This ultimate guide to the best brunch recipes features great brunch ideas, recipes and advice on how to create a fabulous brunch in your own home. A great way to start a lazy day with family and friends.
My “Ultimate Guide to the Best Brunch Recipes” came about as we thought it would be worthwhile to pull together all those recipes that we love to cook for brunch. A straightforward guide for anyone hosting a weekend breakfast or brunch party for family and friends and all these recipes in one place.
Table of contents
- A brief history of brunch
- Modern day Sunday brunch
- How do I set about planning brunch?
- Menu Planning – Top 5 Tips
- How do I set about planning brunch?
- Best brunch recipes
- Should I cater separately for children?
- What drinks should I serve at brunch?
- How do I accommodate all diners (eg: allergy sufferers; vegetarian; vegan)?
- Brunch guest? What should I take for my host?
A brief history of brunch
Brunch is believed to have originated in England, a portmanteau combining the two words “breakfast” and “lunch”. The first recorded mention of brunch is in 1895 in Guy Beringer’s article “Brunch: A Plea” in Hunter’s Weekly.
In this article Beringer argues the case for Sunday brunch, a meal that starts no earlier than 12.30pm, allowing the prolonging of Saturday nights. Further, suggesting we rise on a Sunday “when the world is warm”. Beringer goes on to say “the World would be kinder and more charitable” were Sunday brunch to become order of the day. [Source: Beringer, G; Hunter’s Weekly; 1895]
That sentiment stands today, brunch brings people together socially, a more relaxed meal than either lunch or dinner. There is an informality to brunch, something appreciated by both diner and host alike. Brunch is a meal to take your time over, on those days where you’ve nowhere else to be!
The concept of brunch hit American shores in the late 1920s and became popular during the 1930s. However, the rise in popularity of brunch arose from transcontinental train journeys made by the wealthy elite. Whereby they would stop off in Chicago to enjoy brunch before continuing on their travels.
Modern day Sunday brunch
These days Sunday brunch in many cities across the globe is a lavish affair and involves going out with friends. Sat around tables in large luxury hotels, a vast smorgasbord of food available, often washed down with endless glasses of champagne.
Our approach to brunch is a far more relaxed affair and no less enjoyable for it! We both love brunch, its a great way of gathering family and friends around the table, relaxing in great company and with plenty of good food. This simple guide shows you some of our best Sunday brunch recipes.
How do I set about planning brunch?
It’s best to do a little advanced planning. I’m not talking extensive planning, simply jotting down a few ideas. You want to have everything under control when your guests arrive! There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere to find a stressed out host. A happy and relaxed host results in happy and relaxed guests.
Hints and tips for the perfect brunch
- Who are you inviting – family, friends both?
- Will there be children present?
- Decide on a date and time that works for everyone and not too early in the morning. Allow yourself time to prepare everything at a relaxed pace, without you having to rise super early on your day off.
- Set the table the night before – I always do this as it saves valuable time in the morning. Keep things simple, set out glasses, crockery, cutlery and napkins on the table, along with condiments.
- Look out the serving dishes you will require along with jugs for serving drinks.
Menu Planning – Top 5 Tips
- Who’s coming? Once you have an idea of numbers you can start planning food.
- Keep the menu simple, some hot elements, some cold and a good selection of drinks.
- Menu planning not only helps you work out what you’re going to eat, it also cuts down on waste.
- Do you have any vegetarian or vegan diners? Does anyone in the group have any allergies or food intolerance. Organise yourself ahead of time so there are no last minute surprises.
- Where possible include items that can be cooked or part prepared ahead of time, ideally the day before. These dishes save time and energy when you have guests to entertain.
How do I set about planning brunch?
There are a number of things that make a great brunch menu and our Ultimate Guide to the Best Brunch recipes is here to help. Whether its a small brunch for a few friends or a large family gathering there are dishes here to suit every need. For a full list of all our brunch dishes click here for the link to our Brunch recipes.
Best brunch recipes
Eggs form the basis of many of our Ultimate Guide to Brunch recipes. We both love eggs as they are versatile, full of flavour and deliciously filling. All my favourite breakfast and brunch dishes contain the humble egg!
