This is the biggest mistake people make when they crack eggs

There are endless ways to enjoy an egg, from hearty scrambles to keto-friendly egg muffins.

But before even considering the cooking method, most variants of an egg dish involve cracking its thin shell ... that is, unless you're boiling it of course.

Though the concept seems simple - just crack and enjoy, right? — there are plenty of people who have gotten shells in their scramble to prove that's not always so straightforward.

TODAY Food spoke with an eggs-cellent eggs-pert to nail down the best technique for cracking an egg and how to any pesky shell pieces.

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Good Eats: 61 egg recipes
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Good Eats: 61 egg recipes

Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Breakfast Bake with Eggs by Food & Wine

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Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan Plus Bread, Prosciutto and Egg by Martha Stewart

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Bacon and Egg Breakfast Pizza by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Veggie Breakfast Sandwich by Jelly Toast

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Crab Cake Eggs Benedict with Bacon Hollandaise by Domestic Fits | Jackie Dodd

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Eggs Baked in Roasted Tomato Sauce by Food & Wine

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Roasted Red Pepper and Kale Frittata by Martha Stewart

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Soft Scrambled Eggs with Smoky Seasonings & Chives by Home Skillet | Jenn & Seth Kendall

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Bacon & Egg Rolls with Almond & Chili Pesto by Simply Delicious | Alida Ryder

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Mini Hash Brown Quiche by Garnish & Glaze | Melanie Dueck

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Baked Eggs in a Basket by An Edible Mosaic | Faith Gorsky

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Southwestern Spicy Frittata by Kitchen Belleicious | Jessica Maher

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Chicken Hash with Eggs by Food & Wine

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Eggs Benedict Waffle by The Daily Meal

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Brunch Time Asparagus Spaghetti with Baked Egg by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

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Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs by Food & Wine

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Eggs Benedict with Manchego, Tomatoes, & Proscuitto and a Sage Hollandaise Sauce by Adventures in Cooking

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Smothered Cauliflower with Eggs by Food & Wine

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Shirred Eggs with Ham and Tomato by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Poached Eggs with Bacon Crumbs and Spinach by Food & Wine

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Poached Eggs Parmesan by Michael Symon's 5 in 5 | Michael Symon

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Mini Egg, Rice and Spinach Frittata Muffins by Belleicious Kids | Jessica Maher

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Mini Quail Eggs in Prosciutto Nests by Martha Stewart

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Chicken Sausage and Egg Breakfast Cups by Organize Yourself Skinny | Tammy Kresge

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Cheesy Kale Prosciutto Brunch Melts with Eggs by The Woks of Life 

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Avocado, Tomato and Feta Toast with Poached Eggs by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | Susan Palmer

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Potato Coins with Fried Eggs by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

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Raw Asparagus Salad with Tomatoes and Hard-Boiled Eggs by Food & Wine

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Cheesy English Muffins with Smoky Balsamic Red Pepper Compote and Fried Eggs by An Edible Mosaic

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Easy Frittata with Greens and Cheese by Eating Made Easy | Amelia Winslow

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Churrasco (Ecuadorian Steak) and Eggs with Green Chili Sauce
by Hola Jalapeño | Kate Ramos

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Cold Soba and Cucumber Noodles with Soft-Boiled Eggs by Brooklyn Vegetarian | Amy Jennings

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Grilled Cheese Egg in the Hole Sandwich by I Bake He Shoots | Mondo Fowler

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Butternut Squash and Apple Frittata with Bacon and Cheese by The Usual Bliss | Amber Howe 

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Egg in a Basket with Smoked Turkey and Asparagus by Weeknight Wonders | Ellie Krieger

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Leftover Baked Eggs and Chili Eggs by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

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Grilled Asparagus with Pecorino and Meyer Lemon-Poached Eggs by Food & Wine

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Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast by Martha Stewart

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Frittata with Pea Shoots and Bacon by Jelly Toast

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Fried Egg-and-Bacon Puff Pastry Squares by Martha Stewart

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Hummus Deviled Eggs by Food & Wine

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Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs, and Mint by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Egg-and-Tomato Breakfast Sandwich to Go by Martha Stewart

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Mascarpone Scrambled Eggs with Garlic Toasts by Taking On Magazines | Christiane B. Potts

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Crustless Asparagus Quiche by Chez Us | Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira

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Toasted Beer Cornbread with Avocado, Crispy Pancetta and Poached Eggs by Hola Jalapeño | Kate Ramos

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Spring Vegetable Frittata by Whipperberry

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Potato & Corn Frittata by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Pork Roll, Egg and Bagel Grilled Cheese by Grilled Cheese Social | Mackenzie Smith

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Baked Mexican Eggs by Eatori | Tori Haschka

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Potato and Egg Tacos by Campbell's Kitchen

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Fried Egg with Kale Pesto by Home Skillet | Jenn & Seth Kendall

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Taylor Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin by Grilling 24x7 | John Thomas

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Mushroom and Scallion Frittata by Martha Stewart

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Truffled Garlic Egg Brioches by Eatori | Tori Haschka

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North Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs by A Brown Table | Nik Sharma

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Sriracha-and-Wasabi Deviled Eggs by Food & Wine

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Sweet Potato Crust Quiche by Live and Love to Eat | Claire Marshall

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Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Where should you crack an egg?

