leek, ham and cheese egg bake

A friend from high school texted me a couple weeks ago to say that he’d made the Spinach and Cheese Strata for Christmas morning brunch and it was a big hit. Ever the smartass, I asked him where he’d found a whole room of people willing to eat bread and he said that this was Pittsburgh, where every salad has french fries on it and I said it sounded like a heavenly place and then he pointed me to this to prove his point.

prepping it out
leeks, cooked until sweet

Joking aside, even when Celiac is not an issue, odds are good that in any room these days you’re going to find one or two people who do not — sometimes it’s even me! — and if that room is your living room and you’re hosting brunch, it might mean that your brunch standard is in need of an update.

assembly line
cheese then leeks then ham then cheese

And so it was on New Year’s Day that I had invited our families over for brunch, because although I already had too much on my plate, it was still not enough that I was more willing to fight for a 10-person table to eat overpriced, underwhelming eggs* and the polite thing to do was to accommodate everyone. What I really wanted was to make a giant crustless quiche with ham, cheese and piles of sautéed leeks — like a big baked omelet but more custardy — but I couldn’t find a template anywhere that fit what I wanted and so I just threw a bunch of things together in a baking dish a little before people got here, wrote almost nothing down and took no pictures, which means the predictable happened: 1. It took disastrously long to bake (don’t worry, I’ve fixed this), so long that I lost track of time and we basically had it for dinner. 2. It was actually crazy delicious, meaning if I ever wanted to make it again I was going to have to rely on memory and mine is so compromised these days I can barely remember what the first part of this sentence was about. (Maybe it’s you guys we should pity on that note.)

giant egg bake

Thus, with a storm a-brewing and much “forced” (oh, how “sad” we’ll be) weekend lazy-ing ahead of us, it seems the perfect time to get this in your oven and feast for days. It’s rich and rustic, going spectacularly well on toast but also with a wedge of this kugel (also gluten-free and serves a crowd) and a side of greyhounds (if vodka representation is as essential in your family as it is in ours). And it turns out it reheats really well so it can be breakfast or brunch or making-dinner-is-overrated-anyway several days in a row, which is how we’re rolling this week. I highly recommend it.

leek, ham and cheese egg bake

* Shouldn’t this be all of our mantras? Thus… [New] We’ve built a long-overdue Brunch Category!

One year ago: Fried Egg Salad
Two years ago: Warm Lentil and Potato Salad
Three years ago: Lentil Soup with Sausage Chard and Garlic
Four years ago: Buttermilk Roast Chicken
Five years ago: Chocolate Peanut Spread
Six years ago: Cranberry Syrup and an Intensely Almond Cake
Seven years ago: Clementine Cake
Eight years ago: Fried Chicken
Nine years ago: Leek and Mushroom Quiche

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
1.5 Years Ago: Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde
2.5 Years Ago: Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Peach Pie
4.5 Years Ago: Charred Corn Tacos with Zucchini-Radish Slaw

Leek, Ham and Cheese Egg Bake

One big note, as I failed on this both times so do as I say and not as I did, is to Beware The Weep. Eggs baked too long can emit a watery run-off, which I, a non-food-scientist so feel free to chime and correct/clarify, understand comes from proteins in the eggs overcoagulating. To avoid this, bake this just until it’s done and the safest way to do that is to start checking in before you need to (I’ve suggested this in the recipe). It’s done when no liquid egg seeps into the gap formed where a knife inserted into the center and turned or pulled back slightly or a temperature of 165 to 170 degrees. Should your eggs weep, you’ll see this at the bottom of the dish as a little puddle that will have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the taste; it’s just a thing that will bother you, the cook.

Serves 10 to 12

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
6 medium-large leeks or 3 leeks and 2 small yellow onions, diced (just white and pale green parts from leeks; leeks washed well)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 large eggs
3 1/3 cups milk, preferably whole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound grated cheese (I use a mix of gruyere and comte)
10 ounces cooked ham, diced very small

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a large (9×13-inch, 3-quart or more) baking dish.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. Once hot, add leeks (and onions, if using) and season generously with salt (I use a full teaspoon kosher salt) and pepper. Cook, stirring, until they’re tender, sweet and just starting to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low if they’re picking up color too quickly.

Beat eggs with salt (I used another teaspoon kosher salt, adjust to taste) and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. Whisk in milk.

Assemble by layering in prepared dish: 1/3 of grated cheese, 1/2 of each leeks and ham, next 1/3 cheese, remaining leeks and ham. Pour eggs over then sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Bake until gently set in center, being careful about overbaking (see note up top). It’s done when no liquid egg seeps into the gap formed where a knife inserted into the center and turned or pulled back slightly or a temperature of 165 to 170 degrees. Start checking at 55 minutes and then every 5 minutes after that until it’s done. Mine took a total of 65 minutes. Should the top brown too much before the center is set, put foil over the baking dish for remaining baking time.

Let rest on a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, or risk a room full of burned tongues. (It packs serious heat!) Serve in squares or scoops.

