Every bite of this satisfying breakfast casserole is hearty and full of flavor! It can be made ahead and tweaked to include your favorite savory ingredients. Make this recipe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It feeds a crowd and is perfect for Christmas morning. It is a big crowd-pleaser and a family favorite.
I have been making this Christmas breakfast casserole recipe for decades. We have it every Christmas morning. I’m serving the same casserole to our grandbabies on Christmas morning that I served to my children when they were little.
It has become part of the beautiful fabric of traditions that make Christmas special. Just the aroma of this delicious casserole can conjure up precious memories of Christmas past.
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There are so many different ways to make Christmas breakfast casserole, but here’s the recipe our family loves the best!
What Is Christmas Breakfast Casserole
I ate my first breakfast casserole at a brunch quite a few years ago, and I was hooked at the first bite. Breakfast casserole is a savory bread pudding with sausage and other flavorful ingredients. Besides being delicious, it can be made up ahead and then baked. A Christmas win/win!
Our Christmas breakfast casserole is quite simple. I’m still using the original recipe I took home with me from that brunch long ago. I don’t dare change the recipe. We would not want a Christmas day mutiny at our home! However, this recipe is so versatile, and the flavor profile can be easily changed if you dare.
What You Will Need To Make Christmas Breakfast Casserole
Bread: My favorite bread to use in this casserole is croissants. They are buttery, and the layers in croissants make the casserole delightfully light. However, almost any bread will work.
Eggs: Eggs are a main ingredient in the breakfast casserole, making a delicious, savory baked custard. Use large eggs to make the dish.
Milk: Use whole milk or half and half. Or a combination of both.
Sausage: I use Bob Evans sage breakfast sausage. Any bulk sausage would work.
Cheese: Cheese gives the casserole a beautiful brown crusty top and more flavor. Aged sharp cheddar is what we like best.
Onions: Onions add depth of flavor to this casserole.
Options And Add-Ins
One of the best things about this hearty breakfast casserole, other than the taste, is how much of a chameleon it is. This recipe is not rocket science and can be changed to create different and delicious casseroles. You are only limited by your culinary imagination. Here are some ideas for how to make Christmas breakfast casserole your own…
Vegetables: Add your favorite vegetables like green or red bell peppers, spinach, kale, or mushrooms. Clean out the fridge and use what you have on hand. You can add between 3-4 cups of vegetables to this recipe. Sautee the vegetables along with the onions.
Meat: We have always used sage pork sausage, our family’s favorite. However, you can use Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled bacon, or diced ham. If you want more of a dinner casserole, you might like to use rotisserie chicken, ground turkey, or beef. Cook all meat before adding it to the casserole.
Bread: My bread of choice is croissants. They have buttery layers and make this casserole light and fluffy. However, the original recipe had called for cubed white sandwich bread. You can use almost any kind of bread, like artisan bread, sourdough, French bread, or even bagels. Gluten-free breads work great.
Cheese: I used a good aged shredded cheddar cheese for this recipe. For us, the sharper the better. I grate the cheese myself because many pre-grated cheeses have a coating to keep it from clumping together, and I find the texture a bit waxy. Depending on the flavors you like, you could use gruyere, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese together, pepper jack cheese, or any other shredded cheese.
Spices, Herbs, And Flavorings: If you can’t find sage breakfast sausage, you can add one tablespoon of finely chopped sage when the breakfast sausage you chose is almost done cooking. For us, sage is one of the flavors that makes this recipe so special. We also use two teaspoons of fresh parsley to the recipe for a bit of brightness. Try adding onion powder and garlic powder if you like those spices. And don’t forget to whisk in salt and black pepper to the custard.
Do This With Fresh Bread
Day old bread works best in this recipe, especially if you are going to put the ingredients in a baking dish overnight and bake the casserole the next day. Bread that is a bit stale will soak up all the egg mixture and not get mushy.
You can cube fresh bread and leave it out on a countertop, uncovered for a day, to make day old bread. Or you can bake the cubed bread in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
Can I Use Potatoes Instead Of Bread?
Yes, you can use potatoes instead of bread. The casserole texture is slightly different, but another great variation for this dish. Make Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole by putting frozen hash browns or Tater Tots in the bottom of the baking dish. Use a 24 oz. bag of frozen potatoes.
Bread and potatoes give the casserole a structure and a delicious taste. Use the same instructions when using potatoes as you would using bread.
The thing that makes this such an easy breakfast casserole recipe to serve on Christmas morning is the option to make it up ahead, cover it with aluminum foil, refrigerate it overnight, and then bake it in the morning. I love that I don’t have any prep time on Christmas morning! I just bake the casserole and serve it.
Here’s another option: the casserole does not have to be made ahead and baked the next day. The casserole can be put together, sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and then baked. Don’t you love options?
Two Size Options
I make Christmas breakfast casserole in two sizes. I use a 9 x 13 baking dish (3.5 quarts) to yield about 12 servings and an 8 x 10 baking dish (2 quarts) to serve 8. The recipe below serves 12. To make 8 servings, reduce the pan size to 8 x 10 and reduce the eggs to 12 and 1-1/4 cup of milk.
Can I Freeze Or Refrigerate The Casserole?
Yes, for both. In fact, you can make the casserole and freeze it before baking for up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze. You might want to freeze the casserole in a disposable pan. Defrost it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before baking it.
You can also freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months. Cool completely, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and heavy-duty aluminum foil, and freeze.
The breakfast casserole can be cooked, cooled completely, and refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Christmas Breakfast Casserole
- 4-6 cups day old bread (I use croissants)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb bulk sausage sage sausage
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
- 14 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, or half and half or a combinaton
- 2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce optional, to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup grated cheese we like 1/2 cup more
Make The Casserole
- Spray a 9 x 13 oven-proof baking dish with nonstick spray and layer the bread cubes evenly on the bottom of the dish.
- Remove any casing from the sausage. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the bulk sausage and onions. Cook the sausage and the onions over medium heat, breaking the sausage up with a spatula or wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is done. Take the sausage and onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and spread them evenly over the bread.
- Layer the cheese evenly over the sausage.
- Whisk the eggs, milk, parsley, hot sauce, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the bread.
- Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 °.
- Take the casserole from the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before baking it in the oven.
- Take the plastic wrap off the casserole and replace the aluminum foil so the top of the casserole does not burn. Put a rimmed baking sheet under the casserole to catch any spillover.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the casserole is golden brown and bubbly.
- Let the breakfast casserole rest for 15. It will deflate a bit. Cut into squares and serve.
I hope you will give this delicious recipe a try. It will probably become part of your Christmas morning tradition, too!