How to Make the Ultimate Holiday Breakfast

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  • Hash browns: You can’t have eggs, bacon, and sausage without them! And when homemade, this hearty spud standby surpasses anything at the diner. Simmer the potatoes in well-salted water the day before, then chill them, uncovered, on a plate overnight in the fridge. Come morning, peel if you wish—it’s not necessary—then dice them along with an onion and toss them in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. If your oven isn’t already in use, brown the potatoes in a large rimmed baking sheet at 450°F, or else sauté them in a big heavy skillet on the stovetop.

Biscuits, scones, and muffins are the quickest breads to make fresh. Banish from your mind any temptation to make them ahead—it ruins them.

  • Biscuits: Save time and avoid waste by rethinking the shape: Roll or pat the dough into a rectangle, then trim the edges with a sharp knife and cut the dough into squares.
  • Scones: Pat your favorite dough into a circle, then cut it into wedges.
  • Muffins: Use paper liners. Consider substituting dried tart cherries for dried cranberries for a better texture. For more fiber and vitamins, substitute whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose in muffins. You’ll be surprised that hardly anyone will notice.
  • Coffee cake: The classic sour-cream coffee cake with streusel topping can’t be beat. You can easily add dried fruit and nuts, or keep it pristine and simple.
  • Sweet yeast breads: Not only are they the queens of the breakfast table, but they also reward you with enticing yeasty aromas to fill the home. Make the dough the day before and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Citrus is at its peak, so go with a compote of mixed citrus in a lightly sweetened syrup spiced with cinnamon or star anise—it’ll be beautiful and refreshing. But if removing the rinds and cutting the segments free from the membranes is more than you want to tackle, simply pile a fruit bowl high with satsumas or clementines. Satsumas are similar to clementines, only far superior in flavor. If you see them, grab them!
  • Coffee and tea: Spring for the best quality or use that special stash you’ve been hoarding—the moment has arrived.
  • Hot chocolate or cocoa: Make it from scratch—it really is just as easy as using a mix.
  • Orange juice: Fresh squeezed, please! Try blood oranges or a mix of citrus.
  • Mimosas or sparkling wine punch: These fizzy drinks can’t help but add a tingle to the morning. Economize and use an Italian prosecco or Spanish cava rather than Champagne. Instead of regular orange juice, try tangerine, blood orange, or even pink grapefruit juice in the mimosa.

Implement these tips and strategies for the makings of a classic breakfas—and sample our recommended recipes for inspiration—and you’ll even have time for that other holiday delight: an afternoon nap.

Kemp Minifie was wrapped up in all aspects of food at Gourmet magazine for 32 years, and is now part of the Gourmet Live team. For more tried and tested tips and tricks, check out her Kemp’s Kitchen column on the Gourmet Live blog.

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