By Jill Lightner
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Pancakes make for a casual, kid-friendly brunch, particularly when you set up a bar with an assortment of tempting toppers. Whip up a homemade syrup to replace the expected maple; put your slow cooker to work with a batch of spiced apple butter; heck, you can even go savory with a trendy avocado compound butter! Plus, many of these 25 amazing creations would make a terrific hostess gift if you're heading to brunch at a friend's place.

Homemade Syrups

Maple syrup is the standard across North America and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it — but it sure is fun to experiment with other options. These syrups will be standouts on top of basic Buttermilk or Blueberry Pancakes. Pro tip: To keep them easy to pour, opt for a quick trip in the microwave to warm them up just before serving.

More ideas for syrups:

Fruit Compotes

Whole, seasonal fruits and a light touch of warm spices: A great compote can be the star of the brunch-time show. If you have a small slow cooker, use it to serve these compotes warm (they're also great at room temperature). Compotes can be made ahead of time, but the colors are usually prettiest if they're made the same morning they'll be served.

More ideas for fruit compotes:

Citrus Toppings

Tart flavors shine during special occasion brunches, particularly when mimosas are on the menu. Pro tip: Stir some lemon or orange zest into your favorite pancake recipe to make it a perfect match with a citrus topper. The bright flavors also go wonderfully with Crepes or delicate Swedish Pancakes.

More ideas for citrus toppings:

Compound Butters

Intensely flavored butters can go savory or spicy, which make them a fantastic topper for creations such as Cornmeal Pancakes. You can make them several days ahead and store in the refrigerator; just take them out to soften about 30 minutes ahead of brunch.

More ideas for compound butters:

Fruit and Nut Spreads

Put seasonal fruit to excellent use in the thick, lightly spiced spread known as fruit butter. Slow cookers and microwaves are handy to get these spreads to the right consistency; you want them thick, not runny. Warm up a chilly morning by pairing any of these with Gingerbread Pancakes.

More ideas for fruit and nut spreads:


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