Ham and Cheese Strata

Serves 6 to 8
I first encountered this dish as a little girl, when my mom’s friend hosted a catered Thanksgiving brunch. I thought it was a fancy casserole that only a “professional” could make, which is pretty funny when I think about it now. A strata is a caterer’s dream, and it’s also one of the simplest dishes for a home cook when entertaining. Prep and refrigerate it uncooked the night before. Pop it in the oven just before brunch, leaving the stovetop free for other tasks.


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 loaf bread, Pullman or sandwich style, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound boiled or baked deli ham, chopped
  • 5 scallions, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded


  1. Butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, paprika, and salt.
  2. Place half of the bread in the bottom of a baking dish. Top with half each of the ham, scallions, and cheese. Repeat with a second layer of the remaining ham, scallions, and cheese, pressing down as necessary to fit in the baking pan.
  3. Carefully pour the egg mixture over into the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull strata out of fridge and let come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed and lightly golden brown, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
cook's note
A recipe like this, cooked and served in the same vessel, is worthy of a handsome rectangular or oval baking dish. Beautiful hand-painted clay, colorful enamel cast-iron, or sleeker porcelain versions—all are worth investing in. I have an eclectic collection of them, accumulated over time, and I love to mix instead of match. And one of these makes a great shower or wedding gift. We don’t always buy for ourselves items that end up being used over and over.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: