Getting everyone together for Friendsgiving is a lot of fun, but it’s not always easy–people have kids and extended families they have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with, besides which, you may not want to take on an entire turkey. Brunch may be the perfect answer, then!
It’s more casual, it happens earlier in the day (which is handy when everyone has so much going on, and might have family meals to get to in the evening), and it’s just more fun! Plus, you don’t have to deal with a big bird and a dozen sides jostling for space in your oven–but you can still indulge in the season’s coziest flavors (and in booze, of course, if you want).
Just decorate a little bit to make your space more inviting, queue up some music, and set out a fantastic Thanksgiving brunch spread that no one has to know was ultra-easy. Or, go all-in on the potluck ethos and have your guests bring the various parts of the morning meal while you just take care of drinks. There’s no wrong way to do it, as long as everyone’s having a good time.
Here are some ideas for food and drink to feature.
Make Mimosas Seasonal
The classic brunch drink (at least right up there with the Bloody Mary), mimosas are simple, sophisticated, and easy to dress up. Adding a few fall flavors makes even the cheapest bottle of Cook’s taste like something special, and you can also swap in a nonalcoholic sparkling wine or sparkling cider for those who abstain but still want to sip something fizzy.
A splash of cranberry juice and a little orange liqueur make for extra festive mimosas. Since everything else is such a breeze, consider making beautifully sparkly sugared cranberries for the garnish. Get the Cranberry Mimosas recipe.
Consider a Casserole
They’re easy, delicious, large enough to feed a hungry crowd, and you can usually assemble them the night before, which is obviously a huge plus. Potato-based breakfast casseroles are great, but if you go with a bready version, it evokes stuffing, which fits nicely with the occasion–and in fact, an actual pan of stuffing would be excellent accompanied by eggs and breakfast meats instead of turkey. But if you and yours have more of a sweet tooth, you can always swerve away from savory too.
You could bake a turkey breast to use in place of the ham if you wish (or cook some ground turkey with onions, garlic, and herbs for a quicker option)–or ditch the meat entirely and make it vegetarian. Either way, consider subbing in some fresh sage or rosemary instead of thyme to amp up the autumnal flavors. Get our Ham, Cheese, and Mushroom Strata recipe.
Offer this veggie casserole (which is easily made vegan if you swap out the butter for Earth Balance) on its own or in addition to another savory baked dish. The maple syrup, orange zest, cinnamon, and toasty walnuts make these sweet potatoes perfect for any meal, any time in the colder months. Get our Sweet Potatoes Anna Casserole recipe.
If that’s not sugary enough for you, though, this gooey, gorgeously decadent salted caramel banana strata may be just the thing. Adding apples and cinnamon instead of bananas would make it especially well-suited for fall, but then it wouldn’t be quite as good a candidate for adding chunks of chocolate to… Get our Salted Caramel and Banana Breakfast Strata recipe.
Pumpkin Spice Is Nice
We may be barrelling straight toward mulling spice season, but pumpkin spice still reigns supreme until November ends, so it’s a perfect flavor profile for a Friendsgiving brunch.
If you want to go with traditional breakfast staples, these seasonally spiced pancakes are a perfect option. Make an easy cinnamon-infused maple syrup to go on top if you want to really impress. Get our Spiced Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes recipe.
If you’re keeping things more casual, or just want to offer something for lighter appetites, set out some healthy vegan granola made with maple, pumpkin spice, pecans, and actual pumpkin puree. It can go on top of Greek yogurt, along with maple syrup, honey, and/or fresh fruits (like apples, pears, and figs) for a light yet wholly satisfying option. Get the Pumpkin Maple Pecan Granola recipe.
On the other hand, this make-ahead breakfast casserole is rich, thanks to fluffy brioche soaked in a mixture of eggs, whole and evaporated milk, pumpkin puree, and plenty of warm pumpkin spices, with a cinnamon sugar topping for good measure. Get the Make-Ahead Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole recipe.
Somewhere in between the two, this streusel-packed pumpkin spice coffee cake is moist, tender, and just as easy to put together, but not quite as over the top, in case you’ve got things to do and can’t afford a food coma getting in the way. Get the Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake recipe.
Individualize Your Eggs
Whether you’re serving pancakes, waffles, bakery-bought pastries, or homemade casseroles, eggs are almost always a great accompaniment. Instead of making a whole pan of scrambled eggs or attempting to poach a full dozen at once, why not take the individual approach and bake them in ramekins perfectly portioned for each guest?
These are entirely customizable too–and you can prep whatever cooked mix-ins you want to use up to a couple days ahead of time. Try roasting sweet potatoes with a little sage for a veggie version, or use regular breakfast sausage or bacon in place of the bangers. And on the day of, you simply assemble and cook them in batches–up to at least 8 at a time if you use two baking sheets (and have enough ramekins). Fresh herbs sprinkled on top are a nice touch. Get our Eggs Baked with Irish Bangers and Cheddar recipe.
Make It a Bagel Bar
If you want to make things really easy, just buy a bunch of the best-quality bagels you can find (no more than the day before, so they’re ultra-fresh) and set them out with a generous spread of…well, spreads. Mashing various ingredients into store-bought cream cheese is incredibly simple, yet the effect is pretty fancy, and you can cater to all palates. Offer a mix of sweet and savory options in small bowls, with labels letting guests know what each one contains. If you make the spreads ahead of time, just take them out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before you want to eat, to ensure they’re not too hard to actually schmear. Optional: set out sliced turkey (from a roasted breast, or high-quality deli meat) for people to top their bagels if they please.
If you’re not a horseradish fan, you can try pairing cranberry cream cheese with slightly subtler rosemary instead, or with cinnamon and honey for a sweet variation. But if you like a little kick, try this one (with fresh or prepared horseradish if you prefer); it also has toasted walnuts for crunch, but the sweet-tart cranberry flavor is still the star. Get the Cranberry Horseradish Cream Cheese with Walnuts recipe.
A classic herby cream cheese is always delightful, but to make it more autumnal, you could substitute sage and/or rosemary for the other herbs (just use a light hand and taste as you go, since they tend to be pretty pungent and you may not need the full amount). Get the Scallion Herb Cream Cheese Spread recipe.
Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes; mix it into fluffy cream cheese with cinnamon for an easy, delicious cinnamon-raisin bagel spread. Get the Whipped Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread recipe.
Even if you’re normally wary of reduced fat cream cheese, once it’s mixed with pumpkin puree, honey, warm spices, and vanilla, it’ll taste amazing and save you some calories (so you can eat more gravy and/or pie later). Get the Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread recipe.
Don’t Skip the Pie
Speaking of pie, just because it may be mid-morning (or early afternoon), that doesn’t mean straight-up actual dessert is off the table. You’re all adults, so you can eat cake–or pie–for breakfast if you wanna! Naturally, you can go with savory pies for a centerpiece, but a sweet version will always be a welcome addition to the spread as well.
This recipe from Detroit’s Sister Pie is especially well suited to brunch, since it’s full of robust maple syrup flavor, with a sparkling sprinkling of flaky sea salt for contrast. Ergo, it would also be delicious with crisp bacon–so pile up your plate, and wash everything down with some strong coffee! Get the Salted Maple Pie recipe.
Related Video: More Friendsgiving Brunch Ideas
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