This spinach and bacon breakfast strata is a simple egg casserole dish combining eggs, bread, sautéed spinach, crisp bacon, and plenty of parmesan cheese. Use crusty day-old bread so each bite is chewy and textured (not flat and spongey). For optimal flavor, prep the strata in advance and bake fresh for breakfast the next morning. Each bite is loaded with texture and flavor, so it’s hard to resist having seconds!
It’s no secret that breakfast casserole is a simple, yet satisfying breakfast/brunch dish. Casseroles are usually a cinch to throw together, welcome any sort of vegetable/cheese/meat, and taste even better if you make them ahead of time. Heck, you could even add bagels and cream cheese. See everything bagel breakfast casserole—it’s always a hit!
Strata is a type of breakfast casserole. While you can make strata with many different add-ins, breakfast strata always includes eggs, milk/cream, and bread. (And definitely cheese.) We make it all the time and I figured you’d appreciate our latest one!
(By the way, if you’re more into sweet treats with your coffee, make French toast casserole instead—also eggs, milk/cream, and bread!)
Breakfast Strata Recipe Details
- Flavor: We love this breakfast strata with sautéed onions and spinach, garlic, crisp bacon, and plenty of parmesan cheese. Add a little ground mustard for a touch of sharp flavor, too. A little salt and pepper round everything out.
- Texture: If you start out with crusty day-old bread, the strata won’t be soggy at all. Rather, you’ll have a mix of soft and textured bites, crisp edges, pockets of melty cheese, plus lots of crunchy bacon. Needless to say, there’s something different in every single bite.
- Ease: The hardest part, if you can even call it that, would be prepping the bacon, onions, and spinach. All you have to do is cook the bacon, drain a little grease, then sauté onions, garlic, and spinach. Layer all this over bread, then add cheese. Pour your egg mixture over that. Prep is done!
- Time: For best flavor and texture, you’ll want to start this dish the day before. Cut the bread into chunks, let it sit out to dry, then give yourself about 30 minutes to prepare the rest. Cover and refrigerate overnight before baking the next morning. The make-ahead factor is just one reason this strata is a favorite of my Easter brunch recipes. Or perfect when hosting any get-together!
Some Key Ingredients & Substitution Options
You can get creative with breakfast strata because the flavors and add-ins are virtually endless. Here’s what I use and some substitution options.
- Bread: Besides eggs and milk, bread is a key ingredient here. Why do you use bread in strata? When eggs bake, they release a lot of liquid. Chunks of crusty bread soak a lot of that liquid up so the casserole is chewy, chunky, and textured—not spongey, flat, and airy. In other words, bread gives the casserole some staying power. Now all of this depends on how crusty and crisp your bread is. Use homemade artisan bread or store-bought crispy, crusty bread. Sourdough is AWESOME in this. Cut the bread, then let the chunks sit out for several hours or overnight (uncovered) to dry out.
- Spinach: You can use fresh or frozen spinach. You could also use kale or arugula or skip the greens and cook 1-2 cups chopped mushrooms and/or peppers with the onions.
- Bacon/Meat: If using meat, make sure it’s cooked before layering it into the dish. We love the combination of garlicky spinach and bacon (just like in this creamy mac and cheese recipe), but you can use about 1/2 – 3/4 lb of cooked crumbled or chopped sausage instead. 2 cups of cubed cooked ham can be substituted or leave out the meat. If you skip the meat, feel free to add more spinach (or 1-2 cups chopped mushrooms and/or peppers, see above for cooking instruction).
- Parmesan Cheese: Salty, nutty parmesan is excellent in this breakfast strata, but we’ve tried it with shredded cheddar, white cheddar, gouda, Gruyere, pepper jack, etc. If you like a particular cheese on your eggs, I’m sure you’ll like it in this dish!
- Milk + Eggs: You need 9 eggs, but milk usually makes up the bulk of the liquid in a breakfast strata. Some recipes use half-and-half but I find the texture too firm this way. I usually just use whole milk. 2% or 1% would be fine if needed but skip using nonfat. The casserole won’t taste as rich.