The counter or the edge of some other surface? That is the question many home cooks debate when choosing the best hard surface to give their egg a gentle whack. "This edge can be the side of a bowl or [the] defined edge of another container or utensil," Nick Korbee, executive chef of Egg Shop NYC, told TODAY via email. "This method is for speed and I use it all the time when making mass quantities of scrambled eggs."

However, he said the sharp edge method isn't always the best idea for neatness. This is especially true if the home cook isn't very experienced with eggs. "This [method] tends to leave shell fragments and broken yolks from time to time, which is why I would recommend straining eggs cracked this way with a mesh strainer before using," said Korbee.

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Cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic
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Cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic

Cooking with the wrong fats

Cook with olive oil—but only for certain foods. Butter is back—but is butter better? And then there's coconut oil—actually, there are many reasons not to cook with coconut oil. So what are the healthiest fats for cooking? Maggie Michalczyk, registered dietitian in Chicago, recommends doing your homework before buying a jumbo jug of one particular oil and using it for everything. "These oils have different smoke points—that's the temperature at which they begin to burn—and once they start smoking, the fat breaks down and they can release harmful free radicals into the air," she says. Oils with high smoke points that are great for high-heat cooking include avocado oil (refined), almond oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil. Regardless of smoke point, you'll want to limit soybean and corn oils, which studies have linked to diabetes. Also, keep portions of oils in check when cooking to prevent additional calories (most serving sizes are two tablespoons). You might find this information on cooking oils helpful.

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Overheating healthy oils

Oils with low smoke points are better for salad dressings or adding to already cooked foods—but not for high temp cooking. "Certain oils, like olive oil and coconut oil, contain nutritional compounds that can be destroyed when heating to high temperatures above their smoke points," explains Ben Roche, Michelin-star chef and director of product development at Just. For general cooking at home (sautéing, frying, roasting), he recommends using a neutral oil, like grapeseed or sunflower. For flavoring cold sauces and drizzling over prepared food, he suggests using extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil to preserve flavor and nutrition. Just make sure you're not buying fake olive oil.

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Frying your food

It might taste downright delicious, but consuming deep-fried food on the regular can be deadly. "The act of frying turns otherwise healthy foods, like vegetables and lean meats, into unhealthy, trans-fat-laden treats," says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist. Additionally, consumption of fried foods has been linked to a myriad of health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you can't shake your fried-food obsession, Kimszal suggests purchasing an air fryer. This device does not require any oil to cook your food, so you can still enjoy your favorite foods without all the trans fat that will hurt your health. These foods that contain trans fats will shock you.

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Charring your meat

While raw or undercooked meat can pose health hazards, so can overcooked or charred meats. "Cooking meats above 300°F, which usually results from grilling or pan frying, can form compounds called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that may be harmful to human DNA," warns Christen Cupples Cooper, EdD, RDN, assistant professor and founding director of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program at the College of Health Professions at Pace University. "Some research suggests that when metabolized, these compounds may activate enzymes linked to cancer risk." While the research is limited, Cooper believes there's enough evidence to recommend reducing your exposure to these chemical compounds. "Avoid cooking foods for any length of time over an open flame or hot metal surface, turn meat frequently during cooking, and cut away charred portions of meat," she says.

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Using the wrong cookware

Just like it's important to know what ingredients are in the food you eat, you should also know what ingredients are used to create the cookware you use. "Nonstick cookware is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to toxicity," warns Raul Serrano, DC, doctor of functional medicine in Palm Harbor, Florida. "Teflon, which is practically everywhere (cookie sheets, muffin pans, and frying pans), contains a man-made chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8)." Some studies have found links between PFOA exposure and cancer development, reproduction, and liver dysfunction. Serrano recommends healthier alternatives, such as cast iron, glass, ceramic, and stainless steel. (Here's the best way to organize your pots and pans.)

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Storing your leftovers in plastic containers

In the same vein of being careful when selecting your cookware, you always want to take precaution when purchasing your food storage containers. "Some popular storage containers on the market contain bisphenol-A (BPA), which studies have shown that once ingested, mimic estrogen in our bodies," says Dr. Serrano. "High levels of estrogen result in weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, headaches, and higher risk of certain cancers." Instead, he recommends swapping out plastic containers for glass containers.

