Holiday Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

Make your holiday breakfast or brunch special with these easy, festive recipes.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

There are so many things that make the holiday season special, but one thing is the food -- am I right? For many of us, this is the only time of year we enjoy certain dishes, some of which have cultural significance. So now is the perfect time for a few festive (but healthy) breakfast and brunch recipes!

More than perhaps any other time of year, people are likely to be making special breakfasts and sitting down to eat with visiting friends and family. The way I see it, there are four ways to celebrate the season with breakfast or brunch before, during, and after Christmas Day:

  • Enjoy favorite holiday foods. This is the time of year to make gingerbread cake, pumpkin spice muffins, or cranberry nut bread.
  • Give your regular breakfast foods a holiday twist. Whipped butter for your biscuits becomes orange butter when you blend in orange marmalade. Or, make holiday cream cheese by blending light cream cheese with cranberry-orange or cranberry-raspberry sauce. French toast is festive when made with slices of pannetone -- an Italian bread baked in a round, tall-sided pan and made with pieces of dried or candied fruit. Turn scones into a holiday treat by making cranberry-orange scones.
  • Celebrate your heritage (or someone else's). This might be the only time of year you think to make a breakfast from your heritage, like strata (an Italian dish made by layering bread, eggs, and other ingredients in a casserole dish), German apple pancakes, Swedish pancakes, pannetone, or -- my own favorite -- stollen. Since my parents were Dutch immigrants, December in our house always meant a Christmas stollen -- a loaf whose shape resembles a swaddled baby Jesus. I loved this dried-fruit-studded and almond-paste-filled treat, and after a couple of slices, I was perfectly content to wait until the next Christmas to have it again. To this day, I always buy one stollen around the first of December.
  • Create a new holiday breakfast tradition. When you start a household, each partner brings holiday traditions from his or her youth to the kitchen table. But there's always room to create your own. For example, one Christmas eve when my daughters were very young, we made cinnamon rolls and let them rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then, on Christmas morning, while my husband started the coffee and my girls raided their stockings, we popped the pan into the oven -- and 15 minutes later we had piping hot, cream-cheese-glazed cinnamon rolls. We've made these cinnamon rolls on Christmas eve every year since.

4 Holiday Breakfast or Brunch Recipes

Here are four festive breakfast or brunch recipes. Two are easy holiday spreads for biscuits, muffins, or other breakfast breads; the others offer a holiday twist on two popular breakfast foods: gingerbread muffins and cranberry orange scones.

Orange Butter

4 tablespoons whipped butter
2 tablespoons less-sugar orange marmalade


  1. In custard cup or small serving bowl, blend whipped butter with orange marmalade using a small spoon.
  2. Serve with biscuits, toast, or muffins.

Yield: About 4 servings

Nutrition Information: Per serving (just the orange butter): 85 calories, 0.2 g protein, 4.5 g carbohydrate, 7.7 g fat, 4.7 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 0.3 g fiber, 80 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 79%.

Cranberry Cream Cheese

2/3 cup light cream cheese
1/3 cup raspberry cranberry sauce, home-style cranberry sauce, or orange cranberry sauce


  1. In mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and cranberry sauce while beating on low speed.
  2. Spoon into serving bowl, cover, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve as a spread for sandwiches, crackers, biscuits, toast, or muffins.
Yield: About 16 tablespoons

Nutrition Information Per tablespoon (just the cranberry spread): 32 calories, 1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 0.1 g fiber, 51 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 48%.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Canola oil cooking spray
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or substitute 1/2 cup Splenda plus 1/2 cup sugar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup less-fat margarine (use a brand with no less than 8 grams of fat per tablespoon)
1/2 cup light cream cheese (or fat-free cream cheese)
2 tablespoons fat-free half-and-half
Zest from 1 orange, finely chopped
1 large egg, higher omega-3 if available, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dried cranberries

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