup (joke), one of the most popular things you’ll see eaten for breakfast in Thailand is khao kai jeow, meaning just rice and an omelet.

Sometimes there are street food carts set up for exclusive omelet making, and there are a variety of ingredients that you can choose from, often including minced pork, onions, and a selection of other small vegetable ingredients. Once you make your selection, they will fry a fresh omelet, put it over the top of a bed of rice, and serve it to you with some ketchup tasting chili sauce on the side.

You can also usually order a khao kai jeow at any Thai stir fry restaurant in the morning. If you want to make your own Thai style omelet, check out my recipe here.

breakfast in thailand 2 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Khao neow moo ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง) – skewers of grilled pork

5. Khao Neow Moo Ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง)

If joke (โจ๊ก) is the cereal of Thai breakfast foods, khao neow moo ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง) would have to be the sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit.

Moo ping (หมูปิ้ง) are little skewers of grilled pork that you’ll literally see everywhere you look in Thailand. In Bangkok, they are available mostly for pushcart street food stalls, and are served just about 24 hours a day.

A few skewers of grilled pork (หมูปิ้ง) combined with sticky rice, which normally will come packed into a little plastic bag (ข้าวเหนียว), makes the joint combination of khao neow moo ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง), a Thai staple.

In every morning market, and along sidewalks in busy areas of town, you’ll find khao neow moo ping (ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง) frequently. The pork is nice and tasty, and goes extremely well with the sticky consistency of the rice.

breakfast 2 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Grilled chicken makes a nice breakfast in Thailand

6. Gai yang (ไก่ย่าง)

You’ve always dreamed about eating hot and fresh grilled chicken for breakfast, haven’t you? I sure did before I moved to Thailand.

The good news is, it’s not only available to eat grilled chicken in the early morning, it’s quite a popular thing to eat for breakfast in Thailand. Grilled chicken is usually eaten along with a bag of sticky rice.

thai food tv show 2 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Patongo (ปาท่องโก๋)

7. Patongo (ปาท่องโก๋)

Patongo (ปาท่องโก๋) is the Thai version of the donut, a blob of lightly sweet dough deep fried until it is fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. In reality, Thai patongo is basically the same as Chinese donuts, or yao tiew.

In Thailand, whenever you see a huge wok full of oil, and a vendor turning pieces of dough with a chopstick, you know there’s patongo (ปาท่องโก๋) available.

The dough is light and fluffy, and instead of a sweet style donut, they are salty instead. Patongo (ปาท่องโก๋) is one of the most common breakfast snacks in Thailand, and many people will buy a bag to takeaway for breakfast.

They can be eaten as is with a cup of coffee, dipped into a sweet custard known as sang kaya (), or it’s also common to dip it into a bowl of joke (โจ๊ก).

8. Nam Tao Hoo (นำ้เต้าหู้)

Often served at the same street food stalls as patongo (ปาท่องโก๋) donuts, nam tao hoo (นำ้เต้าหู้) is the Thai version of fresh soy milk. Rather than being served like a beverage, nam tao hoo (นำ้เต้าหู้) is served more like a soup.

If you order it on the streets, they’ll add in some sugar, and a choice of small jelly ingredients or basil seeds if you like, then package the hot soy milk into a plastic bag.

Nam tao hoo (นำ้เต้าหู้) makes a light Thai breakfast, but I can guarantee that it’s very soothing. It’s also popular to have nam tao hoo in the evening or at night after a meal.

In addition to nam tao hoo (นำ้เต้าหู้), many vendors will also sell nam king (น้ำขิง), or ginger soup, which I personally love even better (though nam king would be more of a night snack / dessert).

breakfast thailand 2 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Dim sum for breakfast in Thailand

9. Dim Sum (ติ๋มซำ)

Adapted into the Thai culinary scene from the Chinese, various forms of dim sum are popular to eat for breakfast in Thailand as well. Normally vendors just sell a few items like steamed buns (salapao) and rather greasy pork dumplings (shumai), but some restaurant throughout the country have more items to choose from.

I’m personally not a huge fan of Thai dim sum, it’s not exactly the Hong Kong dim sum or Honolulu dim sum dining experience. But that being said, if you’re up for an interesting dim sum meal, and like to get some serious protein in the morning, you might try to locate a Thai dim sum restaurant in the morning.

