Recipe, Tips

how to host brunch (and still sleep in)

I take brunch very, very seriously, so seriously that I don’t go out for it very often because, you see, few places do it right. The scones are chalky, the fruit cups are nothing but soggy raspberries and unloved green melon, the yogurt is too sweet; the baked eggs are either hard-cooked or have clear, unsettling whites and the toast, it never comes. Am I a brat with nothing but First World Problems? Indeed I am, but I make a mean brunch.

cream biscuits

I’m going to hazard a guess that in a week and season filled with house guests and sleeping in, you’ll spend a least one of these mornings forgoing your usual coffee and granola bar on-the-go for something social and substantial. And thank goodness, right? Here are the cornerstores I like a gather a brunch menu around: Something fresh, like a fruit salad, even better if you throw in a rich yogurt to spoon over them; something rich and eggy; something sweet, like a coffee cake, muffin, bread pudding or baked french toast; something bready like a biscuit or scone; something boozy, like mimosas, bloody marys or both and something unholy, like bacon or sausage. Or both, because it’s not January 1st yet.

winter fruit salad

And this is my only rule: Everything must be made in advance. The only thing required of you the morning of your brunch is to roll out of bed and turn the oven on, which came in handy when, in another life, I devised this strategy for all of those New Years Day brunches when I woke up too, ahem, after-partied to do anything more. (Nowadays, I’m just lazy, and will take extra sleep any way I can devise it.)

whole wheat apple muffin

Here’s how you can pull it off, too:

  • Pancakes, traditional French toast and omelets are verboten. The only people who can whip out omelet after omelet without breaking a sweat and at the kind of breakneck speed you need to serve a dozen people at once are the short-order griddle guys at NYC bodegas. I leave it to them. Updated to add: Unless, of course, you’re making the world’s best waffles, which are assembled the day before and are ready when you wake up. Make them before your guests arrive and keep them warm in the oven. [Suggestion: Essential Raised Waffles]
  • Scones and biscuits are a flash-freezers dream. Roll them out, shape them and arrange them unbaked on your baking sheet and stick the whole tray in the freezer overnight. Bake them directly from the freezer before you’ve rubbed the sand out of your eyes. They’re always best fresh from the oven, anyway. [Suggestions: Dreamy Cream Scones, Jalapeño-Cheddar Scones, Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones, Chive Buttermilk Biscuits, Cream Biscuits and How to Flash Freeze]
  • Fruit salads can be made the day before. In berry season, just grab a mix of whatever looks good and you’re done. In the winter, I make a winter fruit salad. [Suggestion: Winter Fruit Salad]
  • Bacon and sausage is best made the day-of but this doesn’t mean you must toil over a stove while your friends recount the night before’s antics in the other room. Sausages can be roasted on a tray, rolling them around occasionally to ensure even crisping; bacon can be cooked in the oven on a cooling rack suspended over a baking sheet to catch the drippings. Each can be ready long before guests arrive, and kept warm until you serve them.
  • Baked French toast and/or bread puddings can and should be assembled the night before; the more you soak them, the better they usually taste. [Suggestions: Boozy Baked French Toast, Raisin-Studded Apple Bread Pudding and Cinnamon Toast French Toast]
  • Quickbreads, muffins and coffee cakes are a great way to round on the meal, and satisfy sweet tooths, and if you wish to make them a few days or a week in advance, they freeze really well. Take them out the night before and they’ll be defrosted when you need them. [Suggestions: Whole Wheat Apple Muffins, Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins, Sour Cream Bran Muffins, Jacked-Up Banana Bread, Date Spice Loaf, Big Crumb Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf or Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake]
  • The base for Bloody Marys can be mixed and the orange juice for mimosas can be squeezed the night before. If it’s summer or if your apartment is always a-broilin’ thanks to New York City steam heat, so can iced coffee, and heck, it should be. [Suggestions: Bloody Mary, Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee]
  • If I think potatoes are in order, I make latkes, not home fries. They reheat on a tray in the oven best of all (I think the oven gives them a bonus crispiness) and your guests get something that might otherwise be a rare treat. Latkes keep for weeks well-wrapped in the freezer, so you get a lot of lead time on them too. [Suggestion: Latkes]
  • Finally, I always consider the centerpiece is the kind of deep, rich eggy dish that makes people forget you refused to fry an egg on their behalf. Until this weekend, this baked egg dish was my favorite, with the eggs baked in tomato sauce a distant second (I’d make the vegetable bases for each the day before, only cracking eggs as guests arrived). And hey, they’re still great. But for the sake of space, and because I am a terrible tease, you’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out what trumps them both. [Suggestions: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms, Eggs in Tomato Sauce]

(That is, besides a baby in a gigantic snowsuit, impatient for the blizzard to begin. But that went without saying, right?)

jacob henry suits up

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191 comments on how to host brunch (and still sleep in)

  1. Betsy

    This is brilliant.

