A Southern-Inspired Brunch That Pulls Out All the Stops

May 31, 2018

We’ve partnered with New Belgium Brewing to share recipes, tips, and a game plan to make hosting brunch easy like Sunday morning.

I might be brunch’s biggest fan. There’s just something about the combination of runny eggs, carbs blissfully drowned in syrup, and bubbly drinks that speaks to my soul...especially in spring, when the season's gentle rays of sunlight have me feeling like enough of a morning person to invite friends and family over before noon.

A brunch menu so good it will make you a morning person. Photo by Rocky Luten

Since Southern fare was made for brunching, I’ve pulled together a menu of classics perfect for hosting just that kind of gathering. Fluffy biscuits, griddled country ham, cheesy grits, flavorful gravy all have that homey, satisfying vibe that places them squarely in the comfort food category. Throw some fried eggs, hot coffee, and a fresh spring salad into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a homestyle feast fit for even the most discerning brunch crew.

The Menu

Pulling it all together

Get the biscuits out of the way. Biscuits taste way better on the day they're made, but you can still hack the prep game by doing everything but the baking in advance. Just prep the recipe through step three, then place each shaped biscuit on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them and freeze (up to two months in advance!), and bake them off (you'll have to add about five minutes to the normal cook time) the morning of brunch. You get the best of both worlds—no floury mess to clean up, and warm, fluffy, fresh-baked biscuits.

Let guests go sweet or savory. Another wonderful thing about these buttery, light-as-air biscuits? They can swing savory or sweet, depending on your mood...and your toppings. For savory, I always opt for the not-too-spicy pimento cheese spread from this recipe. For sweet, I tend to rely on these wonderfully tart roasted strawberries and rhubarb.

Make use of spring produce. The abundance of carbs might be one of my favorite things about brunch food, but even I crave the presence of crisp greens every now and then. You can’t go wrong with this Shaved Celery and Fennel Salad—it's a cinch when you've got a mandolin, but there are still plenty of ways to shave veggies without one. If you want something even less complicated, toss together a bowl of farmer’s market greens with this simple vinaigrette.

Give ambrosia an update. Few dishes were as ripe for a refresh as this '70s classic, according to our co-founder Amanda Hesser. Her version swaps in bright, fresh ingredients like pineapple and beets for the duller, canned variety, and kicks the marshmallows to the curb in favor of a lightly spiced sour cream topping. You can roast the beets, chop the fruit, and mix up the topping the day before, so all you have to do before guests arrive is assemble.

Hit all the essentials. Whether or not you’re following our set menu, there are most definitely essentials that every proper brunch requires. From pots of coffee to fresh-cut flowers to the optimal carb-to-other foods ratio, we’ve laid out everything you’ll want to have on your brunch table above.

Don't overcomplicate the eggs. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to eggs, but that doesn't mean you have to make every option (fried, scrambled, poached, pickled, and the list goes on) available—or cook up individual orders on the fly. A perfectly fried egg (trust me, it's easier than you think) tends to be a crowd-pleaser. I recommend making one batch with runny yolks and another with medium yolks so guests can pick what they want.

Use fresh-cut flowers to bring spring inside. You don’t necessarily need to buy a big bouquet from the grocery store (but if you do, here’s how to make it look like a million bucks) for your dining table. If you have a backyard, clip a colorful variety of flowers and make mini arrangements using extra glassware (tumblers and mason jars work especially well). If you live in a city where flora is hard to come by, you can use food items to make a simple, pretty arrangement too—plus fresh herbs will make your table smell great.

Mix and match glassware and plates. Since you’re home isn’t an actual restaurant, don’t stress about having place settings that 100% match. Use this as an opportunity to whip out your eclectic assemblage of coffee mugs (my collection has a mug from every country I’ve been to), your grandmother’s antique silverware, or that gorgeous vintage plate set you snagged at the weekend flea market. These one-of-a-kind touches will make your guests feel all the more at home, which is, after all, what any good Southern host aims to do.

What are your favorite brunch recipes? Share them with us in the comments below!

Add a dash of Southern comfort flavor to your next brunch for an elegant spread anyone can enjoy. For a beer that pairs perfectly with menu featured here, keep your fridge stocked with our partner New Belgium Brewing’s new Tartastic Strawberry Lemon, a summer-friendly ale brewed with strawberries and lemons.

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.

1 Comment

Matt June 7, 2018
Crumb cake is from Germany and is a major part of Jewish American bakery culture in the Northeast, but sure now it's "Southern". The only thing southern on this menu is the grits and the pimento cheese scones.