If you happen to be in Krabi, be sure to check out this place for breakfast.

breakfast in thailand 1 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Salapao (ซาลาเปา) – steamed buns

10. Salapao (ซาลาเปา)

When I was in China I was devouring steamed baozi filled with a choice of ingredients by the bag full each morning.

In Thailand, the baozi, which are referred to as salapao (ซาลาเปา), are a bit different, usually smaller and often the choice of filling is limited to red barbecued pork, minced pork, sweet red beans or cream.

Honestly, in my opinion, they just can’t live up to the version of steamed buns in China, but nevertheless they are quite popular to eat for breakfast in Thailand.

You’ll find street food carts selling salapao (ซาลาเปา) throughout Thailand.

thai breakfast 5 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Khao neow sang kaya (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา) – sticky rice with custard

11. Khao neow sang kaya (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา)

One of my wife’s favorite things to eat in the morning in Thailand is khao neow sang kaya (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา), or sticky rice topped with a slice of custard, and wrapped in a banana leaf package.

You can find both black sticky rice and white sticky rice, which is similar to the sticky rice used in mango sticky rice; It’s cooked in coconut cream and slightly sweet.

But instead of mango, a slice of Thai custard is placed on top of a ball of sticky rice, which is drizzled in fresh coconut cream. For a popular Thai sweet snack for breakfast, khao neow sang kaya (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา) is a great choice.

For perhaps one of the best versions of Thai black sticky rice with custard, go to the morning market on Silom Soi 20. At the front of the street, you’ll find a lady selling a delicious version of it, served only for takeaway. There’s always a crowd of people waiting to buy.

breakfast thailand 1 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Street waffles in Thaialand

12. Khanom Pang (ขนมปัง) – bread, waffles

Believe it or not, a few slices of white bread spread with butter is a very common form of Thai breakfast, mostly, I would say, with modernized business employees in Bangkok.

If you walk around the Bangkok business districts in the morning, around Silom or Sathorn, there are lots and lots of little snacks like sweet waffles and little baked goods that are popular to eat as breakfast. Many people will order a few bread or pancake based breakfast snacks to eat while on the go.

thai breakfast dishes 6 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Deep fried bananas are a common Thai breakfast snack in Thailand

13. Khanom (ขนมห)

There’s a term in Thai known as “khanom (ขนมห),” which roughly translates to snacks. Khanom wan (ขนมหวาน) would be sweet snacks, and then just khanom would be any kind of snack you can find on the streets.

Go to any morning market across Thailand, and you’ll not only find plenty of full meals to eat, but you’ll find a smorgasbord of Thai snacks, ranging from fried bananas to coconut griddle cakes.

Many Thais who are looking for a lighter breakfast option, or who don’t have too much time, will just grab a few bags of khanom, and continue on their way to work or business.

I’m personally not a huge fan of khanom’s, as I like to eat a full meat filled breakfast, but my wife (who is Thai), is a huge fan of snacking in the morning.

thai breakfast dishes 16 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Kai luak (ไข่ลวก) – soft boiled egg

14. Kai luak (ไข่ลวก)

When you think of eggs for breakfast you might think of an omelet or fried eggs, but one of the most popular ways of eating eggs in the morning in Thailand is in a shot glass, soft boiled, known as kai luak (ไข่ลวก).

Soft boiled eggs in Thailand (ไข่ลวก) are normally available at street food stalls and restaurants that specialize in breakfast and that serve tea and coffee.

I like to take my double shot of soft boiled eggs, season them up with a splash of Maggi seasoning sauce and a dash of pepper, and gulp it down. It’s an amazing quick protein and delicious snack. Kai luak (ไข่ลวก) also goes extremely well with the patongo donuts.

Though kai luak (ไข่ลวก) is enjoyed by both males and females, it’s sort of known as a manly breakfast, that’s mostly popular with working class men, like motorcycle and truck drivers, and market workers, who take a break from work to drink a few eggs and have coffee.

I’m a huge fan of kai luak (ไข่ลวก).

breakfast 1 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

MaMa instant noodles

15. Mama (มาม่า)

Thailand’s most famous instant noodles are popular at ALL times of the day and night… and they happen to make a pretty popular breakfast option as well.

You can eat a bowl of cup of Mama instant noodles at home, or just pop into the nearest 7-Eleven for a quick paper bowl of noodles swimming in an addictive tom yum gong broth.