    I always want to do this sort of thing but then it’s morning and I’ve slept in and I’m hungover frying eggs DOESN’T seem practical… so I drag the guests out for mediocre brunch where we have to wait in line for an hour. Trying (at least some of) this out next week!

  2. Kim M.

    What a fabulous, timely post, Deb! I love all of this make ahead information! Oh-and Jacob looks absolutley adorable in his little snowsuit! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dancer who eats

    I completely agree with you. Great! Now I am hungry.

    I am making huevos rancheros for brunch this holiday. To scale up, I am making scrambled eggs and laying the tortillas out individually on baking sheets. Tortilla, beans, eggs, salsa verde and cheese…. stack it up and bake. Easy! Did a trial run this weekend and it worked perfectly.

  4. I am all about the baked french toast. It’s just brilliant. Throw some bacon or sausages in the oven on a parchment-lined pan, along with the french toast, mix up some mimosas, put out some sliced fruit, and you’ve got yerself a simple brunch the peeps will love.

  5. 3 Words Deb. Grand Marnier French Toast. It’s breakfast and hair of the dog all wrapped into one! And it does fit the necessity of being made the night before, which is why I’ve volunteered it for a brunch party this upcoming New Year’s Day. No way am I cooking that morning.

  6. Look at that cutie pie ! I love that photo of your son.
    OK now to this post – wonderful and realistic ! Brunch is my favorite meal, and I often host it. These are great tips. A nice mimosa in bed would be the perfect send-off down the stairs {wink}
    Happy Solstice

  7. Oh, boy, do you EVER need to come to San Francisco! We have so much amazing brunch it kills me. Lime. Chow. Absinthe. Zazie. The list goes on and on. I end up never making it because it’s so easy to go out!

    I am however responsible for Christmas day breakfast, and I plan to make everything the night before like you’ve suggested.

    Last thought on the post: Guh, cute baby.

  8. Outstanding, as I’m thinking about Christmas breakfast oh, about now.
    Someday, please elaborate on your bacon-in-the-oven technique because I always end up with an inedible mess, either undercooked and droopy or so overcooked it falls apart at my touch.
    Hope your holidays are merry–thanks for these great ideas!

  9. Megan

    Can’t wait to try these suggestions for Christmas morning!

    By the way, have you thought of doing a tutorial on baby photography similar to your tutorial on food photography? Or does the same basic philosophy apply? I’m absolutely sure that Jacob would look adorable in any photograph, but your shots always seem to bring out the best of the moment…

  10. I remember watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa and she recalled in her show making a mistake in the past of whipping up omelets for brunch. She said she pretty much spent the entire time in the kitchen away from her guests. So her alternative was a big frittata cooked in the oven using a cast-iron skillet and served straight from the pan – probably the most brilliant idea ever.

    And your son is looking mighty cute bundled up! I wish I looked that cute in head to toe snowsuit, but alas, I wind up looking like a burrito with lumps in all the wrong places. :(

  11. Xai

    i just came from our annual christmas party with my friends last night and they wanted me to host a dinner or something, but brunch sounds sooo good after reading this, and the tips about getting everything done before is golden, i just need to empty out the freezer. i have tons of stuff there that i dont even remember putting. this is gonna be great! thanks deb! oh and goodness, i hate the fact that 2 of my friends dont eat pork, but whatever, ill serve bacon anyway!

  12. I love brunch! I will definitely be trying out these recipes over the holidays and into the new year!

    Did anyone else think of “I can’t put my arms down!” after seeing that cutie-pie picture???

  13. heather

    OMG – I was just at Trader Joe’s and had a wonderful thought, “Why don’t I make Boozy Baked French Toast on Christmas morning. I can make it up the night before so it’ll be easy!” Thank you, thank you for this post which is sure to make the morning tasty!

  14. mb

    Perfect timing Deb, my sister and i are doing a Christmas brunch this year. Thanks for the great info. Can’t wait to eat all those carbs, go into a food coma and take the rest of the day off!

  15. You hit my wavelength again. I have been wanting to invite friends over for brunch, but I find brunch is always best after a night out. So how could I ever find the energy for it in the morning?? Now I know. Thank you!

  16. Helga

    Thank you; great ideas here. Your blog is one I check every morning. Have to confess, though: the first thing I do is search for the link to the baby pic. How delicious is he???!!

  17. Flo

    That boy gets cuter by the day!
    Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions. We too are great fans of brunch but rarely host it due to all the preparing involved. With these tips, we should be able to make our friends and relatives get up early on weekends more often.

  18. Susan

    I love doing celebration brunches. I think it’s the easiest party meal to put together for all the reasons you mentioned. Christmas, I’m doing a make ahead Migas casserole and warm flour tortillas this year (unless you turn my head with the dish you are showing off tomorrow) and serving them with a fruit platter of sliced pineapple, oranges and raspberries. Make ahead latkes (at your brilliant suggestion) and my cinnamon swirl coffee cake. Mimosas and hot coffee for all!

