Typical Swiss Breakfast – Muesli & Other Choices

swiss breakfast cereal

When it comes to breakfast, the Swiss eat a variety of different things. From a quick croissant and coffee to a more long and leisurely brunch. What exactly the Swiss typically eat is hard to pin down.

Below, I have made a list of what breakfast in Switzerland looks like for many people I know.

It depends on whether they are single, have kids, have time in the morning, or are taking time out on the weekend. Just like everywhere else in the world.

Bircher Muesli

Bircher Muesli for Swiss breakfast
Bircher Muesli for Swiss breakfast – image from Wikimedia

A lot of people love a healthy bowl of Bircher Muesli in the morning. After all, it was invented in Zurich by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner in the early 20th century while he was studying medicine in the city.

Although it was actually meant as a healthy starter to any meal, it has since evolved into a Swiss breakfast cereal that all Swiss people know and love.

So, what is in a typical bowl of Bircher Muesli? Here is a quick list of ingredients:

  • oatmeal
  • water
  • lemon juice
  • condensed milk (or fresh milk)
  • apple
  • hazelnuts or almonds

Of course, there is an infinite number of Bircher Muesli variations that are on the market, but the above is the original.

Coffee and a Gipfeli

Coffee & a Gipfeli
Coffee & a Gipfeli – image via Kake

For a lot of Swiss people who like to eat on the go, a coffee and a gipfeli is the typical Swiss breakfast. In Swiss German “gipfeli” means croissant. And the Swiss have their own variations of the croissant in comparison to the French. They used to be quite bready when I first arrived here many years ago. In the meantime, the following are many of the gipfelis you will find in a bakery or Coop supermarket takeaway:

  • Traditional Swiss gipfeli – like a croissant-shaped bread
  • Schoggi gipfeli – chocolate-filled croissant
  • Laugen gipfeli – savory croissant
  • French or butter gipfeli (which you would know as a flaky croissant)
  • Schinken gipfeli – ham-filled croissant

Bread and Jam, or Cereal

Swiss Zopf Bread - typical breakfast bread in Switzerland
Swiss Zopf Bread – typical breakfast bread in Switzerland

Many Swiss families will also keep it simple in the morning and just have bread with butter, jam, honey or Nutella maybe. Some people prefer it the German way – with cheese, ham or salami.

Others are more inclined to eat some kind of cereal. Although this was less common in the past, the American cereal breakfast has become more popular in Switzerland over time. The cereal market is even expected to grow by over 9% in the coming five years in Switzerland. Don’t tell Dr Bircher-Benner, he would turn in his grave!

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is another Swiss breakfast favorite. Sure, it is not a food, but almost every Swiss person that you meat will have grown up with Caotina. It is a powered hot chocolate that is available everywhere you go. From supermarkets to hotel breakfast buffets. And of course, this Swiss breakfast drink is also inside every Swiss home.

Brunch On The Weekend

Typical brunch meal in Switzerland on Sunday
Typical brunch meal in Switzerland on Sunday

On the weekends, Swiss people typically take a lot more time for breakfast. And brunch on Sunday is now a big tradition in big cities like Zurich.

The idea of brunch was not so popular when I first arrived in the country, but two decades later, it has taken off like crazy.

Brunch usually means big breakfast dishes for Swiss people. Anything from eggs and bacon, or bread and jam, to pancakes with blueberries or an even bigger brunch buffet.

Many restaurants and hotels offer brunch from early on Sunday morning until around 2 p.m. And it is often very difficult to get into the best places in the big cities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is breakfast called in Switzerland?

In the German-speaking part of Switzerland, breakfast is called frühstuck or Zmorge. Zmorge is the Swiss-German word for breakfast and literally means ‘in the morning’.

Do the Swiss eat muesli?

Yes, the Swiss definitely eat muesli for breakfast. In fact, Bircher Muesli was invented in Zurich by a Swiss doctor back in the early 20th century.

What is Swiss style muesli?

Swiss-style muesli is Bircher Muesli, and was invented in the early 20th century in Switzerland. It is like overnight oats and is made of oats, nuts, and fruit and is soaked in yogurt overnight.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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