Updated May 1, 2020

It’s almost Mother’s Day, which is one of the big three brunch holidays (the others being Easter and literally every Sunday, if you ask me). If you’re planning on serving a few more family members than normal, but still want to impress, I’ve got all the tips and tricks to a flawless three-course brunch. Plus, I’ll be sharing my own menu using this formula for this Sunday’s festivities!

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It’s always good to have a game plan (just like when you have a holiday dinner party). To start think about your main course first, and then build the appetizer, dessert, and drinks around that. Be sure to use techniques you are comfortable with, and don’t try too many new ideas at once!

Brunch Starting Bites

Like any good three course meal, the perfect brunch menu starts with appetizers. These can either be shared, such as a cheese plate; passed, like mini quiches; or plated, like a sweet salad. When deciding on the method of delivery, think about how formal or casual your brunch is.

To actually choose what to serve, I like to wait until I’ve decided on the main course, and then try to complement or contrast appropriately. If the main course is sweet and carb-loaded, I’ll work on avoiding a focus on bread here as well. If it’s an egg-based main course, then I’ll think about a crostini or fruit bake as the starter.

This is the course you can have the most freedom with, since you’ll be eating it first. If there’s something that you want to cook to serve, this is the time to do that. Anything fried, like donut bites or churros are a great choice for this course.

Try: Whole wheat jelly donuts or peach bruschetta with goat cheese

Brunch Main Courses

This is the bread and butter of your brunch, and it should be the place where you put the most initial thought and effort. You’ll be building the rest of your menu to complement your main dish. However, remember that when you are serving a crowd, you don’t want anything overly complex or individualized.

For sweet dishes, I recommend something that can be made ahead and then baked before serving. A french toast casserole is perfect. When it comes to savory, something egg-based like a frittata filled with sausage and vegetables is delicious.

If you’re a bit more ambitious, you can try a meal with a few more pieces. If you have the right appliances, you can make bacon and toast for many at once. Eggs to order can be a time suck, but muffin tin poached eggs might be a lifesaver.

Try: A quiche made with vegan lentil sausage crumbles or a baked french toast casserole

Brunch Sweet Finishes

It’s a little weird to think about serving dessert after breakfast, but I’ve always been an advocate of the idea. Why not? Just like the starters, you’ll want to pay attention to your main dish, and create some contrast between that course and this one.

You can serve this final course plated or family-style, which leaves your options pretty open. It’s best that it’s either something served cold, or at least prepped ahead. If you’re going to cook dessert, baking is the way to go, so you can enjoy eating with your guests.

For egg-based or savory mains, you can really bring out something for the sweet-toothed guests here. Think about a twist on a traditional dish, like a mini pancake stack covered with bananas and caramel or a crepe cake filled with whipped cream. If you’re serving up something sweeter to start, you might be better off with a simple cheese plate or fruit bowl.

Try: Greek yogurt lemon bars or a pavlova covered in fresh seasonal berries

Brunch Cocktails for a Crowd

When it comes to drinks, you don’t want to be behind the bar all morning when you should be mingling with your guests. Instead, you’ll want to mix up a large batch of your breakfast cocktail of choice. If your crowd is not into bottomless mimosas, you can always make a non-alcoholic punch.

My favorite type of cocktail to make for brunch is anything that can be served in a pitcher, like a take on a sangria. You can easily do almost all the work the previous night. Then, just add fresh ice and any garnishes.

Other ideas include any type of self-serve cocktail bar. These pair wonderfully with passed or station appetizers as well. Your guests will love the chance to mix their idea of the perfect mimosa or bloody mary while mingling.

Try: A bourbon mint lemonade, set up a bellini bar, or try one of these 28 breakfast cocktails.

Mother’s Day Sample Menu & Plan

Fried plantains in caramel: This is an ambitious appetizer, that involves frying the plantains and creating a bananas foster inspired caramel sauce just before your guests arrive. While everything else in the meal can be prepped ahead, this is the one dish to fully make day of.

You can follow these instructions for bananas foster sauce, using two plantains. Unlike bananas, plantains are perfectly ripe when they are mostly black with just a little bit of yellow. You may need to buy them in advance, and place in a paper bag for faster ripening.

Huevos rancheros benedict: A tip for making poached eggs quickly: try using the muffin tin method for to poach twelve at once just before serving. Otherwise, this is a great make-ahead dish.

The bean filling and tortillas can be made in advance and then warmed before it’s time to plate. The salsa will be made a day in advance and served on the side. You can use any huevos rancheros recipe, and replace the fried eggs with poached. Here’s a fun one to try with mango-corn salsa.

Cinnamon Praline Stuffed Challah: Bread is an excellent dessert choice, because it can be made well in advance. You can warm in the oven or microwave just before serving, and spread with a small amount of butter.

Challah is made with an enriched, eggy dough, so it already tastes like a treat. Plus, in this version, there’s a sweet surprise tucked inside with the praline filling. You can also display the braided loaf as a centerpiece throughout the whole meal.

Dragonfruit raspberry rosé sangria: Cut the fruit and soak it in wine Saturday night. In the morning, do the rest of the prep to mix up the sangria and chill. A pitcher or drink dispenser is perfect for serving right out of the fridge, in stemless wine glasses with fresh ice.

For more inspiration, check out these 20 brunch recipes sure to impress!

Brunch Hosting Essentials

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10 thoughts on “Three Course Brunch Formula and Mother’s Day Menu

  1. I’ve never thought of doing multiple courses for a Mother’s Day brunch, but this sounds so fun! My mom would love something like this!

  2. You list some awesome ideas here! I’ve never done a Mother’s Day brunch, but I am hosting the moms at my home for a lunch! I’m hoping for beautiful weather so we can enjoy our meal outside! I’m having a chicken salad with croissants, tortellini salad, fresh fruit, and a fun dessert to finish off the menu!

    1. Sounds delicious and so spring-y, especially tortellini salad! I will cross my fingers for good weather for you. It sounds like you will be having a lovely Mother’s Day, even without brunch!

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