6 Easy Shortcuts for Hosting a Blockbuster Holiday Brunch
We’ve all been there—boxes and wrapping paper piled up in the living room, crusty casserole dishes still hanging out in the kitchen sink. When it comes to the day after the big event, a host hardly feels like lifting a finger. That’s why mustering the energy for holiday brunch ideas can be such a challenge.
But prepping holiday brunch recipes in advance can be easier than you think. You can do the next day’s prep while you're making dinner for the big event, so brunch for the family will be a cinch. From a Swedish-inspired hotdish straight out of Minnesota to a sophisticated make-your-own smørrebrød station for picky eaters, these are the make-ahead brunch recipe hacks you need for a blockbuster feast the day after your holiday dinner.
1. Make-Ahead Quiche
Quiches are a winner at brunch, both for yourself and for your guests. Not only does this preppable dish keep well, but it packs a protein punch and is super easy for guests to scarf up while chatting at a party.
But how to hack your quiche? First, the obvious: Quite literally, make the entire thing in advance—or make two for larger gatherings, so you can do one vegetarian and one with meat. But here’s the trick: Take the quiche out of the oven 10 minutes before it’s done. Then cover it with a lid, store it in the fridge until brunch time, and finish it in the oven when your guests arrive. Another handy way to prep is to roll out the pie crust and mold it in the plate, then have the eggs and mix-ins ready to simply pour in and bake 45 minutes before your guests show up.
To make it a blockbuster showing, you can even bake mini-quiches, or “personal pan” quiches, in a 12-cup muffin pan. Make sure to grate any cheese, sauté any greens, and roast or sauté any garlic in advance, as the little things end up throwing your brunch schedule off course.
2. French Toast Bake
We’ve got nothing against regular French toast, but do you really want to stand by your pan all morning, flipping incessantly as you hungrily watch your large family devour and demand more? A French toast bake makes it easy for you to toss it all in a big casserole dish and let it bake—and then you’re done, in under an hour.
The key to a killer French toast bake is buying the right bread. If you’re in the bread aisle, look for Texas toast, sourdough or country white bread in a thicker cut, or cut the slices yourself from a whole loaf of Pullman.
Once you’ve got the bread, arrange it in a three-quart baking dish. After that, it’s just a matter of melting butter in the microwave, adding sugar and cinnamon to it, and pouring that and the beaten eggs on top of a layer of bread. Add another bread layer, then the egg and butter mixtures. Crown with pretty berries and powdered sugar. All of it you can do beforehand, and then just bake it off when guests begin to arrive. You’ll be party-ready and fresh as a daisy when guests arrive.
3. *The* Best Yogurt Toast for Your Air Fryer or Oven
If it’s hyperbole or just too soon to call yogurt toast the new French toast, we don’t care. That’s because these pretty rectangles of baked-in goodness are the breakfast of the year, as far as we’re concerned.
We’re big fans of yogurt toast for a few reasons: One, you can perfectly time-and-temp it in your air fryer, or you can make it in an oven instead. Two, it uses up leftover bread (#zerowaste) and requires only a couple other ingredients. Three, it’s beautiful and delicious.
Grab a sturdy whisk and give those eggs a good whip before adding yogurt. Egg and yogurt are the only mainstays, and everything else is up to you (lemon juice, strawberry jam, nuts, fruit, vanilla and other flavors or syrups). If you’re using an air fryer, the key to getting the yogurt toast right and keeping your fryer clean for the next slice is pressing an indentation into the toast before filling it. The yogurt toast will be ready in 10 minutes. Using an oven instead? It’s just as easy: Make an indentation in the toast and fill it with the mixture, then bake it for 10-15 minutes.
If you make seven or eight slices of yogurt toast ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven or under a dish towel, they’ll be ready to go when guests arrive. A 9x13 non-stick cake pan or three-quart glass baking dish will do the trick nicely for presentation, so pile a stack of yogurt toast inside and top with berries, nuts and edible flowers.
4. MYO Open-Faced Smørrebrød Station
If Danish smørrebrød isn’t on your brunch radar yet, you’re in for a fun smorgasbord that allows your guests to mix-and-match their toppings and make their own toasts. All you do is start by setting out some rye bread—which traditionally is not actually toasted for this dish. Then arrange all the toppings, and you’re done: It’s the easiest job ever for you as host.
Let guests ‘gram their creations on the plain white background of a roomy cutting board, so they can show off toppings like the traditional pickled herring or a bagel-like cream cheese and lox with capers. Chicken salad, roast beef? Both are fantastic on a smørrebrød. Or you can let your guests go wild. Brie, pear and walnuts? Sure. Thin slices of melon drizzled with honey and topped with shaved ham? Of course. A simple cheese and tomato with sliced scallions? Yup. Fork-tender new potatoes with a squiggle of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of chopped thyme on top, plus fried onions and flecks of salty potato chips? The only instruction you need to give is that a slather of butter on each smørrebrød and more toppings than you think you need make it better.
And if you want to make sure your brunch is the star of the week, offer pretty things to put on top: frisee, edible flowers, toasted nuts, several types of chopped fresh herbs, and a squeeze bottle of remoulade, aioli or Kewpie mayo … maybe even some Sriracha. Spread out tools across the bar, from a cheese plane and a wire cheese slicer to this mini Santoku knife perfect for slicing proteins, plus a pair of scissors that neatly pare herbs, and a cupcake icer that’s actually very suited for slathering on sauces and butters.
5. Breakfast Pizza with Eggs on Top
Nothing against pizza for dinner, but pizza for breakfast is a decadent delight— not cold pizza you eat standing by your fridge, but piping-hot, crusty breakfast pizza fresh off a sizzling pizza stone.
The secret to the shortcut here is to buy your pizza dough from the local corner shop or grocery store, or even to grab already-rolled-out crusts. But if you’re in the mood to roll some dough yourself, check out the non-stick rolling pin of champions, which can defeat any yeasty dough that tries to stick to it.
Put everything on your pan and start layering. Some combos for breakfast you won’t be able to resist: eggs and bacon, sausage and a light drizzle of maple syrup, and tater tots with hot sauce.
If your pan is non-stick like this pizza pan, it’ll stay pretty for years to come. And you’ll want to use a pizza wheel that won’t damage it. Those two items are worth their weight in gold.
6. Cranberry Loaf
If you’ve been doing banana bread for years, it’s time to switch it up for the holidays. A cranberry loaf is a tart, festive and hearty way to welcome guests at the beginning of a brunch. While everyone is loafing by the TV or drinking cinnamon cider or coffee by the tree, serve this just-sweet-enough sweet. It’s a teatime treat that’s equally perfect for breakfast.
You’ll need all the usual suspects: flour, milk, butter, eggs, salt, sugar, and baking powder, along with orange zest, orange juice and fresh cranberries. (Don’t try this with dried cranberries, as it’s just not the same.) You can add pecans, walnuts or other nuts to the mix, too. Then, you’ll make the glaze with powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice and drizzle liberally onto the loaf.
Making this loaf in advance buys you more time to cook the savory entrees of your brunch while your guests are snacking, and you can even prepare it one to two days ahead.
Want more great holiday entertaining ideas? Check out these tips on mixing up deliciously festive cocktails.