Ham and Cheese Strata is the perfect make ahead breakfast casserole for feeding a crowd. It’s packed with delicious but simple ingredients everyone loves for brunch. Make it the evening before and it’s ready and waiting in the morning.
If you have about 10 minutes to prep breakfast, you’ll love this Ham and Cheese Strata recipe that is always a favorite every time it’s served.
Simple flavors, quick prep, ready to pop into the oven and bake when you are.
What to Love About Ham and Cheese Strata?
- 10 minutes prep without precooking any ingredients
- Classic flavors everyone loves
- Cheesy and delicious, ready to bake in the morning
What is a Strata?
Breakfast strata is a layered breakfast casserole containing eggs, bread, and cheese. And while some recipes also include vegetables, like my Make Ahead Ham and Asparagus Strata, and added meat, like this Ham and Cheese Strata, the basic ingredients remain the same.
These casseroles are simple and make ahead friendly. As strata dishes are made with cubes of bread and an egg custard mixture, it’s necessary to rest the strata for 2 to 12 hours (or overnight) for the custard to soak into the bread.
Strata was popularized in the 1984 Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, which remains one of my favorite cookbooks to this day.
Why Strata is Perfect for Entertaining
A breakfast casserole is a delicious and simple way to entertain guests with a scrumptious dish that requires very little work on your part.
Plus, they’re savory and completely customizable to taste and ingredient preferences. Here are some reasons a strata is a great choice for your next brunch:
- Feeds a crowd. This breakfast casserole will serve 10 to 12 people. And if you have leftovers, it freezes really well!
- Make ahead friendly. There is no stress with breakfast preparation with this simple, savory and delicious strata. Assemble it the night before, cover and refrigerate. In the morning, pop it into the oven for a delicious and warm meal.
- Prep is 10 minutes or less. This breakfast strata uses store-bought bread and pre-cooked ham that makes for simple and quick prep.
Ingredients in Ham & Cheese Strata
All you need is simple ingredients for this delicious breakfast casserole. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Here’s what you need:
- Bread: Any kind of bread works in this recipe. I’ve used thickly sliced brioche but French or Italian bread and baguettes are delicious too. Stale bread is best for breakfast casseroles. Cut into cubes and let sit out overnight or even for a few hours if your bread is fresh.
- Ham: I’ve used Boar’s head ham steak that I cubed, but this is the perfect recipe for leftover ham too!
- Cheese: Use the cheese you prefer. I love a ham and swiss combination in this casserole so I used a bag of shredded Italian cheese. Gouda, mozzarella, and swiss are delicious in this recipe.
- Egg Custard: You will use a combination of large eggs and milk to create a delicious custard.
- Seasoning: I’ve used a pinch of additional salt and pepper and a bit of ground mustard. This brings delicious flavor to the casserole. If you want a bit more heat, try adding a splash of hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Garnish: This breakfast strata doesn’t need a garnish, but I always love to add a touch of green. Parsley or fresh chives is always a delicious choice.
Why Does Strata Have to Sit Overnight?
Strata needs to be refrigerated for a couple of hours to overnight to allow the bread to soak up the egg custard. Which makes strata the perfect make ahead breakfast casserole with its delicious puffy and golden edges and souffle-like texture.
You might also like to see my recipe for Make Ahead Easy Vegetable Egg Bake Breakfast Casserole.
How to Make a Ham and Cheese Strata
Grease 9×13 pan or coat with nonstick spray.
Step 1: Layer bread, ham, and green onions.
Layer cubed bread, ham, and green onions into the prepared casserole dish.
Step 2: Whisk egg custard and pour over casserole
Whisk together eggs, milk, and seasoning in a bowl. Pour egg custard over the bread.
Cover evenly with shredded cheese.
Step 3: Refrigerate
Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Step 4: Bake
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and remove the strata from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes then cover with loose foil or parchment for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the center is puffy.
- 8–10 cups cubed bread *
- 2 cups cooked and cubed ham
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I used an Italian mix)
- 9 large eggs
- 2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy works)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more for topping
- 3 green onions, chopped
- Generously grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish or spray with nonstick spray.
- Layer in the bread, ham, and green onions. Then sprinkle cheese evenly over the top.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, ground mustard, and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread in the casserole dish. Top with additional green onions and pepper is desired.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 hours to 12 hours (or overnight).
- When ready to bake, remove the strata from the refrigerator and let sit out while the oven preheats to 375 degrees F.
- Bake casserole, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Then loosely cover with foil or parchment for the remaining 20 to 25 minutes. The strata is done with the edges are nicely browned the center is puffy.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
- Freezing Instructions: Assemble the strata without baking it. Cover with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature, and bake until golden around the edges and puffy in the middle.
- Bread: Use whichever bread you prefer. I've used thickly sliced brioche but Italian, French, or any baguette works well too. Be sure the bread is a bit stale. Let it sit out overnight if it's fresh.
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