There are all kinds of memorable events around the holidays—cocktail parties sparkling with sequins and accented by the tinkle of ice cubes; cinnamon-scented cookie exchanges where friends and their kids excitedly show off their baking skills and trade treasured recipes; family dinners with Dad carving the turkey and little cousins falling asleep by the fire, while the grownups reminisce and tell jokes. And don’t forget about one of our favorite events, the holiday brunch. What do all of these gatherings have in common? They all start with good ingredients, and end up creating moments for everyone to treasure.
Brunches are incredibly versatile: you can plan a casual gathering for a handful of people or a grand, show-stopping spectacular for 50 of your closest friends. More importantly, throwing a holiday brunch can be easy with the right ingredients. When you use high-quality ingredients in the kitchen, you can spend less time worrying about the end result, and more time focusing on your creativity! Keep it simple with one of our handcrafted pancake mixes (including gluten free, whole grain, and just-add-water versions) or make your own creations from our pantry of high-quality baking flours. You can customize everything to suit your tastes; not only is there a whole world of flavors to explore, but you can plan your menu according to your level of cooking confidence, the age of your guests, and their dietary preferences.
Read on for three menus for a Kid-Friendly Holiday Brunch, an Elegant Holiday Brunch or a Special Diet-Friendly Holiday Brunch, plus our most valuable brunch-throwing advice from someone who actually cooked at a bed and breakfast (spoiler: it's me). Make sure to catch a bonus piece of advice at the end!
Kid-Friendly Holiday Brunch
The kids are home for winter break, and your house is ground zero for playdates. Why not serve a fun holiday brunch, with some twists for any parents who decide to stay and keep you company? There are three things to keep in mind about cooking for kids:
- Spend minimal time in the kitchen: Children need supervision, so plan a simple menu instead of staying in the kitchen
- Make as much food ahead of time as possible: Kids aren't great at being patient while hungry!
- Use high-quality ingredients: This makes all the difference when you're trying to please tiny palates and keep them nourished
First, make sure they have something ready to snack on: these Pacific Northwest Bites are our version of the mega-popular Costco Aussie Bites, but even better because they're homemade. These mini muffins are packed full of nutritious, real-food Bob's Red Mill ingredients like oats, flaxseed, quinoa and chia seeds, but they're sweet, moist and perfectly sized for little hands.
Next up: Gingerbread Sheet Pan Pancakes. This super-easy holiday headliner starts with our delicious, just-add-water Homestyle Pancake & Waffle Mix. Add some holiday sugar and spice, pour into a baking sheet, and you'll have enough festive pancakes for a crowd in 20 minutes! We suggest cutting them into gingerbread men or house shapes and offering icing and sprinkles at the table, so the kids can decorate their creations before devouring them (you can layer any scraps with yogurt and granola for an impromptu brunch parfait).
We don't mean to generalize, but most children love cheesy goodness. Plus, it's always a great idea to offer a savory option! Our Cheesy Pull-Apart Christmas Tree is a delightful centerpiece for any gathering, plus it’s so fun to eat. Made with our rich, superfine Almond Flour, this edible masterpiece is gluten free and keto-friendly, too. Bake it ahead of time and refrigerate—or freeze—then gently reheat before serving.
Another classic holiday brunch recipe that pleases people of all ages is Cinnamon Rolls. While working with yeast dough can take extra time, they are an excellent make-ahead option that can be reheated on demand (and with this recipe, there will be a lot of demand). These incredibly lush, pillow-y cinnamon rolls are made with Organic Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour, our trusted go-to ingredient for both professional and home bakers, and the recipe includes a step where you pour warm heavy cream over the rolls before you bake them. You should make them.
As a final treat, is any kids' brunch complete without rich, creamy hot cocoa? Our Hot Chocolate Mix is made with just four wholesome ingredients, including our Nonfat Dry Milk Powder. To make it extra fun (and yummy), set out peppermint sticks, marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkles and let the kids go nuts!
Elegant Holiday Brunch
An elegant holiday brunch doesn't require a lot of square footage or crystal champagne flutes—all you need to set the mood are the right ingredients to make incredible food. Welcoming your friends to a gracious and serene environment means planning ahead, thinking of your guests' needs, and adding that "wow" factor at just the right moment.
This menu is meant for a larger adult crowd, but feel free to subtract or add as you see fit! These Savory Stuffing Scones are a wonderful way to kick off a midmorning brunch. Made with our Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour and classic stuffing ingredients like celery, onion and sage, they're not only a great appetizer, but they elevate breakfast sandwiches into gourmet feasts! You can also make these gluten free with our endlessly versatile Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour. A cup-for-cup substitute for wheat flour in most recipes, this expertly blended flour mixture makes it easy to transform traditional recipes into gluten free treats.