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149 comments on leek, ham and cheese egg bake

  1. Debbie Bensadon

    Hi Deb. I have been addicted to your blog and read it insanely regularly. You are amahzing. I have a random question for you…I have a friend that cannot eat sugar and cannot eat eggs. Brunch and breakfast are such a challenge! I love your waffle latkes and other potato based recipes, but they all have some egg in them. Any suggestions?

    1. hillarymlodge

      What about breakfast bowls? You could prepare a bar of bowl fillings – quinoa, greens, sauteed diced potatoes, sauteed peppers, chicken sausage, cheese, etc, and everyone, including your friend, can add what suits them.

  2. Claire

    I have spent at least 3 hours today on this site looking for a egg dish to make for brunch on Sunday. It’s like you read my mind!

  3. Melody

    Oh this looks LOVELY!! And I just had my partner bring home a dozen eggs!!! Well don’t mind me, I’ll be off in my kitchen, making things happen.

  4. I always forget to write down those dinners I make that would be perfect for when we have the whole family over. i.e., gluten-free, meatless, and tastes AMAZING. They are hard to come by, but I’m trying to recipe journal everything I cook this year. Will have to pin this for just such a gathering. Ham on the side and I think we’ll have a crowd-pleaser on our hands.

  5. Marcia Ann

    Oh, how wonderful! Can’t wait to make this.
    2 Qs: Will it serve 8 without a kugel side?
    2 qt baking dish ok?
    Thanks, Deb. And that last pic of the kiddos was amazing (Jacob feeding your beautiful princess)!

    1. deb

      Marcia Ann — Thanks, servings now added. I’d say 10 to 12 in the size you see on the plate, i.e. not gargantuan. 8 of us finished at most 2/3 of it, but we also had kugel. 2-quart dish would be too small.

      1. Rubina

        This dish looks amazing want to try this for mother’s day brunch. Any suggestion on what type of ham to get? Woukdvtrader joes or sprouts have a good option? Thank you!

  6. I laughed out loud at your introduction…because California is definitely a world away from Pittsburgh. I have no problem with a strata for breakfast, but if I always end up making additional options for those who prefer (or need) to avoid the gluten. This would satisfy me gladly – and help me feel like a considerate contributor to potluck breakfasts!

  7. Miranda

    This looks gorgeous! And perfect for my husband’s birthday party, to which two Celiac friends have been invited. If I were to add diced potatoes (a bit like quiche Lorraine meets tortilla), would I need to cook them separately first?

  8. I made your Quiche Lorraine from the archives a couple weeks ago and it was just as amazing as the first time I made it when you posted it after Jacob was born. So would this be just a bigger, crustless version of that? Does it taste the same?

  9. Brittany W

    I’m sure about 30 people will ask you this, so I may as well be the first. If you don’t eat ham, do you substitute deli meat? Would rotisserie chicken work, or would it dry out? Thanks!

  10. Katie

    This looks gooood.
    Would it be okay to assemble as directed and then keep overnight in the fridge? Or at least, cook the leeks the day before and then assemble and bake?

  11. Debby

    It looks fabulous. And there’s never a bad reason to add a potato kugel for a side.

    Any suggestions for cutting it down by half or thirds? Time and size pans.

  12. Joyce

    What is the non-weepiest veggie that could replace the ham? Mushrooms sauteed before hand? A small amount of finely grated potato or cooked, cubed potato? Thanks – perfect non-bready breakfast casserole.

  13. Cris S.

    In Chicago you’ll be asked if you want to turn your Italian Sausage sandwich into a Combo. That’s right – in Chicago Italian Beef is a condiment. What would you like on your meat? More meat of course!

  14. Nuala

    Syneresis! That’s the weeping you’re talking about– and yes, it’s due to overcoagulation. The proteins in the eggs bind so tightly to each other that they basically squeeze out the liquid that would otherwise contribute to the lovely custardy texture of your egg bake, if not overcooked.

  15. deb

    Cutting the recipe down — I’d say you can 1/3 it in a 1-quart dish but I haven’t tested it out so I’m not sure what the cook time would be. The depth of the pan would definitely affect it.

    Joyce — I thiiiink the weepiness is mostly from the overbaked eggs, but I think some chopped, wrung-out spinach would be great here or some thin-sliced sauteed mushrooms.

    Ham substitutes — See previous comment. I’d go with spinach or mushrooms or just skip it. You could also add extra leeks.

    In ramekins — Definitely. Would be a nice way to cook it up.

    Perhaps this goes without saying but — You could replace any/all of the milk with cream or half-half for a lovelier final effect. The Quiche Lorraine Robyn mentioned is similar, but way more rich. It uses sour cream for half the milk and it’s basically amazing. I was definitely tempted to use 1 cup sour cream for some of the milk here but “behaved.” Quiche Lorraine recipe here.

    Debbie, re, egg- and sugar-free — I think this kale stuffing might hold up well as a brunch dish.

  16. Wendy

    We have started making quiches using partially cooked hashbrowns as the crust instead of a pastry crust, thus making the quiche gluten free and lower in calories. I think a crust of hashbrowns would work really well in this dish as well. We also use half egg substitute or egg whites instead of all whole eggs to make it a bit healthier without compromising taste or texture. Will try this recipe at some point for dinner.

