ham and cheese strata slice on black plate

Ham and Cheese Strata

This ham and cheese strata has a rich and hearty flavor to delight the taste buds! It has the perfect puffy, pillowy, moist texture you’ve been craving.

Bread cubes soaked in an eggy custard mixed with the nutty flavors of Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and smoked ham take this breakfast strata to another level.

ham and cheese strata in a white casserole dish

Ham and Cheese Strata

We had lots of bread sitting around while testing an Italian bread recipe. (That’s to come later I promise.)

So we decided to give strata a try.

What is Strata?

Strata is basically a layered dish made with lots of bread (leftover day-old bread is best), egg custard, cheese, and other variations. You could almost call them bread puddings. But strata is a little more structured.

ham and cheese strata slice on black plate

Ingredients Needed for Ham and Cheese Strata

  • Bread – Any leftover day-old loaf bread will work. We used Italian bread. You can tear into 1-inch pieces or cut into 1-inch cubes. We prefer the torn method.
  • Onion – Adds extra flavor and makes this dish even work for dinner.
  • Unsalted Butter – The butter is just for sauteing the onions.
  • Smoked Ham – Really, any ham will work that can be cut into cubes. We don’t recommend deli ham for this dish. Using leftover ham from the holidays is a perfect way. Or serve those overnight guests an amazing breakfast Christmas morning, Thanksgiving morning or Easter.
  • Gruyere cheese – Adds an amazing nutty flavor! It beats cheddar cheese hands down for this strata.
  • Percorino Romano – Or Parmesan, but we highly recommend the Romano.
  • Fresh Chives (optional)- The chives add a little more onion flavor and color to the dish. You could use green onions or scallions.
  • Dried Thyme – If using fresh thyme I recommend doubling the amount.
  • Dried Ground Mustard – Dry mustard adds a unique tangy flavor to this dish.
  • Whole Milk – Whole milk adds to a richer flavor in this dish.
  • Heavy Cream – Adds even more rich flavor!
  • Kosher salt – Ya know, for taste.
  • Ground Pepper – Also for taste.

How to Make Ham and Cheese Breakfast Strata Recipe

For this recipe, we don’t layer the bread with cheeses and ham. We just fold it all together in a bowl, like bread pudding.

In a small skillet over medium heat saute the diced onions in the two tablespoons of melted butter for about 8 to 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. Set aside.

strata mix in a glass mixing bowl

In a large bowl combine the torn bread pieces or cut bread cubes, diced ham, and sauteed onions. Toss lightly just to help cool down the onions.

Add the 1 1/2 cups of the shredded Gruyere and grated Romano. Toss to combine.

You can add all the cheese to the mixture at this time, instead of reserving 1/2 cup to sprinkle over the top during baking. We’ve done it both ways and just prefer the little bit of melted Gruyere on top.

In another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, chives, thyme, dry mustard, kosher salt, and pepper until combined.

strata ingredients in two glass mixing bowls

Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and gently fold all the ingredients together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, smooth the top, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.

When you are ready to bake the strata remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before placing it in the oven.

uncooked strata in a white casserole dish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 30 minutes covered, remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until the strata is lightly browned, puffed up, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

ham and cheese strata slice on black plate

Why Does Strata Have to Sit Overnight?

Strata are best when assembled and allowed to sit overnight in the fridge. The bread needs time to soak up the egg mixture.

This is what makes strata a great make-ahead dish. It’s a perfect dish to serve guests during the holiday season for a delicious breakfast or for weekend brunch.

It’s even good for dinner. Just make it in the morning and it’s ready to bake by dinner time!

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ham and cheese strata slice on black plate

Ham and Cheese Strata

Bread cubes soaked in an eggy custard mixed with the nutty flavors of Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and smoked ham take this ham and cheese strata to another level.
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Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheese, ham, strata
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 354kcal
Author: DSTR

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Onion diced small
  • 8 cups Italian bread torn into 1-inch pieces, or cubed
  • 2 cups Smoked ham diced into 1/4-inch pieces (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • 8 large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Fresh chives diced
  • 1/2 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Ground mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper

Instructions

  • In a small skillet over medium heat saute the diced onions for about 8 to 10 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine the torn bread pieces or cut bread cubes, diced ham, and sauteed onions. Toss lightly just to help cool down the onions.
  • Add the 1 1/2 cups of the shredded Gruyere and grated Romano. Toss to combine. You can add all the cheese to the mixture at this time, instead of reserving 1/2 cup to sprinkle over the top during baking.
  • In another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, chives, thyme, dry mustard, kosher salt, and pepper until combined.
  • Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and gently fold all the ingredients together.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smooth the top, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Remove the strata from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before placing it in the oven.
  • Bake for 30 minutes covered, remove the foil and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until the strata is lightly browned, puffed up, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 354kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 186mg | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 253mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 675IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 312mg | Iron: 2mg

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