This savory Italian-style breakfast casserole combines Italian sausage, soft cubes of bread, and Italian cheeses in an egg base. You can make this boldly flavored breakfast casserole in under 1 hour!
Note: this post was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with new photos and improved instructions.
As you may know, I love a good casserole (as you can see from my recipes for creamy spinach artichoke chicken casserole, cheesy chili cornbread casserole, and pizza chicken casserole!). I’m also a big breakfast fan, so I thought it was definitely time to combine my two loves and make a breakfast casserole.
This savory Italian-style breakfast casserole combines Italian sausage, onion, soft bread cubes, and three types of Italian cheeses! I cannot say enough about how delicious this casserole is, you will just have to try it for yourself! And of course, it’s easy to make and ready in less than an hour.
(Just a brief disclaimer - this is not a traditional Italian dish by any means, just my own creation with Italian-inspired ingredients!)
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- Italian sausage: sweet or hot, take your pick. You will need bulk sausage, or if you can’t find that, buy links and remove the casings.
- Onion: yellow or sweet onion would work well. If you don't have those, feel free to use whatever onion you have on hand.
- Bread: this recipe works best with soft, pillowy white bread. You know, the kind that squishes easily when you give it a gentle squeeze. Here is an example of the type of bread I used. I don’t recommend using a dense and crusty loaf, it will give the casserole a dense, flat texture rather than light and airy.
- Mozzarella cheese: you need the low-moisture kind, not fresh mozzarella. I like using the full fat variety that I shred myself (when I’m not feeling too lazy).
- Sharp Provolone cheese: if you can't find sharp Provolone, you can substitute with shredded Parmesan.
Step by step photos
1. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
2. Next, prep the bread, cheeses and onion. Cut the bread into about ¾ inch (1.9 cm) cubes. Since the bread is so soft, make sure to use a sharp, serrated knife so as not to crush the bread too much. I recommend the 9 inch serrated bread knife from Wusthof (affiliate link).
You also need to shred the mozzarella if you didn’t buy pre-shredded, and chop the Provolone. Finally, chop the onion into small pieces.
3. Then, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, about 3 - 4 minutes or until just starting to brown. Add in the sausage, and using a wooden spoon, break the sausage up into smaller chunks.
Let it cook for about 4 - 5 minutes or until browned and there is no more pink. While you are stirring the sausage, keep breaking it up into smaller pieces with the spoon.
5. Now we are ready to mix up the casserole. First, add the ricotta to a large bowl, and break it up a bit with a whisk. The ricotta shouldn’t have any large lumps left.
6. Then crack in three eggs and whisk until combined. You are only adding three eggs at first because it’s easier to combine them with the cheese that way, rather than adding in all 12 at once.
7. Whisk in the rest of the cracked eggs once the first three eggs are fully incorporated.
8. Now dump in the rest of the ingredients: the bread cubes, Provolone, sausage and onion mixture, and black pepper. Also add in the shredded mozzarella, but reserve about 1 ½ cups for the top.
Mix everything together with the wooden spoon until the ingredients are evenly combined and the bread is fully moistened. You shouldn’t see any dry patches of bread.
9. Grease a 9 x 13 inch (33 x 23 cm) pan with oil or non-stick spray, and add in the casserole ingredients. Smooth the top out so the ingredients are evenly distributed in the pan. You don’t need to compact the casserole or mush it down to get a flat surface, just even things out a bit.
10. Then, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
11. Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the top is nicely browned.
Tips and tricks
- If you have time, I recommend shredding the mozzarella cheese yourself rather than buying pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has additives that keep it from sticking together; this also keeps it from melting as smoothly as freshly-shredded cheese. However, if you are pressed for time, go ahead and use pre-shredded mozzarella, it will still taste amazing!
- Unlike the mozzarella, this recipe calls for cutting the sharp Provolone into chunks, rather than shredding. If you prefer a more subtle flavor, you can shred the Provolone instead. But, I prefer the little bursts of pungent cheese flavor that you get with the chunks of Provolone.
- If you would like to save time on prep, you can cube the bread and chop/shred the cheeses while the onion and sausage is cooking (rather than prepping all the ingredients ahead of time). But please make sure to watch the pan, and don't forget to stir occasionally!
There is black pepper in this recipe but no salt, which does seem kind of strange. I tested the recipe with a bit of salt, but because the cheeses and sausage are already salted, it really doesn't need it.
But, if you want to add some other ingredients to suit your tastes, go for it! Some good mix-ins would be crushed garlic, red pepper flakes (if you like spice!), or chopped parsley.
This casserole will taste the best when eaten fresh, while the cheese is nice and oozy. But, if you want, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving. Let the casserole cool down on the counter first for about ten minutes, then cover it and place it in the fridge.