Croque Madame hands down my favourite brunch option, toast with cheese sauce, ham, mustard and topped with an egg. As close to brunch perfection as you get.
However, not the easiest dish if guest numbers are on the high side, but perfect for groups of 4-6 people.
Baked Eggs (or ouefs en cocotte) are a great option for feeding large numbers. Provide guests with a selection of flavourings and they can make their own egg, before popping into the oven to bake!
For a spicy version Curried Baked Eggs work a treat. A great prep ahead option as the spiced vegetable base can be prepared ahead of time and kept overnight in the fridge. It’s then a simple case of adding the yogurt and bacon to the dishes before popping in the oven.
An omelette is ideal when serving smaller numbers. My Healthy Spinach Omelette is packed full of nutritious vegetables and is finished with a drizzle of basil pesto.
My Omelette Arnold Bennett is a delicious omelette that’s full of flavour and simple to prepare. A rich and indulgent breakfast or brunch dish with lovely soft flakes of smoked haddock.
For a sharing style omelette opt for my Chorizo Tortilla, which is easily multiplied to feed a crowd. Cook then cut up and served in slices either hot or cold.
How about an alternative take on ham and eggs try Parma Ham & Egg Savoury Muffins? Line a muffin tray with thin slices of Parma ham and fill with whisked egg and freshly chopped herbs. This is a great brunch recipe for feeding a crowd, allow 2 per person.
Brunch ideas to feed a crowd
Some dishes naturally lend themselves to catering larger numbers. My Baked Eggs; Curried Baked Eggs; Chorizo Tortilla; Parma Ham & Egg Savoury Muffins recipes above all lend themselves to feeding a crowd. Here are some brunch ideas that cater for larger numbers:
Dishes that are easy to multiply work great for brunch. Chorizo Hash, a simple cook that’s full of spice and perfect when catering for larger numbers. Simply make one large pan of hash and top with a fried egg.
Shakshuka is a deliciously spiced dish where fresh eggs are lightly poached in a smoky tomato sauce with onion, peppers and aubergine that’s gently spiced with cumin and chilli.
Smoked Haddock Kedgeree is another dish that can be adapted for large numbers. It marries fresh flaky fish with a nice hit of warm spices and is finished with fresh herbs.
Courgette Fritters are ideal for making in advance and heating up just before you’re ready to serve. Pair with some heritage tomatoes, thin strips of courgette and top with a poached egg.
Not everyone wants egg and bacon and that’s where where cereals and granola work well. Team them up with thick sour Greek yoghurt, seeds, dried and fresh fruit and you have a delicious alternative to egg based dishes.
Chocolate & Hazelnut Granola works a treat here, add extra dried fruits to the mix as you would like, cranberry and apricot are ideal. Even better, this granola can be made up ahead of time, earlier in the week, so all you need do on the day is open the jar!
Another great granola recipe, this time with a fruity twist, try my Cinnamon Granola with Almond & Apricot, served here with thick Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
My Christmas Spiced Granola with Orange and Cranberry is popular over the Winter months. I add a variety of nuts and seeds for crunch, along with warming cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, which work perfectly with orange and cranberry.
Bread based brunch ideas
Bread should always be a consideration. A good quality sourdough with butter, jam and marmalade never disappoints. However, if time allows here are some other great brunch ideas.
Another great brunch style bread that’s great for sharing is my Potato Galette. We’ve topped ours with potatoes but you could add other vegetables too, for example onions, sliced bell peppers or courgette.
For something a little different try my Cornbread with Sweetcorn Salsa, Poached Egg & Avocado, a vegetarian dish that meat eaters will also devour. The Cornbread and the salsa can both be made a day ahead and this is easily one of the tastiest brunch we have ever eaten.
When it comes to sweeter brunch ideas you can’t beat my Cinnamon Rolls, they win hands down every time! This recipe makes 12 rolls and can be prepared the day before and left to prove overnight in the fridge. Ready to pop into the oven just before your guests arrive. Can you imagine the warming smell of cinnamon in your kitchen as they bake?
Should I cater separately for children?
