For a proper sit-down breakfast at home, I usually lean toward savory dishes: biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, and—now that I'm in California—breakfast burritos. But every once in a while, I'm seized by the thought of a slow drizzle of maple syrup, bathing a stack of fluffy golden pancakes or French toast. Or maybe it's a waffle that comes to mind, pocked with little wells housing glistening drops of butter. Or a fat, hearty muffin studded with purple summer blueberries. Point is, there are just too many delightful treats out there that give you an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast—and on the weekend especially, that seems like a perfectly reasonable, not to mention delicious, way to start my day. For your next long, lazy weekend breakfast, try out one of these 19 sweet recipes—for the classics named above, as well as some outrageously good variations (ahem, orange-rum challah French toast) and other irresistible pastries, like cinnamon rolls and crumb cake.
Sweet Potato Pancakes Made With Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes
We developed this recipe to use up Thanksgiving leftovers, but these pancakes are good enough that you might consider making a batch of mashed sweet potatoes specifically for the purpose. A combination of sour cream and milk produces a noticeably tangy flavor, which sets off the sweetness of the potatoes well. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and maple syrup are natural partners for the potatoes, and a pinch of salt helps all the flavors shine.
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Baileys Irish Cream Pancakes
For nutty, complexly flavored grown-up pancakes that are restrained enough to eat for breakfast, we replace milk with thick Baileys Irish Cream. To keep them fluffy and tender, use cake flour rather than all-purpose, and be careful not to over-mix the batter.
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Pancakes With Bourbon Maple Sauce and Toasted Pecans
Our basic light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes are deliciously simple, with an airy crumb and crisp, well-browned tops and bottoms. To make them even more of a treat, simmer your maple syrup with bourbon and butter for a thick, warming sauce, and combine it with aromatic toasted pecans on top of your golden stack of cakes.
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Buttermilk Vanilla Waffles
If you want the crunchier consistency of a waffle, without the planning necessary for a yeast-raised version, try this recipe, which manages to be amazingly quick and easy without sacrificing taste or texture. These waffles end up with a fluffy interior and a shatteringly crisp crust, thanks to a high-moisture batter and the power of steam, which helps them expand to their full height and lightness. A little vanilla bean in the batter makes them luxuriously aromatic.
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Guava and Cream Cheese Puff-Pastry Waffle
Waffle irons take up valuable space, so if you're planning to invest countertop in one, you should put it to use more than a handful of times a year. One of our favorite alternate uses is to roll up puff-pastry dough with sweet and/or savory ingredients and press it in the iron until crisp. This South American–inspired puff-pastry waffle is stuffed with sweet guava paste and rich cream cheese.
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Perfect Quick-and-Easy French Toast
French toast is one of my favorite sweet breakfasts—it's fast, it's easy, and everything I need to make it is usually on hand. Our recipe uses a ratio of three eggs per cup of milk (or cream, if you'd prefer) to achieve a perfectly custardy, rich consistency. We add sugar along with the milk and egg, but also sprinkle a little more on the toast as it cooks, creating a sweet, crunchy crust.
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Orange-Rum Challah French Toast With Whipped Cream
This fancied-up version of challah French toast feels festive enough for a special occasion. The ratio and technique are the same as for our basic French toast, but the egg-and-milk custard is spiked with a spoonful of rum, a grating of orange zest, and warm spices like cinnamon and star anise. To balance out the sweetness of the toast, we serve it with tangy, unsweetened whipped crème fraîche.
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Bananas Foster Oatmeal With Walnuts and Peanut Butter
For a high-energy, satisfying breakfast, we top a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with soft, sweet caramelized bananas, in a booze- and ice cream–free nod to bananas Foster. Candied walnuts add crunch, and a swirl of peanut butter stirred in at the end is the perfect companion for the bananas. A final touch of grated orange zest lends a little brightness.
