Eat Breakfast in Milan like a Local: The 10 Best Recommendations from a Foodie

breakfast in milan

Eating breakfast in Milan at local bars is still one of those experiences I can never get weary of.  There are many options for a delicious and or healthy breakfast in Milan. If you want to break away from the usual breakfast choices and opt for something more local, you may want to read on.

Forget eggs and bacon, Italians love to have sweet foods for breakfast, even though they have are some options for savoury foods too.

Here are the best options for breakfast in Milan:


As you may have probably guessed, perhaps the most popular consumed breakfast combination by Italians and tourists alike is undoubtedly cornetto with coffee in all forms. Cornetto is often thought to be the same as a Croissant or Brioche. However this is false, the differences between a brioche, cornetto, and croissant are in the ingredients, their shapes, and their history. 

For the Italian cornetto – there are several types in terms of shape, flour used, and fillings. Brioches are mostly made from white flour or wheat flour (integrale in Italian) with fillings at pastry shops in Milan. My favourite fillings are cream, pistachio (not common), and marmalade.


Sfogliatella, sometimes called a lobster tail in English (but does not refer to the same pastry), is a shell-shaped filled Italian pastry that originated from Campania. Sfogliatella means “small, thin layer”, as the pastry looks like a stack of leaves. I love the crunchiness of the sfogliatelle and because of the sweetened fillings, I like to have it with cappuccino. I love the almost bitter-sweet contrast.


In English – called pie, this is my favourite option on days I want something sweet and homey. My favourite crostata is with lemon toppings. I think my favourite would have been with pistacchio topping but it doesn’t exist (or I am yet to discover it). I like to pair my crostata with cappuccino or milk. 


Panini in English is called a sandwich. Most panini you would find at shops in Milan is stuffed with ingredients ranging from prosciutto to mozzarella (cheese), tomatoes, tuna, eggplants, chicken, veal, and salad fillings. They are most times ready-made but many shops allow you to customise your own panini with the ingredients you prefer, while you wait for it to be made. 

Italians mostly eat panini for brunch or lunch. So if you are having a late breakfast, this may be a good choice for you.


Zeppole is a pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough ball that is dusted with powdered sugar and sometimes filled with various sweets. This tiny sweet pastry is my go-to for days I want something small and sweet. I often refer to it as the perfect blend for your shot of coffee.  

Zeppole is also eaten to celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day, a Catholic feast day.


Cantucci, are Italian almond biscuits that originated in the city of Prato. They are baked twice, oblong in shape, dry and crunchy. I am still trying to wrap my head around this: biscotti literally translates biscuits in English but they are actually cookies – bummer! I love my biscotti (cookies) always with milk! Warm milk on cold days and cold milk during summer! You can ask the shop for latte caldo ( it means warm milk).


Bombolone is an Italian-filled doughnut etymologically related to bomba (bomb), and the same type of pastry is also called bomba in some Italian regions. They are usually filled with cream. Sometimes, I buy a pack of six from the supermarket and finish them within two days. Don’t blame me! One thing I love about this pastry is its roundness in taste. It’s creamy on the inside but doesn’t taste overly sugary – maybe that’s why I can go on eating bomboloni and never get tired (sugar puts me off). I found that I can pair this with coffee, juice, or tea and still enjoy it.


Cannoli are Italian pastries that originated on the island of Sicily, said to be traditionally from Piana degli Albanesi. Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a creamy filling – of usually ricotta. Oh, my days of living in Sicily – I miss those days even though I gained a lot of weight! Back to Cannoli, I can’t actually give a recommendation of what beverage to pair it with. As of now, I have always had my cannoli alone or as a snack.


Pandoro is a traditional Italian sweet yeast bread, most popular around Christmas and New Year. Typically from Verona, the pandoro is traditionally shaped like a frustum with an eight-pointed star section. I like to have my pandoro with milk or cappuccino (yes cappuccino again!)


First, let’s clear things up! Panettone is not the same as Pandoro. You may know that already, it took me a year of living in Italy to figure it out. Pandoro doesn’t have fruits while panettone does. This is my favourite option for breakfast in Milan during Christmas. This famous Christmas pastry that originated from Milan goes well with cappuccino or milk. Panettone is rarely sold in slices in pastry shops in Milan. You may have to buy a whole pack which costs as low as 5 euros.

There are many places that make a great breakfast in Milan. If you find yourself here in Milan at Christmas or New Year – then you must join us (yes, us) in the ritual of eating the Pandoro. How was your breakfast in Milan experience?

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