I love brunch. I think it’s such a cozy and relaxed meal. It’s one of my favorite meals to eat, and it’s one of my favorite meals to host. The first few times I hosted brunch, it meant setting my alarm clock extra early to cook and bake and prepare for our guests. I often felt frantic and rushed and it was not particularly cozy or relaxed for me. I’ve since figured out how to plan a menu and prep for a brunch that lets me have a relaxed and cozy morning too. The key is to avoid recipes that require any work immediately before serving – things like pancakes, waffles, bacon, anything toasted, eggs that are cooked on the stove, etc. (I do love these foods, but I don’t serve them at a brunch for a crowd.) I don’t think there is any way around hosting without prep work, but these recipes move (almost) all of the it to the day before.
Here is my go-to menu and some of my favorite recipes. Pick and choose from here and you can enjoy a stress-free and relaxed brunch too!
Pick one baked egg dish: Baked egg dishes are great because they can be completely prepped ahead of time and just thrown in the oven in the morning. You can have it baking before guests arrive, so all you have to do is set it out.
- Stratas are my favorite because they’re so versatile and because the recipe calls for mixing everything together the night before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight anyway. All you have to do in the morning is transfer from the fridge to the oven and then from the oven to the table. I also like that you can mix veggies/meats/cheese in so many different ways that it doesn’t get boring. (Some of my favorite combinations are: kale, sausage (cooked in a skillet in advance), and mozzarella; ham, sautéed onion, and cheddar; ham, blanched asparagus, and mozzarella.)
- Fill a 9×13 casserole dish with french bread that has been cut into cubes (will probably be about 5 cups)
- Mix together 10 eggs and 4 cups of milk
- Add 1 tsp to 1 Tbs mustard, salt, and pepper to the milk/egg mixture
- Add 2 cups of cheese and 2-3 cups of miscellaneous cooked meats and veggies. (Most veggies should be sautéed or pre-boiled, but smaller/softer things like kale or corn can go in without cooking.)
- Pour everything over the bread and stir. Let soak in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, bake for an hour at 350 F
- Tomato sauce egg bake:
- Open a jar of tomato sauce (or homemade if you’re up for that!) and pour it in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Crack 8 eggs and set on top of the tomato sauce base, keeping eggs in tact.
- Bake in 350 F oven until eggs are set to your liking. It usually takes 20-30 minutes for completely set yolks.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread
- Black bean egg bake:
- Layer black beans (drained and rinsed from a can) or black bean soup on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, crack 8-10 eggs and mix with a big splash of milk (about 1/4 cup) and pour on top of the beans.
- Sprinkle a cup of cheese on the top and bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 F.
- Serve with: sour cream, avocado, chopped tomato, green onions, etc. (I would wait to chop the avocado until just before serving – everything else can be chopped ahead of time)
Pick one breakfast potato dish: Potatoes are hearty and make a nice filling side dish. I always peel and dice my potatoes the night before and keep them submerged in a bowl of water in the fridge. I sometimes boil them for 10-15 minutes the night before too, but it’s not required. It just makes the cook time a little shorter. In the morning before brunch, I drain the water, pat the potatoes dry, and cook with one of these methods:
- Skillet potatoes
- Cook with olive oil on the stove top (30-45 minutes)
- Serve with: ketchup, hot sauce, sour cream, salt, pepper, and any other spices.
- Oven baked potatoes –
- Drizzle with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet in the oven (between 350 F and 400 F) for about an hour
- Serve with: ketchup, hot sauce, sour cream, salt, pepper, and any other spices
Prepare one green salad: A simple green salad is a nice addition to a brunch. I usually make a homemade dressing in advance and then mix it with greens right before serving. A few of my current favorite dressings:
- Caesar dressing:
- Mix together 1 cup mayo, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp dijon mustard, juice from 1 lemon (or lime), 1-2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste
- Pickle juice dressing (inspired by this – so many other good recipes from this site!)
- Mix together equal parts pickle juice (Wickle brand is my favorite!) and mayo
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Granola/Yogurt/Berry: This isn’t really a recipe. I just put out bowls of each and let guests build their own parfait.
Pick one (or more) sweets to bake ahead: This is where I like to experiment and try new recipes. Here are a few that we often fall back on.
- My mom’s coffee cake – I always bake this the night before.
- Mix 1.5 cups flour, 1 c sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt
- Crack 1 egg in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 cup total.
- Stir egg/milk into dry ingredients and then pour into a greased baking dish (I usually use either pie pan or 9 inch square pan)
- Top with a mixture of ¼ c. brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon
- Bake 35 minutes at 350
- When remove from oven, poke holes all over with a fork and then drizzle 3 Tbs. melted butter over top.
- Once cooled, frost with: 1 c powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. milk, 1 tsp vanilla
- Banana Muffins – I always bake this the night before.
- Make crumble topping: Stir together 2 Tbs. melted butter, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/4 c flour, 1/4 c oatmeal
- In a separate bowl, mix together 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt
- Smash 3 bananas in another bowl and add 3/4 c sugar, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup melted butter
- Stir banana mixture into flour mixture and scoop into a greased muffin pan
- Sprinkle crumble topping over muffins and bake 25 minutes at 350 F (or until golden brown)
- Monkey bread – this one is really best prepped the day of, but it’s pretty quick.
- Use 2 cans of refrigerator biscuits. Peel apart and cut into quarters
- Dip each quarter into melted butter (a few Tbs.) and then into a cinnamon sugar mixture (1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tbs cinnamon)
- Arrange in a greased 9×13 casserole dish
- Bake for 25 minutes (or until golden brown) at 400 F
- Optional – drizzle frosting (1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbs milk, and 1 tsp vanilla) over top
Hope you have a tasty brunch! What are some of your go-to recipes? Or, tricks for easier prep?