I love Christmas morning. Even as an adult, there’s something magical about waking up to a glowing Christmas tree and a pile of gifts wrapped in shiny paper, to a cozy house and a radio softly playing Christmas music. And at the end of the chaos and the squeals of delight from little people, there’s breakfast to enjoy. Or brunch, depending on the time.
When I was growing up, my mom always made Christmas breakfast special. She still does today, for my dad and my two siblings who live at home. When I was small, Christmas breakfast meant pancakes or waffles, bacon and sausage. When I was around ten years old, she found a Christmas breakfast menu in a magazine, and for many years, that was the breakfast she made: a Dutch baby pancake, asparagus wrapped in thin slices of ham with hollandaise, poached eggs, and cranberry juice mixed with just enough champagne to make it fizzy. At some point, she lost that breakfast menu, and began making Eggs Benedict, which is my dad’s favorite.
Christmas breakfast can be a challenge, though, because by the time the presents are opened and the chaos has settled some, everyone is bound to be hungry. It helps to have a meal that’s easy to prepare and doesn’t require hours in the kitchen. A breakfast that tastes special, but doesn’t make you feel like you’ve just made Thanksgiving dinner.
I’ve nailed down a Christmas morning breakfast menu that accomplishes all of the above, and I’m so happy to share it with you here. Most of the work can be done on Christmas Eve day, or even after everyone is in bed for the night. All you really have to do on Christmas morning is fire up the oven.
Now, I have two caveats. First, there are some not-from-scratch items involved in this menu, like prepared biscuits and bakery croissants. I won’t apologize for that, because on Christmas, people should be the focus, and these things will enable you to spend time on the couch, not time in the kitchen. Second, this is not a low-sugar, low-carb, low-calorie menu. But then, it shouldn’t be. It’s Christmas. It happens once a year. You can drink a green smoothie on December 26 if you want.
First Course: Ree’s Monkey Bread. You can take 10 minutes to throw this together in the morning, or prep it the night before, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator. Before the gift-opening frenzy begins, preheat the oven and place the pan of prepared Monkey Bread inside. In about 30 minutes, everyone will have a sweet, cinnamon-y treat to enjoy with their coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, taking the edge off their hunger. Total bliss. When the monkey bread is done baking, you can pop the second course right into the oven.
Second Course: Sarah’s Savory Croissant Breakfast Pudding. It’s the perfect juxtaposition to that sweet Monkey Bread you just ate, rich with eggs and savory seasonings, bacon and spicy sausage. Complete and total yumminess. Add a fruit salad (Honeycrisp apple chunks, clementine segments, fresh pineapple, some seedless red grapes, a drizzle of fresh orange juice, and a sprinkling of coconut) and orange or cranberry mimosas, and you have a delicious and special meal that lands on the table with little effort in the moment, enabling you to relax and enjoy your Christmas morning. Assemble the breakfast pudding the night before, refrigerate until morning, and all you have to do is pop it in the oven. The fruit salad comes together quickly, and you can wash and cut up the fruit the day before, storing it in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator (if you do cut up the apples in advance, toss them with a little orange juice to prevent them from browning).
Here’s to Christmas and breakfast, my favorite holiday and favorite meal, united.