Spinach & Cheese Strata

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Layered with spinach, cheese, and bread, and soaked in a savory custard, this make-ahead strata is ideal for entertaining.

A strata is a layered casserole made with bread, eggs, cheese, and sometimes vegetables or meat (strata means layers). Think of it as a savory bread pudding. This spinach version is richly flavored with Gruyère, Parmesan, and Dijon mustard. It’s the perfect vegetarian brunch dish to feed a crowd. You do all of the preparation the night before, let the strata rest in the fridge overnight, then pop it in the oven in the morning. As it bakes, it puffs up like a soufflé, making it a real showstopper. It does fall a bit as it cools, but it’s still impressive. Serve the strata with crispy bacon, a strawberry & orange fruit salad, and mimosas.

What You’ll need to make Spinach & Cheese Strata

ingredients for spinach and cheese strata

Before we get started, a few words about the ingredients. It’s important to use good quality cheese. The recipe calls for a combination of Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but since they are both expensive, feel free to substitute other good melting cheeses with bold flavor, like extra-sharp cheddar. The recipe is pretty flexible, so you can play around with different sautéed vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Some cooked sausage or pancetta would be a nice addition; just be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe to a scant teaspoon or the strata will be way too salty.

Be sure to squeeze all of the water out of the spinach. Take your time; it’s important to get it all out or the strata will be watery.

Step-by-step Instructions

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

melting butter in skilletAdd the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

sautéed onions in skillet

Add the spinach and garlic and cook a few minutes more.

cooking the spinach and garlic with the onions

Layer a third of the cubed bread in a buttered 3-quart or 9×13-inch baking dish.

Top with a third of the spinach.

layering spinach mixture in baking dish

Followed by a third of each cheese.

layering cheese in baking dish

Repeat layering twice, ending with the cheese.

strata layers in baking dish

Make the custard by combining the whisked eggs, half-and-half-Dijon mustard salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Whisk evenly to combine.

whisked custard mixture

Pour evenly over top of the strata, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

soaked strata ready to bake

Bake for about 70 to 80 minutes, until puffed, set and golden all over.

Note: My starting point for this recipe was this popular strata originally published in Gourmet magazine. I increased the spinach; amped up the flavor by adding garlic and increasing the salt; swapped the milk for half-and-half; and reduced the baking temperature from 350°F to 325°F for a creamier texture.

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Spinach & Cheese Strata

Layered with spinach, cheese, and bread, and soaked in a savory custard, this make-ahead strata is ideal for entertaining.

Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 75 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes, plus at least one hour to sit in the fridge

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces (¾ pound) Italian sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 11 slices or 8 cups)
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) coarsely grated Gruyère
  • 2 ounces (⅔ cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2¾ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and drained spinach and cook 2 minutes more. Set aside.
  2. Butter a 3-quart or 9x13-inch baking dish. Spread one third of the bread cubes in the dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. (Try to break it up as much as possible so there are no huge clumps of spinach.) Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice, ending with cheeses.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half-and-half, mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk until well combined. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the strata. Cover the strata with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed, set and golden brown all over top, 70-80 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving. It will settle a bit as it cools.
  5. Note: The cook time is based on the strata going immediately from the fridge to the oven. If it sits out at room temperature before baking, the cook time will be about 10 minutes less.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 483
  • Fat: 30g
  • Saturated fat: 16g
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Sodium: 1117mg
  • Cholesterol: 280mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • This is delicious. I am impressed with the creamy texture as well as the appealing flavors of the onions and garlic along with the gruyere cheese. I can see why Jenn recommends it for entertaining. Five Stars!

    • — Sarah on May 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for Easter morning and it was delicious! Very easy too.

    • — MaggieV on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just made this for Easter. Everyone loved it and asked me for the recipe! This is a keeper. I made it as is according to your recipe and served it with a side of sauteed mushrooms. Delicious! Thank you for so many great recipes!

    • — Cyndi on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for the very first time Easter Sunday. I felt safe with your recipe as you never disappoint. I love the fact that it is a make ahead dish. It was delicious and everyone loved it. I will definitely make this again.

