We're busier than ever these days…but our brunch spread doesn't have to reflect that. Get maximum impact with minimum effort with these recipes, whose high-drama appeal belies their low-key complexity.
Forget 50 Shades of Grey—the ambiguous, amorphous, and decadent concept that is brunch is the hottest example I can think of for gray-area unbounded indulgence. Combining the best of breakfast and lunch, providing the license to eat and imbibe freely under a thin veil of efficiency, and served at an in-between time that allows you both the luxury of sleeping in and digesting both food and conversation at leisure, this afternoon delight is hands-down my favorite meal.
Sweet and savory! Crunchy and crispy! Soft and saucy! The textures, the flavors, the displays, the unmitigated joy of combining it all in one long sitting! The beauty of brunch is that it can be anything. However, one thing it doesn't have to be is hard.
With these low-maintenance, simple-prep recipes, a superlative brunch can be as easy as Sunday morning with all of the show-stopping drama of a Saturday night.
01 of 15
At any American brunch, pancakes are expected. But the hassle of painstakingly making individual rounds to order gets old as quickly as the hotcakes get cold. That’s where the Dutch Baby comes flying in as a brunchtime hero, where all you need are six ingredients. This base recipe gives you a blank slate to customize; you can fold in or top on flavors as you like, and make as many at a time as you have oven-safe skillets. We recommend making one sweet and one savory to please all palates at once!
02 of 15
French toast is another quintessential and beloved brunch dish, and like pancakes, a labor of love when you have to make each piece individually. However, an oven makes it simple, while overnight soaking makes it extra flavorful. This recipe provides that "made-just-for-you" feeling with full-sized slices (as opposed to French toast bites), but without the hassle of actually doing so. It can feel even more to-order with a toppings bar or by using one of the variations the team has concocted here. With only eight base ingredients and 15 minutes in the oven, it's an easy win no matter how you spin it.
03 of 15
Green Salad with Scallion Mustard Vinaigrette
Simple sides don't come any simpler—or more elegant—than a great green salad. Thrown together in less than five minutes, it exemplifies ease. The most laborious thing you have to do with this recipe is to mix the dressing, which only has five ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste. In fact, you can even skip tearing the lettuce if you buy pre-cut, pre-washed Romaine. Or, with such a low prep time, you can upgrade it as recommended with some roasted asparagus, chickpeas, or add effortless bursts of some other colors, like pre-shredded carrots, pre-sliced radishes, or some grape tomatoes, which you don't even have to slice if you don't want to.
04 of 15
Cut the carbs from your quiche by making a frittata instead! This Italian baked egg dish is cheap, flexible, and filling thanks to the egg protein and all the veggies you can sneak into it. When you don't count that greenery, all you really need to make a memorable frittata are eggs, oil, aromatics, and some cheese. Toss in odds and ends of vegetables for thrift and ease, and you'll have yourself an elevated egg dish to linger over. Low heat makes this low maintenance cooking as well for the mere 15 minutes it takes to make it.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
05 of 15
Another global classic you can riff well off of? Try this Mexican spin of a traditional North African and Middle Eastern savory egg dish, which requires only ten ingredients if you count aromatics, herbs, and spices, and just a few minutes to prep. Plus, because, like Dutch babies, shakshuka is another cast-iron skillet dish, the only other tools you need are a spatula for the stovetop portion, a knife, and a cutting board. The recipe recommends "thick, crusty, toasted bread" for soaking up the sauce, but thick-cut tortilla chips could be a fun and effort-free accompaniment, too.
06 of 15
If you want a more seasonal and down-home use for your cast-iron skillet, this five-minute assembly brussel sprout and sweet potato hash is the recipe for you. You can make it even easier by prepping the day before, roasting all the components on the required sheet pan, and stopping at the step right before you add the eggs. From there, it's just 10 minutes to finish it off, which means that even as a host, you get to lounge in bed even longer.
07 of 15
We're back in Mexico for this enchiladas recipe, with another use for chorizo for an easy dozen ingredient list that heavily features convenience items. Frozen shredded hash browns, taco seasoning, and canned enchilada sauce let you layer on complex flavors without any of the work, bringing you down to a total of 20 minutes of prep time, counting garnish. However, you can decrease your day-of efforts by even more if you start it ahead of time. Get it to ready-to-bake status and it'll sit tight—if tightly plastic-wrapped—for up to two days! That is if you can wait that long before you pop it in the oven for a brunchtime feast.