  17. Martin

    I just made this using cheddar for the cheese. It was done at the 55 minute mark and it weeps heavily, but it tastes really good.

  18. I live in Kansas where a low-carb lifestyle is still a pretty new development and people look at you like you’re insane if you say no to the bun.
    That being said, I’m excited about it and recipes like this make it so much easier to get down.

  19. Kris

    Haha, “accommodate everyone” with a quiche that has meat (especially pork!) and dairy in it? These days, to accommodate everyone I’ve gotta make it lactose free, gluten free, and vegetarian, or at least pork-free for Jewish and/or Muslim friends, or even vegan, once in awhile! On top of that, throw in a nut, egg, or soy allergy every now and again! It’s not like you can blame people for allergies and intolerances, or religious obligations, and neither can you blame those who make the choice not to eat meat for animal rights or environmental reasons (they’re kinda right!), but sometimes I do so miss the days when I lived in France and everybody just ate (and could eat) whatever was put in front of them!

  20. Beth

    Is the protein in the dairy milk important to the finished dish, or could coconut milk or another nut milk substitute for it? Thank you!

  21. I’ve put up with a lot of “things that will bother me,” as a cook. So I can take ‘weeping,’ push come to shove.
    It looks like you have a combination of whatever all eggs (be they large). I kind of like that randomness in this “rustic” dish too ….

  22. Leslie

    I have Celiac’s and also cannot tolerate diary. I have substituted a high calorie almond milk for whole milk with success in another quiche. I was looking at leeks yesterday and really wanted to buy them. How random is that? Now I have a recipe to try. Thank you! Also, as far as egg substitutes, a Vegan friend uses an egg-free product called “VeganEgg” she buys on Amazon. Perhaps that would work for those asking. Thank you for your recipes. I rally appreciate the wording, photography and clarity as I alternate them to fit my complicated diet.

  23. Gail

    Hi Deb, first of all I love love love your blog you make me smile every time and I think you’re a truly inspirational person (and don’t even get me started about your gorgeous little ones). I’ve always preferred breakfast foods so you’re brunch menu planner has just become my go to meal planner, it’s got so many great options especially as my man doesn’t like egg, bacon or smoked salmon. Don’t ask. I do have one question/ request (are they allowed?): I’ve been looking for a good bircher muesli recipe for ages and they always end up soggy, blend, and altogether blaaa… Would be amazing to see one here at some point :)

  24. JoAZ

    Another wonderful recipe especially for those of us who love baked brunch recipes. Thank you for the newsletter, I really love reading it and I finally got around to using up that Xmas turkey in your chicken pot pie recipe. That pie crust is amazing and the recipe is easier than the MSL recipe I had used that was good but yours is amazing. Love the Instagram posts love how you write always a good story.. Be safe this weekend.

  25. Lisa

    Thanks so much for posting a gluten free recipe. My family is trying to go almost all paleo… So anything close is much appreciated! The cheese makes it non-paleo… But we can cheat now and then :)

  26. Donna

    Deb, hope you’re cozy and warm all snuggled up together and with a house full of the yummy creations from your own fabulous heart! Be safe all of you.
    How well do you think this will freeze to microwave later?

  27. Maggie

    I haven’t made a crust for quiche a nice I stumbled onto the idea in some long-since-forgotten cookbook to butter and parmesan the dish (like greasing and flouring a cake pan). It gives a little crispness to the edges. I think that would be a nice addition to this dish, which likely will make an appearance soon because my chickens have decided they live in the Southern Hemisphere lately and have amped up the egg laying to summer numbers. Thanks!

  28. Bahb

    I made this last weekend, using the recipe in your notes on the Chicken Chili Comments section. I first carmelized two sliced yellow onions, then diced the ham and shredded a pound of Gruyere. I used 4 cups of milk beat with 12 eggs to top it all and cooked it an hour at which point it was still jiggly when I moved the pan, so I cooked it ten more minutes. The flavor was out of this world and the leftovers warmed for 20 minutes at 350 were as good as the first day.

    HOWEVER, the weeping the first day was SUCH a turn-off. I’m guessing water from the ham contributed to the syneresis of the eggs. It was ALOT of water I sopped up with paper towels before serving. I’m wondering if a bain marie would help, since that’s the way custard is usually cooked, and I was expecting a custard texture. I would hate to add the calories of cream, to get better texture.

  29. Oh how I wish I had purchased a bunch of leeks while prepping for our Snowmaggedon2016 here in DC… we’ll be stuck in the house for days (14 inches on the ground, it’s thundersnowing at the moment, at least a foot more expected). As soon as I can dig my way out of the house, this is going on the menu. Thanks Deb!

  30. Okay! I am already substituting. Don’t you hate that?? On ratings the person says how lousy the recipe is– then they go on to say what they substituted and it isn’t the original recipe?? :-) Seriously, I thought I’d go for a little prosciutto or pancetta instead of the ham. Thank you Deb — I do love your sense of humor. Can’t wait to try this.