    • — Lisa Robinson on April 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I followed this recipe exactly and found it very salty, possibly due to the brands of Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano that I used. This strata is good, but for a similarly flavored brunch option, I’ll stick to Jen’s Parmesan and Leek Quiche which I’ve made many times and is spectacular! Thanks for all the good recipes.

    • — Sue on April 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for the first time for Easter Brunch. We all LOVED it! Easy and yummy! Your recipes are always great. Thank you for re-inspiring my repertoire. 😃

    • — Cindy on April 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Oh my was this good! Everyone loved it! Only change was Jarlsberg cheese for the pricey Gruyere cheese. Easy to make and made it the night before for an Easter brunch.

    • — Mom on April 18, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn. Put the strata together yesterday to serve for brunch this morning. Another perfect recipe from Jenn!!!! I just cut back on the half and half a bit and used some milk. My husband and granddaughter loved it!! Definitely five stars. Your recipes always are a success. Thank you!!!

    • — Cary Flynn on April 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for Easter weekend and it was delicious. Easy to assemble, with a winning combination of flavors. Very smooth on the palette. I sauteed an 11oz bag of fresh baby spinach
    and served it with Sweet Italian Sausage on the side. Thanks Jenn for another fabulous recipe!
    I will surely be making it again.

    • — Celia M. on April 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I’d like to make this alongside your baked french toast. Can I bake it at 350 for less time (instead of 325)?

    • — Stephanie on April 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, That should be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2022
      • Reply
  • Added some diced applewood smoked bacon and used a shaved blend of Asiago, Parmesan and Romano cheese you can get at Sam’s Club. It was fantastic. Thanks for all the great recipes.

    • — Louis Cardon on April 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Would it be OK to use Fat Free Half and Half?

    • — Diane F. on March 29, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, I’ve never cooked with fat-free half & half so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should work. You could also go with whole milk. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 30, 2022
      • Reply
      • Made it for my Recipe Swap group today. I did use Fat Free Half and Half and it turned out great! It did fall a little while it was resting for the 10-15 minutes before serving it, not sure if that is normal or maybe the fat free half & half might have
        caused that. Either way, it was a hit.

        • — Diane F. on April 5, 2022
        • Reply
  • Could you make this with small cubed potatoes instead of the bread?

    • — nanci on January 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it — sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Perfect luncheon main. And makes a lot. My guests loved this spinach strata and I made it the night before = easy entertaining!! As with all of Jenn’s recipes this was a stand-out and I never fear that trying something new will be a flop. Everything turns out perfectly. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Judi on January 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for brunch this morning, following the directions exactly, and it was amazing. Assembled it yesterday and baked it today. Perfect for entertaining.

    • — JL on January 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can I omit the bread, I’m on keto? Also can I use fresh spinach, and how much?
    Thank you

    • — Wanda on December 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Wanda, You’ll need about 1.5 lbs fresh spinach. Just make sure you cook drain it. The bread is a really important part of this recipe though.

      • — Jenn on December 31, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this for brunch the day after Christmas and it was delicious. I didn’t change a thing. I’ve never had to change one ingredient on any of your recipes! They are always 10 out of 10, winners! I also made your chutney for Christmas dinner and it is out of this world!

    • — Karin on December 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jen,
    I want to try this dish for New Years day.. but I was wondering if I could saute fresh baby spinach after the onions?

    • — Mia on December 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mia, I’m obviously weighing in too late to help – I’m sorry! If you didn’t use fresh spinach, for future reference, I think you could sauté fresh spinach after the onions; you’ll just want to make sure you cook it enough to evaporate most of the moisture the spinach gives off.

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Excellent recipe again Jen! I will be making this for Christmas morning. Here’s a tip for removing water from the spinach that I find works well. A potato ricer makes quick work of pressing out the water. Place it in the ricer, give a couple of good squeezes and voila! Perfectly drained spinach.

    • — Peggy on December 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Peggy, the ricer works fabulously. Years ago, I got the idea from Rachael Ray. Went out and bought a st. st. one. It’s the best idea since sliced bread!!!!

      • — Sunny Drohan on April 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was delicious! The directions were easy to follow and the ratios perfect. Even the baking time was bang on! I will be making this again for Christmas brunch. Thanks for sharing!