08 of 15
Like enchiladas, there’s something fun about tearing out your perfectly portioned individual serving from an enormous dish of something delicious. There's also a lot of fun about having a bunch of tiny sandwiches instead of one, which is where these little guys slide right into our easy brunch menu. Six ingredients give you a base for a batch of 16 servings, which you can heat all together for a group. Sure, you need two casserole dishes—one for the egg and one for the sausage—but it's worth the extra wash when you see how neatly uniform the components come out. Dress it up with maple syrup on the sausage, as recommended, or feel free to add some sauteed onions, fresh herbs, mushrooms, or zucchini to the egg when you bake it. You can even top it with some mesclun greens right before serving, but no earlier, or it'll wilt.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
09 of 15
Yes, again with the wee little bites. But honestly, hors d'oeuvres-style service makes anything feel fancier, right? Even if the basis for the treat are a favorite childhood classic tater tots. Seven ingredients—if you count salt and pepper—and ten minutes are all you need after your tots have been thawed enough to press into the muffin tins. If you have more time and want to gussy them up a bit more, go ahead and add crumbled bacon or try different combinations, like ham and broccoli. Even better, they're freezable for reheating, which means you can make these well ahead of time to bake them the day of, and no one will be the wiser.
10 of 15
Want to wow in only four ingredients? Bring back Cloud Eggs, and throw them on some avocado toast or that green salad for pretty, whimsical eggs that are made for photos. They have to be eaten right out of the oven, but you only need ten minutes from prep to bake phases, so these showstoppers can be what you use for your grand entry into the dining room.
11 of 15
This recipe gives you the foundation to make a killer avocado toast, plus tips on bread choice and how to keep your topping at its finest, brightest greens. Suggested variations help you explore other ways to make this good-fat-hearty dish yours, that may add marginally to your ingredients but barely any time to the instant gratification of this cult favorite.
12 of 15
With only five minutes standing between the raw ingredients and the oven, this warm, comforting, baked oatmeal recipe is a great addition to an autumn or winter brunch menu. Its ten ingredients include peaches and blueberries, but you can easily adapt this to more seasonal accompaniments, like apples, raisins, or cranberries. Plus, it's drier than traditional oatmeal, making it a bit more elegant to eat in front of others than a porridge-y version and less indulgent-feeling than a bar. Top with some vanilla skyr or Greek yogurt for a healthy protein addition.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
13 of 15
With "easy" right in the name, we had to include this weekend-feeling treat. Five ingredients—many of which you likely already have—and minimal dough work keeps the hands-on time low. As a matter of fact, it's advised that you don't fiddle with it too much; if you overmix or over-knead the dough, your end results will be tough, and although we all love a tough cookie, biscuits are another thing entirely. Either way, you should be home free after just ten minutes, then the oven takes over for 12 minutes, which you can use to layout a spread of jams, preserves, and butter for a beautiful biscuit board.
14 of 15
A lighter, super-easy take on scones? Sign us up! Subbing yogurt adds height and lightness to this traditional pastry, but what it doesn't add is more prep. The beauty of serving up scones for brunch is that there's a minimal amount of time before everything goes in the oven—no need to wait for the dough to rise or cake to cool so you can ice it. You brush the yogurt on before you bake it, eliminating the process of glazing. This recipe only takes ten minutes to get it all together, and from there, just 15 to the table. Or, wait for them to cool and freeze them for up to three months for an anytime brunch treat.
15 of 15
Blueberry, chocolate chip, corn, even morning glory muffins—they're tried, true, and classic. But if you want to dazzle with unexpected pizzazz with your brunch spread, try pistachio. This seven-ingredient muffin recipe adds a pop of color to the sweets table for appealing color and can be frosted into cupcakes, too. Save time by buying shelled pistachios, which are now widely available. You only need less than a cup of kernels, so it's worth the extra buck to save on all that shelling. Once baked they store well for up to five days and freeze for even longer, for a perfect simple sweet finish any time.