  31. Dahlink

    Thanks SO much, Deb for the brunch category–just what I had been wanting (and we have guests next weekend if the snow ever stops!)

  32. Lisa

    I have 3 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs, ham from Christmas in the freezer and blizzard conditions outside so you have just inspired me as I plan to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in between shoveling. Actually I’ll probably just make hot chocolate and send the boys out to shovel! Enjoy the snow.

  33. Was looking for something like this a year ago for a brunch- lots of eggs and no bread-
    Love the idea for eliminating the meat

    If you are making lots- got 60 people, can you get everything ready in advance and bake at the last minute?

    Can it sit on a warming tray or chafing dish?

    Any limits on doubling or tripling the recipe in a large large pan??

    I suspect that you can not freeze this or remake it- am I correct?

  34. Debra

    Yummy! Being snowed in, I followed your lead and made with what I had on hand, red onion, pancetta, Swiss cheese, an expired box of trader joes whipped cream. Made with 4 eggs, it cooked in about half an hour. Perfect!

  35. Maddie

    Looks so good, Deb!
    A possible fix for weeping eggs- after beating the eggs with salt, let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes- it will turn a dark orange, but that’s normal- the salt acts as a buffer between the egg proteins and keeps them from wringing out as much moisture. This is a tip from Kenji Lopez-Alt from his book The Food Lab- although he uses it for scrambled eggs, I think it would work here as well. I’ll have to try it and let you know! :)

  36. Katie

    I made this this morning. Delicious!!
    I followed your (Deb’s) suggestion in the comments and cut the recipe to 1/3 and baked in a 1 quart dish. I used 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk. Got a little weeping – but my pan was fluted so the sides probably over cooked. Took about 35-40 minutes to cook.
    This was wonderful and easy and a recipe I’ll definitely use again.

  37. Mike

    This looks great and your recipe reads just as well. BUT … why so shy about the leeks’ green tops? Not the dried, frayed ends, of course, but once you get past those, they’re great for adding taste and color. I use them on homemade pizzas; translation: atop the large take ‘n bake cheese pizzas from supermarkets’ delis, which I top with what my guests and I want, including canned ‘shrooms (“mush” better than fresh ones); asparagus; bell peppers of all colors; onions; chives; zucchini, fresh, sliced, tomatoes (dried slightly between newsprint and paper towels to remove excess moisture to avoid soggy crusts); and pancetta, sausage, and whatever other meats may come to mind if you must, spiced up as you choose to complement the usually bland seasoning these pizzas get before being boxed.

    But I digress: I’m looking forward to not just making this dish, but adapting it to a noodle casserole, a kind of glorified mac ‘n’ cheese if you will. Thanks again for good stuff!

  38. AnnieD

    MIRANDA: Yes, definitely cook the potatoes before adding them to a quiche, strata, or egg bake.
    As for weepage, I try to get rid of everything watery, so I really fry up spinach, mushrooms and anything with significant moisture. (Thin slices of tomato on top are fine as is.) And, depending on the type of ham, I might heat it or frizzle it for a few minutes it it’s moist. Some of the ham slices packaged in clear plastic are fairly wet!

  39. Heidi

    I just made this for breakfast – so good! I like an egg casserole that doesn’t have bread or potatoes in it, because then I can serve a bread item on the side. I used 1 cup coconut milk (for richness), and the rest cashew milk (so it didn’t taste like coconut), to make it dairy free. I can have sheep’s cheese, so I used pecorino for the cheese.

  40. EB

    Hi! Dumb question! when you say cooked ham… what kind of grocery item is that? Like do you get yours from a deli counter? But sliced thicker than normal? Black forest? Parisian? Or is it from somewhere else in the store? If so, then when you buy it, does it look like a big hunk? I’m sorry, I know this must seem idiotic, but I didn’t grow up with ham and I’m only familiar with the variety found in a sandwich or charcuterie board or something. Delicious stuff! I just never really bothered to cook with it.

    PS Reheatable egg bakes are SO convenient and conveniently delicious, I make them all the time and I’ve been in a frittata rut so this is such a welcome alternative — thanks!

    1. deb

      EB — (Apologies, I keep reading these comments out of order.) I find ham confusing too! I blame the fact that I’m Jewish. You could totally use Parisian ham, it’s a little more common/classy with a Quiche Lorraine-type thing. But I used a totally unfancy ham “steak” which you can buy in one thick slice from the packaged deli meats area. Basically, sandwich ham but not cut thin. I try not to think too hard about the ingredients/origin. :)

  41. I often do this – create a cake recipe but keep re-adjusting the timer and by the end I have no idea how long it took to make so I just have to start all over again… Anything cheesy is good for me ;)

  42. Everyone I hang out with eats everything except for me, the vegan nut case in the corner who is constantly wondering if there is dairy in the cake or if the potatoes were made with pork fat, haha. Still, I can still appreciate that this egg bake was probably very very tasty, even though I can’t have it!

