When it comes to filling, savory dishes for breakfast and brunch, it’s all but guaranteed that warm egg and cheese casseroles will be a hit. This ham and cheese breakfast casserole is a recipe worth bookmarking, especially for holiday gatherings, potlucks and work breakfasts. As a brilliant make-ahead breakfast recipe, the ingredients are prepped in advance to save time the next day. And since the casserole cooks in a slow cooker, you can easily scoop up the entire cooker and bring it to any event.
This recipe is one of our best-ever breakfast casseroles. It has layers of hash browns, meat and cheddar in a rich, eggy batter—and it makes enough to feed a crowd!
Ingredients for Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
- Ham: A breakfast favorite, smoky and salty diced ham adds so much flavor to this casserole. Use a precooked ham steak from the store, or slice up meat leftover from a large dinner ham.
- Eggs: Eggs, together with milk, make the batter that holds all the fillings together in this casserole. This is a large casserole with 12 servings, so the recipe calls for a dozen large eggs.
- Cheddar cheese: There’s plenty of cheddar in this dish, so every slice is delectably cheesy and melty. Cheddar adds lots of flavor as well. You can buy pre-shredded cheese, or grate your own cheese; pick up a 16-ounce block of cheddar cheese, and use the large holes on a box grater to shred it.
- Hash browns: Frozen, shredded hash browns (look for bags in the freezer aisle at the store) are an easy way to add texture to this dish. Potatoes also ensure every slice is filling and satisfying.
Step 1: Make the batter
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Step 2: Layer in the other ingredients
Spray the insert of a large (5-quart or 6-quart size) slow cooker with nonstick spray. Layer one-third of the thawed hash browns in the bottom. Top with one-third of the ham, one-third of the onion and one-third of the shredded cheese. Repeat these layers two times.
Editor’s Tip: Save time by using frozen diced onions instead of chopping your own. Look for them in the frozen veggie case at the store.
Step 3: Add the batter, and chill overnight
Pour the egg mixture into the slow cooker over the top of the layered ingredients. Cover the insert, and slide it into the fridge to rest overnight.
Step 4: Cook the casserole
Transfer the insert to the slow cooker base. Cover and cook on low for four to five hours, until the casserole is set and beginning to brown at the edges. Turn off the slow cooker, and remove the insert to a trivet or cooling rack. Uncover and let the casserole stand for 30 minutes.
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole Variations
- Try other breakfast meats: Cooked and crumbled turkey or pork sausage (or sliced links) and diced bacon would be great in this casserole. Plant-based meats like bacon or sausage would also be delicious.
- Get cheesy: Shredded Swiss cheese would be delicious with the ham in this casserole. Experiment with other cheeses, too, like pepper jack, American and smoked Gouda.
- Add spice: Give this casserole a spicy twist by substituting chorizo sausage for the ham and adding diced jalapenos or green chiles to the layers. Serve with salsa on the side.
How to Store Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
Allow the leftovers to cool, then cover the insert pan with plastic wrap, or portion the casserole into tightly sealed containers. Store the leftovers in the fridge for up to five days. For the best flavor and texture, it’s best to enjoy it within a day or two of cooking.
Can I freeze ham and cheese breakfast casserole?
Yes, you can freeze this casserole! Once the casserole is cooked and cooled, scoop portions into resealable freezer-safe containers. Store them in the freezer for up to three months. To reheat, allow the breakfast casserole to thaw in the fridge, then warm them through in the oven or microwave.
Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole Tips
Do I have to let this breakfast casserole rest overnight?
The overnight rest for this recipe makes it so convenient as a make-ahead dish, and it gives the flavorful ingredients time to meld. However, if you’re in a rush, cook the casserole in the slow cooker according to the directions as soon as it’s assembled.
Can ham and cheese breakfast casserole be left out?
Since this dish is made with milk, eggs and meat, it should not be left out at room temperature any longer than necessary (two hours at most). Once everyone has been served and the dish has cooled to room temperature, cover the casserole and refrigerate it.
What should I serve with breakfast casserole?
This recipe is filling enough to serve on its own, but sides of toast, muffins or baking powder biscuits would be smart choices. And don’t forget the condiments like hot sauce, ketchup and Sriracha.