Strata: The Make-Ahead Holiday Brunch Crowd Pleaser

Photo by nickichen / Shutterstock
Photo by nickichen / Shutterstock

Need a brunch dish to feed a crowd? The answer is delicious, hearty, affordable, and easy to make ahead: pick a strata, any strata! A strata is a tasty cross between a bread pudding and a frittata, and is prepared the night before—which will give you more time with your family and friends (and coffee) in the morning. Most stratas include a hearty amount of cubed bread (French bread works best), eggs, milk, cheese, and seasonings that can be swapped out depending on what’s on hand. Here, we share the basic recipe to feed eight hungry people, plus ideas for endless customization!

STRATA RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of cubed French bread (oven-crisped or stale bread works best, and you can leave the crust on for texture)
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • Add-ins like bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli…the options are endless!

Directions

  1. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by greasing with butter or a non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and salt. 
  3. Place the bread cubes in the baking dish and add a layer of cheese, then pour the egg mixture over the bread, sprinkle in each of your desired mix-ins, and carefully toss to combine. Cover with tinfoil and place in the fridge overnight (up to 24 hours).
  4. In the morning, heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake your strata for 60 minutes. It will be puffed up and golden brown. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Here’s how to make it a purely unique strata!

  • Change your cheese: Instead of cheddar, swap in Monterey Jack, Swiss, fontina, or even blue cheese. You can also make your own blends, adding a bit of Parmesan to a milder cheese for an extra cheesy punch.
  • Mix up your mix-ins: Try pepper jack with ham and chopped chiles for a southwest flavor, or goat cheese and spinach for a sophisticated twist. Gruyere goes great with onions and a touch of Dijon mustard. Get creative!
  • Try a different bread: Try sourdough for a touch of tang, or use cinnamon raisin bread for a sweet strata, which would be delicious with chopped apples and toasted walnuts. Think of it as a one-pan, make-ahead French toast—what a holiday winner!
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