When you are ready to serve it, bake it, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 350 degree F (177 degree C) oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese on top is melted. (To avoid thermal shock which could damage some types of glass or ceramic dishes, let the casserole warm to around room temp first before placing in the preheated oven.)
You can also broil the top for a minute or two (with the cover off of course!) if you want a crispier top. Just make sure the pan you are using can withstand the broiler before you try that trick!
This casserole is quite hearty due to the sausage and cheese, so it makes the perfect filling main course for a breakfast or brunch spread. I suggest serving this breakfast casserole with a few other lighter dishes to balance everything out; try pairing it with a fruit salad, roasted veggies, and perhaps a sweet offering, like these cinnamon muffins or even a yogurt parfait.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Italian-Style Breakfast Casserole
A deliciously savory breakfast casserole with Italian sausage and three kinds of Italian cheeses!
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- Category: breakfast
- Method: bake, stove top
- Cuisine: American, Italian inspired
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more to grease pan
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 16 ounces (454 g) Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casing)
- 4 cups (116 g) cubed soft bread (about ¾ inch (1.9 cm) cubes)
- 12 ounces (340 g) shredded low-moisture mozzarella
- 4 ounces (113 g) chopped sharp Provolone (can substitute shredded Parmesan)
- 1 cup (248 g) ricotta cheese
- 12 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 3 - 4 minutes.
- If needed, remove the sausage from the casing. Add the loose sausage to the pan and break up into smaller chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is browned, about 4 - 5 minutes. As it cooks, stir the sausage occasionally and continue to break it up into smaller pieces. If the onion is browning too much, turn the heat down. (See note 1 for a time-saving tip.)
- When the sausage is browned, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the hot burner.
- Add the ricotta cheese to a large bowl. Whisk it until it is no longer lumpy, then crack three of the eggs into the bowl and whisk to combine. When this mixture is smooth, add the rest of the eggs and whisk again to combine.
- Add the bread cubes, sausage and onion mixture, black pepper, and Provolone and mozzarella cheeses to the bowl, but reserve about 1 ½ cups of the mozzarella cheese for the top of the casserole. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined and the bread cubes are fully moistened in the egg mixture.
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan with oil or nonstick cooking spray. Add the casserole mixture to the greased pan. Even out the top with the wooden spoon, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the eggs are set. Serve immediately. (See note 2 for re-heating instructions.)
If you would like to save time on prep, you can cube the bread and chop/shred the cheeses while the onion and sausage is cooking (rather than prepping all the ingredients ahead of time). Just make sure to watch the pan and stir occasionally!
If you want to serve the casserole later: after baking, allow to cool on the counter for 10 minutes. Then, cover the casserole with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to two days. When ready to serve, bake the covered casserole in a preheated 350 degree F (177 degree C) oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through. (To avoid thermal shock which could damage some types of glass or ceramic casserole dishes, let the casserole warm to around room temp first before placing in the preheated oven.)
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 1/12 recipe
- Calories: 388
- Sugar: 1.6 g
- Sodium: 669 mg
- Fat: 28 g
- Saturated Fat: 12.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.9 g
- Fiber: 0.4 g
- Protein: 25.3 g
- Cholesterol: 259 mg
Keywords: Italian-style breakfast casserole, Italian breakfast casserole
Love this recipe. I added red bell peppers and used challah for the bread. Excellent. Thank you very much for this recipe.
Red bell peppers are a great idea, that would add some really nice color! Thank you for sharing Marielena, I'm so glad you liked the recipe!
I'm dying to try this recipe! Since I am a vegetarian, I will be omitting the sausage and not getting the salty benefit you mentioned that it adds. Would you recommend adding in some salt in this instance? If so, how much?
You can try adding in some chopped red bell pepper, another commenter said she added some and liked it. It won't add the salty flavor but it will give some nice color - you can also try to add extra cheese which will add salt, because who doesn't like that? Or, what about chopped olives? If you try the recipe I hope you like it! 🙂
Simple steps and filling, Great for breakfast or brunch. To cut down on the cholesterol from whole eggs so I used a 3 cup mixture of 50% egg beaters and 50% egg whites. It reduced the calorie content from 830 to 768 per 8 servings and lowered the cholesterol content from 377 mg to 98 mg per 8 servings. LOVED IT!!!!!
These are great tips Paul thank you so much for sharing, and I'm so happy you enjoyed the recipe 🙂
So good! Making it for the second time. I had the idea of an Italian breakfast casserole and just KNEW someone else had thought of it! I don't think I would have thought of adding the ricotta, but it was wonderful! My niece took one bite and said, "This is the best thing ever!"
Rhonda I am so delighted that you and your husband enjoyed the casserole, thank you for sharing! You made my day 🙂