  19. kayleem

    my mom and i are cellebrating our first christmas since her divorce by having a late, lazy brunch and then going to see movies! This is a perfect post for me right now, so many lovely ideas. Because it is going to just be a 3-person affair, we’ll be taking a bit of extra time with the egg dish–going with eggs benedict, but the winter salad and latkes will deffinately find a way to our table!

  20. SY

    Brunch is my all time favorite meal, in fact, we had our wedding on a lazy Sunday in St. Helena/Napa outdoors — was heaven. I love Epicurious’ Creme Brulee French Toast, rich and gooey and easy as can be. Am still looking for the perfect breakfast potato. I like your latke idea, but do you have any suggestions for a very large brunch? We’re going to a family brunch for about 50 and my contribution is the potato dish, I’m stuck unless I make a gratin…

    1. deb

      SY — You can make latkes in a baking pan. Butter it well and cut the finished potato “kugel” into squares. Try to use a large pan so it stays thinnish.

  21. eliza

    I always have Christmas brunch here and with a 5 and a 2 year old, do ahead is a bonus. We’re having your Vanilla Roasted Pears along Puffed Apple Pancake, a goat cheese & artichoke strata, plus a cheese plate with salmon. Simple goodness served up with vanilla bean cranberry mimosas. Ahhhhh! Although, I think I can wait to see your dish before cooking (although the 3 day sourdough bread is in process for the strata). LOVE that baby!

  22. Erica

    I’m also a big fan of brunch, so these tips will definitely come in handy! Oh, and your son just gets more and more precious with every photo!

  23. Mmmm! This looks truly phenomenal. But why not start out a new year’s brunch with leftover gingerbread or other christmas cookies? That’s my ideal breakfast beginner. Imagine……pepparkakor with oranger juice.

    But, wow, you are cruel and heartless to make me wait another day for whatever this thing is (!). I shall punish you by……surfing around on your site and making even more of your recipes.

  24. Nancy

    I’ve actually made quite a few of these brunch ideas already – Boozy French Toast, Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones, and the Eggs baked in Spinach and they have all been wonderful. Thank you so much for the inspiration!!!
    The one sad thing about that ginormous snow suit, is that you’ll blink and Jacob will be too big for it! He’s growing so fast.

  25. omg…he’s the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man! Just, btw, made the almond orange biscotti and the butterscotch sauce for belated Chanukah presents/Christmas treats. Hope they make it to their intended recipients.

  26. Francheska

    These are all great tips that I cant put to the test because all my family wants for Christmas brunch is greasy omelets with french fries, bacon and fried sweet plantains =(

  27. laurie

    My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is in 3 weeks, and I am having brunch for 35 at my house on Sunday morning. I was looking through cookbooks last night for inspiration. After reading this, I now have it!!
    Jacob’s outfit brings back a fond memory. When my daughter was a little baby, we lived in Boston, and I had to walk up a few flights. One time, she was all bundled up, and I had to run downstairs for something. There just happened to be an empty box about her size so I put her in there so she’d be safe. She looked like she had just been delivered by UPS.

  28. Marie M.

    Jacob — you are such a cutie-patootie I want to squeeze you. l’m sure you’re in there — somewhere. I nominate you as the new Michlein man, aaah baby?

    Deb — Thanks for all the brunch suggestions. I’ve never tried doing the latkes ahead of time. I need to try it. Great holiday gift suggestions too. Happy Holidays to all!

  29. linda

    nothing trumps that cute, delicious looking baby!!!
    will check in tomorrow…since i was deciding on a date for my brunch “how to host a brunch” was timed to perfection…& the maddness & stress has been relieved! thanks so much deb!

  30. wonderful tips! I always employ the overnight egg dish to just throw in the oven in the am when I’m still groggy, then go back to bed and hope that I hear the timer :) what a cute budle of joy!!
    do you still have your amazon site link? I’m looking into getting my first macro lens and also wanted to ask if you could recommend any fairly reasonable lighting kits for food photography? I’m having a terrible time with the time change!

  31. Laura

    I have been hosting quite a few brunches lately….My kids and I eat gluten free–Ellie Kreiger has a great egg and veggie strata(combo eggs/egg whites) with lots of cheese that rocks. I substituted gluten free bread cubes (left over from thanksgiving) and it was delicious. None of our guests even knew it was gluten free and healthier…..had to have the chicken sausage and bacon however….yum

  32. grace

    yay for brunch!!! my favorite also. what fun. love your suggestions. a perfect addition that will blow their minds is a little homemade yogurt. not actually hard to make at all, although a yogurt maker helps. and swirl in a little homemade jam (another crowd pleaser that can be made weeks, months, or even years beforehand).

    thanks for this one!