    • — Donna on December 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Aloha Jen and Happy Holidays,
    This recipe looks amazing and am making fir Christmas breakfast . Two questions;
    1. Unable to find Italian bread. What bread should I use?
    2. Can 3 cheeses be used and still have a wonderful flavor: parmigiana parmesean, gruyere, and cheddar cheese
    Mahalos

    • — Patricia on December 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Patricia, You can use a baguette, artisan bread, or sourdough — the recipe is pretty flexible. And, yes, those cheeses sound fine. Hope everyone enjoys — happy holidays!

      • — Jenn on December 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I have an Emile Henry 9×13 lasagna dish—but it is 4.7 qt (2-1/2” deep). Will that work?
    Thank you,
    Elise

    • — Elusey on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – as long as it’s 9 x 13, it should be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Looking forward to trying this recipe with sliced cremini mushrooms and perhaps chopped asparagus? But how much can I add without adversely affecting the cooking time? Also, at what point do you drop in the vegetable(s) so they are evenly dispersed with the other ingredients?
    Thanks?

    • — Elise on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think you could add up to a cup each of the asparagus and mushrooms (make sure you saute and season them before incorporating into the recipe). Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • You certainly don’t need another review to conclude this one is a winner, but couldn’t resist chiming in. This strata is decadently creamy and simply delicious. Made a double batch in two 9×13 pans, one for home and one for the office. It was a hit at both.

    Important cooking tip: Told my TV-watching husband there was absolutely no reason he couldn’t squeeze out the spinach and watch the game at the same time. He liked this recipe so much he has volunteered to become the resident spinach squeezer at our house!

    • — Shelley on November 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • LOL — glad you enjoyed!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2021
      • Reply
      • Id like to incorporate horseradish into this somehow…thoughts?

        • — Lauren on December 9, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Lauren, I’m assuming you’re referring to prepared (jarred) horseradish? If so, I think that should work. I’d whisk the amount you choose to use into the egg mixture. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

          • — Jenn on December 10, 2021
          • Reply
  • I’m thinking of baking this inside a roasted pumpkin shell for a Thanksgiving side. Any suggestions or words of wisdom?

    • — Jessica on November 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • I wish I could help, Jessica, but I really don’t know! I’d suggest googling it to see if you can find some guidance online. Good luck!

      • — Jenn on November 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious; I could eat this every day. This dish was a bit of a splurge for us because I cook for two people who are on sodium and saturated fat restricted diets. Because of that, and since this recipe has half a pound of cheese in it (yum!), I just couldn’t get myself to add the extra salt. I was very worried that it would be bland but had to give it a shot. However, what we ended up with was still divine! My point being, this strata is so tasty that having to pass up on the added salt, a major flavor enhancer, still resulted in a dish that you could serve to anyone and they’d find no fault in it whatsoever. To me, when a recipe is still fabulous even after you’ve had to pull back on sodium or fat or whatever restriction you follow, that’s a sign of some seriously yummy stuff. One day I’ll make it for just myself so I can try the recipe as it was meant to be cooked. 🙂 Thank you for this strata… it makes me excited to cook more of your recipes!

    • — Pam on September 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have a lovely oval pan but it’s 10 by 14. Don’t want strata flat. Should I add a couple eggs?

    • — Sue canvasser on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sue, Instead of just increasing the eggs, I’d increase all the ingredients by 1/4. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this and the family loved it. Did not have a 3 qt baker and used a 9×13 pan. I would like to make it in a deeper dish. Where can I find the baking dish you used.

    • — carole on September 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Carole, I wish I could tell you where I got that but I don’t have it anymore and I don’t remember where it came from — I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on September 13, 2021
      • Reply
  • Have made this and love it! For 20 people, would you double it in two pans or make just a larger pan with 50% more?

    • — Jane on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! If you want to double it, I’d bake it in two 9×13-inch baking dishes.

      • — Jenn on August 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • Could I substitute 16 oz. of fresh baby spinach?
    Also how aged is the Gruyere cheese?
    I look forward to trying the recipe.

