There’s nothing that says “Good Morning” in the South quite like a hearty breakfast casserole. Just a couple of extra ingredients and a little attentiveness can go a long, long way when it comes to a pot of homemade grits. Cheesy Grits Casserole features a layer of creamy, cheesy grits, savory sausage, breakfast potatoes and a perfect topping of baked eggs and melty cheese. Southern food is all about comfort, and this casserole is breakfast comfort at its best.
In addition to the perfect breakfast recipe, we’ll also unfold tricks to making the best, most flavorful grits, how to customize your casserole by swapping out a few ingredients, plus make-ahead tips!
WHAT ARE GRITS?
Grits are dried white corn kernels that have been ground either using a stone ground or steel roller mill. Stone-ground grits are less processed than quick-cooking grits and will, therefore, have more flavor. Read more about this process at Real Simple if desired.
We recommend using stone-ground grits for enhanced flavor and texture, however, quick-cooking grits are typically easier to find and more readily available than white stone-ground grits so feel free to use them in this recipe if need be!
WHAT’S IN GRITS CASSEROLE?
This recipe is easily customizable to suit your tastes and needs. As we mentioned above, you can swap out regular grits for quick-cooking if needed, and one cheese could easily be changed for another.
- Grits – For this recipe, you can use either Bob’s Red Mill Southern-Style White Corn Grits or Quaker Instant Grits. See the recipe notes for working with instant grits.
- Chicken Broth – Using chicken broth in the place of water when cooking grits adds a great deal of flavor and savoriness. You also might notice there is a fair amount of salt going into the homemade grits version. Grits are bland by nature, and they need a good deal of help from the flavor department. Be sure to use only low-sodium or unsalted chicken broth.
- Cheese – This recipe calls for Havarti cheese, which is a super creamy, mild cheese that pairs wonderfully with grits. If you’d prefer another type of cheese, Gruyere, Gouda, and White Cheddar are all great cheeses for your Breakfast Grits Casserole.
- Sausage – This recipe calls for Applegate’s Chicken and Apple Sausage which adds a somewhat sweet note to the Breakfast Grits Casserole, however, if you would rather use ground pork breakfast sausage, you could easily sub that in.
- Potatoes – The potatoes will add about 13-16 minutes to the prep time of this casserole. So, if you’re short on time, you can omit the potatoes altogether. If you choose to omit the potatoes, omit the onion as well.
- Eggs – As far as the eggs go, you can leave them out them completely or if you like a perfectly runny egg yolk, fry them and add them on top of each casserole serving. Frying the eggs and adding them later would work perfectly if you are serving more than 8 people.
In addition to these ingredients, you’ll need an onion, heavy whipping cream, and seasoning in the way of dried chives, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to make this Grits Casserole.
HOW TO MAKE BREAKFAST GRITS CASSEROLE
- Make the Grits – This Grits Casserole begins with a batch of creamy grits on the stove top. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer, slowly whisk in the grits, and slowly simmer 15-20 minutes. Stir in the cream and the cheese and transfer to a 9×13″ casserole dish.
- Brown the Sausage – Heat oil in a large sauté pan and add cubed sausage. Cook for about 5 minutes, just until deepened in color. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Cook the Potatoes – Reduce the heat to medium before adding the potatoes. They will need to be in the skillet for 13-16 minutes and you don’t want them to burn before they cook through! Add the potatoes to the skillet, along with the onion, and cook until tender.
- Assemble and Bake – Top the Grits Casserole with the sausage, potatoes, eggs, and cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking!
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS FOR BREAKFAST GRITS CASSEROLE
Aside from being customizable and decadently delicious, this is also a make-ahead breakfast casserole! The grits can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. However, you would want to house them in the casserole dish. Also, be sure you cover the grits directly with plastic wrap to keep any air from getting in and drying them out.
The casserole can be assembled up to one day in advance. You would simply make your grits, top them off with your sausage, potato, and onion mixture, and then seal with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. Just before going into the oven, add your eggs (if baking) and the cheese. Then, bake as directed.
This make-ahead Cheesy Breakfast Grits Casserole is hearty, flavorful and perfect for feeding just about any crowd, but especially one residing in the South. It works for special occasions and casual affairs — holidays, big family breakfasts, and potluck brunches. But, best of all, it really works well for leftovers. It’s a breakfast casserole combo guaranteed to satisfy all of your comfort food cravings, night or day. Please, enjoy!
5 MORE COMFORTING BREAKFAST IDEAS YOU’LL LOVE
- Overnight Breakfast Strata with Sausage and Eggs is a savory, make-ahead egg casserole loaded with sausage, Gouda cheese, and cubed bread. Great for entertaining and big family breakfasts!
- Homemade Biscuits and Gravy features an easy batch of made-from-scratch biscuits and a perfect creamy sausage gravy. It comes together quickly and makes absolutely everybody happy!
- Homemade Cinnamon Rolls is a breakfast treat you cannot go wrong with. Learn to make the best cinnamon rolls with this clear, foolproof guide to soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls at home.
- Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash features ground turkey, sweet potatoes, diced bell peppers, and fresh sage. It’s a healthy, yet comforting breakfast perfect for weekday mornings and entertaining. It’s a particularly great option for friends or family members with gluten allergies!
- Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices are a classic Southern breakfast treat that both kids and adults adore. Serve it as a breakfast side or a lovely addition to French toast or pancakes.
Cheesy Breakfast Grits Casserole featuring a layer of creamy, cheesy grits, savory sausage, hearty breakfast potatoes and a perfect topping of baked eggs and melty cheese.
- 8 cups unsalted chicken broth (you may not need all of it)
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill Southern-Style White Corn Grits if using Instant Grits, see notes below
- 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, separated
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon dried chives
- 1 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, separated
- 8 ounces Havarti Cheese, grated
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, separated
- 12 ounces Applegate Chicken and Apple Breakfast Sausage, diced
- 2 small Russet potatoes, cut into tiny cubes no larger than a 1/4"
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 400° and have ready a greased 9x13" casserole dish.
If using instant grits, stop here and see notes below. In a large saucepan, bring 6 1/2 cups of chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt to a roaring boil.
Slowly whisk in the grits, then, reduce the heat until you have reached a simmer. Cook the grits for 15-20 minutes, until they are no longer hard or chewy, stirring often. If the grits have thickened too much before they've fully cooked through, stir in an additional 1/2 cup of broth as needed throughout the cooking process.
Add the cream, chives, and 1 teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine. Stir in half of the cheese and transfer the grits to the prepared casserole dish. Smooth over the top and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced sausage to the heated pan and sauté for 5 minutes or so, just until the sausage has deepened in color. Remove sausage from the skillet and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the potatoes and onion, and season with 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine. Cook for 13-16 minutes, stirring often until the potatoes are tender.
Add the potatoes and onions to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Spread the mix over the grits, and crack the eggs across the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking.
Remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!
If you are using Instant Grits, omit Steps 2 & 3. Use 2 cups of Instant Grits and 8 cups of boiling, unsalted chicken broth in the place of water. Follow package instructions to cook. Season to taste with salt. Then, proceed to Step 4.
If you'd like to cut back on prep time, see blog post for omitting certain ingredients and recipe substitutions.