  33. ronnissweettooth

    I hate eggs (except in baking), so I’m always dismayed when I see a brunch that revolves around an egg dish. Thanks for offering lots of suggestions, with an egg dish thrown in for good measure.
    PS: I’ll just nibble on that baby for brunch.

  34. Anna

    I love the Winter Fruit Salad, it’s delicious. It also keeps nicely, which is good.

    The other day I found some of the most adorable little pears at the grocery store, so I peeled them, but otherwise left them whole.

    I made the syrup, and put the pears in it while the syrup cooled, then chilled it all. So delicious, and pretty! (simple to serve, too)

  35. i love this post, brunch is my favorite meal! my favorite casserole like french toast is this creme brulee french toast that my mom makes…its so sweet and delicous!

  36. Rhonda

    We love brunch at my house. My boys and I are in love with the cream biscuits of late and they are so easy to mix up. Your pictures of the fruit look so good-need to find my melon baller. Squeeze your blue snowman for me…he’s just too cute.

  37. Marie

    The way you wrote about brunch is making me want to get invited to brunch at your place!
    Have never been a big brekkie person, but, whenever I want to treat myself for being SPECIALLY good, I grab a bunch of friends and go for the Westin’s Champagne Brunch. We literally pig out for 4 hours and drink away our homesickness for good Western food.

  38. Sarah

    The baked eggs look SO good (& easy) But I’m a brunch novice~do you make the toast for the eggs on demand or pre-toast & butter & keep the slices warm somehow?
    Your little guy is adorable~hope he’s loving the snow!

  39. We have a George Foreman grill and I LOVE doing bacon and sausage on it for mornings when we have guests. Just plop it on and keep your ears peeled, it’s usually done when you stop hearing the tell-tale sizzle. As a bonus this also keeps the house from getting hot from having the over on longer.

  40. Jaime K

    Where was this post three days ago when I was stressing over the menu for the brunch I threw two days ago? Never fear, I used about half the recipes you listed in this post anyways, and then threw together a few things from Pioneer Woman, and the hordes loved every bite – especially your Cranberry Meyer Lemon Scones – yummy!

    Oh and if I turn up “accidentally” pregnant anytime soon, I’ll tell my husband to blame your impossibly cute baby for driving me to it…. I can’t handle the cute!

  41. Gracie B.

    I do not like kids. I’m not the kind of person who squeals about about 99.9% of children I see – including those of friends and family. They just know. Don’t put pictures of your babies in front of me if you want me to say anything along the lines of : awww, oohh, eee…etc.

    But can I say that I find your son to be absolutely, breathtakingly, painfully adorable. Seriously. Between how obviously naturally gorgeous he is, your photography makes him even more delicious.

    And – on a serious note, today’s post inspired me to invite the girls over for a new years eve brunch. Can’t wait to see the egg dish.

  42. Wonderful post. How in the world do you keep up?! I try to do ahead but something always gets in the way…like the involved dinner that I end up preparing and then exhaustion sets in…hats off to you!

  43. Christine

    I can’t be the only one who reads Deb’s posts by cursoring down-down-down — look for baby photo, admire baby photo, then cursor back up-up-up to read what Deb wrote.

  44. AmberGale

    Deb – I made those chive buttermilk biscuits to go with some beef stew that I whipped up in the middle of the snowstorm this past weekend. They are A.MA.ZING. and so easy! I baked 6 and froze 6 (still wrapped in foil on our back patio, since we got a surprise Omaha steaks gift from my grandmother which promptly left us without an IOTA of freezer space.) I’ve thus far resisted the temptation to bake them up and eat them all myself before Christmas dinner.

  45. Oh that’s Mikey in the Christmas Story!!! Bless his sweet heart. Take that deart angel outta that snowsuit! :) Adorable as always.

    I the brunch cooker on Christmas Day and always looking something new. I”m tuning in for sure!

  46. Della

    First, your baby in the snowsuit is adorable. Second, CONGRATULATIONS! Smittenkitchen is famous! I just read about you in my new January Oprah. Love your site: the baby pics, the writing, and of course, the recipes. Thanks for all your hard work!

  47. Deb, As I always say…”you don’t know me, but you have a knack for reading my mind!” I was just at the store looking at brunch cookbooks for some ideas (to no avail), and now here you are with some nifty ideas. I must say that adorable little dumpling has a mom who is (excuse the pun) one smart cookie! I think I will jsut whip up and freeze some mini latkes right now. ANd then it’s on to the scones~ Thanks (again). :)

  48. My roommate and I threw a festive brunch last weekend, and it seems I read your mind. I made my stuff (egg dish, Ina Garten muffin batter, your cream biscuits (flash frozen) and amazing vanilla-roasted pears) the day before and had a friend bring fruit salad–it worked out perfectly. I enjoyed my first couple mimosas MUCH more than the roomie who, bless her heart, decided to start slaving away on pancakes and sausage at 11 a.m.