Note: I usually use a blend of shredded parmesan and freshly shaved parmesan. Shaved or shredded—either works.
What Seasonings Can I Add?
I keep it simple here with salt, pepper, garlic, and ground mustard. Your breakfast will not taste like mustard. Ground mustard is a common addition to breakfast casseroles because it adds some sharp flavor with a little depth.
Like any homemade omelette, frittata recipe, or batch of breakfast egg muffins, you can customize the flavors of this breakfast strata by choosing different add-ins. This spinach, garlic, bacon, and parmesan combination is a favorite but if you’re looking for something different, we enjoy this ham & cheese strata too. It’s indefinitely loved by family members of all ages. Try it with Swiss cheese!
Success Tip: Start Breakfast Strata Overnight
One defining characteristic of strata is rest time. It’s common to prep the casserole the night before so the eggs soak into the bread. If you can’t do overnight, as short as 1 hour works in a pinch. I always say that strata is so low maintenance that it literally needs a nap. Ha!
What to Serve With Breakfast Strata
For side dishes, fresh fruit and yogurt are light, simple, and quick. However, if you’re entertaining—or if you have several hungry teenagers in your house—pair this breakfast strata with:
- Easy Cinnamon Rolls
- Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls
- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls or Pumpkin Crumb Cake
- Banana Muffins or Blueberry Muffins
- Baked Oatmeal
- Sour Cream Coffee Cake
- Banana Bread or Zucchini Bread
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Cake, a Cinnamon Roll Wreath, or Cranberry Cake (great options around the holidays)
For optimal flavor, use stale bread and prep the strata in advance as directed in step 5. See “Some Key Ingredients & Substitution Options” above for a list of ingredient substitutions we’ve tested.
- 8 cups (about a 12 ounce loaf) cubed bread (I recommend big chunks of a crispy baguette or sourdough loaf)
- 8 slices uncooked bacon
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 3 packed cups fresh chopped spinach*
- 1 and 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
- 9 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- optional garnish: fresh ground black pepper, flaky sea salt, and/or extra parmesan cheese
- Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish (or similar size) or spray with nonstick spray.
- Arrange bread in a single layer in the pan, then set pan aside.
- Cook bacon according to package stovetop directions in a large skillet. Drain all but about 1 Tablespoon grease. (Or drain it all and add 1 Tablespoon olive oil for the next step.) Cool bacon until ready to handle, then chop into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle over bread.
- Add onion to greased skillet. Cook on medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and spinach and while stirring occasionally, cook until spinach has wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon evenly over the bread/bacon, then sprinkle all of the cheese on top.
- Whisk eggs, milk, salt, ground mustard, and pepper together in a large bowl. Pour evenly over cheese. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight (up to 12-16 hours).
- Remove casserole from the refrigerator and allow to sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Bake casserole, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. The casserole is done when browned on the sides and puffy in the center—usually takes 50-55 minutes total.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle optional garnish(es) on top if using, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave.
- Freezing Instructions: Prepare through step 5, then cover the casserole with plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. These 2 layers are ideal for protecting this egg heavy dish in the freezer. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature, and continue with step 7.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): 9×13-Inch Baking Dish | Skillet | Glass Mixing Bowl | Whisk
- Bread: Use homemade crispy, crusty bread such as artisan bread or purchase a loaf or baguette from your grocery store’s bakery. If you can get your hands on a crusty loaf of sourdough bread, definitely use it here. It’s wonderful in this strata. For best taste and texture, cut the loaf into large bite-size chunks, then let the chunks sit out for several hours or overnight (uncovered) to dry out. They soak up more liquid this way.
- Spinach: You can use an 8-10 ounce package of frozen spinach instead if desired. Thaw, then blot out excess moisture. Sauté in step 4 just as you do the fresh spinach. You could also use fresh kale or arugula instead.
- Bacon/Cheese/Flavor Substitutions: See “Some Key Ingredients & Substitution Options” above.
Keywords: breakfast strata, spinach and bacon breakfast egg strata