If we can get past the name, I think we can all agree the Christmas morning wife saver casserole is one of the best brunch foods on the planet! Layers of white bread, cheese, eggs, and buttery Cornflakes? Sign me up! The traditional Christmas breakfast casserole calls for ham, but I've created a vegetarian version that is just as satisfying!
Vegetarian Wife Saver Casserole
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Like I said, this wife saver casserole recipe usually calls for ham, but I promise you won't miss it in this recipe!
Instead of using meat, I added finely chopped red and green peppers (festive, right?!). They give you some extra crunch and flavor and you can't beat that color combo at Christmas.
Christmas Morning Breakfast
A lot of people stick to make-ahead meals for Christmas morning breakfast or brunch, and it only makes sense.
Wouldn't we all rather be hanging out with our family, opening presents, drinking hot chocolate (and a bit or a lot of Bailey's), rather than being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else has all the fun?
An easy, overnight breakfast casserole is the perfect solution.
Throw it together the night before, leave it in the fridge, then cook it in the morning so you don't miss out on anything!
I guess that explains the name...but the original version is from the Best of Bridge cookbooks, and it was published "back in the day."
I researched it a bit, and it looks like the Christmas morning wife saver was originally published in 1979 by Linda Jacobson, one of the eight original Best of Bridge authors! Pretty cool.
Overnight Breakfast Casseroles
My love for an easy breakfast casserole is well-documented.
I've published a bunch of them on here, and it's hard to choose my favorite! But one thing I love about this one is the crunchy topping and that it's so closely associated with Christmas. Nostalgia, anyone?
Here are two recent breakfast casserole recipes I shared that also work great for Christmas morning breakfast:
My version of this doesn't stray TOO far from the original, but I did make a few changes.
The traditional recipe calls for all of the cheese to be in the middle layer. But I like to divide the cheese in half and put a second layer on top under the buttery cereal topping. Like I mentioned, I also omit the meat and I added red and green pepper.
Before we get to how to make this easy overnight casserole, let's make sure you have all the ingredients on hand.
Wife Saver Casserole Ingredients
For this recipe, you need:
- White bread (crusts removed)
- Shredded cheddar cheese (or a cheese of your choice)
- Large eggs
- Cornflakes (or a similar cereal)
- Mustard powder, ground black pepper, and onion powder
- Worcestershire sauce (I use a version without fish in it so it's totally vegetarian)
- Red and green peppers, finely diced
- Whole milk (in Canada it's 3.25% or homogenized milk)
- Butter, melted
- Hot sauce (I use buffalo sauce)
- Chopped chives (optional)
HOW TO MAKE MY CHRISTMAS MORNING WIFE SAVER CASSEROLE
- To start, you'll butter a 9x13 inch baking dish or spray it with cooking oil.
- Now, cut and fit 5-6 slices of bread to fill the entire bottom of dish. I often fit four slices laying flat and then add 2 more slices cut in half around the rest of the pan to fill the space. Depending on the size of your bread and casserole dish you might need more or less bread bread.
- Add half the cheddar cheese and all of the diced peppers on top of the first layer of bread. (By the way, make sure your peppers are finely diced - no big chunks!).
- Cut and fit the remaining 5-6 slices of bread to completely cover the peppers and cheese. Then, add the other half of cheese on top.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs with the pepper, dry mustard, onion powder, chives, Worcestershire sauce (if using), and hot sauce. Add the milk and whisk until well combined.
- Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole — this is my favorite part.
- Cover your casserole dish with tin foil and pop it into the fridge on Christmas Eve.
- In the morning, remove the casserole from the fridge. Then, preheat your oven to 350F.
- Melt your butter, and combine it in a bowl with the Cornflakes. Add this mixture evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake in your preheated oven until the casserole is set and lightly browned — about 1 hour but usually slightly (5-10 minutes) longer. The casserole will get pretty puffy while it bakes. You might want to place a baking sheet underneath the casserole dish to catch any drips.
- Let casserole stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Questions About This Recipe
- Do I have to make it the night before? No, but for an egg casserole with bread, you'll want to let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before baking so the bread can soak up the egg mixture.
- Do I have to use peppers? Nope, feel free to customize this recipe as you like. You could do a "plain" version without any veggies or meat, or try different veggies. Mushrooms and onions would be great!
- Can I reheat this casserole? Yes - but if you reheat it in the microwave the cereal topping won't stay very crunchy. Instead, I recommend reheating it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until heated through.
- How do I store it? Store your wife saver casserole covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. I haven't tried freezing it but I don't recommend it — the cereal topping won't freeze well!
- What do I serve it with? It's great on its own, but also pairs well with fresh fruit or cinnamon buns on Christmas morning.
Vegetarian Wife Saver Breakfast Casserole
- 10-12 slices white bread, without crusts you may need more or less bread depending on the size of your bread and your baking dish
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- ½ cup red pepper finely diced
- ½ cup green pepper finely diced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper ground
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ¼ cup chives, chopped optional
- 1 cup Cornflakes
- ½ cup butter melted
- Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish generously, or spray it with cooking oil.
- Cut and fit 5-6 slices of bread (crusts removed!) to fill the entire bottom of dish.
- Add half the shredded cheddar cheese and all of the diced peppers on top of the first layer of bread. Cut and fit the remaining 5-6 slices of bread to completely cover the peppers and cheese. Then, add the other half of cheese on top.
- In a large bowl, whisk together your eggs with the pepper, mustard powder, onion powder, chives, Worcestershire sauce (if using), and hot sauce. Add the milk and whisk until well combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole.
- Cover your casserole dish with tin foil and pop it into the fridge to rest overnight (or for AT LEAST an hour)
- In the morning, remove the casserole from the fridge and take off the tin foil. Then, preheat your oven to 350F.Melt your butter, and combine it in a bowl with the Cornflakes. Add this mixture evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake the casserole in your preheated oven (on the middle rack) until the casserole is set and lightly browned — about 60-70 minutes. Let casserole stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Merry Christmas to all! Or Happy Easter or just have a happy Monday morning depending on when you're reading this! 😉
XO - C
PS. I love pouring a little maple syrup on top of this before I eat it. Actually, I recommend adding maple syrup to almost any egg casserole recipe. Try it!