  49. Bynzee

    I really appreciate this post. I spent most of the afternoon planning a New Year brunch in my head. Oh, and working, of course I was working the whole time as well. I’m thinking quiche, pumpkin muffins, fruit salad, and some sort of maple brown sugar bacon. Yes!

  50. I’m all about the french toast bake. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s egg dish. Yum. I have a breakfast love affair, and sleeping in to make it brunch is twice as nice.

  51. Jennifer

    Thank you so much! I host at least one holiday brunch every year and I am still looking for ideas for this year’s brunch.

    And that little cutie? Such a bonus!

  52. Myra

    I am always looking to see what yummy recipes you will have next and think this just might take the cake… I mean, breakfast! Thank YOU! Your baby has such sweet eyes, thanks for sharing him too :D

  53. Fantastic tips! My family always does a Boxing Day brunch so these ideas will for sure come in handy.
    I love the snowsuit pic, Jacob looks like an adorable marshmallow!!! nom nom :)

  54. The snowsuit photo is adorable! I’ve been working up the courage to host a big New Year’s Day brunch, but I’ve had to cancel due to illness for the last couple of years. You’ve got some great tips on how to get it all done!

  55. Jacob looks completely adorable and smothered (in a good way) in the snowsuit picture.

    I’m doing a brunch thing tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure what to bring (it’s potluck). I loved the winter fruit salad when I made it a few week’s ago. It will be good to bring something that the people allergic to eggs can eat.

  56. Kugel — Potato Kugel with carmelized onions and mushrooms or the Sweet Noodle Kugel with artery-busting eggs and cream cheese and caramelized fruit (bananas, pineapple, cherries — whatever suits you.) All yummy.

  57. Dawn

    Excellent timing! Hosting a New Year’s Day Brunch and can’t wait to try out some of your recipes. And yes, the bundle of joy in your last picture is so freakin’ cute, it makes my heart swell.

  58. caroline

    You’re tempting me to host a Christmas brunch– which is probably a bad idea because I leave for a trip to India the day after Christmas. But maybe!

  59. Hsin

    Love your ideas, as always.
    I don’t have the kind of freezer that you can flash freeze in, so I just stick my things (berries or cookie dough lumps or scones) not touching on a baking pan, and then after they’ve frozen I just transfer them to either quart size or gallon size freezer bags. It’s great because you can bake just a couple scones or a few cookies as you need them, or like you prepare a large batch ahead of time for entertaining.
    For an egg dish, I always love doing quiche. You can make it a week ahead and freeze the whole thing. Or you can make it just a day ahead and simply reheat in a warm oven. And you can do little “baby quiches in a muffin tin or mini tart pans, which the kids love.
    Sometimes I put in spinach and grate into it whatever cheese I have on hand. Sometimes I put in smoked/cured salmon and sauteed leeks or just salmon and fresh chopped dill.
    But unfortunately, I now live in the middle of nowhere, so I haven’t seen cured salmon for a long time. Oh, how I miss Zabar’s.

  60. Hsin

    Oh, and you can do madeleines (which impress guests but are in reality quite easy) if you do the batter the night before and store it in the fridge.

  61. I totally agree about not going out to eat brunch because you can make it better at home (I don’t like to say that too loud or often, but if I do then I make sure to invite whoever heard it to our first sunday of the month brunch-luck).

  62. Jacqueline Brocious

    Thanks for all that you do!!! I already have a Smitten Kitchen stocked full of essential utensils, cookware and bakeware as my Christmas wishlist requested…just waiting for ramekins from a sister-in-law at my annual Christmas Brunch. Your lil’ one is SO adorable which goes without saying. I have a baby about the same age as yours, and I took a picture of her in a puffy pink snowsuit this morning as she looked like a cute pink marshmallow. She is my first baby…what a joy it has been!!!

  63. Baked eggs are one of my very favorite things. I often find myself trying to mimic things I’ve had for brunch out so that I can make them at home.

    That snowsuit pic is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen (as is the precious baby in it!)

  64. Mona

    Do you know how many free babysitters you would have if we all lived nearby? Heck, people would pay money to gaze upon that cutie.

    I like the bruch outline, need to expand mine from just muffins and juice.

  65. collinconroy

    Great brunch tips and perfect timing for the post.
    I love your blog for the food but I have to say, and I’m not one prone to gush over children, that baby picture is the cutest darn thing I have seen in quite some time.

  66. Chicago Mom

    This is the first time I am posting here. But ever since I found your blog I’ve put on weight and so did my husband. After I try your wonderful recipes, I usually pass it on to my family in Brazil. This post really did hit a spot because I do not know how to make anything ahead of time, and I love having people over. Please, please keep posting more tips on making ahead and freezing. And thank you so much for all the wonderful recipes!
    Ps: Your baby is adorable!!!

