Prepare To Impress

Make-Ahead Brunch Ideas For A Stress-Free Holiday

by Stacey Moritz // October - November - December 2023

The holiday season is swiftly approaching, and undoubtedly, your to-do list, along with your stress level, is growing exponentially. It’s highly likely that one of your most significant sources of stress revolves around pre-

paring delectable holiday meals for your loved ones. When it comes to hosting a memorable holiday brunch, the last thing you want is to be overwhelmed in the kitchen while your guests are reveling in the festivities. The good news is that there are plenty of scrumptious make-ahead options available. When brunchtime arrives, you can effortlessly pop them in the oven or retrieve them from the fridge, ensuring a delightful meal that will surely leave a lasting impression.

Kick your holiday morning off on a sweet note with baked goodies, particularly breads. Breakfast breads and muffins bring a sense of warmth and tradition to the festive season. You can explore delectable options from local bakeries, but you can also bake your own in advance for a delicious brunch with minimal effort. Store in the freezer then simply thaw at room temperature overnight for next-morning enjoyment. Breads and muffins like cranberry, banana chocolate chip, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon apple are all crowd favorites, appealing to both adults and kids alike.

Breakfast casseroles are the perfect addition to your stress-free holiday meal. Many of these hearty dishes are best when prepared a day or two in advance and then baked just before serving. Most also freeze nicely – just be sure to thaw overnight in the fridge for more consistent baking results. If you’re hosting a younger crowd, consider offering French toast casseroles, which can be customized with a variety of syrups like maple, blueberry, or strawberry, as well as your favorite fruit compotes and jams. Personally, I’m a fan of savory breakfast casserole options, such as quiches and frittatas, stratas, and even breakfast enchiladas. These dishes can be tailored to suit any sized crowd and provide a creative way to offer both meat and vegetarian options to please just about everyone.

Another crowd-pleaser and an easy make-ahead option is the good ol’ hash brown casserole – a quick trip to the freezer section for frozen diced or shredded potatoes makes preparation a breeze. Go the traditional route, or add in crispy bacon, savory ham, spicy sausage, or zesty green onions. Mix in a quick cheese sauce, pour into a baking dish, and top with a sprinkle of your favorite shredded cheese. In the morning, simply pop it into the oven. If you are feeding a large group, add some seasonal fruit, bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or biscuits and ham to round out the meal.

Additional brunch suggestions to serve with your festive and delicious holiday spread include:

Pancakes and Waffles: Make mini pancakes or waffles in advance, then freeze. Reheat them in the oven or toaster on brunch day. Offer various toppings like fresh berries, fruit compote, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and maple syrup.

Breakfast Burritos: Cook and season scrambled eggs, saute vegetables, and crisp bacon or cook sausage in advance. When it’s time to serve, set up a DIY breakfast burrito station with additional ingredients such as cheese, salsa, avocado, and tortillas for guests to assemble their breakfast wraps.

Parfaits: Layer yogurt parfaits with granola, berries, and a drizzle of honey in individual jars or glasses. These can be assembled the night before your brunch and kept in the fridge.

Fruit Salad: A fresh fruit salad is easy to prepare ahead of time. Wash, chop, and mix various fruits such as berries, melon, and citrus. Refrigerate, then add a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of mint leaves just prior to serving.

When it comes to the beloved tradition of holiday brunch, a stress-free meal is the perfect way to easily enjoy the festive season with loved ones. By choosing simple yet delicious dishes that can be prepared in advance, all you need to do the morning of is brew the coffee, set out the plates, and pour yourself a mimosa!

Stacey Moritz

Owner of The Lemon Tree Cafe, offering freshly prepared salads, pastas, soups, and take-away fare.