*This post was originally published January 8th, 2016
Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole – make ahead casserole full of spicy, cheesy, crispy, and bacon-y goodness. Weekend mornings made simple.
It’s Friday!! Yay!! That means the weekend is only a few hours away. I love the weekend. But then again, who doesn’t? The best part is waking up late and making an awesome breakfast for the boys. Cooking for them is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, I’m not an early bird, so they have to be patient and give me time to get up and around. By the time I am fully awake and ready to take on the day, everyone is starving.
We need something fast, tasty and filling. Enter cheesy hash brown casserole! This cheesy hash brown casserole is quickly becoming a weekend staple. It can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator. When I get up in the morning, I take it out of the fridge, put it on the counter and let it come to room temperature a bit. After the casserole has been out for about thirty minutes, I pop it in the oven and done!! Super easy breakfast and I don’t even have to be fully awake to make it. 🙂
Cheesy hash brown casserole isn’t a new idea. The restaurant where John and I worked and met had hash brown casserole on the menu, and it was so popular, they frequently ran out. I have to be honest. I never understood why everyone was so crazy about it.
Fast forward more than a decade and it has become one of my all-time favorite breakfast foods. I like it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or anytime really.
When I initially started searching for a good recipe, it was a little disheartening. I couldn’t find anything that looked or sounded the way I imagined it in my head. Finally, I ended up picking the best-looking picture on some well-known recipe site and followed the recipe to a “T” (minus the corn flake cereal). I just couldn’t bring myself to add cereal to hash brown casserole!
The result was a cheesy, greasy mess that tasted flat, and it was so disappointing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it was a bad recipe. It just wasn’t for me, so I made one to suit my taste. Isn’t that what cooking is about? I wanted something a little lighter, with some crisp and a little kick.
And so, here you have it. My version of cheesy hash brown casserole. It’s cheesy, a little spicy, and totally tasty. The edges get perfectly browned with the right amount of crunch. The center is soft with pieces of bacon in every bite, and there is a little hint of heat from the pepper jack cheese. It’s just as I had envisioned! Weekends just got a little better. 🙂
Used for this recipe:
- 2 pounds frozen hash browns, thawed
- 7-8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped into pieces
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (10.75 ounces, or my Cream of Chicken Soup)
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce (Similar to Frank's Red Hot)
- 12 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Remove frozen hash browns from the freezer and allow to thaw completely.
Cook bacon slices and cut into bite sized pieces.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a 13 x 9 baking dish or large cast iron skillet with butter or cooking spray.
Mix all ingredients in an extra large bowl reserving 4 ounces of cheese for topping.
Place mixture in prepared dish and top with remaining cheese.
Place in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes or until cheese bubbles and edges are crispy.
This recipe can be prepared ahead and stored overnight in the refrigerator. Before placing the cold dish in the oven, remove from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.