  67. Erin

    This is perfectly timed for me since I’m hosting my husband’s family for brunch this year. Thanks for the ideas!

    Also, your baby is STUNNING.

  68. vetmed

    What a treat for the time between Christmas and New year’s to invite the neighbors over and make a brunch bunch! Most folks have some time off and I don’t have to bake any more cookies!!!

  69. dragonf;ly

    You are wonderful as is your blog! In a year overrun with chaos, I have found calm in “how to host a brunch”.

    Many thanx. Kiss the baby.

  70. oh i just love it here! this was a delightful post and i’m just plain hungry now… although i want to cook and i’m at work…to the boulangerie!

    also, i wanted to mention that while i like some other blogs, there is one in particular i enjoyed reading until i found out the sarcastic writer never wants children, and i believe has made that permanent. for some reason i can’t stand the snarky comments anymore. the fact that you have this adorable little nymph posted here just made me happy today! he is a doll and i applaud you! now tell me how to make one of those and i’m leaving work!

  71. Tanya

    I would have been able to sleep in if my 17th month old would sleep past 6am but that is an entirely different story. I tried the baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms and the biscuits. WONDERFUL! My husband (and toddler) thoroughly enjoyed them Thanks for the great recipes that made our morning extra special. Happy Holidays!

  72. CDG

    Deb, just wanted to thank you for the great brunch post, and to let you know that for Christmas morning this year I made the spinach strata, the winter fruit salad, and the meyer lemon/fresh cran. scones, in addition to Mom’s sour cream coffee cake, bacon, mimosas & bloody marys; everyone loved everything, and I felt like it was a breeze the morning of.

    As an addendum, I have a precocious two year old “assisting” me at all time, so anything that simplifies the process is a winner in my book! Smitten Kitchen scores again!

  73. This inspired me to make a wonderful Christmas brunch. I always thought it was either french toast and fruit or eggs and potatoes. You helped me think outside my box. I made the delicious Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps, Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins and Cinnamon-Spiced Applesauce–all from Epicurious. Everyone swooned. I owe it all to you (and our dear sad departed Gourmet).

  74. ally

    I’ve been reading your blog regular for a while and absolutely love it… but honestly this entry takes the cake! Your tips are priceless, your recipes delicious, and Jacob ridiculously adorable! And HOW are you still posting on the 25th?? You are my new kitchen goddess! Happy holidays:)

  75. Thank you so much for this fabulous post! I may have to make double the number of dishes I’m making for my New Year’s Day brunch, for I’m having difficulty narrowing down where to start with all of your mouthwatering recipes. I’m new to your wonderful world of Smitten Kitchen, but you have quickly drawn me in with your delightful blog entries, beautiful photographs and adorable baby pictures. Thank you!!!

  76. eeb

    This blog is my most fabulous discovery – I don’t even mind having to convert to metric (Sydney, Australia). I had to laugh at the post where you said something along the lines of how everyone thinks theirs is the cutest baby (I know what you mean)! Your observations on motherhood are equally as fun & inspirational as your creative cooking. What a happy vibe you give people with your posts, keep it up! Happy New Year to you and yours (especially your cute bub) with many more wonderful hours in the kitchen and success with your blog. Cheers from down under.

  77. Elo

    Deb, this post is so great and its a keeper reference. You should add the Strata link at the end so we can have them all in one page.

    I made the strata and winter fruit salad for the Christmas brunch and I used your tips in baking cranberry cinnamon buns the day before. Everything was ready when we got up on Christmas day with the strata cooking in th oven. Everyone was impressed, me included. I can’t thank you enough for your blog. I lost my family not long ago and I am a young father who’s been learning to cook for the last two years for my kids and wife. So this year, I did everything: the turkey, etc. You really helped me in getting everything organized. Thanks again!

  78. Teruma

    Can I just pipe in and say how awesome all this is? Not only are all the recipes I’ve found on this site awesome, THIS is posted the very same week I decide to host a massive brunch for friends and relatives for the first time in my life? FABULOUS. THANK YOU. Adorable-to-the-point-of-appearing-edible baby is a big plus – I can admit this even though he gives my adorable baby daughter a run for her money in the cuteness stakes!

  79. Which Jennifer

    Deb, I absolutely love this post. You’ve told us what to make in general categories and then pointed to your favorite recipes within those categories. Very, very helpful.

    I wish you would post more like this… things like how to pull off a weekday (weekend) dinner for X people, lunch (night in) with the girls, family birthday celebration, etc. And you definitely need a new button on your sidebar that points to these full menus.


  80. Deb, you are a life saver! I’m hosting brunch this weekend and I was considering pancakes, traditional french toast, or omelettes! The horror! You have saved me from many tears in the kitchen and many weeks of self-hatred :)

  81. KW

    Thank you so much for this! What a sane and sensible list!! I’m hosting an Easter brunch and it wasn’t until AFTER I sent out 40 invites that I found out I’d be singing with the choir in the 10:30 service as well as the 9:30. Yikes! I’m having to make everything ahead and I have an awesome friend coming by to put everything in the oven according to my ordered list. I have to make everything ahead so she’ll know what to do and this gives me some great ideas.