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Maple-Banana Baked Oatmeal
Stovetop oatmeal isn't exactly difficult, but it does require standing over a pot and carefully stirring, first thing in the morning. Baking your oatmeal, on the other hand, is a hands-off technique, especially useful if you're having friends over for brunch. Here, we add bananas, walnuts, and maple syrup, but we've got two other sweet variations—strawberry-almond and cinnamon-apple—that you'll want to try, too.
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Classic croissants are a highly labor-intensive project, often requiring days to make the laminated dough. But you can get similarly delicious, flaky results with much less effort by using store-bought puff pastry—look for a frozen brand that's made with only butter, not shortening. A filling of fresh banana and semisweet chocolate will satisfy any sugar craving.
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Classic Blueberry Muffins
These blueberry muffins are a joy to wake up to—well browned and domed, with a lightly crisp top and only a moderate amount of sugar in the dough. That allows the fresh summer fruit to star and gives you an excuse to finish the muffins with a sprinkle of sparkling sugar. Check out our tips for keeping the berries from sinking here, and read our recommendations for muffin tins here.
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Ripe fresh pear and earthy, spicy cardamom, balanced with cinnamon and nutmeg, create an elegant flavor profile for muffins. Buttermilk does double duty by giving the muffins a slight, pleasant tang and keeping the crumb exceptionally moist. The result is a sophisticated breakfast treat that feels light enough to start a productive day.
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Honey Corn Muffins
Using cornmeal in baked goods instead of (or in addition to) wheat flour lends a slightly gritty, robust texture that I love. Though many corn muffin recipes are firmly on the savory side, these highlight the corn's natural sweetness with honey. To double that effect, spread them with smooth honey butter when serving.
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Raspberry Jam Crostata
This lovely breakfast tart starts with a flaky Italian short crust dough (pasta frolla), scented with a whiff of lemon zest. Jam of any sort makes up the fruity filling—raspberry produces a crostata that resembles a large Linzer cookie. Let the tart cool once it's out of the oven so the jam has time to set.
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Super Crumb Raspberry Almond Crumb Cake
A good crumb cake is all about the interplay of a moist cake and a crunchy, not-too-sweet streusel. Here, we infuse the buttery cake with raspberry jam and fresh raspberries, and use just the right amount of butter in the streusel to keep it crumbly but sliceable. Don't skimp on that topping, either—the more crumb, the better.
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Maple Pecan Crepes
For successful crepes, we recommend using a well-buttered nonstick pan, and applying enough batter to cover the whole skillet without spreading it on too thick. The fun part, of course, is the toppings—your imagination is the only limit. Here, we keep it simple, using chopped pecans candied with maple syrup and toasty brown sugar.
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Easy Cinnamon Rolls With Browned-Butter Icing
Though cinnamon rolls are one of my top choices for breakfast treats, making a double-rise dough is generally not my idea of a fun morning. This recipe works around my laziness by employing premade pizza dough, thus eliminating the rising time. The warming cinnamon and fragrant vanilla in the dough, and even the nutty browned-butter icing, are all the stuff of your child self's cinnamon-roll dreams. But these innocuous-looking pastries hide a secret ingredient: strips of smoky bacon (optional).
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Spiced Vanilla Hot Cross Buns
For much of my life, I thought hot cross buns existed only in the nursery rhyme. Turns out, this pastry that's historically been served on Good Friday (but deserves to be enjoyed all year long) is quite real, and tasty. There are many variations out there; ours are hydrated with thick Greek yogurt and peppered with interesting flavors from vanilla, coriander, candied orange peel, and dried cherries and apricots. And yes, we finish the buns by piping on crosses made of icing—some would say it's not traditional, but they'd hardly fulfill our childhood expectations without it.
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DIY Donettes (Mini Sugar-Coated Doughnuts)
Hostess Donettes' adorable diminutive size and generous blanket of powdered sugar have turned them into snack-cake favorites, but their dry texture and bland flavor leave something to be desired. Much better are Donettes fried fresh at home. Ours are little bites of fluffy yellow cake, fried in coconut oil so they're not too greasy. They're still bathed in powdered sugar, though—that's a must.
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