Make-Ahead Brunch Recipes for Easy Entertaining
Brunch might be the best meal to share with another family but it needs to be simple to fix, with no last-minute fuss. These easy do-ahead breakfasts can be assembled the day before, then you can sit back and enjoy the fun with the rest of the family as your oven does all the work for you.
Breakfast Strata with Sausage, Leeks and Fresh Herbs
Breakfast casseroles have long been a brunch standby as they’re hearty, healthy, mostly hands-off, and utterly customizable. Feel free to substitute your kids’ favorite vegetables, to omit the sausage or switch out with bacon, and to use whatever fresh herb you have on hand; the sky’s the limit! And for those of you who enjoy a kick to your breakfast, it tastes amazing with sriracha, or the hot sauce of your choice.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8oz bulk breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons of butter, plus more for greasing the dish.
2 leeks, white parts only
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups whole milk
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 loaf sliced white bread (not the end pieces)
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil or dill are great choices)
2 cups cheddar cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the sausage. Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Drain sausage on paper towels, then set aside.
Halve the leeks lengthwise, wash well between layers to remove any grit, then cut into ½” slices. Melt the butter in the skillet and cook leeks for around 8-10 minutes until soft and cooked through. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, salt and pepper, milk and parmesan cheese. Add the bread and mix well so most of the mixture gets soaked up (don’t worry if the bread falls apart).
Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish, then add half of the bread mixture. Top with half of the sausage, leeks, herbs and cheese. Cover with the remaining bread mixture, then the remaining half of the sausage, leeks, herbs and cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, bring the dish out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350° then bake for around 60 minutes until brown on top and cooked through. (If the top is getting too dark, feel free to loosely cover with some aluminum foil.)
Crème Brulee French Toast
This ultra-decadent breakfast is a snap to make, but tastes (and looks) like you’ve been slaving in the kitchen with a whole team of elves all morning. For an extra festive note, you can replace some or all of the half-and-half with eggnog. Delicious served with bacon and fresh fruit, or just by itself hot out of the oven.
1 stick butter (preferably unsalted)
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 1” slices of bread (challah works best, but a regular French loaf is a fine substitute)
1 ½ cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon orange liqueur (or substitute orange juice)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Place butter, sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until everything has melted and mixture is smooth, then pour into a 13 x 9 baking dish. Arrange bread slices over the caramel, and press down lightly to ensure an even coating.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, orange liqueur (or orange juice), vanilla extract and salt. Pour mixture evenly over bread, making sure all slices get a good soaking. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, bring the dish out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Heat the oven to 350° then bake for 40 minutes until puffy and golden. Invert the slices so the crispy side is facing up, and drizzle any leftover caramel on top.
Buttermilk Breakfast Biscuits
If you’re looking for something a little smaller to kick start your day, then look no further than these light, buttery biscuits. They can be baked up to three days ahead, and they freshen right up with a quick warm in the oven. Serve with cream cheese and smoked salmon for a decadent festive treat, or simply with butter and your favorite jam (like our pear and ginger preserves).
Makes 6 large biscuits
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
Take 5 tablespoons of the butter and cut into small dice. Place on a plate and place in the freezer until very cold, around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 475° and position a rack in the upper half. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Take the cold butter and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles rough crumbs (a few bigger pieces of butter left is okay, but you don’t want anything larger than a small pea). Place the mixture into the freezer until very cold, around 15 minutes.
Remove bowl from freezer, then stir in buttermilk until a rough dough forms. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured work area and form into a rectangle roughly around 9” x 7” and around ¾” thick. Fold the rectangle towards the middle in thirds (as if you were folding a letter), then fold in half in the other direction. Roll dough out again to roughly 9” x 7” and then use a large (3.5”) cookie cutter to cut out 6 biscuits, reforming scraps of dough when necessary. (Note: do not twist cookie cutter as this impedes the biscuits rise.) Melt remaining tablespoon of butter and brush tops of biscuits with it.
Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for around 13-15 minutes (rotating halfway), until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a rack and let cool. If cooking ahead of time, store in an airtight container for up to 3 days and gently reheat in oven when ready to serve.