Another great holiday dish to keep on hand is this Festive Farro Salad. Green leafy arugula and bright pops of pomegranate make this farro salad as pretty as a holiday wreath, and the herbed Dijon-champagne vinaigrette brings sophistication to the table. Our Organic Farro Grain takes about 30 minutes on the stovetop, so plan to prep your ingredients the night before and toss together just as people walk in the door.
For the main event, we recommend this simple-yet-impressive Savory Dutch Baby. Since this should be eaten fresh from the oven, timing is key: prep the leeks, asparagus and fried eggs ahead of time, then whisk your egg-and-flour batter shortly before showtime. Pour into the skillet, bake, add your toppings, then take a bow once you bring it to the table!
If you need another main-dish-type offering or would prefer something made entirely ahead of time, I cannot recommend quiche more. The eggs! The heavy cream! The flaky pie crust! This brunch dish has it all, and you can choose whatever meats, cheeses and vegetables suit your fancy. This Spinach Quiche, inspired by Julia Child, is a classic for a reason.
Top things off with a Mimosa Bar (include sparkling water for those who don't drink alcohol), keep the food flowing, and you're sure to host an event people will remember all year long.
Extra credit: Remember that "wow" factor we mentioned earlier? In my experience, nothing wows like a Croquembouche!
Special Diet-Friendly Holiday Brunch
These days, people are a lot more aware of what they put into their bodies, and what makes them feel their best. Fortunately, it's easy to help everyone share in the spirit of the season by taking into account dietary preferences, allergies and food sensitivities with our favorite gluten free, Paleo-friendly, and vegan brunch specialties.
At this point, you know what I'm going to suggest: have something ready for guests to nosh on as soon as they arrive! This delightful pull-apart Gluten Free Monkey Bread is made with our Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, and it's also vegan, thanks to our Gluten Free Egg Replacer (just make sure to use dairy-free butter). One thing I will recommend: have some wipes on hand, as everyone will be grabbing some of this ooey, gooey treat!
For friends following a gluten free, grain free diet, this Paleo-friendly Breakfast Pizza is the perfect option. A crispy crust made with our grain free Paleo Baking Flour is topped with sweet maple syrup, crispy bacon (or sub cooked TVP or meat-free bacon for your vegetarian loved ones), veggies, eggs and a creamy hollandaise. It's everything we love about brunch in one crowd-pleasing dish!
Speaking of crowd pleasing, these Gluten Free Sausage Balls are a gluten free take on a brunch classic. Here, breakfast sausage is mixed with Chickpea Flour or Gluten Free Pancake Mix, cheese, and seasonings before you scoop them into balls and bake in the oven. This is a fantastic recipe to prep ahead of time: scoop the mixture onto baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator, baking as needed.
As you already know, I love a quiche, and this Potato and Kale Vegan Quiche is gluten free, vegan and absolutely delicious! Made with our Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix, Chickpea Flour and umami-rich Nutritional Yeast, this savory brunch pie is flavorful and colorful thanks to onion, garlic, Yukon Gold potatoes and kale.
Finally, who doesn't love a little sweetness? Drizzled with maple syrup, our recipe for Vegan French Toast is simple to make and oh-so-irresistible and features Chickpea Flour and Nutritional Yeast (are you seeing a trend?). To make it for a crowd, use a large electric griddle!
Holiday Brunch Advice from a Bed & Breakfast Cook
My time cooking at a bed and breakfast on Martha's Vineyard was brief yet memorable: cooking for 35 people every day starting at 6:00 am one summer turned me into the brunch expert you're reading today! Cooking for a crowd can seem daunting, but there are actually four very sound pieces of advice I can offer to make your holiday brunch a success:
- Offer a sweet and a savory entree: This will cover so many bases and make menu planning much easier. You can fill in with fresh fruit, a meat option, muffins, etc.
- Of your two entrees, make sure at least one can be assembled and made ahead: Preferably both! But you only want one item that's going to require hands-on cooking during your event. This could be a frittata (assembled the night before and popped in the oven in the morning) and pancakes (flipped during the event). Or a coffee cake on the table and scrambled eggs made during brunch. You do not want to be in the weeds during your own party!
- Have your beverages ready to go, and make them as self serve as possible: How many times have I been interrupted mid-cooking by someone seeking water? Too many. Have carafes ready if possible, or glasses laid out in an obvious place and a sign telling them to fill up at the sink. As far as coffee, either nominate a guest or co-host to keep refilling your pot, or grab a 30-cup percolator (they are surprisingly cheap to rent from party places). Have orange juice and champagne laid out so guests can serve themselves!
- Have a plan for garbage, recycling and plates: If you can have a (covered, labeled) trash can discreetly near your setup for disposables and food, a recycling bin for bottles, and a clear place on the counter for plates to be stacked, things will go much more smoothly.
With good ingredients, great friends, and a solid plan, you can plan the holiday brunch of your dreams, and make memories for years to come! We hope you have a wonderful holiday season full of food, fun and laughter. But before I leave you, I have a bonus brunch tip! Make your bacon in the oven. It will change your life!