A breakfast casserole is one of the easiest and most satisfying dishes to serve to friends and family. Here's how to put one together in 20 minutes.
Many breakfast casseroles are variations on a strata, a term that is derived from the Italian word strato, which means layer. The most popular versions of breakfast stratas layer meats, vegetables, and cheeses between a bottom and top layer of bread cubes. A mixture of beaten eggs and milk (or another dairy product) is then poured over the entire casserole. The egg mixture seeps into the bread; once in the oven, the mixture bakes into a moist and comforting dish that's reminiscent of a savory bread pudding.
Breakfast casseroles are sometimes the easiest (and least expensive) dishes to get onto the breakfast table for family and guests. Many can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning. Better yet, they're infinitely adaptable. Once you get the basic formula down, you can use the meat, veggies, cheeses, and seasonings you like best to make a personalized morning casserole. Just follow this simple master plan.
Round up a handful of your favorite ingredients and you'll be 20 minutes away from popping this colorful casserole in the oven -- or into the fridge to bake up to one day later.
First, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you get started.
This recipe serves 6.
1. Cut Up 4 to 5 Cups Bread Cubes
You will need 6 to 8 slices of bread for 4 cups bread cubes. You can use white or wheat bread, baguette-style French bread, English muffins, pumpernickel, rye bread, or Texas toast. Stack several slices of bread. Cut into 1-inch-wide strips. While still stacked, cut the strips crosswise into 1-inch cubes.
2. Prepare the Baking Dish
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart square baking dish. Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish.
3. Add Meat
Choose one of the following:
4. Add the Vegetables
Choose one of the following:
5. Add Shredded Cheese
Choose one of the following and use 4 to 6 ounces (1 to 1-1/2 cups):
7. Prepare the Egg Mixture
In a bowl use a whisk to lightly beat 4 large eggs and whisk in your choice of the following:
8. Add the Seasoning
To the egg mixture, whisk in one of more of the following:
9. Complete the Casserole Assembly
Place the remaining bread cubes evenly over the layers in the casserole. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the layers in the dish. Use the back of a spoon to press the bread pieces down into the egg mixture.
10. Bake Until Set
Leave the casserole uncovered and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Breakfast Casserole Make-Ahead Directions
Prepare the casserole as directed through Step 9. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, for 60 to 65 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
-Knowing when a breakfast casserole has baked to perfection is essential for great results. The secret is to stop baking when the center still jiggles a little. It doesn't matter what recipe you use. Hold the casserole out of the oven when the very center still has some movement then let the dish sit for a few minutes before serving. The residual or carry-over heat will gently finish the baking. You can also check doneness by inserting a knife near the center. It should come out clean. If you see egg mixture on the knife, the casserole is underdone. Cook it a little longer, but if the surface is watery, it's probably over baked and the eggs have curdled. So, for an excellent breakfast casserole, focus on the center.