  43. lori

    As a native Pittsburgher and long time reader, I just wanted to say that I loved your description of Pittsburgh at the beginning. Salads with french fries on them are known as Pittsburgh salads. Also, we have Primanti Brothers, where the sandwiches have fries and coleslaw on them. We have real food now, too, but our working class past shows up as fries on everything for some reason. I hope that you are all safe and warm in NYC. Pittsburgh only got about 6-7 inches.

  44. Kara

    Made this for breakfast. Delicious! My ham seemed wet, so I sauteed it a bit in the pan I used for the leeks. Mine was also done in just under 50 minutes. The top was not as golden and crusty as the photos, but there was no liquid egg when I tested. It came out perfect — no weeping when served.

  45. Candace Jordan

    What a phenomenal recipe! I enjoyed this post-storm Jonas, and it was a real warming treat.
    At first I thought there would be too much filling and too much milk for the eggs to bind, but this dish holds up amazingly well. Unfortunately, my eggs weeped quite a bit, but it didn’t impact flavor at all. I used 6 oz gruyere and 6 oz. of ricotta, which I had on hand.
    The flavors are so simple and comforting, and it’s expertly seasoned. Glad I didn’t skimp on the salt and that I used rich whole milk and whole milk ricotta.
    Thanks for a brilliant recipe.

  46. Jessica K

    Deb, I had question very unrelated to this recipe (which looks amazing by the way). I could swear that you had a recipe for a lentil soup with vinegar, but I’m not finding it anywhere on your site. I SWEAR it was your’s, but I know I could be mistaken. It was a very simple soup with just onion, carrots, lentils, celery, maybe tomato paste…but finished off with a good amount of inexpensive vinegar. Its a recipe I come back to time and time again. I came here to find it and send a link off to my parents, but can’t seem to locate it. Sorry (in advance) if this isn’t your recipe and doesn’t ring a bell…I guess I instantly attribute tasty recipes with you!

    1. Laura

      Jessica – I know you asked this forever ago, but your description sounds like one of my family’s favorite simple soups. Brown Rice and Lentil Soup from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (published 1985!) Good luck!

  47. Anne B.

    Oh yum does this look good! Anything w/eggs, ham and cheese – I’m there. I live in Pittsburgh Deb,and it’s so true! Fries on salads are everywhere! We’re a tad behind the times but it’s the best. If you ever get a chance to have a Primantis sandwich – you must! You would LOVE them! Fries, vinegary coleslaw, fresh, crusty Italian bread, cheese, with your choice of filling – fried eggs, capicole, etc. you get the picture. Made your blueberry scones this morn – thanks for all you do!

  48. Rebecca

    Dear god, why did I move to a country without ham? (Morocco.) I am putting this in the recipe folder entitled Things I Can Make in Countries with Pork Products.

    1. deb

      Claudia — Whoa, that took forever! I got the international ones out a week later than the domestic ones, but it’s still been well over a month. Ah well. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  49. I grew up in Pittsburgh, the french fries on salads are amazing. Sure, it’s not really a healthy salad by having a pile of fries, a pile of cheese, some hardboiled eggs and grilled steak but god damn its tasty. It’s pretty much one of the few things I miss about my hometown.

  50. I have never posted before, but I can’t resist. You are a terrific writer and hilarious–the hook for me–plus your credentials are impressive. Oh, and I love your recipes. Win-win, right? I am a reading group facilitator at The King’s English Bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah. TKE had an event for you when you published your cookbook. I missed meeting you by 5 minutes. Rats! This bookworm and home cook should be the president of your fan club, Utah chapter. Thank you for ALL you give your fans. You feed us in many ways. Roz

  51. Chelsea

    Thanks for the Pittsburgh love! I live in Pittsburgh and cook almost exclusively from your blog. This week alone I’ve made your parmesan broth, Martha’s Mac n Cheese, and cocoa brownies, and am planning on making your potato & kale cakes tonight! Come visit us here and I’m sure we could arrange a great Pittsburgh food tour for you (I know it’s blasphemy but I’m personally a fan of the Spak Brother’s Pittsburgh (seitan) Steak over Primanti’s).

  52. Lena

    I’ve never commented before but I’ve been lurking for years. I too live in Pittsburgh and I made your spinach cheese strata for a holiday brunch last month – and it was devoured. My mom, who also lives in Pittsburgh, made it last week with the same result. I agree that you should visit for a food tour!

  53. Laurie

    What a delicious recipe. I made this for dinner and my family loved it! Unfortunately my casserole wept quite a bit even though I used a thermometer to try and make sure that the eggs weren’t overcooked. My temp was 175 in the corners and 170 in the middle. I did cut the recipe in half, and I used Jarlsberg instead of Gruyere. It was so good. My son even had the leftovers for breakfast the next day. Thanks for another delicious recipe!

  54. Catherine

    I have been cooking SK recipes for years, and recommend the site to all and sundry, but I’m sorry to report this was my first flop. It flopped pretty hard, too. I was aware of the possibility of weeping after having read the recipe, and was careful to check frequently and remove it from the oven as soon as it was done. But man, did it weep. Unlike a lot of the other commenters, my family (particularly my 7 and 4 year old) was very bothered by the weeping.

