Savory & Sweet: Two Holiday Brunch Menus

Hosting a holiday brunch has never been so attractive for me now that my friends and I have small children. It’s just a much more enjoyable get-together than having an evening party and trying to keep the little ones up late – or put them down early.

Instead, we socialize in the late morning while the children are rested and then in the afternoon, after the guests leave, our household naps! It is the holidays, after all. Later, we can have the evening to ourselves, or invite our friends who are not quite yet in the kids stage over for a simple cocktail hour.

Brunch can be as simple as brewing a pot of coffee, baking a batch of the best muffins ever and setting out a bowl of clementines. It should be fun and enjoyable to plan, which is why I’ve given some suggestions below for simple sample menus with plenty of do-ahead tips.


pumpkin challah

It’s hard to get more festive than Toasted Pumpkin Challah with Cinnamon Walnut Butter. Both can be made several days in advance, in fact, I’ve got a loaf of challah in my freezer right now.

If you’re more the quick bread type, these Basic Cream Scones are soft and fluffy, while traditional Scottish Oat Scones provide a heftier, more filling breakfast fare.

If these Rosemary Hash Browns couldn’t be made weeks in advance and frozen, I probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of serving potatoes with brunch. But they do freeze fine and reheat beautifully in a 450 degree oven. Make a double batch; they’re highly addicting.

Citrus Salad with Honey & Mint showcases the best of the season’s selection of grapefruit, tangerines and clementines. Top with fresh pomegranate arils to add some festive color.

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Frittata beats cooking eggs to order, boring scrambled eggs or finicky souffle. This brunch specialty comes together so simply, even my kids can make it.

Cook the bacon and grate the cheese in advance to save time and feel free to toss in chopped fresh herbs for a fragrant touch.


banana oatmeal pancakes

My kids are such pancake aficionados, that if our brunch is fewer than eight people, pancakes are at the top of the menu. Our favorites include:

Of course, what is a pancake party without a homemade syrup or two, right? Here are five simple recipes for natural pancake syrup.

If I’m expecting a crowd and don’t want to flip pancakes all morning, this Overnight Baked Pumpkin French Toast is totally my back-up plan. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?! It bakes up crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and serves up in slices just like pan-fried French Toast.

If you’re not a fan of pumpkin, there’s also an apple-spice variation that is equally as tasty.

Fruit-Bottom Yogurt  just has to be served because I love yogurt for breakfast and serving it up in adorable jars is right up my ally. This year I’m making a batch of Pear Cranberry Compote to go on the bottom of the jars.

Maple Vanilla Roasted Pear Parfaits are another way to showcase fruit in your menu, and the warm pecan topping provides a decadent touch. Alternately, Maple Pecan Baked Apples are fun and seasonal.

Holiday Beverages

There will be a line-up to get to the coffee – that’s a given – but perhaps you could entice your guests with one of these decidedly festive drinks.

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Classic Eggnog – with variations for cooked and non-alcoholic versions.

Flavored Toffee Caramel Dessert Coffee

More Brunch Planning Tips & Ideas:

Savory or Sweet? What is your ideal brunch fare?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Martha Artyomenko says

    I really like to make a Hashbrown egg bake that bakes up nice and crispy, but goes together with grated potatoes, chopped veggies and eggs and is baked in the oven. It is also really good wrapped in a tortilla!

  2. Jan @ Family Bites says

    I like both sweet and savoury foods at my brunch. A simple green salad is a must for me and I also like to include some smoked salmon or a small ham (which is preferred by the kids). Scones or sweet breads are always included as well.

  3. I LOVE brunch! It’s my favorite.

    Fresh bread, scones, eggs, potatoes…I love it all.

    And that toffee coffee sounds incredible!

  4. At brunch, I nearly always choose savory items. I think it’s because I’m always very hungry by brunch and I know that savory items tend to keep me full for a while. Of course, not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy a week item as a bit of a pre-brunch breakfast. I totally would.

  5. We’ve always done cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, but this year we’re all gluten free! Ack!

    I think I’m going to try that apple-bacon-no cheddar here frittata looks fantastic, and the presentation on that citrus is fabulous. And of course we all love hash browns! (I’ll make them ahead for sure.)

    Thanks for the great suggestions!

    • Thanks, Anne. Check out some great do-ahead tips for the citrus salad on the original post. It IS so pretty, especially if you use as many varieties of citrus as possible. In January, when blood oranges appear, it’s particularly stunning.

  6. I think the rosemary hashbrowns will be appearing on the 24th here! We were originally going to do dinner on the 23, but bro-in-law is working, so brunch it is! I was just trying to come up with a good side dish for my usual sausage-cheese baked french toast casserole thingamabob. (Wow does that need a better name.)

  7. I’d love that fritata!

  8. Savory!!! Although that pumpkin French toast sounds appealing- I would have to adapt it to be dairy free. I do make sugarplum muffins Christmas morning as our sweet treat but it may just be a way to get everyone to eat prunes…

  9. I’m going to try that apple-bacon-no cheddar here frittata looks fantastic, and the presentation on that citrus is fabulous. And of course we all love hash browns! (I’ll make them ahead for sure.)

  10. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says

    I love brunches and breakfasts. I am sharing my family’s Christmas breakfast menu with everyone over at my blog. I do the same thing every year because it is a tradition and oh so good! Please visit! The eggnog french toast is a favorite and most everything is prepped a day or two in advance.

  11. I’ve made baked french toasts before. Usually I use whatever wheat or grain bread I have around. This year I’m thinking I might make a rustic bread JUST for breakfast. I love the idea of easy already prepared things. This year I’m also doing a juice bar with different citrus juices!

  12. Great tips – thank you! We love your ABC frittata around here.

  13. I LOVE brunch! Was my fav before kids, and is one of the few entertaining options that’s just as much fun (if not more) with kids! Roasted Salmon is a go-to for me. Super easy, looks fancy, can’t go wrong. Oh, and you’ve got to try my hubbies bloody mary’s: Ridiculous.

  14. We tried the cornmeal pancakes this past weekend – yum!

    One of our brunch favorites is a large oven pancake with fried apples.

  15. What gorgeous menus!! I don’t think I can pick! LOL! Happy Holidays love!

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