In most cases this should be unnecessary unless you have particularly fussy eaters. Most children enjoy brunch, but the key is to remember they won’t want to sit languishing for hours. I find it best to feed the kids first then let them go off, play and do their own thing. Few children want to sit round a kitchen table for hours in the way that adults do.
A fail-safe brunch for kids could include: waffles; French toast (eggy bread; bacon; sausages; maple syrup; homemade jam and stacks of warm buttered toast. However, my go-to is always a stack of freshly make pancakes. Here are my favourite brunch ideas for feeding kids.
My Scotch Pancakes are great for kids and work with a variety of toppings. Serve them warm with homemade jam or marmalade, maple syrup and bacon, honey and fresh fruit. The list is endless. Prepare the batter mix the night before then cook fresh when your guests arrive.
Pumpkin Pancakes spiced with ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a great tasting twist on a traditional pancake recipe. I served my fluffy pumpkin pancakes stack with some maple syrup & cinnamon spiced candied pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
My American Buttermilk Pancakes are flavoured with cinnamon and this is a real family favourite recipe. Stack them high and serve with some Greek Yogurt, fresh berries and spoon over your favourite fruit sauce.
Poffertjes which are mini Dutch pancakes dusted with icing sugar and some softened butter to dip them in. These little pancakes are not overly sweet in themselves, only once dusted with sugar. They make an ideal sweet treat and are loved by both adults and children alike.
For a great finish to any of our pancakes, why not try my Fresh Blueberry Compote (Blueberry Sauce). Simple to make in a matter of minutes and loved by kids and adults alike.
Carrot & Courgette Muffins, flavoured with cinnamon and with the crunch of pumpkin and sunflower seed. Served warm from the oven these are the perfect start to your morning, any day of the week.
My Healthy Green Smoothie is enjoyed by kids and adults alike and is a great way of adding to our 5-a-day. A delicious blend of fruit and vegetables that not only tastes great, but is naturally nutrient rich so good for you too.
What drinks should I serve at brunch?
There are no hard and fast rules about what drinks to serve. However a good selection of tea, coffee and fruit juice is a good start. Try and make sure you have decaffeinated options available too.
Decide beforehand whether or not you’re going to serve alcohol and if so what you’re serving. A good breakfast martini or bloody Mary never fail to impress. However, be conscious that many diners will not want alcohol before mid-day.
If you are serving large numbers at brunch it’s a great idea to make up large jugs of cocktail. This saves considerable time mixing each person their own drink.
To that end, if serving cocktails, ensure you have some non-alcoholic ones available too. Or how about serving a warm fruit punch, something like my Hot Mulled Apple Juice.
How do I accommodate all diners (eg: allergy sufferers; vegetarian; vegan)?
If you’ve planned ahead you will know if there are any particular diets that you need to accommodate. Remember brunch is a laid-back and informal affair so rather than single people out, try and come up with some brunch ideas that everyone can eat.
For example, if you are planning on serving a full cooked breakfast but have vegan diners, include vegan sausages and serve plenty vegetable sides, for example some oven roasted tomatoes or mushrooms with herbs. Cooking them separately like this means that you can serve everyone from the one roasting dish.
Where allergies and food intolerance are concerned, you need to pay particular attention to how food is prepared and stored. Start by preparing food for anyone with allergies then cover and set it aside, this significantly reduces the chances of cross-contamination of food.
However, if you are unsure the best thing to do is ask the person themselves. Let them see what you’re planning to cook and get their okay in advance of the day, ideally before you prepare anything. Allergy UK is a website that gives great information and advice on allergies.
Brunch guest? What should I take for my host?
Steer away from bringing food you’ve prepared for the brunch itself, unless you’ve been specifically asked to. In all likelihood your host will already have the food preparation well underway before you arrive. Instead, opt for a simple thank you type gift, here are some suggestions:
- bunch of flowers
- potted plant
- bottle of wine
- box of chocolates
- nice bottle of olive oil
- flavoured vinegar
- homemade jams or preserves
- ingredients for a cocktail
We hope our Ultimate Guide to Brunch has given you some ideas, both on how to plan a great brunch and what to serve. Finally, remember people are coming to see you so cook what you enjoy to cook. Get it done quickly and get sat around that table yourself.