    Given the number of commenters who have reported weeping, it might be worth taking this back to the drawing board. Perhaps the milk is the issue? I would fool around with it myself, but honestly, given that the ham, the cheese, and the leeks add up, I wouldn’t want to risk it.

  55. ElaineSL

    As an unwavering BIG FAN of yours, may I make a suggestion: when you reply to comments, would it be possible to refer the comment by number, rather than by name (or, the number plus the name)? It would make it so much easier to refer back to the original comment. Thanks for considering it. XXOO

  56. Gemma

    This dish reminds me of “Green Chile Egg Puff” recipes, which usually call for a 1/2 cup of flour or so, and a teaspoon of baking powder. Wonder if these additions might help with the weep issue. I’m going to try it.

  57. Maria

    I’ve never cooked with leeks before so I wasn’t sure if it was 6 stalks of leeks or 6 leaves of a leek? 6 stalks seems like a lot of

  58. Katrina Lynn

    Wondering if you have any tips for reheating, especially with all the comments about the weeping. Will reheating worsen things? Planning on making this for a ski trip with friends but will definitely need to prepare it the night before if we’ve got any chance of making it out the door to ski before noon :) Thank you!!

  59. Randi

    Made this for brunch today. I was worried about the liquid issue so took Gemma’s advice and added just under 1/2 cup of flour to the eggs and milk mixture.
    It cooked up beautifully with no pooling and tasted great.
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  60. Tara

    I have made many recipes from this site, but never commented. I just have to say thanks! We have 9 chickens that had been in an egg-laying slump, but just decided to make up for lost time. A recipe that uses 12 eggs and looks delicious–score! It is in the oven now and I can’t wait to try it.

  61. Caitlin

    I was introduced to “egg bakes” by my mom’s side of the family in Indiana. We make them every Christmas morning and bring them to new neighbors so they have a nice breakfast after unpacking. We usually throw in whatever is on hand- I prefer feta/spinach/sundried tomato but my family in Indiana always did white bread, cheddar, and bulk sausage! I’m going to try your version next Christmas morning. Super easy to prep the night before and they feed a huge crowd!

  62. Nancy

    Do you have any other suggestions for breakfast foods during Passover? I especially need things that can be reheated or which don’t need cooking, so we can eat them before hurrying out the door.


  63. Emily

    I live in Iowa and we appreciate good egg bakes! I also have a gluten free aunt who will appreciate this recipe. We tried it this weekend and my dad loved the crispy crunchy top…and I appreciate being able to eat it as leftovers during a particularly busy week.
    (I might’ve also purchased the dish from Crate and Barrel because you mentioned it above and I abide by whatever advice you give us…it’s lovely!)

  64. Your leek, ham and cheese egg bake is perfect for our Sunday brunch. It’s almost an all-in-one meal. It’s protein packed! The kids liked it too!

  65. M

    If you cut down on the ingredients a bit, it fits a 2.5 qt pan! I used 10 eggs, 8 ounces of ham, 2 leeks +1 onion, and just 3 cups of liquid (1 cup heavy cream and 2 cups of whole milk). Also added 1/2 cup of flour to the egg/milk mixture as per the advice of other commenters. Mine took 65 minutes and maybe could have used a few more.

    Also, due to various embarrassing reasons amounting to me not being able to ask for what I want sometimes, I ended up with deli sliced ham. No fear – this works really well! I just chopped the sliced ham as it was all in a stack, and then you get these nice layered chunks that are meant for eggy goodness.

    1. Lisa Dunn

      Hello M, how much cheese is in the cut down recipe here…I got the 10 egs, 8 ounces ham, , 3 cups liquid etc… Thanks!

  66. Mindy

    This was delicious. I cooked the eggs for far too long. I put them in for 60 minutes since with Smitten Kitchen cakes my oven usually takes far longer than recommended, and they were at 195 degrees when I took them out. They “weeped” copiously, however, it had absolutely no affect on the taste, and once explained to hubby, did not bother my family. I didn’t have leeks so I used sweet onions instead. We ate it as a very easy weeknight dinner (although it did take about 1 1/2 hours total), and it hit the spot. Goes well with white wine (sauvignon blanc).

  67. Sarah

    Made this for brunch along with dreamy cream scones – first time making both and they turned out great. I love how reliably delicious all your recipes are! Followed your recipe except subbed 1/3 cup milk for heavy cream and added some cubed day-old sour dough (it’s November in Buffalo, so we’re all working on our winter bodies amyway.) There was a little weeping, but no one seemed to notice, and since I had already gotten into the mimosas, it didn’t bother me either ;) Looking for an excuse to host another brunch just to make this again!

  68. Andi Cohen

    I’m wondering if this can be made in advance and frozen for up to two weeks. I don’t have much experience freezing egg based dishes, other than stratas which have a bread. What do you think? I’m a huge fan of your site – you’ve never failed me!

