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11 Most Popular Brunch Foods

A ranking of popular brunch foods to order when you’re out or make at home.

Brunch has become a beloved weekend tradition throughout the world. For many people, it is a time to indulge in a delicious, leisurely meal, whether having a particular recipe or a simple, healthy choice. Chefs around the world have been perfecting brunch recipes for centuries or even longer!

This article will talk about the most popular brunch food items and how they earned their place at the cultural table. Some are old favorites, while others are relatively new. A few have risen out of new and growing interest in healthier menu options. Others have been popular in their culture of origin for many years and are just recently more widely known! 

You can find these top 11 best brunch food items in diners, restaurants, cafes, and homes worldwide. Here, I will discuss their history, components, and where you can get your hands on these delicious popular brunch food items! 

Best Brunch Food Items

  1. Eggs Benedict
  2. Chicken & Waffles
  3. Breakfast Burrito
  4. Pancakes
  5. French Toast
  6. Steak & Eggs
  7. Omelets
  8. Açaí Bowl
  9. Breakfast Burger
  10. Avocado Toast
  11. Quiche

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is a luxurious brunch option that is perfect for the weekend since it feels rich and decadent. The dish features a poached egg and Canadian bacon on an English muffin, all of which is covered in hollandaise sauce. 

Hollandaise is made from egg yolks and melted butter mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. It is very rich and buttery, leading to its reputation as a weekend treat and popularizing it as a brunch dish. No one knows precisely where Eggs Benedict first began. 

Differing accounts from different sides claim it originated in 1940s New York or the 1860s.


Chicken & Waffles

Chicken and waffles have been a popular regional dish in the United States for many years, seen in both soul food and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. However, it was only in recent years that it exploded into the broader culture, and now diners all over the country enjoy chicken and waffles at brunch. 

This dish also became associated with the city of Baltimore. The dish today combines fried chicken with waffles covered (usually) in sweet condiments such as syrup and butter. The result combines sweet and savory flavors that perfectly bridge the gap between breakfast and lunch. 


Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast burritos, also called breakfast tacos in some regions, are breakfast sandwiches usually associated with Tex-Mex cuisine. They consist of soft flour tortillas filled with various breakfast foods. 

These typically include eggs, cheese, and meat such as bacon or sausage. However, they can also be much more elaborate, with ingredients such as chorizo, salsa, fried potatoes, avocado, pico de gallo, and more. 

You will often find them served wrapped in aluminum foil, which is then peeled back from the top and held from the bottom so you can eat the burrito on the go. 


Pancakes

Pancakes are one of the most famous breakfast and brunch dishes you can find. They have a long history, and you can find them in cultures across the globe, from the thick, soft American pancakes to thin French crepes and Eastern European blini. 

The basic recipe involves batter being fried in a hot, greased pan, hence the name “pan-cake.” American-style pancakes use a leavening agent such as buttermilk to achieve the soft, fluffy pancakes we associate with brunch. Most pancakes are plain, though versions that include chocolate chips, walnuts, blueberries, bananas, or other fruit are also popular. 


French Toast

French toast is a dish designed to use up stale bread by soaking it in a mixture of egg and milk, then frying it in a pan similarly to a pancake. You usually eat it with sweet toppings such as maple syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, butter, and sliced fruit as a brunch dish. 

French toast dates back to the Roman Empire, where people drizzled it in honey. You will find French toast eaten all over the world with slight variations. There are also savory versions of French toast that incorporate ham, beef, or ketchup.


Steak & Eggs

Steak and eggs is a brunch dish served throughout the United States. It usually consists of flank steak that has been heavily seasoned and paired with fried eggs and toast. It may also include an assortment of fried vegetables, usually bell peppers and onions. 

Sometimes, instead of flank steak, you might use strip, sirloin, or rib-eye. There are many variations of the classic steak and egg dish, including hollandaise sauce as a play on eggs benedict. 

Often, the dish is accompanied by a condiment such as Worcestershire sauce, chimichurri, or steak sauce. Since it’s a more hearty meal, you can definitely pair this with some popular brunch cocktails like a Bloody Mary or Mimosa!


Omelets

An omelet is an egg dish made by beating eggs and frying them in a pan, usually with other ingredients. Many omelets include cheese, ham, bacon, or sausage, and vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and onions. 

The egg is then folded around the contents. Omelets have been made for hundreds of years and exist in cultures all over the world! Many brunch restaurants offer customized omelets, letting customers order whatever combination of savory ingredients they like. 

Omelets are also a healthy brunch choice, thanks to the inclusion of vegetables and high protein content. 


Açaí Bowl

An açaí bowl is a brunch option that has become popular in recent years due to the reputation of açaí berries as a superfood. 

Açaí bowls are a reimagining of açaí na tigela, a Brazilian dessert or meal. This food is essentially a smoothie made from pulverized acai palm fruit, added to a variety of fresh fruit, and eaten with a spoon. 

In South America, people often eat fresh açaí with fish, shrimp, and cassava root. As a brunch option in the United States, the açaí is usually not made of real açaí berries. Instead, it is a version of berry ice cream mixed with granola, sugar, and sweet fruits such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and goji berries.


Breakfast Burger

If you’re having trouble deciding whether you want breakfast or lunch, the breakfast burger is for you! It usually includes a beef patty, fried egg, bacon, hash browns, and pepper sauce between two buns. 

You can find a breakfast burger at most restaurants, and if they don’t have it on the menu, see if they can add a fried egg to any of their regular burger options. 

Most breakfast burger recipes involve a beef patty paired with fried eggs, bacon, and sauce. Some variations include avocado, fried potatoes, or tomatoes. You will also find recipes that swap out the burger bun for an English muffin.


Avocado Toast

In recent years, avocado toast has become a popular brunch item, even becoming the butt of a cultural joke involving young people in the millennial generation. The dish relies on the fatty, smooth consistency of the avocado, which you can spread like butter across the toast. 

It may be mixed or combined with other ingredients. Most commonly, the avocado is seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with a fried egg and sometimes a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Some variations also add bacon, ham, or other herbs and seasonings such as cilantro, chili, or red pepper flakes.


Quiche

Quiche is a savory tart made by baking eggs, cream, and other ingredients in a pie shell. The result is a tasty pie that is popular throughout the world. Many versions, such as the famous quiche Lorraine, include meat or seafood — often bacon or ham. 

Quiche often includes vegetables such as asparagus and onions. Though it has long been associated with French cuisine, quiche recipes have been recorded in English and Italian cooking since the Middle Ages. Today, it remains a popular brunch item, and you may find it served both hot and cold. 


Final Thoughts

In the modern world, brunch is usually a treat for the weekend and seen as a chance to indulge beyond standard breakfast options. However, there are both decadent and healthy options, making it possible for anyone to participate, no matter their diet. 

Many brunch items are recipes that have been made in one form or another for centuries or even longer. No matter what you prefer to eat, you can find a delicious brunch item that feels like a special occasion, whether that be a stack of buttery pancakes or a healthy omelet packed with nutrients.

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Written by Erin B.

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.