Sausage and Rye Breakfast Casserole
Here’s a recipe for a breakfast casserole that’s a bit different. Mushrooms give it an earthy flavor while the zing of the vegan cheeses really set it off nicely. This Sausage and Rye Breakfast Casserole is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish for your next get together.
When I set out to make this dish, I already had a certain flavor profile in mind. Something you’d eat in a non-chain sort of restaurant. A little different but still so delicious.
I’ve been dairy free for about 7 years now and I still struggle with dairy free cheese. It can be really tricky to cook with, because it doesn’t behave the way real dairy cheese does.
No matter what I do, sometimes vegan cheese just isn’t pretty. It doesn’t melt and look as appetizing as real cheese, so making the dish attractive is a challenge.
Making a dish look appealing even when you know it’s going to taste wonderful either way is important though. As we all know, we first eat with our eyes. If it doesn’t look nice, we aren’t going to be too excited to try it.
What I want to impress, is that if you’re dairy free – especially newly so – give the vegan cheese a chance. It won’t be what you expect, but if you have an open mind, it can be quite enjoyable.
Of course, if you’re not dairy free, you can use whatever cheese you like. Boursin would be amazing!
This Sausage and Rye Breakfast Casserole is a great dish for your Thanksgiving brunch.
Looking for something else?
If this dish sounds a little intimidating in its flavors, try one of these to please a crowd:
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Rye Bread – When I went shopping for ingredients for this, I couldn’t find plain rye bread. I did however, find this one that’s a blend of wheat, rye and lentil flour. It’s surprisingly good in this recipe. Maybe slightly sweeter than full rye.
If you want to use rye, go for it. If you want to use the blend like I did, look for Steddy Eddy Sprouted Power in the purple bag.
Vegan Butter – The closest I’ve found to real butter is the Earth Balance Soy Free in the red container. Drizzling a little butter over the cubed bread helps bring out the flavor and soften the texture.
Breakfast Sausage – I used J.C. Potter original breakfast sausage. Jimmy Dean is good too. If you’re wondering if you can sub Italian sausage, I wouldn’t. Sometimes they can be interchangeable in recipes, but I don’t think it would work in this one.
Red Onion – I sliced up a whole small red onion and then as I started layering the ingredients in the dish, I realized I wasn’t going to need near that much.
I also used the skinniest slivers so I could disperse the flavor evenly and avoid having a big chunk of onion in one bite.
Cremini Mushrooms – white button mushrooms or baby bellas would work great too. Rinse them and pat dry before slicing, or buy pre-sliced to save a step.
Egg – 10 eggs sounds like a lot, but it’s really not.
Fresh Spinach – The spinach really elevates this dish and lightens up the strong flavors of the sausage and vegan cheese.
Vegan Cheese – I used two different types for this, but honestly, you can play around with your favorites. The ones I used are Violife cheddar shreds and Miyoko’s Double Cream Classic Chive Cashew Milk Cheese Wheel.
Almond Milk – Just a bit to keep everything moist and the eggs fluffy.
Salt and Pepper – You really don’t need a ton of seasonings in this dish. The ingredients bring loads of flavor without additional herbs and spices.
Sliced Tomato – slice a tomato really thin so you can see through it. Then take one of those slices and cut it into quarters. Fan those out across the top of a slice of the casserole. It adds a freshness that rounds out this dish nicely.
Plant Based Sour Cream – Kite Hill is my favorite brand.
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How to Make Sausage and Rye Breakfast Casserole
Step 1: Get all your ingredients out and ready to go. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Step 2 – In a skillet, cook the sausage until it’s just cooked, but not too brown. Chop it a bit as you cook it so it’s not in huge chunks and cooks evenly. Place a couple of paper towels in a bowl and then remove the sausage from the pan into the bowl to drain the grease off. Set aside.
Step 3 – Whisk together eggs, almond milk, salt and pepper.
Step 4: Layer bread in the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.
Step 5: Pour butter over the bread. There’s not enough butter to saturate the bread, so pour it evenly across the top, drizzling slowly.
Step 6: Add half of the red onion slivers in an even layer on top of the bread.
Step 7: Add the sausage and mushrooms in an even layer, one at a time.
Step 8: Spread spinach out across the top of the sausage and mushrooms and then add the remaining onion on top of the spinach.
Step 9: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Step 10: Pictured in the image above, I started out with just the chive cashew cheese. It browned and didn’t melt and it just wasn’t nice, so I removed it and tried something else that worked out pretty well.
Mix 1/2 of the Miyoko’s cheese wheel with about 1/4 cup of Violife cheddar shreds. Using the back of a spoon, mash them together until they’re well mixed.
Step 11: Remove the baking dish from the oven and set the aluminum foil aside but don’t toss it just yet.
Step 12: Add small dollops of the cheese mixture across the top of the casserole as pictured above. Place the baking dish back into the oven, uncovered, and continue baking for about 10 minutes.
Note: The cheese won’t melt the way real cheese would.
Step 13: Take the casserole out of the oven again. Now that the cheese is warm and soft, you can use the back of a spoon to spread it out across the top just a little more evenly.
Step 14: Put the casserole back into the oven for another 5 minutes, then remove it, cover it with the foil again and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Step 15: Since vegan cheese has the tendency to look a little less than appealing when it doesn’t fully melt (even when it tastes great), we want to add just a little extra something to the top of the casserole when we serve it. After all, we eat first with our eyes.
After cutting a slice of the casserole, place a few thin slices of tomato on top and even try adding a dollop of vegan sour cream (Kite Hill is my favorite).
Serve and enjoy!
Sausage and Rye Breakfast Casserole
- 13 x 9 baking dish
- 6 slices rye bread or rye/wheat mix - sandwich thickness
- ¼ cup plant based butter
- 1 pound breakfast sausage crumbles - cooked
- 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
- ¼ small red onion - sliced thin
- 10 eggs
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- ¼ cup Violife cheddar shreds
- ½ wheel Miyokos Double Cream Chive Cashew Cheese
- ¼ cup Almond Milk
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- thinly sliced tomato
- plant based sour cream
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Brown the sausage in a skillet, chopping into small chunks as it cooks. Place a couple of paper towels into a bowl and remove the sausage from the pan into the bowl to soak up the grease. Set aside.
- Whisk together eggs, almond milk, salt and pepper.
- Layer brad in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.
- Pour butter over the bread. There's not enough butter to saturate the bread, so pour it evenly across the top, drizzling slowly.
- Add half of the red onion slivers in an even layer on top of the bread.
- Add the sausage and mushrooms in an even layer, one at a time.
- Spread spinach out across the top of the sausage and mushrooms and then add the remaining onion on top of the spinach.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- While the casserole cooks, mix 1/2 of the Miyoko's cheese wheel with about 1/4 cup of Violife cheddar shreds. Using the back of a spoon, mash them together until they're well mixed.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and set the aluminum foil aside but don't toss it just yet.
- Add small dollops of the cheese mixture evenly across the top of the casserole. Place the baking dish back into the oven, uncovered, and continue baking for about 10 minutes. Note that the cheese won't melt the way real cheese would.
- Take the casserole out of the oven again. Now that the cheese is warm and soft, you can use the back of a spoon to spread it out across the top just a little more evenly.
- Put the casserole back into the oven for another 5 minutes, then remove it, cover it with the foil again and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish each slice with thinly sliced tomatoes and a dollop of dairy free sour cream. Enjoy!
- Cover the leftovers and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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