LEO Egg Scramble Lox Eggs Onions
Photo credit Sonya Sanford

Lox, Eggs and Onions Make the Perfect Jewish Breakfast 

The LEO is a Jewish American staple.

If you’re a fan of Jewish delis that serve breakfast, then you likely have a soft spot for the LEO. No, we’re not talking about your uncle; we’re talking about the classic zhuzhed-up scramble made with lox, eggs and onion that’s a staple everywhere from Russ & Daughters in New York, to Kenny and Ziggy’s in Texas, to Wise Sons in California. 

The LEO is an ode to the building blocks of Jewish American Ashkenazi food. While you might think of lox as an ancient Ashkenazi food, salmon wasn’t actually a common ingredient in Eastern European cuisine. When Jews immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century it coincided with a time when salmon was being amply shipped from the West Coast. Salmon is clearly ideal for smoking and curing with its fattiness and subtle flavor, and lox quickly became a favored deli staple. 

As for onions – caramelized ones are an essential, and make for an inexpensive way to add a big depth of flavor to a wide range of dishes. Think: bialys and chopped liver. My grandmother seemed to constantly be standing over a stove stirring onions in a skillet until golden brown, and then adding them to just about every savory dish she made. That said, the shade of your LEO onions are a personal preference; if you like them on the paler side, simply sauté them for less time. Buttery eggs bring everything together with their rich, intrinsically dairy-free, hearty friendliness. A final garnish of chives or dill adds a touch of freshness.

The LEO is always a nostalgic, satisfying breakfast, no bagel required (but absolutely welcome on the side). This recipe comes together in under half an hour and can be doubled as needed. For that reason, I love serving this to friends and family as an easy, flavor-filled brunch. 

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Photo credit Sonya Sanford

Lox, Eggs and Onions (LEO)

The LEO is a classic Jewish American breakfast dish, and a staple of delis nationwide. This simple scramble of lox, eggs and onion tastes far greater than the sum of its parts and comes together in under 30 minutes. 

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-3 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ white or yellow onion
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 oz Nova lox
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • fresh chives or dill, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Start by prepping your ingredients: Dice the onion and roughly chop the salmon. Season the eggs with just a pinch of salt and pepper, as the lox will add a lot of saltiness later. Whisk the eggs until well-beaten. 
  2. To a skillet over medium heat, add the butter and oil (this prevents the butter from burning). Add the onions to the pan and sauté for 10-15 minutes, depending on how brown you like your onions.
  3. Add the eggs to the pan, and scramble them to your liking. Right before the eggs are finished cooking, add the chopped lox to the pan and gently fold them into the eggs.
  4. Garnish with fresh dill and/or chives, if desired, and serve immediately. 
  • Author: Sonya Sanford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Quick
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi

29 comments

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    • Shannon Sarna

      That’s great to hear! Such a classic comfort food.

  • Mark Silverman

    Can’t beat lox, onion and eggs for a great meal. One addition can provide another subtle taste twist — add some chopped green pepper when you cook the onions.

  • Victor

    The only difference in mine is that I sauté the lox towards the end of the onions. Marble rye buttered toast tops it off.

  • Jill Bloom

    I love this recipe! So simple and so easy even for my husband! Very tasty with some capers as well sprinkled on top when served!
    Thanks, Jill Bloom

  • Harvey Pearlman

    Belly lox is needed for a LEO. Using nova, as specified in your recipe, would give you a NEO.

  • Gary Benzel

    We buy lox at the only Jewish delicatessen left in town. It’s much more expensive than supermarket lox. However, there is a huge difference between the two. I’m 77 years old and I’ve been eating LEO for 75 years. It is my favorite breakfast.

  • Myron Bernstein

    I try to make this classic about once every 3 weeks for myself and spouse, naturally with an everything toasted bagel with a schmear.

  • Norman Rednik

    Your recipe is actually for a “NEO” since you call for Nova “lox”. To qualify as a true “LEO” belly/salty LOX must be the protein.
    In any case, enjoy to the utmost whichever way you go! 🍳
    I usually include half of an everything bagel, preferably not toasted with a shear of TempTee whipped cream cheese.🥯
    Sliced tomato is optional.🍅
    Norman 👨‍🦳

  • Larry Kerman

    A staple. But what’s better than a LEO is a PLEO (POLE?), with potatoes added.

  • Wm Courtney Davis

    This recipe is absolutely amazing and delicious!!! A taste of fabulous!!!

  • James Schwartz

    I have always enjoyed the memories from childhood when I eat LEO now!

  • Scott M Sherman

    I have had and made these most of my life.

    Excellent during Pesach (Passover) and breakfast after Yom Kippur’s fast (usually broken with day old bagels, cream cheese, lox and white fish (plus orange juice, coffee, tea).
    Todah! (Thank you) for highlighting this classic dish!

  • Art Finkel

    I sometimes add red peppers, mushrooms and home fries to the mix. It depends on the mood and how hungry I am.

  • carol A johnson

    Love it. Sprinkle some capers on top. Can’t beat it!

  • Aarestad-Luster Elizabeth Boe

    My family all love the Leo, or Neo, usually with a bagel and a schmear.🥯 😊

  • larry

    add a few dollops of cream cheese to the egg mixture…now we’re rockin’ it

  • LEE RAPPEPORT

    Traditionally “Nova” lox has the salt washed away so it won’t add much to the scramble!

    • Shannon Sarna

      You can use oil or vegan butter, and then it will be dairy-free. Hope this helps!

  • Jopie

    We have a local business that smokes salmon, trout etc.( Duck trap) they sell end pieces about $9 for a pound, it even has a hechser. It works GREAT in a recipe like this. Just delicious

  • Dolly

    Been 50years since I had this!
    Thanks for the memories! Delicious!

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