brunch with pancakes sausage eggs and bacon

Plan and Prep for a Laid-Back Brunch

Last Updated on April 26, 2022

When crocuses and daffodils start poking up through the dirt in the garden, our minds turn to brunch. Something about the warming weather and the longer days makes us crave a light, leisurely meal with our crew, with lots of hot coffee, fresh juice, good eats, and a minimum of fuss.

Brunch can be fussy, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. In fact, part of the appeal is that if you plan it out right, you can prep almost everything ahead of time and enjoy a delightful meal without last-minute kitchen distractions. Here’s how to do it.

Plan the Brunch Menu

It’s nice to stretch brunch out over a few warm, sunny hours, and you also don’t want to load people down with too much heavy stuff. So think of a spread that includes some dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature, and a couple of other items you can pop into the oven when people arrive and serve warm when the time comes. A mix of sweet and savory, protein and produce, plus delicious drinks, is key.

Eggs:

individual frittatas

 

A midday gathering isn’t the time for individual egg and toast orders. So if you know you have egg lovers coming over, you can put together a batch of deviled eggs ahead of time, or make a frittata or quiche that morning and serve at room temperature (or quickly warm at the last minute).

Meats:

breakfast-sausage

 

Frying bacon and sausage on the stovetop is definitely another thing you don’t want to be doing when your brunch guests arrive. Breakfast meats like bacon and sausage are fairly forgiving if you par-cook in the oven and reheat at the last minute, but if you’re juggling other stuff during the meal, it’s easier to just work those ingredients into other dishes, like a sausage strata, which can easily be prepped ahead of time and slid into the oven right before people arrive.

Likewise, people love their bacon, but it’s tough to time a hot platter of the quintessential breakfast meat during a brunch gathering. Try to get your bacon fix instead in a Dutch baby (prep the batter and filling ahead and bake off when people arrive) or with these chocolate-bacon cupcakes for dessert.

Add Some Fruits and Veg:

shaved asparagus brunch salad

 

Brunch is never complete without some lovely fruit and a big salad. Keep it simple here—in spring, a big bowl of strawberries feels special and decadent. For salads, the sky’s the limit. You could toss together an asparagus and frisee salad dressed in a warm bacon vinaigrette, or simply blanch some green beans and serve them cold, doused in fruity olive oil and vinegar. Chicken salad is another make-ahead savory brunch standby; you can make it up to three days beforehand and serve cold on a bed of lettuce for people to help themselves.

Don’t Forget the Drinks

mimosa bar

 

As with the food, the play with drinks at brunch is to make a batch. Make a pitcher of Bloody Marys or fun twists on mimosas (add the bubbly right before serving) and point guests in the right direction. You can also have non-alcohol versions of these drinks, too, for youngsters or those looking for an alcohol-free brunch.

An insulated coffee carafe also keeps the best beverage hot and on point.

To recap, a laid-back brunch is the best brunch. To get there, plan a spread of sweet and savory, light and filling dishes that can be mostly prepped ahead of time, and set things up so that folks can serve themselves as the day unfolds. Ah, springtime.

 

Chef Yankel shooting in the ButcherBox Test Kitchen
ButcherBox Kitchen

The ButcherBox Kitchen is a test kitchen and studio based in the North Shore of Massachusetts. Contributors have included Yankel Polak, Emilie Abijanac, Leigh Belanger, Simeon von Berg, Jennifer Valley, and others.