A new go-to Southern casserole perfect for feeding a crowd in the morning! Cheesy Grits Breakfast Casserole features a layer of creamy, cheesy grits, savory sausage, hearty breakfast potatoes and a perfect topping of baked eggs and melty cheese. 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, and tips for making it ahead!
There’s nothing that says “Good Morning” in the South quite like a hearty Grits Breakfast Casserole. The first time I made a Grits Casserole for a crowd, the guests were blown away by both the flavor and the texture of the grits. They were even more surprised when I assured them they could make a batch at home just as good as the ones they were eating in mine. Turns out, a couple of extra ingredients and a little attentiveness can go a long, long way when it comes to a pot of homemade grits.
But, the grits weren’t the only thing they left wanting — it was the whole recipe. This casserole is everything your crowd could want in a breakfast and more. It’s loaded down with comforting goodies like sausage, potatoes, melty cheese, and eggs. But, what makes this Grits Breakfast Casserole everything you could want and more? It’s make-ahead and fully customizable. Now, that’s a good morning indeed.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHEESY GRITS BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
Southern food is all about comfort, and this casserole is breakfast comfort at its very best. It begins with a batch of creamy grits on the stove top. For this recipe, you can use either Bob’s Red Mill Southern-Style White Corn Grits or Quaker Instant Grits. I typically opt for making grits from scratch over using an instant version, however, if your time is limited, see the recipe notes and proceed from there.
WHY USE CHICKEN BROTH INSTEAD OF WATER FOR GRITS?
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. However, do not use regular chicken broth in this recipe or it will come out too salty — be sure to use only low-sodium or unsalted chicken broth.
Once the grits are fully cooked, you’ll add the cream and the cheese.
TYPES OF CHEESE TO USE FOR GRITS CASSEROLE
This recipe calls for Havarti cheese, which is a super creamy, mild cheese that pairs wonderfully with grits. However, if you’d prefer another type of cheese, Gruyere, Gouda, and White Cheddar are all great cheeses for your Grits Breakfast Casserole.
The cheesy, creamy grits go into a 9×13″ casserole dish, and you’ll begin working on the top layer. The top layer is a mass collection of savory goodness, and when it all comes together in one bite with the grits, it is truly to die for.
It begins with sausage in a skillet, followed by cubed Russet potatoes and onions. Once the potatoes have softened, the mixture goes on top of the grits, and eggs and cheese top off the whole shebang. It’s off to the oven, and when it comes out, the cheese is melted, the egg whites have cooked through, and it is pure Southern breakfast casserole heaven.
A CUSTOMIZABLE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
This recipe is easily customizable to suit your tastes and needs. As we mentioned earlier, you can swap out regular grits for quick-cooking if needed, and one cheese could easily be changed for another, but that’s not all.
PICK YOUR FAVORITE SAUSAGE
This recipe calls for Applegate’s Chicken and Apple Sausage which adds a somewhat sweet note to the Grits Breakfast Casserole, however, if you would rather use ground pork breakfast sausage, you could easily exchange one for the other and keep all other aspects of the recipe the same.
POTATOES ARE OPTIONAL
The potatoes will add about 13-16 minutes to the prep time of this casserole. If you’re short on time, you can omit the potatoes altogether and cook only the onion instead. If you choose to omit the potatoes, sauté for 5-6 minutes over medium heat after the sausage comes out of the pan.
GRITS CASSEROLE WITH OR WITHOUT EGGS
As far as the eggs go, you can omit 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. This way, everyone would get a serving with the yolk.
A MAKE-AHEAD BREAKFAST GRITS CASSEROLE
Aside from being customizable and decadently delicious, this is also a make-ahead Grits 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 you will be baking in prior to serving. 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 a 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 Grits Breakfast 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, potluck brunches — you name it, but, best of all, it really works well for leftovers. Our family gladly took this bad boy down for 2 nights beyond its grand debut. The 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.
- 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, 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.