As you may know, I love a good casserole! I’ve been making a lot of them recently (maybe getting an early start on the hearty autumn foods?). I’m also a big breakfast fan, so I thought it was definitely time to combine my two loves and make a breakfast casserole. But, this is no ordinary breakfast casserole. This Italian Breakfast Casserole combines some of my favorite Italian ingredients into a salty, savory, cheesy sensation!
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You’ve got Italian sausage, onion, soft bread cubes, and three types of Italian cheeses in here! 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 – while I am Italian-American, this dish is not a traditional Italian dish by any means, just my own creation with Italian-inspired ingredients!)
Italian Casserole Ingredients
To make this delicious breakfast casserole, you will need the following ingredients:
- 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 and you’re good to go.
- Onion – any type will work, use your favorite. I used yellow onion because that’s what I had on hand
- Olive oil – just a bit to saute the onion
- Eggs – wouldn’t be a breakfast casserole without them! You’ll need a full dozen (large size please!).
- Black pepper
- Bread – this recipe works best with soft, pillowy white bread. You know, the kind that squishes easily when you give it a gentle squeeze. I used an unsliced loaf from the bakery department of my grocery store. I don’t recommend using a super dense and crusty loaf, I tried using that when I first tested this recipe, and it just gave the casserole a dense, sort of flat, texture rather than light and airy.
- Mozzarella cheese – 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).
- Ricotta cheese – this is a more subtle ingredient in the background, but it gives the eggs a softer texture.
- Sharp Provolone cheese – this is one of my all-time favorite cheeses. When I was a kid, my grandma would bring this cheese to us when she visited, that she bought from her local Italian deli. It was so sharp and pungent that I would (and still do!) call it “stinky cheese.” But I loved it! There is only 4 ounces of this cheese in the casserole because it’s so powerful, but it really adds an added bit of sharpness that really makes this casserole extra delicious. If sharp cheese isn’t your thing, or if you can’t find it, you can leave it out or substitute Parmesan.
But, Why No Salt?
There is black pepper in this recipe but no salt, which does seem kind of strange. I did add some salt when I was first testing this recipe, figuring the eggs and onion are unseasoned so they could use some, even though the sausage and cheeses are pretty salty. But, it was way too much, even adding only ½ tsp! So, I omitted the salt altogether and the salt level of the overall dish was perfect!
How to Make Italian Breakfast Casserole
This casserole is easy to make, here are the steps:
Step One: Saute Onion and Sausage
(But first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees!)
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, about 3 – 4 minutes or until just starting to brown.
Then add in the bulk 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 intermittently, also keep breaking it up into smaller pieces with the spoon. You don’t want any really large chunks, just small, easy to eat pieces.
While the onion and sausage are cooking, use this opportunity to get ahead! Cube the bread, shred the mozzarella, chop the Provolone, and measure out the ricotta. You may not get all of these steps done, just do as much as you can. And be sure to keep an eye on your pan and stir occasionally!
Step Two: Prep the Bread and Cheeses
Hopefully you have already gotten a head start on this step while the onion and sausage were cooking. First, you need to cube the bread into about ¾ inch pieces. Since you are using soft, fluffy bread, it’s best to use a serrated bread knife so you don’t crush the bread too much. I recommend this bread knife from Wustof! It glides through soft or crusty bread with ease!
You also need to shred the mozzarella if you didn’t buy pre-shredded, and chop the Provolone. You could shred it too, but I like the larger bits of pungent cheese flavor laced throughout the casserole.
Step Three: Mix the Casserole Ingredients Together
First, let’s start with the ricotta. Add it to a large bowl and break it up with a whisk. The ricotta shouldn’t have any large lumps left. 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. Once that’s smooth, whisk in the rest of the cracked eggs.
Now switch to a wooden spoon. 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.
Step Four: Add to a Casserole Dish and Bake
Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan 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. Then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the top is nicely browned.
Serving Italian Breakfast Casserole
Once the casserole comes out of the oven, serve it right away while the cheese is nice and oozy! If you want to though, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving. I like to let the casserole cool down on the counter for about ten minutes, then cover it and place it in the fridge. When you are ready to serve it, bake it, covered, in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese on top is melted. You can broil the top for a minute or two (with the cover off of course!) if you want a crispier top.
I hope this Italian Breakfast Casserole brings much happiness to your brunch table! If you need a great breakfast side dish to go with it, check out my recipe for 17 Minute Easy “Cheater” Home Fries!
If you’ve tried this recipe for Italian Breakfast Casserole, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments down below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious recipes from Nibble and Dine!Print
A deliciously savory breakfast casserole with Italian sausage and three kinds of Italian cheeses!
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb. Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casing)
- 4 c. cubed soft bread (about ¾ inch cubes)
- 12 oz. shredded mozzarella
- 4 oz. chopped sharp Provolone (can substitute Parmesan)
- 1 c. ricotta cheese
- 12 large eggs
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 3 – 4 minutes.
- Add the 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 it occasionally and continue to break it up into smaller pieces. If the onion is browning too much, turn the heat down. (See notes for a time-saving tip.)
- When the sausage is browned, turn the heat off.
- 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, pepper, and Provolone and mozzarella cheeses to the bowl, reserving about 1 ½ c. of the mozzarella cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are combined and the bread cubes are fully moistened in the egg mixture.
- Pour the casserole mix into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Even out the top with the wooden spoon, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top. Cook in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the eggs are set.
- Serve immediately, or allow to cool on the counter for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for up to two days. When ready to serve, cook, covered, in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is warmed through. If you want a crispier top to the casserole, remove the cover and broil for 1 – 2 minutes.
There is an opportunity to save time here – while the onion and sausage are cooking, you can get as much done for the upcoming steps as time allows – cube the bread, start chopping the Provolone and shredding the mozzarella cheese, measure out the ricotta cheese. Just make sure to watch the pan and stir occasionally!
Keywords: easy breakfast casserole, breakfast casserole, sausage breakfast casserole, breakfast casserole with bread