Simple, Special Strata: Egg Casserole is Your Holiday Breakfast Star
The holidays: a time for family, reflection, gratitude, celebration…and brunch! Whether it’s Grandma’s famous cinnamon rolls, Dad’s incomparable pancakes, or even just a big ol’ pot of porridge with fancy fixin’s (brûléed bananas, anyone?), a heartwarming and belly-filling breakfast is the perfect way to start your merry-making day. If you’re looking for a new dish that cooks up well for crowds, look no further than our simply special egg casserole (full recipe below).
Rich, savory, and satisfying, this is a no-frills dish that tastes surprisingly fancy. It requires less than 15 minutes of prep time and a mere five ingredients, making this a great go-to recipe for when the going gets busy—like on holiday mornings with kids.
It’s hard to believe that a handful of everyday foods can be mixed together to create a breakfast dish that tastes so special. The reason for that? Our recipe is essentially a really simple version of a soufflé! (Now don’t you feel fancy?!) A classic cheese soufflé produces a lighter, fluffier dish—and requires a lot more steps. Our bready casserole version is super yummy, more filling, great for groups—and hardly takes any active work at all. The key to fab flavor and texture is combining all the ingredients and then letting it sit overnight in the refrigerator so that the bread can soak up all the liquid.
You can make the casserole with white bread instead of wheat bread, but we like the flavor and added nutrition (more fiber, protein, and vitamins) that comes with whole grain loafs.
The trick to making this simple casserole so scrumptious is melting the butter and drizzling it over the top of everything else in the casserole dish before you refrigerate it. When you cook the casserole, the top will develop a downright delicious crispiness. Your breakfast guests will be fighting over who gets the golden brown edges—trust us!
If you’d like to trim some fat, experiment with using less butter. You may sacrifice some of that crave-worthy crispiness, but your casserole will still be delish (and a tad bit healthier).
In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new flavors, foods, or combinations, like whole wheat bread and cheese in a custard casserole form!
Sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also lots of smiles.
Serve the casserole with fresh fruit, turkey bacon, chicken sausages, salad (we love spinach and goat cheese with pomegranate seeds or sliced grapes for a.m. meals), and/or any of your family’s favorite holiday breakfast dishes.
Children love feeling included and responsible: Before the festivities, encourage your kiddos to create a fun seasonal centerpiece for the table or place mats for each seat. On the morning of, invite your little helpers to set the table—blue dinosaur tablemates are totally welcome.
SIMPLY SPECIAL EGG CASSEROLE
Time: 10–15 minutes prep / 12–24 hours in refrigerator / 65–70 minutes baking
- 16 slices whole wheat bread, crusts removed and cubed
- ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices
- 8 eggs, beaten well
- 4 cups milk
- Optional: ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- Grease a 1½–2 quart casserole dish with butter. Fill the prepared dish with alternating layers of bread and cheese, starting with bread and ending with cheese. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper, using a whisk to mix it all together. Pour the mixture over the bread and cheese in the casserole dish. Set aside.
- Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan and then drizzle it over the top of the casserole.
- Cover the casserole and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, but ideally for 24 hours.
- When ready to prepare breakfast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole uncovered for 65–70 minutes until golden brown with crispy edges. Serve warm.