It’s not my personal choice of breakfast (I go for rice and curry), but many choose to go the Mama instant noodle option, at least sometimes.

breakfast fruit X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Fruit is convenient to eat in Thailand

16. Fruit (ผลไม้)

Just like all of southeast Asia, Thailand is blessed with an abundance of high quality tropical fruit, and you’ll find fruit throughout the country.

One of the most convenient things about Thailand is that wherever you go, you’ll find fruit all cut up and waiting to be consumed. Just choose whatever fruits you want, usually a choice of mango, guava, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, rose-apple, among others, and the vendor will slice it all up and package it into a bag for you.

Freshly sliced up fruit is a very popular Thai breakfast, and snack throughout the day in Thailand.

bangkok food day 11 7 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Thai rice and curry for breakfast

17. Khao Rad Gaeng (ข้าวราดแกง)

Now that we’ve covered many of the most common and typical to eat Thai breakfast dishes, there’s one more common meal that’s sort of like the Grand Slam of all morning meals: khao rad gaeng (ข้าวราดแกง), rice and curry.

I’m a huge lover of Thai rice and curry, and in Thailand, rice and curry is the morning choice for many who are seeking a good sized filling meal.

Starting from about 5 am, you’ll find curry vendors displaying their variety of curries available. Usually you get a plate of rice, and then choose whatever mix of curries you’d like on top, and it’s also often to get a fried egg on the side as well.

Khao rad gaeng (ข้าวราดแกง) should be your breakfast choice in Thailand if you’re up for a spicy filling breakfast. If not, you can always eat Thai rice and curry for lunch or dinner.

thai breakfast dishes 27 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Aeb pla nin (แอ่บปลานิล) – my favorite breakfast to eat in northern Thaialnd

And also, I just wanted to mention two of my other favorite Thai breakfast dishes, which are rarely available in Bangkok, but one is common in the north and the other is common in the south.

18. North of Thailand: Aeb pla nin (แอ่บปลานิล)

Unfortunately a dish called aeb pla is only available in the north of Thailand, and it’s quite difficult to find in Bangkok. But it happens to be one of my personal favorite types of early morning meals in Thailand.

Aeb is a famous northern Thai food that’s a combination of meat, mixed with herbs and spices and curry paste, all wrapped into a banana leaf package, and roasted over fire.

In Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, you’ll find freshly grilled aeb in the morning markets, and along with sticky rice, it absolutely hits the spot – at least I sure think so.

There are a few different kinds of aeb you can try, but my personal favorite is aeb pla nin, the version made with fillet pieces of tilapia fish.

thai breakfast 4 X2 Thai Breakfast: 19 of the Most Popular Dishes

Khao yam (ข้าวยำ) – rice salad in southern Thailand

19. South of Thailand: Khao yam (ข้าวยำ)

Khao yam (ข้าวยำ) is a southern Thai dish that means rice salad. It’s a combination of steamed rice, either topped, or mixed with, a garden of fresh herbs and vegetables that often includes bean sprouts, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, Chinese long beans, toasted coconut, chilies, and finally a tangy dressing.

What I really love about eating khao yam (ข้าวยำ) for breakfast is that it’s quite a healthy dish, and it’s also not oily or heavy, so it feels great to eat in the morning.

You can occasionally find khao yam (ข้าวยำ) in Bangkok, but not nearly to the extent that you’ll find it in the south of Thailand.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I hope it will assist you in choosing what to eat in the morning when you’re in Thailand.

Overall, my top suggestion for you is to just wake up in the morning, walk around a local market, and see what looks good, and eat it!

Also, be sure to grab your free copy of the Bangkok $1 Menu for more local Thai food.

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Comments

  1. Laura says

    I ate a lot of joke when I wasn’t feeling so well. It’s easy on the stomach. I have a bunch of 3 in 1 milk tea packets! It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’s better than nothing.

  2. Lucy says

    I’ve recently become a great lover of Thai food, having discovered the restaurant Pi-Tom´s in Toronto. It takes exactly two minutes to walk from my office to the restaurant. The tempting aroma of its food makes me enter the restaurant every single day. A few days ago, my Thai friend invited me and my husband for dinner. He served Patongo with some sort of custard. He dared us to guess what the name of the dish was. I looked at him and cried “Patongo!” Can you imagine his surprise? My husband and I could not do anything but laugh.

