Unless you have a big immediate family (or work the line at a hot brunch spot), you probably don't often cook breakfast for a large group. But when you do, it's a relief—nay, a must—to have some easy recipes to turn to. For example: I recently found myself in a cabin in upstate New York for two days with a dozen hungry mouths to feed. I wanted my food to be good, but I also needed it to be affordable, easy to scale up, and broadly appealing. This wasn't the time for elaborate platings or exotic ingredients, least of all at the beginning of the day, when I'd barely gotten a half cup of coffee in me. So breakfast stayed simple—scrambled eggs one day, pancakes the next.
If you're playing host to overnight guests during the holidays, you may wind up in similar circumstances as I did, and you'll want options at the ready. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, and French toast are a few obvious ones, and we've got tips on how to improve your technique for all of them, whether you're trying for lighter, airier pancakes or a moister scramble. For the price of a little extra effort, you can turn out treats like chilaquiles verdes, waffled hash browns, or huevos rancheros. Read on for 17 recipes that'll make your guests' morning—and make your own morning easier.
For soft, moist scrambled eggs, start them in a cold nonstick skillet and cook them gently over low heat. Be sure to remove the eggs from the burner before they're completely done, or the residual heat will overcook them.
Fluffy Scrambled Eggs
For eggs that are on the fluffier side, with a firmer consistency like what you'd find in most diners, start your pan over medium-high or high heat, get some butter foaming, throw in your eggs, and stir. Big curds will form, and the eggs will dry out just enough.
Tex-Mex Migas With Scrambled Eggs, Tortilla Chips, and Chilies
This is going to sound like an overstatement, but the way I eat breakfast was revolutionized when a friend from Austin introduced me to migas. It's a Tex-Mex masterpiece that fills warm corn tortillas with scrambled eggs, chili peppers, onion, tomato, and home-fried tortilla chips, and it's a hell of a hangover cure as well as an all-around satisfying meal. Pre-salt your eggs before scrambling, and salt and drain your tomatoes to keep the moisture in check.
Scrambled Eggs With Sumac, Pine Nuts, and Parsley
Turn your standard scrambled eggs into slightly more exotic (but not overly labor-intensive) fare by adding citrusy sumac, pine nuts, and parsley and cooking them in good-quality olive oil. You can toast the nuts in a skillet, but it's even easier to toss them in oil and nuke them in the microwave.
Scrambled Egg and Cheese Drop-Biscuit Breakfast Sandwiches
If biscuit sandwiches sound too complicated to make for a crowd, you haven't met drop biscuits, which take all of five ingredients and 25 minutes to make. Serve them with scrambled eggs seasoned with dill and packed with mozzarella and a touch of feta.
Chilaquiles Verdes With Fried Eggs
When you get right down to it, chilaquiles are basically soggy nachos. Yet somehow they're delicious: tortilla chips softened by cooking in salsa and chicken stock, then topped with crema, cilantro, onion, and, in this version, fried eggs. You'll want to fry your own fresh chips so they're sturdy enough to stand up to the salsa, and even then, it's a quick dish to put together. Use jarred salsa if you're pressed for time, or, better yet, make a batch of our salsa verde in advance.
Portuguese Baked Eggs With Chorizo and Ricotta
This hearty dish of chorizo-studded, cheese-topped baked eggs cradled in a peppery tomato sauce is equally appropriate as brunch or dinner. If your guests are on the pepper-averse side, feel free to seed the serranos used for the poaching sauce, or replace them with a jalapeño to make it milder.
Singapore-Style Soft-Cooked Eggs With Kaya Jam and Toast
This Singaporean take on breakfast pairs soft-cooked eggs with dark and light soy sauce and white pepper, accompanied by a side of toast with kaya jam—a spread made from coconut, palm sugar, and egg yolks. Cooking your eggs in water that's starting to cool from a boil (or, better yet, using a sous-vide cooker) helps you achieve an ultra-soft, spoonable consistency.
Quick and Easy Huevos Rancheros With Tomato-Chili Salsa
Resist the temptation to grab a jarred salsa for this one—making your own takes just minutes and is well worth the extra effort. We top just-set fried eggs and tortillas with a sauce made from canned crushed tomatoes, dried ancho chilies, and canned chipotles in adobo, plus a dash of soy sauce to boost the savory flavor.
Light and Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
Our first trick to making pancakes a quick breakfast solution: Instead of buying a mix, make your own with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar, and keep it in the pantry at all times. Frothing the eggs before incorporating the remaining wet ingredients, and striking the right balance between baking powder and baking soda, are the keys to perfectly golden-brown pancakes that aren't too dense or heavy.
Oatmeal and Brown Butter Pancakes
To add heft and a pleasant nuttiness to your pancakes, toast steel-cut oats before grinding them and adding them to the batter, and brown the butter for an intensely warm, comforting, earthy flavor. The larger-than-usual quantity of baking powder in this recipe gives the pancakes a necessary extra lift to counterbalance the oats.
Baileys Irish Cream Pancakes
The Irish cream in these pancakes adds a rich, warm sweetness without making them overwhelmingly boozy. Another pancake trick we incorporate here: using cake flour instead of all-purpose to maintain lightness.
Savory Bacon-Cheddar Pancakes With Corn and Jalapeño
For a pancake option that won't overload you with sugar (and thus sap all your energy when you need it most), this savory version—packed with bacon, corn, jalapeños, scallions, and cheddar—is just the ticket. We cube the cheddar for gooey pockets of cheese and replace some of the flour with cornmeal to heighten the corn flavor. Honey provides just a touch of sweetness for balance.
German Apple Pancake
Yes, a single "pancake" that feeds eight: The German version, made with an unleavened crepe-like batter, bakes up into a soft, custardy cake that's especially delicious when covered in a thick topping of caramelized apples, à la tarte Tatin. We use yogurt in this recipe for a richer flavor.
Perfect Quick-and-Easy French Toast
French toast is an easy breakfast that's perfect for when you need a quick crowd-pleaser. Our ratio of eggs to milk will give you just the right consistency—custardy and rich, not overly soggy or eggy. Whether you use soft or crusty bread, fresh or slightly stale, sprinkling sugar on it before cooking gives it a crisp caramel crust.
Crispy, Crunchy, Golden Shredded Hash Browns
Get your hash browns extra crispy and well browned by squeezing as much water out of the potatoes as possible and par-cooking them in the microwave. The precooking step creates an outer layer of gelatinized starch that crisps up beautifully.
Waffle-Iron Hash Browns
If you've got the right equipment and a craving for hash browns that are crispy outside and creamy inside, waffling them is hands down the way to go: You get a crunchy crust all over and a silky-smooth interior without even having to flip the potatoes. As a bonus, the liquid you squeeze from the potatoes can be reserved and used in bread dough for a softer, moister loaf.