    Thanks again!

  82. KW

    Also, if you get a chance, it would be really helpful to know how you deal with reheating frozen latkes. How long do they need in the oven and at what temp?

    1. deb

      KW — 300 for 15 or 20 minutes. It will depend on their size. I like to heat them until they get crisp again. A foil lined baking sheet saves mess.

  83. NYC

    This post was perfect in helping me plan a brunch for 30 people. Made the boozy french toast (added apples and raisins to one batch), eggs cooked in pancetta cups (recipes all over the web), Eggs cooked in tomato cups w Romaine Pesto (for the vegeterians), roasted fingerling potatos, Ina’s watermelon, feta and arugula salad, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto from the NYT, Ina’s roasted salmon with herbs, and bagels w cc. Success! All the dishes were wonderful.

    Thank you!!

  84. Writing these down for this weekend to practise and then keen for utilising these at the beach house in the upcoming Summer months (in Australia anyway). Thanks so much, you’re so clever!

  85. BK

    These recipes look great! I’m going to try the baked eggs with spinach and mushroom this weekend. If I want to cook the eggs all the way, how long should I bake it?

  86. I just wanted to thank you for this awesome outline-for-a-brunch. At almost 9 mos pregnant myself, I co-hosted a pre-baby brunch last weekend for a friend a couple of weeks ahead of me. Per your instruction, I was able to do all of the prep ahead of time which made it sooooo much easier for myself than it could have been. The food was perfect and everyone was happy, especially the guest of honor.

    ps: I could have eaten a whole pan of that french toast solo. Once my stomach has its real estate back I may do just that.

  87. reena

    Like Ali, I just wanted to say thanks. All these recipes made Christmas morning with a one year old very easy. Everything was delicious and he ate a whole serving of the eggs with spinach himself!

  88. Melissa

    So I am a college student who loves everything on this website. I really love all these brunch tips and really want to make brunch for all my friends at school. The problem is I only have access to one small oven (toaster ovens aren’t even allowed here). Any advice on how to make this limited space work?

    1. deb

      Melissa — What size is the oven? I do all of the cooking for this site and life in a 2/3-size oven, which is pretty standard in NYC apartments.

  89. deb

    See above! :) This whole post is about how to manage everything from fruit salads to bacon to biscuits, muffins and eggs that are apt for small spaces and tight schedules. I hope you find tips that help you.

  90. Amanda

    Hi Deb, Love your site. I’ve never made anything from here that hasn’t turned out wonderfully! I was really thrilled to see this post come up when I did a brunch search. We’re having a brunch after our baby’s baptism in a few weeks and since the service is so early, I need a make ahead plan like this. One question (similar to Melissa’s, I guess)–even if you had a large oven there doesn’t seem to be a way to have all the items ready/hot at the same time–is there an order you put things in? I don’t think we’d be able to fit the latkes, egg dish, sausages and french toast in at the same time (especially as we’ll need to do several of the egg and french toast). Are some of those dishes okay served cold or some that really need to be straight out of the oven? Thanks so much!

    1. deb

      Any of those dishes are fine if they’re not steaming hot, ordering your operations will be mostly about what you want to be the hottest when you serve it and what would bother you least lukewarm. Eggs, sausages, and French toast can be covered with foil or a lid, of course, to keep them warm. Latkes will lose some of their crisp when covered.

  91. Tracy

    This plan worked for me this weekend, making the scones, spinach & cheese strata, boozy French toast, potato latkes, bacon, and winter fruit salad:
    2 hours before
    — Take strata out of fridge
    — Bake scones from frozen @ 425 for 30 min
    (cheddar-jalapeno on 1 tray for 30 min, cranberry-lemon on 2 trays for 20 min)
    — Flip over pan of French toast so custard can soak top layer, if you didn’t do it at night (if no tight-fitting lid, flip into another pan or rebuild)
    — Finish winter fruit salad
    (cover in plastic, put back in fridge)
    1 hour 15 minutes before
    — Bake strata @ 350 for 50 min (didn’t wait for oven to cool; used lower rack; not sure if it matters, but mine was divided between two 1.5-qt dishes)
    (cover in foil, set out)
    — Get dressed, set table
    25 minutes before
    — Bake French toast @ 400 for 40 min (2 pans on lower rack)
    — Plus bacon and latkes (1 tray of each on top rack)
    — Do a second round of latkes, then bacon, when those are done
    (cover French toast and bacon in foil, set out)
    (put latkes on a plate heated in microwave, set out)
    The French toast and strata stayed warm for an hour, it seemed. This was more than enough food for a dozen people. We never touched the second pan of French toast. I had quadrupled the latke recipe. I did feel the need, midway through brunch, to slice a few kiwis to get something fresh and healthy into the mix. Next time I’d also add fresh berries to the French toast, for the same reason.
    By the way, if I can pull off a brunch like this — of delicious dishes I’d never made before — anyone can. I’m so amazed by these recipes.

