Slow cooker breakfast casserole is like a bagel sandwich you can cut into slices. It is made with layers of sliced bagel, cheese, browned sausage, and eggs. Combine everything in your slow cooker at night, and it’s ready first thing in the morning.
With colder mornings and holiday entertaining on the horizon, I love a good brunch recipe. Even better if I can do all the work ahead of time and have no cooking (and very few dishes) in the morning. I learned that it was possible to make a breakfast casserole in the slow cooker thanks to The Complete Slow Cooker (from America’s Test Kitchen), and I loved the idea! Wake up to a delicious, savory, breakfast casserole ready-to-serve? I’m in!
Bagels work great as a base for a slow cooker egg casserole. They are sturdy enough to hold their shape and texture even when slow cooked all night. Just be sure to follow the instructions below for adding a foil layer to the outside of your slow cooker. This will prevent the side of the casserole that is closest to the heating element from over-cooking.
Why Make Breakfast Casserole In the Slow Cooker
The answer is easy. Because it will cook overnight and be ready in the morning. No need to wake up early to prepare the casserole or get it in the oven. In addition, the low temperature of the slow cooker helps to keep the eggs in the casserole from over-cooking. They get a tender, almost custard-like texture that balances well with the savory sausage and the chewiness of the bagels.
- Breakfast Sausage – Be sure to get loose sausage, not patties for this. Some come in mild or spicy, so be sure to get the version that fits your spice preference.
- Bagels – You’ll need 4 large bagels or about 6 of the smaller variety that come from the bread aisle at the grocery store. Either way, the bagels should be about 16 oz in total weight. Everything bagels add great savory flavor, but absolutely any flavor of bagel will work. Slice them into 2-inch pieces.
- Shredded Cheese – Any type of shredded cheese will work. I like the flavor of Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or any shredded cheddar in this dish.
- Butter – Softened butter is needed to rub around the bottom of the slow cooker and the foil collar that lines the sides (see below). This will help keep the casserole from sticking and gives the casserole golden brown edges.
- Eggs – Use large eggs.
- Half and Half – Half and half has just the right amount of creamy richness for the filling of this dish. You can also use a combination of 2 cups Milk and 1 cup Heavy Cream.
- Everything Bagel Seasoning – Totally optional, but if you want to make this casserole a fun twist on an everything bagel, sprinkle some of this seasoning on top. (I buy it at Trader Joe’s.)
How (and why) to Make a Foil Collar for the Slow cooker
The challenge with baking right inside the bowl of the slow cooker is that most slow cookers get very hot on the side that’s closest to the heating element. The fix is easy. A layer of foil between the food and the heat helps to insulate it from the high heat.
To make a foil collar, take a sheet of foil that is long enough to wrap around the inside of the machine and fold it into thirds. Place it inside the slow cooker and assemble the casserole inside the foil. This will prevent the sides of the casserole from burning and will also make it easier to remove the casserole when it’s done cooking.
How to Remove the Casserole from the Slow Cooker
If it seems like it would be difficult to get the casserole out of the slow cooker, not to worry. It just takes 3 easy steps. The foil collar helps it to slide out.
Step 1: Lift the slow cooker bowl out of the slow cooker. Place a lightweight cutting board on top of the slow cooker bowl and carefully flip both over so that the cutting board is on the bottom. The casserole will fall gently out onto the cutting board.
Step 2: Remove the foil from the casserole and place the serving platter you plan to use on top of it.
Step 3: Just as you did in step 1, flip the casserole over again, leaving it facing up on the serving platter.
That’s it! Ready to serve.
Other Breakfast and Brunch Ideas
- Spicy Breakfast Strada with Chorizo – With bell peppers and green onions for a bit of red and green, this is a Christmas morning favorite at our house. (But is great served for brunch year-round.)
- Light and Fluffy Whole Wheat Waffles – We keep these 100% whole wheat waffles in the freezer and serve them throughout the week, but topped with fresh berries, maple syrup, and even a bit of fresh whipped cream, they make a great special-occasion breakfast!
- Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos – Even though these are filled with eggs, ham, and vegetables, they are not just for breakfast. They make a great lunch or easy dinner too. We keep a batch in the freezer for busy weeknights.
- 6-quart Slow Cooker – This recipe is designed to fit inside a 6-quart slow cooker. You can use a round or oval-shaped version.
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet – Cast iron is great for browning the sausage in this dish.
Slow Cooker Bagel Breakfast Casserole
- 6-quart Slow Cooker
- Cast Iron Skillet
- 12 oz Breakfast Sausage (loose sausage from the deli counter or sold in a roll
- 3 Tbsp Butter, softened
- 1 lb Bagels, sliced into 2-inch pieces (about 4 large bagels; any variety will work, I like sesame for a bit of texture on top of the casserole)
- 6 oz Shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack Cheese (sub any type of shredded cheddar)
- 10 large Eggs
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 3 cups Half and Half
- 2 tsp Everything Bagel Seasoning (optional; see note)
- Prepare a 6-quart slow cooker with a foil collar. Do this by folding a sheet of foil in thirds and wrapping it all the way around the inside of the bowl of the slow cooker.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the breakfast sausage until cooked through and browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to let it drain.
- Rub the bottom of the slow cooker and the inside of the foil collar with softened butter.
- Layer 1/3 of the bagel pieces in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with 1/3 of the sausage, then 1/2 of the cheese. Continue those layers, finishing with sausage on top.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper. Add half and half and whisk until everything is evenly combined.
- Pour egg mixture over the layered casserole.
- Top with Everything Bagel Seasoning (if using).
- Place two layers of paper towels underneath the slow cooker lid before you close the slow cooker. (The paper towels will absorb moisture that collects on the lid, preventing it from dripping down onto the casserole and making the top soggy.)
- Cook on low for 4 hours and switch to warm for 4 hours. (Alternatively, you can cook this for 2 hours on high and leave it on warm for up to 4 hours. This is a good option if you want to make it early in the morning and have it ready for brunch later in the day.)
- Remove the casserole by holding a cutting board on top of the slow cooker bowl and carefully flipping it over.
- Then place a serving plate on the inverted casserole and flipping it over again. This will leave the casserole face-up on a serving plate.
- Slice and serve!
I had to share this picture of 15-month-old June that so perfectly captures her personality right now. This baby is full of love and hugs.
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