A Strata is a savory bread pudding, perfect for breakfast or brunch. This can be prepared the night before if you are short on time in the morning. Simply cover and refrigerate, then bake when you get up the next day. It’s amazing what simple ingredients and the right recipe can do.
Bread, eggs, cheese, seasonings, and fillings of your choice. This Overnight Breakfast Strata can be anything you need it to be. Most of the flavor comes from the sausage and the cheese, the options for the filling can easily consist of what you like or what you have already in your fridge. I have included a list of options that I have tried throughout the years for you to choose from if you prefer.
This is the type of recipe I commonly see for special occasions or hosting breakfast for guests. I personally enjoy making this as part of my meal preps for the week. Generally, this serves the 3 of us in our household for the week when paired with some fresh fruit on the side.
It’s delicious and much tastier than the store-bought breakfast sandwiches my husband used to heat up in the microwave. They never seemed to warm up very well and weren’t filling enough on their own to carry him through until lunch. He’s the kind of guy that needs his comfort food for breakfast and as delicious as this casserole is, I can’t say that I blame him.
This recipe is very easy, however I have written it to be customizable and provided as much detail as possible. I have made it many times throughout the years, it is definitely a go-to for me and I hope it will be for you too. Please read through everything below, prepare your choices accordingly and get started cooking. Once you get the hang of it, this will be the only savory breakfast casserole you need. Enjoy!
Things You’ll Need:
Meat/Vegetarian Filling- For this recipe you will need 1 pound of meat or a meatless alternative, depending on your preference. I usually use some type of ground sausage, but if you prefer a vegetarian* option, just swap out the sausage. Here is a list of options to choose from:
- Italian Sausage, 1 lb., ground
- Breakfast Sausage, 1 lb., ground
- Plant Based Sausage*, 14-16 oz., ground
- Bacon, 1 lb., chopped into bite size pieces
- Ham, 1 lb., cubed
- Mushrooms*, 1 lb., sliced, or cut into fourths
Veggie Filling- In addition to your 1 pound of meat, you will need about 2 cups of vegetables. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
- Onion, diced
- Green onion, sliced
- Fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Red bell pepper, diced
- Green bell pepper, diced
- Mushrooms, sliced or cut into fourths
- Canned green chilies, diced
- Roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
Bread- I prefer ”day old’ bread rather than something very fresh, it does a little better at absorbing the egg mixture & staying intact when mixing. The choice is yours, go with what is easiest.
Grab a loaf from your local grocery store bakery and cube it up, you can leave it out to dry a bit for a few hours before preparing the casserole if you feel that the bread is a little too “fresh” & soft.
I tend to stick with a classic French or Italian because it is the most neutral in flavor and goes well with just about anything I toss into this casserole, but I also LOVE using cornbread. If you are gluten-free*, then this recipe works great for you too! You will need approximately 8 cups/12 ounces:
- French Loaf
- Italian Loaf
- Texas Toast
Cheese- You can grab a bag of your favorite cheese that has been pre-shredded, but it melts SO much better if you grate it yourself. The anti-caking agents that they use in shredded cheese makes it a little drier in my opinion. Since you can make this the night before, I say treat yourself and go all in with freshly grated cheese. You can use one type of cheese throughout or you can use a combination. Here are some that we love:
- Sharp Cheddar
- Monterrey Jack
- Colby Jack
- Pepper Jack
Milk- Because this is a decadent dish, I keep the theme going by using whole milk. You can use low-fat or even half and half if you want it extra rich. Or a combination of cream and milk also works. If you use a dairy free milk, keep in mind that it could impart a different flavor. Almond milk would be my choice if I went dairy free because it is the most neutral.
9 x 13 Casserole Dish– Use a nice deep casserole dish to prevent overflowing as this bakes and the cheese melts in the oven. I also like to put my dish on a large cookie sheet to catch any spills that may occur (just incase you feel like having a heavy hand with your favorite cheese or veggies).
Joy Makers & Co. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for websites to earn advertising revenues by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Tips & Tricks:
- When cooking the meat or plant based sausage, drain excess fat if needed. If you are using bacon, more than likely you will have to drain the fat. Cook until it is no longer pink, then add your veggies and sauté with the meat until browned and the veggies are soft.
- If you are using mushrooms as a meat replacement, cook them first with 2 tablespoon of oil and 2 tablespoon of unsalted butter until soft, not browned. Mushrooms absorb and release moisture, but the pan can also dry out easily. I like the combination of butter and oil to get the flavor from the butter but prevent it from burning. They also need some seasoning since we are skipping sausage. Add the rest of your veggies & seasonings, then cook for another 5 minutes or so. If you find that you need a little bit more oil because the pan seems dry, go for it.
- As I mentioned in the bread section above, I prefer “day old” bread. That simply means bread that leans more towards the dry side than soft and fresh. It helps if you let it dry out a bit for an hour or two before you start cooking if you are starting with fresh bread. Because we are mixing the bread with an egg “custard”, the drier bread helps it all hold its shape a little better.
- If I don’t have bread on hand for this recipe, I will make my trusty Bread Machine French Bread the day before.
- When baking, it is important to not under cook or over cook the Strata. I check mine at 40 minutes and if it is still soft & jiggles in the middle then I cook for another 10 minutes. If you find that it is browning too much, just cover it with foil to prevent burning and drying out. I also use a large cookie sheet/baking tray underneath my casserole dish just incase there are any spills as this bakes.
Overnight Breakfast Strata
- 8 cups Bread, cubed (see above)
- 10 Large Eggs
- 2 cups Cheese, shredded (see above), reserve 1/2 cup for topping
- 2 1/2 cups Whole Milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
Meat/Vegetarian Filling Options
- 1 pound Sausage, Bacon, Plant Based Sausage, or Mushrooms (choose 1, see above)
- 2 tablespoons oil & 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (see above, ONLY if using Mushrooms)
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (see above, ONLY if using Mushrooms)
- Salt & Pepper, to taste, (see above, ONLY if using Mushrooms)
- 2 cups Vegetables of choice, (see above) (onions, spinach, bell peppers, roasted pepper, green chilies)
- Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
- Cube your bread & mushrooms, if using. Grate your cheese. Set aside.
- Combine the eggs, milk, mustard, seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare your 2 cups of vegetables for the Veggie Filling.
- Below, you will follow directions for your Meat OR Vegetarian Filling, choose option 1 or 2.
- After you have prepared your fillings, it is time to assemble. Fold the bread, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and the cooked ingredients in with the egg mixture into the large bowl.
- Pour into your prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 1 hour OR overnight to let everything rest and set. This is a great time to clean up.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 F, 177 C, or Gas Mark 4. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes. Check for doneness. It should be lightly browned and not jiggle. If it needs more time, cook for another 10 minutes. If it starts to brown too much, just cover with foil.
- Remove from oven and serve warm with your favorite fruit side dish. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Enjoy!
Option #1 – Meat/Plant Based Filling:
- If using regular sausage, bacon or plant based sausage, cook in a large frying pan on medium heat that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cook until no longer pink, but NOT browned. Drain excess fat if necessary. Add veggies and sauté with meat OR plant based sausage until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside.
Option #2 – Vegetarian Mushroom Filling:
- If you are using mushrooms as your alternative, heat the oil & butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. Cook until soft, but NOT browned. Add veggies and sauté with meat/plant based sausage until soft, approximately 5 minutes.
Leave a Reply