  92. Heather

    Just wanted to thank you for a great article!

    I’m going to be self-catering our brunch wedding reception in 6 months, and it was really helpful finding out what I can make ahead of time.

    It’s only 20-35 people, so I think it’s do-able, and we’re hoping to have some friends and family helping out.

    Thanks again!

  93. Audrey

    As a busy Uni student, I’ve discovered that your basic pancakes recipe, when made to be 4 – 5 inches across, freezes and toasts beautifully. I tend to pre-make them to give myself awesome slow breakfast days in the middle of the week.

  94. Diane Dear

    This is a duplicate post from the fennel blood orange recipe – hope it is helpful. We had brunch for 20 after family/friends preformed a benefit music concert the night before, based on your great recipes/tips (fennel/blood orange recipe + how to host brunch and still sleep in + spinach/cheese strata; doubled most of the recipes) and local food* (small agricultural island off the pacific northwest coast – long way from new york :-)). The raves from guests, including some from Hawaii, were out of this world; I would post them but it would be too long! So will just recommend the following to all: fennel blood orange salad, winter fruit salad, spinach/gruyere strata (used fresh spinach), potato latkes (incredibly tasty yet easy day ahead item), bloody marys, mimosas, tea, coffee etc, pumpkin bread* bagels*, uncured bacon*, breakfast sausage*, smoked salmon*, spinach salad*, cheese*, butter*, jam* cream cheese*….plus a wee bit of scrambled eggs, hash browns and GF bread for the GF. thank you thank you thank you for helping me figure it all out and make everyone happy.

  95. Deeger

    Your link about champagne and tree trimming is dead now and leads to a SERIOUSLY virus-ridden website. You might want to deactivate the link. If I hadn’t had my admin rights downgraded recently on my work PC, I would have seriously hosed it!!

  96. Deeger

    Sorry, that bad link is actually on your boozy baked french toast post which is linked to this page. I had to ctrl+alt+del to shut my entire browser down, so I lost which page it was on. But I linked to the boozy french toast from here, and the champagne and tree trimming post was on that page.

  97. deb

    Deeger — Sorry for the trouble. Blogs shut down all of the time, and sadly, other more nefarious websites crop up in their place if they had any traffic worth trying to absorb. Link now removed; thanks for the heads up.

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  99. SJ Jackson

    Dear Deb, I was on the NY Magazine site to read the excerpt from Fire and Fury and saw your Grub Street blog. As a SK fan,the blog was quick and easy to devour. A detour to the SK site to check out the Black Bread recipe. Somehow I can across a the oven spareribs which have SuperBowl slathered all over them. Now it’s an hour later and I must invite people for brunch since I can now host and sleep in. Whee, thanks Ms Perelman. You and your writing and your recipes and your photos make 15 degree weather bearable.
    Always a fan,
    Sandra Jackson (no question, just praise)

  100. HumblePie

    Whilst I don’t know you,I LOVE YOU!!:) You’re my kind of cook Deb and
    I’m forever grateful I’ve run into your blog/site.
    As a Greek(we never used to do brunch until recent years)living in the UK for the
    past long,rainy 13yrs(and foggy/cloudy weekends),I know the value of a great brunch,with friends and wonderful,home-made food…that,apparently,99%of times needs to be made by yours truly_hmm!
    Thank you for the beautiful food,the cheeky twists in beloved recipes and for giving us stressed cooks extra time to enjoy life&laughter whilst cooking(usually during/after work,in mad houses full of hungry families!). You ‘re a gem xx.

  101. Trisha Bergthold

    Such great tips! Thank you so much. Can’t second the idea of “prep in advance” enough. One thing I always do for a brunch (that isn’t completely do-ahead) is to have a green salad. It seems a little odd to some folks to have a green salad with brunch, as if, somehow green salads aren’t allowed before lunch (!!), but it always looks so pretty next to everything else and it lightens the meal considerably. I often do spinach with strawberries and slivered almonds and a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette; spinach with citrus and pecans and an orange balsamic vinaigrette; or mixed greens with mango and cashews and a chili lime vinaigrette. Basically it’s greens, a fruit, a nut, and a light vinaigrette.

  102. Annette Pritchett

    I’ve loved your recipes and still come to your site when i am looking for something specific. However, i stopped following you on all social media due to some unnecessary political comments you made on your COOKING site following the last election.

  103. Elizabeth G

    I adore the concept of preparing something in advance, then rolling out of bed and popping it in the oven. How do you manage baking multiple things at different temps and keeping everything warm? Thanks!