The holiday egg bake, Mother's Day brunch recipe or overnight egg casserole recipe you've been craving, but better. This Italian Breakfast Egg Bake is loaded with yummy ingredients like pancetta, ricotta and sourdough bread. An amped up version of the classic breakfast casserole with Italian sausage!
Breakfast at our house is pretty casual. But when we want something a little extra, there's nothing like an egg casserole. It's easy to put together the day before and waking up the next morning with breakfast made is a treat! And this Overnight Italian Egg Bake recipe is extra in only the best way.
Here's all the reasons to make it the next time you're having a brunch.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
When I think of a good breakfast casserole, I think hearty because it needs to hold up to a good Bloody Mary or mimosa. This is how we do brunch in the Midwest, my friend! This Italian breakfast bake, just like my Butternut Squash Crostata with Ricotta is the perfect Sunday brunch recipe thanks to some amazing sourdough bread, fontina cheese, pancetta (yes...Italian bacon!) and sausage.
This Italian breakfast casserole has it ALL.
And the biggest plus? You can make it ahead. See? ALLLLL.
Ingredients You'll Need
If you are one of the smart ones to earn your PhD in sourdough bread making recently, get baking! Otherwise look for the most luscious, dense and flavorful sourdough bread you can find. I'm sharing my fav below!
- Sourdough bread (I love this one from Goldminer)
- Crumbled Italian sausage
- Cheeses: ricotta, fontina and sharp white cheddar
- Dairy: eggs, milk and a little cream (this isn't a shy egg casserole)
See recipe card for quantities.
So what is fontina cheese?
Fontina cheese is an Italian cheese not to be confused with fontinella (which is one of my all-time sharp cheese favs). Fontina is creamy and mild and is used in fondue.
Fontina cheese substitutes
Think of fondue cheeses when substituting for fontina. Cheeses like:
- even Parmesan!
How to Make an Overnight Egg Bake
Start with cutting your trimmed bread into slices and then each slice into 4 strips.
Saute the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until slightly crispy and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Don't go too far here with the sauteeing as it'll cook further in the oven.
Using the same pan, saute the Italian sausage until cooked about 8 minutes and drain on paper-towel lined plate again.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, half and half, milk and seasonings together in a bowl with a spout and in another bowl, combine the cheeses with the egg.
Egg Bake Layering Process
Start layering the ingredients in this order in a prepared 9x13" baking dish:
- ⅓ of the sourdough strips
- ½ of the ricotta mixture
- ½ each of the pancetta/sausage
- ⅓ of the grated cheeses
- Repeat the process ending with the bread and remaining shredded cheese.
- Pour the milk mixture over the whole thing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Some ideas if you need to substitute for certain ingredients:
- Sausage. Feel free to use Italian turkey sausage or your favorite plant-based alternative. [Note: I haven't tested the recipe with either of these so results can't be guaranteed.]
- Bread - Feel free to substitute the sourdough for another bread that is equally as firm.
- Cheese - I would substitute like cheeses with like cheeses meaning swap one kind of sharp cheese for another kind of sharp cheese etc. The only ingredient I wouldn't swap for is the ricotta as it is critical to the texture of the dish.
This is a great breakfast recipe to make ahead for a party - you can even freeze it up to 2 months.-Josie + Nina
FAQ's & Helpful Tips
Can I use egg whites for an egg bake?
I do not recommend only using egg whites as you won't get the same consistency for this recipe and would suggest that you search for an egg bake without yolks. Most of them have something like Greek yogurt in them as a thickener or emulsifier.
Can I cut this recipe in half?
Absolutely! I would recommend keeping the ingredients for the ricotta layer the same so that means using 5 eggs instead of 9 (4 in the milk mixture; 1 in the ricotta blend).
Serving & Storage
How long does egg casserole last?
- Not very long in my house (I've even been known to eat it for dinner), but if you have leftovers, store them in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Can I make this ahead?
- Make the day before and refrigerate.
- The next morning remove from the fridge and bake.
Reheat either in a 350˚ oven for 10-15 minutes or the microwave for a couple of minutes.
- To freeze, cover the casserole dish first in plastic wrap, then foil and then a freezer safe bag. Freeze up to 2 months.
Before you go....
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Overnight Italian Breakfast Egg Bake
- 9x13" baking pan I use a glass one but metal works too.
- 1 loaf of sourdough bread
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced into ½” pieces, divided (I buy it at Trader Joe's diced)
- ½ lb. ground Italian or breakfast sausage, bulk or removed from casings
- 9 eggs, divided
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
- 8 oz. whole milk Ricotta cheese, can use part-skim
- ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
- ¾ cup fontina cheese, grated
- ¾ cup sharp cheddar, grated (or any other sharp flavored cheese)
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced - from approximately 6-8 large leaves
- Butter a 9x13 glass or metal baking dish.
- With a bread knife, trim the top and sides of each slice of bread. Slice each slice into 4 vertical pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet over medium high heat, sauté the pancetta for 4 minutes until somewhat crispy. Don’t completely crisp it as it will crispen up further in the oven. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserve 1 tablespoon of pancetta for garnish in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
- In the same skillet, sauté the sausage crumbling it as you go, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain on another paper towel-lined plate.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the 8 eggs along with the milk, half and half and ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.
- In another bowl, mix the ricotta and parmesan along with the remaining egg, basil, salt and pepper until blended.
- Layer the ingredients in the baking dish (in the following order): ⅓ of the sourdough bread strips**, ½ of the ricotta mixture, ½ of the sausage and ½ of the pancetta, ⅓ of the grated cheeses
- Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients until all are used, finishing with the last layer of bread and cheeses. Pour the egg and milk mixture evenly over the layered ingredients. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 350˚. Remove foil and sprinkle over the remaining pancetta. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the center is puffed, the top is golden brown, and the eggs are set. Cover with foil if needed during the last 5-10 minutes of baking. Let sit for 5 minutes or so before serving.