Brioche bread with sausage & diced ham; bell pepper & green onion; mozzarella & cheddar cheeses, and then finished with fresh thyme and sage--the ultimate breakfast casserole! Perfect for the holidays, a breakfast with guests, or as a simple breakfast for a weekend in with the kids!
My mom used to make a breakfast casserole every Christmas morning. It would be one of the many things she made, and we all loved it. Christmas breakfast was our family's time to be together for the holidays, so I never make one of these without reminiscing and thinking back to many years of sweet memories.
I miss being able to call my momma for her recipes, but I did the what I could and included my own little spin on this breakfast casserole, and it turned out great!!
One of the most important steps to making a yummy breakfast casserole starts at least 24-hours before making it. It's super important to use bread that's been left sitting out, uncovered, for at least a day (if not a few hours more). Nothing makes a breakfast casserole less appetizing than getting a mouthful of soggy bread, and using bread that's been made a little stale through a controlled process solves that problem. For this recipe, I used Brioche bread. You can use any bread you like, but I recommend using Brioche because it's super light and fluffy--kind of like a cross between regular bread and a pastry. Yum!
The other ingredients you see in all breakfast casseroles is a mixture made from milk, cheese and beaten eggs. It's the "casserole" part of the casserole--the part that makes it all come together as one dish, but there's a lot of room for variety here too! I used shredded mozzarella and mild cheddar cheese. You could add some Parmesan or feta--or go "black and blue" by adding blue cheese (and shredded beef in place of the sausage and ham).
Apart from the bread and egg mixture, the rest of the ingredients are completely up to the chef. For mine, I used crumbled sausage and ham, and I added some diced bell pepper and green onion because all are safe options for kiddos who might be a little pickier than adults when it comes to food.
My favorite ingredients in this recipe are the fresh sage and thyme leaves. I'm sure you all know me well enough by now to know I'm going to use fresh herbs whenever I can because you just can't beat the flavor of recipes that include them. This one is no different, and the sage and thyme are the perfect additions to this super yummy breakfast casserole.
Endless ingredient options:
Vegetables: Spinach, mushrooms, bell pepper...there are so many options. I like to think about omelets when choosing vegetables for these casseroles, so if it can go in an omelet, it can go in a breakfast casserole. Kale, finely chopped zucchini, broccoli...try cooking the vegetables down in some butter, onion and garlic to enhance the flavor.
Starch: A good breakfast casserole must include a starch. If using bread, it needs to be crusty and beginning to get stale from sitting out, uncovered, for 24-48 hours. Brioche, French bread, sourdough, day-old biscuits, toasted bagels...again, there are countless options to use. You could also skip the bread altogether and opt for hashbrown potatoes or diced sweet potatoes, but if you use potatoes, they will need to be softened and cooked down a little before being tossed into the casserole.
Meat: Bacon, ground sausage, and diced ham are all my top choices for breakfast casseroles; however, if you like venturing out, you could also try ground turkey, ground beef, or ground chicken. Just be sure to season the meats well before adding to casserole as ground meat doesn't come with much flavor. I want to try a black & blue breakfast casserole sometime soon, so you might even get to beat me to the punch by using thinly sliced beef. No matter what you choose, have fun with it! Go with your favorites, which is always a safe choice.
Eggs, Milk & Cheese: Whisk 6 eggs with some milk & heavy cream and add 4 cups of your favorite cheeses. Cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella... accent with a little feta or blue cheese. You can literally do whatever you like.
Herbs & Spices: This is one of the most important parts of the recipe, and more often than not, it's my favorite part. You have to add a little flavor. I sneak some ground mustard into my breakfast casseroles, which is always a safe option along with your basics like a little salt and freshly cracked black pepper. In addition to those, I like to use fresh herbs. Sage is a phenomenal choice during colder months. I also used fresh thyme for the recipe below, and it was super delicious. If you're making a casserole with spinach, tomatoes and mozzarella, use a little basil. Again, your options are limitless...just be sure to not skip this part.