The essence of a breakfast strata is eggs, milk, cheese and bread. The personality comes from great fillings – choose the ones you like. Assemble the casserole the night before and pop it in the oven the next day for a great comfort food dish.
If you’re looking for a make ahead brunch recipe, this is a great one. Versatile, easy to make with our step by step instructions and delicious with its pillow-y moist texture.
A strata is perfect entertaining fare for breakfast, brunch or lunch. This is a simple ‘make it your own’ strata recipe.
You can stick to the basic core ingredients and serve it with a topping or you can choose a few fillings that:
- suit the preferences of your guests
- match what you have in the fridge or
- are easy to prepare
The recipes on the internet are very similar for breakfast strata. I scoured many of them for good tips to share along with the trick I discovered on my own (see shortcuts below).
A breakfast strata can stand on its own or pairs well with a tropical fruit salad or a fig salad with pomegranates. A smoothie on the side is another good option.
If you prefer a make-ahead breakfast casserole that’s sweet instead of savory, try our Apple French Toast Casserole or Sinful Baked French Toast Casserole.
Why a breakfast strata works well for entertaining
Day ahead prep: The biggest benefit of a strata recipe is being able to assemble the whole thing the day before, allowing you to concentrate on other tasks for your breakfast or lunch the next day.
Different strokes for different folks: The other plus is being able to divide the basic mixture with different fillings into two different casseroles to cater to different tastes. I did this the other day with my daughter (the other kook) who is a vegetarian and her husband who is not. The vegetarian strata included onions, mushrooms and spinach. The non vegetarian version included sausage, onions and spinach.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Anything goes including using crusts or no crusts.
- I love using Challah. Most strata recipes use a large Italian bread, but pumpernickel, French bread or brioche all work well.
- Even gluten free bread.
- I use a Gruyere and Parmesan combination.
- Also try sharp Cheddar, Fontina, Mozzarella or Monterey Jack.
- If you really love cheese, feel free to add more.
- Use any combination of milk and cream (depending on the level of richness you like) – and any type of milk.
- If you want to lower calories and fat, use 2% milk and low fat cheese
- All fillings should be cooked except asparagus (which will have enough time to cook in the oven if not too thick) and green onions
- Great add-ins are caramelized or sauteed onions, spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, bacon, ham, sausage.
- Crumbled goat cheese can be added as well.
- For a sweet strata, skip the cheese and add berries or bananas for the filling. And a splash of vanilla.
- I use thyme, Dijon mustard. salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
- You could also try paprika, a bit of hot sauce, rosemary, marjoram or dry mustard.
- If you want to stick to a no-filling strata (almost like a savory bread pudding), you can use toppings to enhance the flavors such as a chutney or sour cream with chives.
Good To Know – FAQ
How will I know when the strata is fully baked?
- The length of cooking depends on how thick the strata is in the pan. The strata is ready when it doesn’t jiggle in the center when you shake it or when a toothpick comes out clean. Try not to overcook the strata or it will become dry.
Can I bake the breakfast strata right away instead of leaving it in the fridge overnight?
- It is important for the bread to absorb all the liquid egg mixture, so it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes (60 minutes is even better) before baking.
- Use pre-grated cheeses.
- Try fillings that don’t need to be cooked (e.g. asparagus, green onions) or that are pre-cooked like ham.
- Process shortcut: Many recipes will tell you to layer the bread, cheese and fillings, then pour the egg-milk mixture on top, pushing things around to make sure everything is covered. My trick is to combine the entire mixture in one bowl, then spoon it into the casserole dish. Much easier. (I like to get from point A to point B the fastest way possible)
- A strata is the perfect make-ahead dish. See instructions in the recipe.
Other breakfast recipe ideas you might like
- breakfast egg bake
- apple French toast casserole
- super moist banana bread
- lemon blueberry pancakes
- ricotta pancake recipe with caramelized bananas
- grilled peaches recipe
- make ahead breakfast burritos with caramelized onions
How to make a breakfast strata with fillings you choose
Breakfast Strata (with great fillings)
The essence of a breakfast strata is eggs, milk, cheese and bread. The personality comes from great fillings - choose the ones you like. Assemble the night before. Pop the casserole in the oven the next day for a great comfort food dish.
- 8 cups bread, any kind, cut into 1 inch cubes (3/4 large loaf, 11-12 slices, 12 ounces)
- 8 -10 large eggs (about 2 cups)
- 2 3/4 cups (660ml) milk or half and half cream (or any combination of the two)
- 1 1/2 cup (125g) grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces)
- 1/2 cup (41g) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Fillings (choose 2-3), Note 1
- 10 ounce package chopped frozen spinach; 1 large onion; 8 -10 breakfast sausage links; 8 slices bacon; 2 cups diced cooked ham; 16 ounces mushrooms chopped; 1/2 cup green onion chopped.
- PREPARE PANS: Butter or spray with oil one 9x13 inch (3 quart) dish or two 8x8 (2 quart) pans.
- PREPARE FILLINGS: Choose 2-3 options. For vegetarian strata, I use spinach, onions, mushrooms. For meat-based, I use sausage, onions, spinach. Spinach: Defrost and squeeze water out using hands or paper towels. Get as much water out as possible. Onions: Dice or process onion. Saute in 2 teaspoons oil on medium until translucent (or cook 25-30 minutes, stirring, to caramelize, adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar to speed up caramelization). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Mushroooms: Saute in butter or oil for 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Sausage: Pan fry or grill until no longer pink. Cut into small pieces. Or remove from casings and saute ground sausage until cooked. Bacon: Fry or microwave. Or bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes. Crumble. Green Onions or Ham: Chop. No need to cook.
- PREPARE CORE INGREDIENTS: Cut bread (with or without crusts) into 1 inch cubes. Measure 8 cups packed. Place in large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and all seasonings. Grate cheeses.
- ASSEMBLE AND REFRIGERATE: Add to large bowl with bread: the egg-milk-seasoning mixture; the vegetable filling; and cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup cheese to sprinkle on top). Mix lightly to combine well. Pour into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle on remaining cheese. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (1 hour is better) or overnight.
- BAKE AND SERVE: Heat oven to 350F/176.7C. Remove strata from fridge. Uncover and bake for 40-50 minutes until puffed and golden brown on top - and just until the center doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan. Toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. If using a slightly bigger pan, bake 5-10 minutes less as strata will be thinner. Don't overbake as the strata will become dry. Serve warm. Garnish with sour cream if desired.
- Fillings: Other filling options include peppers, cherry tomatoes, cooked ham, asparagus. All fillings should be cooked except asparagus (which will have enough time to cook in the oven if not too thick) and green onions. Crumbled goat cheese can be added as well (about 1/2 cup).
- Make Ahead: Baked breakfast strata can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. Strata can be frozen, covered, for up to 3 months. Defrost on the counter before baking or overnight in the fridge.
Breakfast Strata (with great fillings)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 387 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Vitamin A 609IU12%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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This recipe was inspired by Epicurious, Once Upon a Chef and The Chunky Chef.