  69. TriciaPDX

    I find no seeping of liquid in quiches or crustless frittatas when I add mayonnaise or ricotta cheese. I like the extra creaminess and subtle flavor of ricotta anyhow. For a quiche, I use maybe a couple tablespoons of mayo. For a dozen eggs in a casserole or frittata I would use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ricotta, somewhat less of mayo. Gosh, I never actually measure, I just plop it in and beat it up with the eggs. Good thing egg recipes are so forgiving.

  70. Ann K.

    I made this today for Christmas brunch with some adjustments—only 4 leeks, just 8 ounces of ham, and baby swiss instead of gruyere. It was delicious! I might go a little lighter on the salt next time. Baked for 55 minutes on the dot and came out perfectly, no weeping on the top (although it did become a little watery on the bottom as it sat on the table during the meal but it didn’t matter by that point). My guests loved it too!

  71. Nicole

    This was delicious. Had it for Christmas brunch. It did however weep significantly and left a big pool of liquid in the bottom of the dish. But it tasted so good no one cared. I really don’t think I overcooked this so not sure how to avoid. Suggestions welcome. Merry Christmas.

  72. Yvonne

    I have made this twice now, once with leeks, mushrooms, and cheese, once with the ham as well. I added 1 tsp cornstarch to a half recipe (i.e., 6 eggs) and did not have any problems with weeping eggs. I also used a thermometer to avoid overbaking them. A great recipe, we really enjoyed it.

  73. deamlo

    made this yesterday for brunch. had so much leeks that i did 1 1/2 times the recipe (used extra leeks instead of ham for the vegetarians). let the eggs sit with salt for 10 minutes (as per food lab) and subbed cream for about a third of the milk and no weep! it filled up almost all of my deep casserole dish so it needed about an hour and a half to bake – but it was delicious! thanks again deb!

  74. Darcy

    It looks like I’m over a year late getting to this recipe! Has anyone tried adding some cornstarch to stop the weeping? I saw another chef add cornstarch to scrambled eggs to stop the water pool that can happen, and it may work in this application too. I’m also going to try making a smaller version, mostly just my husband and I are eating it and I don’t want it to be my lunch for an entire week…

  75. Kristin

    Any idea how long it would take to bake in standard size muffin tins instead of a casserole dish? Hoping to cut down on cooking time so I don’t have to get up so early!

    1. Kristin

      Replying back to say that I made this at a cottage for a group of ten people and split the recipe – half went into muffin tins to cook faster for those who were up earlier and ready for breakfast (took about 20 minutes but it’s not my own oven so I can’t really speak to the temperature), and the other half went in an 8×8 casserole dish. That one took about 40 minutes. The only downside to the muffins was that they didn’t brown beautifully on top the same way that the casserole did because they weren’t in as long.

  76. Elyse

    I made a practice version of this last week and another batch this morning for a brunch I hosted. The practice version wept like crazy, so when I made Round 2 I cooked the leeks low and slow, removing as much moisture as possible. All other factors (cook time, freshness of the eggs, ham) were the same, so I think drying out the leeks is what did the trick.

    When I cut a piece of the practice edition and noticed how much it was weeping, I tilted the pan and stuck a clean dish towel down into the edge of the pan to sop up the clear liquid. It worked well – the dish towel was completely soaked and the rest of the dish was properly dry. It’s a workable solution if you’re comfortable enough with your guests to be seen doing this!

  77. Nina in Zurich

    This is a favorite with my family, and very popular with guests too! My recommendations: indeed a small spoonful of cornstarch, mixed into the egg mixture, stops the “weeping” problem. I have no excess liquid at all. Otherwise: Know Your Cheese! I use less than half the salt that Deb recommends because I know that my cheese mixture is salty enough. With a different selection of cheese of course it will be different. It is a wonderful recipe which I will make often, thank you!

    Nina in Zurich

  78. girlwithaknife

    Another winner Deb! I used 10 eggs, 2c milk, 1c cream, and 1tsp corn starch. Added a couple handfuls of kale but could have used more. Minimal weeping. It was perfect. Leftovers will go on English muffins with more cheese for breakfast!

  79. Lauren

    I made your wonderful recipe this morning for easter brunch and realized hours after it had been devoured that I forgot to add the milk the recipe calls for, but it came out just perfect. In fact, I got rave compliments from literally every guest. The texture/flavor was totally fluffy and rich and there was no excess moisture, nor was it remotely dry. It took 50 minutes to cook and I upped the recipe to use 16 of my pastured hen’s eggs, a few handfuls of extra cheese and leeks, and 12 oz of ham which I sautéed with the leeks to steam out the moisture (per the other commenter’s advice) before it baked.

  80. Michelle

    We had this for dinner tonight, along with a big salad. I took the advice of others, and added some cornstarch to the egg mixture. It still had a bit of weeping, but nothing crazy, and since it was just for family, I paid it no mind lol. I’d never cooked leeks before, so I thought it was way too much but, of course, they cooked down. I used both teaspoons of salt, and thought it could use a bit more. Also used a whole pound of “fiesta blend” cheese, just because it’s what I had on hand {and Gruyere is so expensive}. The best part is, I don’t have to cook dinner tomorrow! Great recipe. :)

  81. catherine

    Used coconut milk and buffalo milk cheddar due to allergies- came out perfectly!
    Delicious and will make again for certain.