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Getting too much salt 

If there's one flavor Americans love in their food, it's salt. In fact, about 90 percent of people living in the United States over the age of two consume too much of the stuff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg of salt per day, which is about a teaspoon; the average adult is consuming around 3,592 mg. "In some cases, our taste buds may be desensitized to the flavor of salt," says Michalczyk. The problem is all the sodium packed into prepackaged foods: According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed food. Here are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium.

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Adding too much sugar

If there's one flavor Americans love in their food, it's salt. In fact, about 90 percent of people living in the United States over the age of two consume too much of the stuff, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 mg of salt per day, which is about a teaspoon; the average adult is consuming around 3,592 mg. "In some cases, our taste buds may be desensitized to the flavor of salt," says Michalczyk. The problem is all the sodium packed into prepackaged foods: According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed food. Here are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium.

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Relying on processed frozen food dishes for weekday meals

It's tempting to turn to a frozen meal that promises to be ready for you in just three minutes in the microwave, especially after a long, stressful day of work. But oftentimes, these foods contain a slew of preservatives and chemicals that are hazardous to your long-term health. Remember that humans have only been exposed to these for a very short time in evolutionary history," says Krampf. "Not only do processed foods leave less room in your diet for healthier foods, but they are loaded with ingredients like artificial preservatives, refined sugar, and white flour." Instead, she recommends opting for whole foods, like vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat whenever possible. And, if you must buy something in a box, choose one with ingredients that you can at least understand and pronounce. Here are frozen meals you can feel good about feeding your kids.

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Drinking a glass of wine while cooking

Unless you're sipping on a full stomach, experts warn against having that glass of wine while stirring your family's meal, as relaxing as it might be. "Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to an unhealthy spike in blood sugar," says Michalczyk. "Plus you may notice that the longer you wait to eat after the initial drink, the hungrier you will feel, which may lead you to overdo on whatever food you see next." Or the opposite can happen: Drinking alcohol before a meal might suppress your appetite, causing you to miss out on calories and nutrients your body needs. Here's what happens when you drink a glass of wine every night.

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Using 'low-fat' everything you can find

There was a time when nutrition experts believed that fat was the enemy, but, thankfully, that time has come and gone. We've since learned that there is good fat and bad fat: Anything fried isn't too great, but avocados and fish are full of good fat (omega-3-fatty acids). Krampf warns that not adding enough fat when cooking is a mistake. "In addition to being an energy source and protection or organs, fat is used in cell membrane function, start reactions that affect the immune system and metabolism, and allow for absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K," she says. Here are some clear signs you're not eating enough healthy fats.

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Strain your eggs? Who has time for that?

If you need to keep whites and yolks separated for a recipe, or your cracking technique isn't always foolproof, it's best not to use a bowl. For less mess and fuss, Korbee advises cracking eggs against a the flat surface or countertop. This egg-cracking technique is best for making sure the yolk stays intact, and your shell is less likely to break off into the egg itself.

"I use this technique when making sunny up eggs or when separating egg whites," said Korbee.

One hand or two?

Cracking an egg with one hand certainly looks fancy, but is it necessary?

"There is no earthly reason to force home cooks to crack eggs with one hand," said Korbee. While this is a technique more common among chefs because it is helpful when making large quantities of egg orders at once, it takes a lot of practice and it's unlikely that a home cook will need to fire off dozens of egg orders within minutes.

But there's always room to learn a new skill! Said Korbee, "If you wish to build this skill, practice holding the egg between your thumb and forefinger, tap to crack the shell and pull your thumb back gently to separate the shell and release the egg into the wild!"

Separating the yolk

Whether you're making an egg white frittata or just separating the egg whites from yolks for baking (a simple souffle, perhaps?), separating eggs is a culinary skill that can lead to some mishaps for many.

"I find the hand separating method to be best for separating eggs at home," advised Korbee. "With this method you crack an egg into your clean, cupped hand and allow the whites to fall between your fingers."

Then, you "gently bounce your hand up and down" hovering above a mixing bowl to let the whites fall down. This technique is very gentle, said the chef, plus it makes it easy to quickly discard the yolk into a second bowl if it starts to break apart in your hand since it hasn't come into contact with the whites yet.

Get rid of sneaky shells

Whether you need to separate eggs or just crack them quickly, it's likely that a piece of shell has ended up in your egg mixture at some point in your life.

It happens to everyone, said Korbee, bit it is no reason to panic. To prevent shells from ending up in your final dish (if you're making a cake or dough, for example), never crack eggs right into the other ingredients and always use a separate bowl first, that way you'll easily be able to fish out any deviant shell pieces.

If some shell does wind in the egg, don't toss out all your eggs.

Moisten your fingers (make sure your hands are totally clean first) and fish out the piece of egg. Egg whites tend stick to dry fingers so it will be easy to remove the shell if nothing else is sticking to you.

