The best Breakfast Strata recipe
Posted August 22, 2023 by: Admin
The essence of a strat breakfast is eggs, milk, cheese and bread. Personality comes from great fillers – choose the ones you like best. Make the casserole the night before and pop it in the oven the next day for a great comfort dish.
If you’re looking for a make-ahead breakfast casserole, this is a great one. Versatile, easy to prepare with our step-by-step instructions, and delicious with its moist, pillow-like texture.
A Strata is an entertaining meal perfect for weekend breakfasts, holiday breakfasts, brunch, or lunch. It’s like a tasty bread pudding.
This is a simple recipe for strata that you can make to your liking. You can stick to the basic basic ingredients and serve it with a dressing or you can choose some fillings that:
- adapts to the preferences of your guests
- Match what you have in the fridge or
- they are easy to prepare
The recipes on the internet are very similar for breakfast strata. I went through many of them looking for some great tips to share along with the hack I discovered on my own (see shortcuts below).
A layered breakfast recipe can stand on its own or pair well with a tropical fruit salad or fig salad with pomegranates. A smoothie as a side is another good option.
If you prefer a make-ahead breakfast casserole that’s sweet rather than savory, try our Apple French Toast Casserole or Sinful Baked French Toast Casserole.
Why a Layered Breakfast Works Well for Entertaining
Next Day Prep: The best thing about a strata recipe is being able to prep everything the day before, allowing you to focus on other tasks for breakfast or lunch the next day.
Different Strokes for Different People – The other bonus is being able to split the basic mix with different fillings into two different casseroles to suit different tastes. I made this the other day with my daughter (the other nut) who is a vegetarian and her husband who is not. Vegetarian strata included onions, mushrooms, and spinach. The non-vegetarian version included sausage, onions, and spinach.
Adapt to your taste
Check out these variations and substitutes to try in your make-ahead breakfast casserole.
- Anything goes, even use with or without crust. Stale bread or leftover bread is fine.
- I love to use challah. Most strata recipes use large Italian bread, but whole-grain rye, French bread, or brioche work well.
- Even gluten free bread.
- I use a combination of Gruyère and Parmesan.
- Also try the sharp Cheddar, Fontina, Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese.
- If you really love cheese, feel free to add more.
- Use any combination of milk and cream (depending on the level of richness you want) and any type of milk.
- If you want to cut calories and fat, use 2% milk and low-fat cheese.
- All the fillings should be cooked except the asparagus (which will have plenty of time to cook in the oven if it’s not too thick) and green onions.
- Excellent complements are caramelized or sautéed onions, spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, bacon, ham, and sausages.
- Shredded goat cheese can also be added.
- For a sweet layer, omit the cheese and add berries or bananas for the filling. And a splash of vanilla.
- I use thyme, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- You can also try paprika, a little hot sauce, rosemary, marjoram, or dry mustard.
- If you want to stick to a layer with no filling (almost like a savory bread pudding), you can use toppings to enhance the flavors, such as chutney, Greek yogurt, or sour cream with chives.
How will I know when the strata are fully cooked?
The duration of cooking depends on the thickness of the layers in the pan. The layers are done when they don’t shift in the center when shaken or when a toothpick comes out clean. Try not to overcook the strata or they will dry out.
Can I bake the breakfast strata right away instead of leaving it in the fridge overnight?
It’s important that the bread soaks up all of the runny egg mixture, so it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes (60 minutes is even better) before baking.
- Use previously grated cheeses.
- Try fillings that don’t need to be cooked (for example, asparagus, green onions) or that are pre-cooked like ham.
- Process shortcut: Many recipes will instruct you to layer 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 all the mixture in a bowl and then pour it into the saucepan. Easier. (I like to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible)
Breakfast strata – step by step
Basic Ingredients: bread, eggs, milk/cream, Dijon, salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, cheeses – plus 2-3 fillings of your choice
Cook or prepare the fillings that you like the most. This one has chorizo, caramelized onion and spinach.
This filling is vegetarian and has caramelized onion, mushrooms and spinach.
Beat eggs, milk/cream, and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir in bread cubes, fillings, and most cheeses (leave some for coating) until well combined.
Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan or two smaller ones sprayed with oil or buttered. Let rest for 30 minutes before baking. Or place it in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.
Bake at 350F/176.6C until puffed and golden and center does not move when shaken.
Strata Breakfast (with great fillings)
The essence of a strat breakfast is eggs, milk, cheese and bread. Personality comes from great fillers – choose the ones you like best. Riding the night before. Pop the casserole in the oven the next day for a great comfort food dish.
Fillings (choose 2-3), Note 1
- PREPARE PANS: Butter or spray one 9×13-inch (3-quart) dish or two 8×8 (2-quart) pans with oil.
- PREPARE FILLINGS: Choose 2-3 options. For vegetarian strata, I use spinach, onions, mushrooms. For meat-based ones, I use sausage, onions, and spinach. Spinach: Defrost and squeeze out the water with your hands or paper towels. Drain as much water as possible. Onions: Dice a medium onion or chop it in a food processor. Sauté in a large skillet in 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat until translucent (or cook 25 to 30 minutes, stirring, to caramelize, adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar to speed caramelization). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Mushrooms: Sauté in butter or olive oil for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Sausage: Fry or grill until no longer pink over medium-high heat. Cut into small pieces. Or, remove it from the casing and sauté the ground sausage until cooked. Bacon: Fry or microwave. Or bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes. Crumble. Green Onions or Ham: Chop. No cooking necessary.
- PREPARE MAIN INGREDIENTS: Cut bread (with or without crust) into 1-inch cubes. Measure 8 packed cups. Place it in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and all seasonings. Grate cheeses.
- ASSEMBLE AND REFRIGERATE: To a large bowl with bread, add: the egg mixture; the vegetable filling; and cheeses (reserving 1/2 cup cheese to sprinkle on top). Mix lightly to combine well. Pour into a prepared saucepan or casserole. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Cover with cling film and refrigerate or foil for at least 30 minutes (1 hour is best) or overnight.
- BAKE AND SERVE: Heat oven to 350F/176.7C. Remove the strata from the refrigerator. Uncover and bake for 40-50 minutes until puffed and golden on top, and until center doesn’t shift when pan is shaken. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. If using a slightly larger pan, bake 5-10 minutes less as the layers will be thinner. Do not overbake as the layers will dry out. Serve hot. Garnish with sour cream if desired.
- Fillings: Other filling options include bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cooked ham, and asparagus. All the fillings should be cooked except the asparagus (which will have plenty of time to cook in the oven if it’s not too thick) and green onions. Crumbled goat cheese (about 1/2 cup) can also be added.
- Make Ahead: Baked Breakfast Strata can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Strata can be frozen, covered, for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter before baking the next day or overnight in the fridge.