If you have a standard brunch routine that’s starting to feel a little stale, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of easy ways to perk up your menu — no home curing of fish or other culinary acrobatics required! Here chefs and food experts, including Molly Yeh, Snoop Dogg, chef Harold Moore and Dr. Michael Crupain, share their best recipes for eggs, pancakes, bacon and even a breakfast soup. You may never serve plain omelets again.
If you're hosting more than one person for brunch, forget trying to individually fry or poach eggs for each person and instead make shakshuka, in which all the eggs are cooked together in a savory and spicy tomato sauce. "It’s great for a crowd, easy to prep, makes the house smell warm and inviting, and is pretty Instagrammable!" says blogger and TV host Molly Yeh, who shared this recipe for shakshuka from her Food Network show, Girl Meets Farm. "I love serving it with homemade fluffy pita."
While you're skipping frying eggs, you can skip frying bacon too and instead bake it in the oven. For the Billionaire's Bacon recipe in his new book, "From Crook to Cook", musician, actor and TV personality Snoop Dogg coats thick cut bacon with a mixture of light brown sugar, cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes before baking it. "This is for when you ain’t got the time for that regular swine," says Snoop Dogg. "Some black pepper for that smoke, a little fire from some red pepper flakes and a heap of brown sugar like D’Angelo and you’ve just fried up a pile of Uncle Snoopy’s Billionaire's Bacon." Once you've mastered the basic recipe for oven-baked bacon, you can mix it up with different herbs and spices to make your own signature bacon. Try this bacon with rosemary from our sister site, TODAY.com.
The next time you have overripe bananas, make a batch of these fluffy banana pancakes from chef, cookbook author and self-described busy mom, Jenn Segal, whose cookbook "Once Upon a Chef" aims to appeal to whole families. "These banana pancakes have just the right amount of banana flavor to appeal to adults and picky kids alike," says Segal. "They make a great lazy weekend breakfast, but can be frozen and reheated for those harried weekday mornings when you’re rushing out the door."
If you need a showstopper breakfast dish for a special occasion — New Year's Day or Easter brunch, perhaps — try this take on the croque madame from chef Harold Moore, of Bistro Pierre Lapin in New York's West Village. For it, he tops bite-sized toasts with gruyere, ham and an individual quail egg. "I love French bistro food, and one of my favorites is the croque madame," says Moore. "When I started playing with this recipe, I decided to make bite-sized versions. I love making them this way because every bite is the ideal bite from the larger sandwich — you get the toast, a little mornay sauce, the ham, the cheese and most importantly, the egg yolk." If you're not up for individually cooking a bunch of quail eggs, consider making a croque madame casserole, like Justin Chapple's Croque Madame Hot Dish.
We all know that everyday breakfasts should be healthy, with plenty of protein and some veggies if you can pack them in too, but for a special brunch, why not treat yourself and your guests to cake? "I’ve long since embraced the Italian tradition of eating cake for breakfast," says Rome-based writer and tour guide Elizabeth Minchilli, who shared this recipe from her forthcoming book "The Italian Table". "This pistachio-packed version comes from the Amalfi coast and is perfect for dipping into cappuccino." And, hey, this cake is made with pistachio flour and yogurt so it even has some protein in it! (As Minchilli notes, you can find pistachio flour and paste online or make your own.)
Cauliflower Breakfast "Fried Rice"
If you'd prefer a low-carb brunch option, try cauliflower rice — already a trendy dinner ingredient — for breakfast. "Not always having time to eat healthy during the week, I like to pack my weekends full of vegetables," says chef Oliver Ridgeway of Sacramento's Camden Spit & Larder. "A great brunch item I do is cauliflower breakfast 'fried rice'." Ridgeway stir-fries "whatever is good in the fridge," such as chicken or bacon, and various vegetables, along with onions, garlic, and ginger, then throws in cauliflower rice (you can use store-bought or homemade riced cauliflower), and seasons it with soy sauce and sesame oil, and some green onions. "Top it with sunny side up eggs and a dash of sriracha and you have an amazing breakfast 'rice' bowl packed with veg and goodies," adds Ridgeway.
It may not be that common in the United States, but in many countries, soup is a breakfast staple. And eating soup for brunch is a good way to front-load healthy ingredients into your day and to fill up so you'll be less likely to overeat later, according to the authors of "What to Eat When", Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Michael Crupain. "A hearty soup like this chickpea, chestnut, and kale soup is rich and creamy without cream," says Dr. Crupain. "It’s a perfect breakfast, lunch or brunch because it’s not only delicious, but also loaded with fiber and protein to help keep you feeling full all day, so it’s easier to eat less later."
Frittatas are easy to make and endlessly customizable, making them perfect for weeknight dinners, weekend brunches and even weekday breakfasts. This version from blogger and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Nik Sharma's cookbook "Season" is packed with flavor, thanks to a blend of spices and herbs that includes garam masala, turmeric, red pepper flakes and cilantro. Crème fraîche and paneer or feta cheese add creaminess and tanginess. Leftovers would be great stuffed in a sandwich or wrap.
More holiday tips and recipes
- First course: Roasted butternut squash soup or green salad with butternut squash, pear and goat cheese
- Side dish ideas: Roasted butternut squash with sage and roasted Brussels sprouts
- 5 cocktail hacks for healthier, festive holiday drinks
- What chefs and food pros bring to potlucks
- More recipes