If you're working with just egg whites, "you can always strain them through a mesh strainer," said Korbee.

56 PHOTOS
Good Eats: 56 breakfast recipes
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Good Eats: 56 breakfast recipes

Chicken Hash with Eggs by Food & Wine

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Coffee Coffee Cake by The Young Austinian | Katherine Hysmith

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Egg Sandwiches with Crispy Prosciutto by Domesticate ME!

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Kale and Ricotta Breakfast Pizza by Bacon Egg & Cheese{cake} | Shelley Liu

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Oregon Berry Hand Pies by PDXfoodlove | Rebekah Hubbard

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Three-Pear Maple Crumble by Seasonally Jane | Amanda Jane

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Vegan Chickpea Omelet by Fork and Beans | Cara Reed

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Cinnamon Orange Stuffed French Toast with Cranberry Sauce by Savory Nothings | Nora Rusev

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Cranberry Yogurt Parfaits by

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Beans and Bacon on Buttered Toasts by Food & Wine    

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Giant Skillet Cinnamon Roll by A Happy Food Dance | Jessica Potts

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Creamy Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Cherries and Almonds by Food & Wine

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Iced Cranberry & Orange Swirl Scones by Erren's Kitchen | Erren Hart

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Ham-and-Cheddar Scallion Biscuit Sandwiches by Food & Wine

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Lemon Poppy Seed Bread by Ashton Keefe

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Sweet Potato Waffles with Pecan Honey Butter by Wicked Spatula | Lauren Lester

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Roasted Red Pepper and Kale Frittata by Martha Stewart

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Fruit and Nut Granola by A Happy Food Dance | Jessica Potts

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Banana French Toast by The Simple Veganista | Julie West

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Mini Hash Brown Quiches by Garnish & Glaze | Melanie Dueck

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Open-Face Omelets with Spicy Feta and Escarole by Food & Wine    

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Ricotta Crêpes with Honey, Walnuts and Rose by Food & Wine

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Easy Shakshuka by Neighbor Food | Courtney Rowland

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Glazed Apple Fritters by Food & Wine

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Pork Roll, Egg and Bagel Grilled Cheese by Grilled Cheese Social | Mackenzie Smith

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Vegan Berry Crunch Smoothie Bowl by Domesticate ME! | Serena Wolf

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Banana Chocolate Chip Fluffernutter French Toast Casserole by Melanie Makes | Melanie Bauer

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Avocado Berry Smoothie by PDXfoodlove | Rebekah Hubbard

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Layered Vegetarian Egg Bake by Heartbeet Kitchen | Amanda Paa

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Banana Nut Bread by Epicurious 

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Lemon, Parsley and Parmesan Plus Bread, Prosciutto and Egg by Martha Stewart

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Peanut Butter and Banana Toast with Granola and Honey by Well Plated by Erin | Erin Clarke

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Chai Spiced Doughnut Muffins by Jelly Toast | Emily Caruso

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Apple Butter French Toast Sandwiches by Martha Stewart    

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Rum Raisin Waffled French Toast by Dessert for Two | Christina Lane

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Oat Pancakes with Honeyed Roasted Figs by PDXfoodlove | Rebekah Hubbard

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Cheesy Kale Prosciutto Brunch Melts with Eggs by The Woks of Life

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Veggie Breakfast Sandwich by Jelly Toast 

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by I Bake He Shoots | Mondo Fowler

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Bacon Gouda Breakfast Sandwiches by The Little Kitchen    

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Avocado Tomato and Feta Toast with Poached Eggs by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | Susan Palmer

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Sausage, Goat Cheese, and Chive Bagel Strata by Neighbor Food

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Sweet Potato Cornmeal Waffles with Bourbon Cream and Pecan Butter by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen | Susan Palmer

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Berry Topped French Toast Bagels by Simply Sated

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Oats and Greek Yogurt by Fit, Fun & Delish! | Ana Frias

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Cinnamon and Spice Oatmeal with Ricotta and Pear by Sam Stephens    

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Ham and Gruyere Cheese Stuffed French Toast by Marin Mama Cooks | Jackie Grandy

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Poached Eggs Parmesan by Michael Symon's 5 in 5 | Michael Symon

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Charred Tomatoes with Fried Eggs on Garlic Toast by Martha Stewart

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Smothered Cauliflower with Eggs by Food & Wine

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Snickerdoodle Pancakes by Oh, Bite It | Amy Erickson

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Grandma's Homemade Jame Donuts by Better Baking Bible | Suzy Q Cacic

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Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs by Food & Wine

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Fruity Pebbles Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Glaze by Life With The Crust Cut Off | Parrish Ritchie 

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Beet and Blackberry Pancakes by The Young Austinian | Katherine Hysmith

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Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies by Fit Foodie Finds | Lee Hersh

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