This Ham and Cheese Strata recipe is an easy make ahead breakfast casserole made with layers of ham, brioche bread, cheddar cheese and eggs. This savory overnight casserole makes a delicious holiday breakfast or brunch!
Looking for an easy holiday breakfast? This flavorful ham and cheese strata recipe is a layered breakfast casserole that's perfect for the holiday season.
Best of all, you assemble the casserole the night before and throw it in the oven the next morning. No need to get up early just to fix breakfast!
This delicious overnight make ahead casserole is perfect for Christmas morning breakfast or any holiday brunch. Serve it on Thanksgiving morning, for Easter brunch, Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Years or for a simple weekend brunch anytime!
You only need a few simple ingredients for overnight ham and cheese strata. You can find them in your grocery store:
- Brioche bread -- I use a sliced loaf
- Cooked ham -- use leftover ham or deli ham
- Cheddar cheese -- or cheddar cheese blend
- Eggs -- I use large eggs
- Milk --whole milk or 2 percent milk
- Heavy cream
- Dijon mustard -- add flavor
- Sea salt
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika -- enhances the flavor
- Ground black pepper
How to Make Ham and Cheese Breakfast Strata
First, grease a 9 X 13 baking dish with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Chop up your ham into bite sized pieces, and cut the bread slices into small squares.
If you're using sourdough bread or a thicker loaf of bread like that, you may want to cut it up into 1-inch cubes.
Since we're using sliced bread, cutting it into squares is just easier.
Combine eggs, milk, cream, mustard and spices in a large bowl. Whisk until the custard ingredients are well blended.
Now, start layering the casserole. Place half of the bread on the bottom of a baking dish.
I usually try to make the bread layer as even as possible. But, it's okay if the bread overlaps a little.
Then, layer ham and cheese on top of the bread. Add a second layer of bread, a second layer of the remaining ham, and a second layer of the remaining cheese.
Press down on the top layer so that it's under the rim of the baking dish. Then, pour egg mixture evenly over the bread mixture.
The bread will start to absorb the egg custard mixture. So, don't worry about it overflowing.
Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap. Then, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and place it into the fridge overnight.
In the morning, take the casserole out of the fridge. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the plastic wrap and foil. Place in preheated oven and bake the casserole for 45 to 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the casserole comes out clean.
You can also test the temperature with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees.
Cook time may vary with different ovens. But, the casserole shouldn't be wet or runny.
If the top of the strata starts to get too dark, you can cover it loosely with foil until it's done.
One way to vary this delicious overnight breakfast casserole is to use different types of cheese. A cheddar blend, Monterey Jack cheese, Swiss cheese, or white cheddar will work just as well, and pepper jack cheese adds a spicy kick!
I like to make this dish with deli ham or leftover ham, as there's always some to use up during the holiday season.
But, instead of ham, you can use cooked sausage, such as a breakfast sausage. Or, you could make this a vegetarian strata, and add no meat at all.
You could use a bread besides brioche in this delicious breakfast casserole -- I recommend sliced brioche because of its slightly sweeter taste and natural absorbance.
Any thicker sliced white bread will work as well, but I would not suggest a whole wheat bread. If you want to use whole loaf bread, choose a thicker, crusty bread, and slice it into 1-inch pieces.
Different veggies can also elevate this savory casserole. Sometimes I add a bell pepper or green peppers, chopped broccoli and green onions for a little extra flavor. Spinach would be great too!
How to Store and Reheat
Let your ham strata sit out at room temperature and cool down a bit before storing it. Cover any leftover strata with plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container.
It'll keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, freeze strata in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
Be sure to thaw your breakfast bake before reheating.
Reheat larger strata portions in the oven. For individual servings, reheat breakfast strata in microwave in short increments or on a lower power setting for best results.
This is meant to be an overnight breakfast casserole, so be sure to allow time to prepare the strata in advance.
You will also want to allow enough time to bake the casserole in the morning. It can take up to an hour.
If you are having cooked ham as part of your holiday meal for Christmas or Easter, cut off some slices to use in the casserole. Or, use sliced deli ham.
The strata should sit long enough for the flavors to blend and the egg custard to soak into the bread. 8 hours or overnight is ideal.
You can make strata up to 24 hours in advance before baking for best results. You can also bake the strata up to 3 days in advance and reheat it the day you need it.
Ham and Cheese Strata Recipe
- 1 loaf brioche bread
- 2 cups cooked ham sliced or cubed
- 2½ cups cheddar cheese grated
- 12 large eggs
- 1½ cups milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with butter or nonstick spray
- Cut bread slices into squares, and add a layer on the bottom of the prepared baking dish
- Top bread layer with half of the ham and 1 cup of cheese. Top with remaining sliced bread and remaining ham and cheese
- In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, milk, cream, mustard and spices. Whisk together until very well blended
- pour egg mixture evenly over strata, pressing down with spoon or fork so that it doesn't overflow. Bread will start to absorb the liquid
- Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight
- In the morning, preheat oven to 350°, remove baking dish from refrigerator, and remove plastic wrap and foil
- Place strata in middle of preheated oven, and bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean
- Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
This simple breakfast casserole dish is the perfect way to make holiday meals easier--but no less delicious!
If you do try this make ahead breakfast bake, please leave a star rating and/or comment.
For more holiday brunch recipes, simple recipe ideas, and perfect make ahead meals, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter!
This easy recipe was published in 2021 and updated in 2023.