The best breakfasts for entertaining

Five ways to delight morning guests without losing your mind before noon

Kat Kinsman for Extra Crispy

So you’ve decided to have guests over for breakfast. Coolcoolcool. That’s brave or optimistic or bushy-tailed of you, or something. But whatever your motivation happens to be, you’ve invited other humans to your home in the morning and it is your duty to feed them. Dumping a box of energy bars on the table may seem efficient, but it’s not exactly hospitable—plus, you presumably actually like these folks. Serve a meal that keeps them smiling all day, without making you want to hide under the bed by 10 a.m. Here's a rundown of totally feasible, but still impressive, breakfasts for entertaining.

Resist the urge to get schmancy

Many of us automatically equate morning meals not consumed in our own homes with eggs Benedict, but they’re tricky to pull off in bulk. Sure, plenty of books and websites claim that it’s oh, so easy to pre-poach a ton of eggs and reheat them the next day. But honestly, when’s the last time that you managed to poach even two in a row that you’d be proud to show off to company? The logistics of keeping that much hollandaise at a food-safe temperature is daunting even to pro chefs. Let yourself off the hook. If you truly want to go pinky-up in the a.m. just focus on a few simple details: Arrange lovely flowers, bust out some place cards or creative napkin presentation, or invest in some lox and caviar to top your (simple) soft scrambled eggs. Plus sparkling wine. Lots of sparkling wine. Poof—fanciness managed.

DIY buffet

We live in a land of freedom and options and rugged individualism. Let your breakfast spread reflect that. A top-your-own bar with options for decking out grits, bagels (or bialys), parfaits, waffles (which you’ve made ahead of time because you are very clever), elaborate toasts or even bloody marys both celebrates the spirit that makes our country great and saves you a lot of plating fuss. You win. Your guests win. America wins.

Serve mass quantities

You could get all domestic god/dess-y and individually plate and garnish wee quiches and cunning mini muffins, but you’re not Ina Garten. Actually—take a second, walk to the nearest bathroom, look in the mirror and whisper to yourself: “I am not Ina Garten, and that is okay.” (It’s very healing.) Instead, consider the frittata, tortilla española, casserole, strata, pizza, kuku sabzi—all family-sized dishes that can be prepped ahead of time, heated (or not!) and shared. The same goes for beverages; think pitchers of bloody marys, or Seelbach base that you blend together the night before, chill in the fridge, and top with garnishes or bubbles to order. Cheers.

Related: How to make biscuits & gravy with Kelly Fields

Outsource it

New Orleans chef Kelly Fields is legendary for her at-home brunch parties, and she has them down to a science. She preps a massive batch of her legendary biscuits and sausage gravy, and then here’s the extra-brilliant part: She brings home a whole mess of Popeye’s fried chicken to serve alongside it, and sets out flutes, juices and bottle of Champagne. Guests serve themselves. Zero complaints have ever been uttered. Lesson gleaned: Focus on the one or two elements over which you’d like to fuss, and buy or outsource the rest.

Lay down a base of alcohol

Drinks are gonna happen, right? Right. And you’re eventually going to want to get these lovely people out of your home, so they’ll need to remain semi-reasonably sober. Your magic bullet: spaghetti carbonara. It’s carbs, bacon, cheese and eggs all in one dish that’s inexpensive and easy to make in giant batches. If vegetarians are in the mix, twirl some pasta on those meat-haters and omit the bacon, crank up the pepper mill and make simple, satisfying, alcohol-soaking cacio e pepe. Breakfast is slayed.

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