  3. James R says

    Mark, that is a great list, but you missed my favourite Thai breakfast…mango & sticky rice! I had this for breakfast everyday on my last trip to Ching Mai.

  4. luke says

    Khao Tom is one of my favourite breakfasts, after a heavy night drinking beer! I seem to eat it every morning in Phuket :)

  5. says

    Hi Mark,
    I’m in Bangkok now and I’m loving your guide to the city! Do you know which district/streets are best for finding these breakfast foods? I easily found the Patongo and Khao Neow Moo Ping, but I would love to try the Joke or Khao Neow Dam Sang Kaya. Thanks for your help!

    • says

      Hey Michelle, thank you so much, and great to hear you’re in Bangkok now. Depending on what area of town you’re in, you might try Silom Soi 20 at about 7 or 8 am. Enjoy!

  6. Raj Dhillon says

    Could you do a fav by spelling out what we should buy & carry out to make Thai food a part of our life? Maybe some suggestions to learn about Thai food at any homely cookery class?

  7. says

    Great article! You forgot to add one other common fare for breakfast, which is the fried pork and sticky rice. I see that a lot when I go to the office in the morning. There are two types: one is really crispy pork slices of mostly fat, and the other has leaner meat, bigger slices, and not as crispy but both types are super tasty. I am not sure what you call it in Thai. I also see different types of fried meat (usually in Ari and Victory Monument area) in the mornings where one can choose from a variety of meats, including fried liver, shredded pork (or beef?) meat that’s sweet, among other things. The vendor usually has these little styrofoam boxes filled with sticky rice that she tops with your meat of choice. I also see some fried chicken and fried liver and gizzards being sold in the mornings too.
    B.C.Lee recently posted..3 Easy Steps to a Light Snack

    • says

      Hi B.C. – thank you for the suggestion, you’re right about that, I’ll add in fried pork and sticky rice. I think usually, the general name for all the different types of fried pork eaten with sticky rice is “khao neow moo tod.”

  8. Tony criswell says

    Interesting article. You’ve about covered the bases.

    At home it’s khao tom for the family. My wife makes a big pot of it and I freeze the remainder in serving size containers. Pop it in the microwave for a quick breakfast and it becomes joke. One or twice a week I’ll pick up 3-4 sticks of khao neow moo ping or gai yang to eat at my desk. Occasionally my wife will pick up a bag of patongo and I like them dipped in maple syrup.

    The family loves French toast (kanompang yang) made with thick-sliced raisin bread I get at Yamasaki bakery in Khon Kaen. I add a little cinnamon and sugar mixture to the egg and milk to give it a different flavor.

    Of course, there is the standby of last night’s leftovers, whatever that may be. Also, my wife will make khao pad with the leftover rice and that also makes a quick and good breakfast.

    Lots of choices. There are a couple in your list that will go on my tryout list.

    • says

      Hi Tony, thanks for the comment and for sharing all your favorite Thai breakfast dishes. Good idea with the khao tom in the freezer, and great idea with dipping patongo in maple syrup too!

  9. says

    It’s amazing how the breakfasts vary per region! In Phuket, we eat a lot of congee of khao tom and in Phuket Town there are loads of rice based sweets they make early morning. There used to be an amazing breakfast place we went to on a daily basis that had everything from friend squid in garlic to ramen ( which a poached egg and fish) and kai luak. I’m a giant fan of the simple yet so darn amazing way to serve omelettesKhao Kai jeow which is a fav of mine. Such great comfort food!
    Elizabeth recently posted..Eating Laksa in Georgetown, Penang

    • says

      Thanks for your extra input Elizabeth, and I agree, so many variations on what’s available and popular to eat throughout Thailand. Yes, it’s hard to beat a Thai style omelet over rice!

  10. Christopher says

    Dear Mark,
    I read all your blogs and a huge fan, would you know a couple of places in Pratunam where we can enjoy Thai Street Breakfast?
    Thanks in advance.

    Christopher

    • says

      Hey Christopher, thank you very much. As for Pratunam, I’m not sure of any sit down places, but you’ll find plenty of these dishes along the road. Also, not too far away is Petchaburi Soi 5 and across the street Petchaburi Soi 10, which are great for street food.

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