Whole Story

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Brunch Basics and Beyond

Strawberry-Lemon Olive Oil Coffee Cake

From its sweet and savory dishes and kid-friendly atmosphere to its inclusion of cocktails for the adults, I love everything about brunch. As a host, it’s not as overwhelming as organizing a dinner party. You can simply offer the basics (breakfast tacos or bagels) with a few twists (fruit compote or flavored butter) and please everyone. As a guest, it’s casual and expectations are nearly always met. Coffee? Fill ‘er up. Asparagus frittata? I’d love a slice. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls? My goodness, yes.

For all these reasons, I opt for hosting brunches for get-togethers, birthday parties and special occasions. Here are a few of my tips for hosting a brunch.


  • Make ahead. Pick a few dishes that can be prepped in advance so that you’ll have more time to sip, eat and mingle with friends. Breakfast casseroles, stratas and coffee cakes are perfect solutions.
  • Buy some. Make some. It’s the morning. It’s the weekend. Why overdo things? Save time by picking up muffins, croissants and pastries from the bakery or grab a dozen fresh bagels. Then stir fruit preserves or honey and thyme into softened butter, cream cheese or fresh goat cheese for a customized spread.
  • Highlight seasonal superstars. I’m of the mindset that if you serve flavorful peak-season fruits and vegetables, you can keep the recipes simple. This spring I’ve got asparagus, strawberries, mangoes and pineapple on my brunch menus.

Raise the Bar

Have guests build their own bagel sandwiches by setting out smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, slices of cucumbers, red onion, radishes and tomatoes, and fresh herbs such as basil, dill, chives.

Or set up a yogurt parfait bar with granola, fresh or dried fruit and chopped nuts. Then add something special like thyme infused honeyed walnuts, roasted strawberries or rhubarb and berry compote.

What about a bar for breakfast tacos, waffles or pancakes?

And for the adults, a Bloody Mary bar or mimosa bar is always a hit.  

A Few Essentials

Whether I serve a frittata, tacos or bagels, I usually serve a plate of bacon too. (Make it simple on yourself. Arrange bacon slices on a rimmed sheet tray and bake at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes until crispy.) I also offer a simple green salad, coffee, tea and juice.

Here is more brunch inspiration.

Ricotta Strawberry Pancakes

Parmigiano-Reggiano Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard

Mango Mimosas

Gluten Free Baked Berry French Toast

Mango, Raspberry and Cashew Cream Parfaits

Breakfast Turkey Sausage

What are your go-to recipes and tips for hosting a brunch? I’d love to hear them.