    • — Linda Dottor on July 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, fresh spinach will work (you’ll actually need about 1.5 lbs). Cook it first and make sure you drain it and squeeze out any excess liquid (like you would with the frozen spinach). And I’m not sure how aged the Gruyere is — I just get whatever I find at the store. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • your recipes are the best Jen! if I want to half this recipe does the bake time stay the same and would I do 4 or 5 eggs? Can I use regular white sliced bread?

    • — Tamara on June 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Tamara, The bake time should be about the same – just keep a close eye on it. White bread should be fine, and regarding the eggs, I’d use 4.5 (I’d beat the 5th egg in a measuring cup, discard half of it, and use the remaining half). Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Added cooked mushrooms (removed juices). Made it for Mother’s Day brunch. It was delicious! Thank you!

    • — Mimi on May 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this for mothers day. Added some rashers of bacon. Did it in a casserole dish., and used 2% milk. Cook time needed to be longer than 75min for the centre, although that may be due to the lighter milk and the fact it was stacked slightly higher than expected. Nonetheless, it was a hit!

    • — David R on May 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi…it looks delicious….can I keep it 2 nights in the fridge before I bake the strata?
    Thanks!

    • — Diane Demers on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, I think you could but I wouldn’t push it any longer than that. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this for Easter brunch and my family loved it. It was so yummy! I do think I need to add a few more pieces of Italian bread next because it was still a bit squishy in the middle, even after baking for 75 minutes. (I also let the strata sit out for 15 minutes prior to baking). My sis and mom want this in the regular rotation now. Thanks for a delicious recipe!

    • — Coop on April 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Could I use an oval 3 1/2 quart baking dish for the Spinach and Cheese Strara,
    Or is that too big? I plan to make this for Easter Brunch.
    Thank you, Peg

    • — Peg on April 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Peg, that should be fine, but the strata won’t be quite as deep and won’t take as long to bake, so keep a close eye on it. Happy Easter!

      • — Jenn on April 1, 2021
      • Reply
    • Thank you for responding so quickly! You are my go to for recipes, everything I have made has been perfect. Can’t wait to serve this to my family!
      Peg

      • — Peg on April 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • This recipe looks delicious. I was wondering, if serving as a brunch, what kind of accompaniment would you suggest to go with it?

    • — Lucie on March 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucie, This would be delicious with a fruit salad like this one (although good peaches may be be readily available yet). Another option is this Strawberry and Orange Salad. Either would be lovely. If you’d like bread as well, this focaccia would pair nicely. Hope you enjoy whatever you try!

      • — Jenn on March 31, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your speedy reply! Planning this for Easter brunch, will let you know how it turned out.

        • — Lucie on March 31, 2021
        • Reply
  • Can you use another bread, say a Challah?

    • — Barbara on March 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Challah would work nicely here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! This looks so delicious. I was wondering if you ever tried freezing it after being in the fridge overnight? I was thinking this would be a delicious thing to have around in the freezer for an improptu brunch. Thanks!

    • — Shana on March 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, Shana, as long as it’s already baked, you can freeze it. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Do you have recommendations for reheating this recipe after it has been frozen? Thank you.

    • — Rita on March 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Rita, When you’re ready to serve it, I’d defrost it in the fridge overnight. Before putting it in the oven, cover it tightly with foil, then reheat it at 325 degrees until hot in the center, probably about 40 minutes.

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this last night, it was sooo good. Done in 65 minutes. I added in some diced Boars Head Honey Ham. Thanks for a great recipe, Jenn.
    Ally in NJ 🙂

    • — Ally O'Connor on March 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • My friend and I hosted a baby shower for my niece last year, and we served this strata for our brunch meal. It was the first time I had ever made it, but, having had complete success with all of your other recipes, I knew I could depend on it to turn out and be delicious. It surpassed my expectations, and everyone raved about it! We served it accompanied with a fresh fruit salad and Mimosas, and everything was a hit. I have since made it again for special occasions. It’s not difficult, is very attractive in appearance, and has delicious flavor. It’s a welcome change from the usual sausage/cheese/bread/eggs breakfast casserole I have made for years. Once again I want to thank you for sharing your delicious recipes and your professional knowledge and advice with those of us who secretly wish we had pursued the culinary arts!!! 🙂

    • — Jean Cavender on January 30, 2021
    • Reply

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