When the weather turns cold and I am craving comfort foods, I love this Cheesy Breakfast Hash Brown Casserole to begin my days. It is warm and filling and perfect for those days when you have guests staying over. Everyone loves waking up to a house filled with delicious smells and being served a beautiful breakfast!
Cook up some sausage (be sure it is gluten-free – see Gluten Free Tips and recipe #2), add sautéed vegetables and a creamy sauce, then layer it over frozen hash browns and top with cheese – bake and enjoy! It doesn’t get much easier than this.
While this is typically served for breakfast, it also can be enjoyed any time of the day. I love breakfast for dinner and this makes a perfect main course. It tastes rich and indulgent and you’ll swear there are eggs in it, but it is made with thickened evaporated milk in a white sauce.
I love that it is made primarily with pantry and freezer ingredients. The next time the handmade bulk pork sausage made by your butcher or plain ground pork goes on sale, buy extra and freeze it in individual packages. Then you can make this any time quickly.
I have modified the original recipe to reduce some calories while maintaining the creamy texture. I boosted the vegetables and seasonings to turn it into a Mexican flavored meal. You can adjust the seasonings to customize it for your family’s preferences. I also simplified the steps to make it easier to put together.
Be sure to use a very large skillet to make the sausage mixture. I love my 12-inch Anolon stir-fry pan. It has very high sides that helps when I am making large batches of foods or when I want to contain popping oil if I am sautéing vegetables or meats.
The next time you are hosting guests or having brunch with your friends, I hope you make this Cheesy Breakfast Hash Brown Casserole as part of your menu. It is a crowd pleaser!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!
Key Ingredients for Cheesy Breakfast Hash Brown Casserole:
- Cornstarch or potato starch, sausage, onion, celery, bell peppers
- Green chiles, oregano, cumin, chili powder, evaporated milk
- Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, frozen hash brown potatoes, parsley
Key Ingredients for Homemade Farm-Style Sausage:
- Parsley, salt, sage, thyme, chili powder, pepper, red pepper
- Basil, oregano, ground pork or ground turkey, grated onion
You can change up the seasonings and vegetables in the casserole to use what you have on hand or what your family prefers. The combinations are endless and lets you make something different every time!
How to make Cheesy Breakfast Hash Brown Casserole:
- Whisk together cornstarch and water; set aside
- Brown the sausage, add the vegetables and cook until softened; stir in the spices and season with salt and pepper to taste
- Stir in the evaporated milk and the cornstarch mixture; cook until it comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat
- Mix together the cheeses and set aside
- Layer the components, half the potatoes, topped with half the sausage mixture and half the cheese; repeat the layers
- Bake uncovered until tender and heated through, about 45 to 60 minutes; sprinkle the top with parsley and serve
If you are using turkey, be sure to cook in a little extra oil because it tends to stick. And a nonstick skillet will also help with the sticking too. I like to mix in a little of the oil with the turkey to help keep it from drying out too much. Blending pork and turkey cuts back on the total amount of fat while giving you much needed fat for the turkey – a wonderful blend of flavors and textures.
How to make Homemade Farm-Style Sausage:
- Combine the seasonings, whisking to blend them together
- Mix the meat(s) with the seasonings and grated onions with your hands and blend thoroughly; cook a little of the mixture to taste and be sure the seasonings are right
- Shape sausage mixture into two logs about 6-inches long and 2-inches in diameter; wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate overnight to fully firm up and let the flavors blend
- Slice logs into rounds about 1/2-inch thick and fry in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil until browned on both sides; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until done, about 1 to 2 minutes longer on each side.
- Drain on paper towels and serve immediately
- If you are using the sausage right away, you don’t need to shape/chill and make it ahead – you can cook it right away
If preparing the sausage ahead, freeze until ready to serve. Slightly thaw sausage logs, slice into 1/2-inch rounds, and place, still frozen on a baking sheet. Set sheet in a cold oven, turn on to 325°F, and bake for about 15 minutes or until done. You can also use this technique when you are cooking for a crowd!
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Large skillet with tall sides
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Grater or food processor
- 9×13-inch baking pan
- Large mixing bowl
Always be sure that no fillers have been added to the prepared ground sausage. If you want to be sure it is safe, buy plain ground pork and add your own seasonings. Homemade sausage is delicious and so easy to make. Use the following recipe or make up your own. Once you see how simple it is, you may never buy prepared sausage again!
Cheesy Breakfast Hash Brown Casserole (Gluten Free)
This casserole is warm and filling and perfect for those days when you have guests staying over. Everyone loves waking up to a house filled with tempting aromas and being served a delicious breakfast or brunch!
- 1-1/2 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
- 3 tablespoon cool water
- 1 pound Italian pork bulk sausage, crumbled (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 red bell peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped mild green chiles
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder (gluten-free if needed) or to taste
- Kosher or fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups low-fat evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 30 ounces (850 g) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (Ore-Ida brand is gluten-free), partially thawed enough to spread
- Chopped parsley, for garnishing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13x2-inch baking dish. Set aside.
- Prepare the Components: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cool water until smooth. Set aside. (Re-whisk before using.)
- In a very large skillet (preferably with high sides) cook the sausage over medium-high heat until brown, breaking the clumps into small pieces, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir the evaporated milk into the sausage mixture. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid lumps, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- In a separate bowl, mix the cheeses together and set aside.
- Assemble and Bake the Casserole: Spread half of the frozen potatoes in the prepared baking pan. Top with half of sausage mixture and half of the cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining potatoes, sausage, and cheese. (It won't look like it will fit, but it does!)
- Bake the casserole uncovered until the potatoes are tender and the layers are hot all the way through, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes then sprinkle with parsley and scoop out servings.
- Recipe Source: The Heritage Cook
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 933Total Fat: 62gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 35gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 1499mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 37g
Homemade Farm-Style Sausage
Homemade sausage is so easy to make and delicious, you may never go back to prepared sausage again!
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, optional
- 2 pounds ground pork, at room temperature (or a combination of ground pork and ground dark turkey – if using turkey, cook in oil)
- 1/3 c grated onion (use the largest holes on a box grater or use your food processor’s grating blade)
- To make sausage, in a small bowl, combine all the seasonings together, stirring to fully blend.
- In a deep bowl, combine the meat with the seasoning mix and onions, using your hands to blend thoroughly. In a skillet, cook a little piece of the sausage. Taste to check flavor and adjust seasonings as needed. Keep in mind that the flavors will blend and become slightly more intense as the sausage rests overnight.
- Shape and roll mixture into 2 logs, 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight. Sausage may be made ahead and frozen. To make it easier to separate portions later, shape sausage into patties, wrap individually in plastic wrap, combine 4 to 5 wrapped patties and wrap them in foil then freeze.
- To serve, slice the logs into rounds about 1/2-inch thick and fry in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat in a little vegetable oil until browned, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes more on each side or until done. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately or cover and keep warm in a low oven. Note that this sausage has much less fat than normal sausage and can dry out if not watched carefully.
- Recipe Source: The Heritage Cook
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 344Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 408mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 29g
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