  82. Renee

    This recipe is DELICIOUS!!!! I cooked/caramelized the leeks and onions, and chopped the ham, the day before and finished it all in the morning. We used a mixture of gruyere, fontina, and quality cheddar. I also upped the ham to 14oz. We ended up making this SUPER eggy by using 18 eggs. I think I may have baked it a bit more than the recipe recommends because a) I didn’t want to deal with the weeping, and b) I like a browned top. We made two eggs bakes for xmas morning and this one was the winner for sure!! It was perfection.

  83. Michael Bartoli

    Made this for Easter Brunch. It was delicious! Added swiss chard to the sauteed onion and leeks. Should have wrung the chard out after sauteeing. It added a lot of moisture to the bake (the eggs were definitely not over baked). It was excellent just the same. It was a big hit.

  84. Cait

    Thank you for the recipe! Can this be made the night ahead and re-heated? If so, what temperature would you suggest for re-heating? Thank you!

  85. Lili

    I made this for Mothers Day brunch to rave reviews. My only comment is that 3-1/3 cups milk was too much liquid for my 3 quart pan. I would go down to 2 cups milk next time. It also took more than 90 minutes to bake and I think that was due to the quantity of liquid.

  86. Pam

    I made this for Mother’s Day and it was very tasty. I should have cut through it to the bottom. Pulled it out after an hour as the top 1/4 was dry. It did weep as Deb said it would if not cooked long enough. So pay attention to that. Tasted great. Makes great leftovers. I’ll definately make it again and I’ll pay better attention to cooking/weeping time.

  87. Pam

    I made this for Mother’s Day this year. It’s was very tasty. It did weep. I needed to cut all the way through and I would have avoided it. So put the knife all the way to the bottom. It still tasted great. Everyone loved it and I’ll make it again. Thanks.

  88. MGB

    I made it for a late night supper and my husband and I loved it. I halved the recipe so it didn’t take as long to cook. I also added a handful of shredded frozen hashbrowns. This recipe is going into the weekly rotation. Thank you.

  89. bbrann

    This was really delicious! I’m a private chef, and made this leek, ham and cheese bake for a brunch for 25 guests who requested gluten-free. I actually tripled the recipe. Big hit and looked beautiful. I used the Niman Ranch Uncured Boneless Petite Ham, which was perfect. I was running low on milk and used only 3 cups. I was able to make and bake them the night before, and reheat in the morning. Thank you for a winning recipe…everyone loved it.

  90. Karen Wong

    I made a covid pantry version with pecorino, mozzarella, and prosciutto and it was delicious. With prosecco and strawberries made it a lovely brunch. Thank you.

  91. Rigel

    Oh my gosh, I made this today and it is so good! I took the advice of another SK commenter and added about 2 tbsps of mayo into the egg mixture, and there was no weep whatsoever! I also used 2 cups of heavy cream (instead of 3+ cups whole milk) and used a mixture of mozzarella and gruyere. Will definately make again.

  92. Mary Ann

    This was a huge hit for Easter brunch and served at least nine of us with the sides.
    We had plenty left over and so I cut it into circles with the largest biscuit cutter and froze them. Hubs has had an elevated bacon egg and cheese on English muffin on Sunday mornings all month.

    Thanks Deb. This was great.

  93. Betsy

    This is so good. I made a scaled-down (5 egg) version for dinner last night and, since I wasn’t worried about keeping it gluten-free, copied the baked eggs at Companion Bakeshop in St. Louis and stabilized it with a roux. Added 1/4 cup flour to the hot buttery leeks and ham in the pan, then stirred in the milk, let it cook until it was bubbly, and then added the cheese, salt and pepper, and a little mustard. Then if just needed the eggs!

    1. deb

      We have political ads blocked as a category and they shouldn’t come in but they do slip through from time to time. I’m not seeing it — is it still showing for you?

  94. Taylor

    Hi Deb! I am looking for a Christmas morning egg bake to accompany my father-in-law’s famous sausage roll. For context, his sausage roll is delicious but too meaty/savory/bread-y for half the fam so I like to supplement with an egg dish. This looks perfect but I’m wondering if you have a substitution suggestion for the ham. Am I just ruining it to take that out? Or could I sneak in mushrooms or another veggie in their place?

    Love your blog so much and I’m hoping to find your new cookbook under the Christmas tree soon!

  95. Beth

    I baked this as our dinner last night and oh wow was it great!! Thank you for sharing!!

    I made no “tweaks”, followed directions to the letter and it was perfect.

  96. Carrie

    I made this to bring to a brunch. I subbed mushrooms for the ham (cooking them ahead with the leeks) to keep it vegetarian. I also took the suggestion mentioned by others of adding a teaspoon of cornstarch to the egg mixture. Bake time was about 60 minutes for me, no significant weep, and it traveled perfectly. Basically I pulled it out of the oven, let it cool on the counter for maybe 5-10 minutes, covered the top with foil and drove 45 minutes, and it was still perfectly hot/great eating temp when I arrived. I’ll make this again.