Brunch Menu Planning for a Larger Crowd

I posted a while ago some tips on planning your Easter Brunch Menu…. here are some ideas to consider for the menu…

In most cases when planning a brunch for a larger crowd… a buffet works best. It gives you an opportunity to place it all out where everyone can get what they want and not have the hassle of passing foods back and forth for what seems like an eternity.

I consider a buffet menu to be somewhat like a Chinese take-out menu… pick from column A and then something from column B…. then column C… well you get the picture. …

And remember not everything has to be home made… be honest with yourself about what you are capable of doing yourself and what may be best left to a purchased item… or better yet… ask someone to bring it…. just make sure the item you’ve asked someone to bring is not a deal breaker… people forget… they get sick… and some just don’t show up.

I like to include….

An Egg Dish.. either some kind of eggs (example …scrambled) or an egg casserole…. Frittatas, egg casseroles and quiches are terrific possibilities…the advantage of these … is that it can be usually prepped ahead and is finished all at once…. the downside of it is that it takes up room in the oven for an extended length of time… something you need to consider when choosing other food items. Scrambled eggs in a puff pastry shell makes for a fabulous presentation… and easy to serve.. just bake the shells while you make the eggs… load them up and line them up on a heated serving tray… serve with a cheese sauce… and all I can say is WOW!

A Meat Item… sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon, hash or a combination of two or more…. advantages include: bacon can be made in the oven and kept warm on a warming tray… sausages can be made somewhat ahead and kept warm on a warming tray also… ditto for the hash… and Canadian Bacon is a great low fat alternative and cooks quickly.

A Potato Item… if you choose an egg item and don’t plan on a starch such as pancakes or waffles… then you really should have a potato item… potatoes can be a casserole, hash browns, home fries, O’Brien potatoes… and another different alternative that’s great is oven browned potatoes… advantages…. Hash browns, home fries and O’Brien potatoes keep warm well on a warming tray.. a casserole can be prepped ahead and baked… but it takes up room in the oven.

Bread Items…. English muffins, muffins, breads, coffee cakes, bagels and hard rolls…. all or some can be purchased… or made completely ahead. I have mini bread tins… you can make little banana breads then slice them… perfect for a buffet… you can purchase mini bagels and make homemade cream cheese spreads and specialty butters to go with them… they’re easy to make, can be made ahead and made at a fraction of the cost of purchasing them.

Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast and Crepes… they’re delicious… almost everyone likes them and they’re easy to make… can be kept warm in a warm oven. The downside is they will take up room in an oven and you have to make the pancakes and waffles that morning for the best results. Crepes can be made ahead and refrigerated… to re-heat you can heat them quickly in the microwave. Fillings can also be made in advance… or you can make cheddar and chives scrambled eggs and use that as the filling… along with a cheese sauce…

If I plan on making something from the Main Dish group… then I would stay away from pancakes, waffles or French toast… since these are rather heavy foods….I’d consider crepes.. depending on what I’m serving as a filling… likewise… if I decide on a main dish.. I’d lean toward avoiding a potato casserole dish… again depending on what main dish I choose.

Main Dishes for Lunch… choose something that’s easy to serve… something that can be put in a chafing dish or crock pot works well… serve it with rice or noodles… tremendous advantage here… can be made totally ahead and doesn’t have to take up room in the oven… if serving two items… choose something that goes well with the first choice… a fish item or vegetarian item… pasta toss… that can stay hot in a chafing dish.

Salad and/or Fruit… if you serve a main dish item.. I would definitely serve a salad.. doesn’t have to be elaborate… just greens and tomatoes and whatever else you want to include… and a choice of two dressings… store bought or homemade. I almost always include a fruit salad… it goes well with everything… and can be eaten as a dessert as well… it always goes over really well. Serve it with a yogurt sauce or dip.

Desserts… my favorite topic…. really anything goes… you can serve cakes…already sliced and put on plates… my favorite way to serve desserts on a buffet is miniatures… I’m a variety type of person… and miniatures allow guests to taste more than one item… from little cheesecakes… to cookies… bar cookies and small puddings and trifles… I think this is the way to go…

Beverages…. the usual soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee…. serving alcoholic beverages is optional depending upon preference and budget. If you want to serve alcoholic beverages and have a tight budget… make drinks that can be put in pitchers and guests serve themselves… Screwdrivers, Mimosas, Bloody Marys and punches all can be made fairly inexpensively…. You don’t have to buy the best quality alcohol ingredient when using them as mixers.

Coming up next....I’ll have fantastic recipes for you to consider from every food category of your menu!


Shannon Huffman Polson said...

how do you figure out amounts for numbers of people? we are planning a brunch for about 80 adults...and planning to serve mimosas. How do you figure out how much you need of things? ie egg dish, orange juice, champagne, coffee...

Linda said...

Hi Shannon..

I do have a coffee post .. that gives quantities for larger crowds... just multiply it out... it gives the coffee, tea, sugar and creamer quantities.. not specifically for 80 people.. it's in multiples of 25.. you will need to round off a bit..

As for the rest of your party items... why don't you email me at let me know what you're thinking of serving and I'll try to help you figure out quantities...

As for the mimosa.. before figuring quantities... do you know approximately how many of your guests drink alcohol?... not everyone will drink... and have you taken the under-age guests off the total number?

Let me know a few more details in the email.. and I can email you back...


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