With the focus squarely on Christmas dinner, it is easy to forget that there will be a table full of hungry mouths to feed early in the morning. Instead of resorting to short-order cook status, wake up to the comforting aroma of cheesy hash brown casserole. This slow cooker take on a classic hash brown casserole is creamy, cheesy, and packed with potato flavor.
Slow Cooker Hash Brown Casserole: Watch the Video
The Smartest Hash Brown Casserole You Can Make
This hash brown casserole starts with pork sausage, cooked until deeply browned, and then onions and bell peppers are sautéed in the same pan. Rather than pull out your food processor or box grater, take a helping hand from the freezer section of the grocery store with pre-shredded hash brown potatoes.
While other hash brown casseroles go heavy on the egg for sliceability, here we lean on cream cheese and sour cream to make this one-pot breakfast supremely scoopable. Toss it together and turn it on low to cook while you crawl into bed. In the morning, simply sprinkle the last bit of cheese on top and wait for it to melt while you brew your first cup of coffee.
Traditionally baked in the oven, this slow cooker variation is ideal for when you want to roll out of bed with breakfast waiting on you. The edge of the casserole browns and crisps, just as it would baked in the oven, but the real star is the rich, gooey center.
For brunchmates who love spice, swap the mild breakfast sausage for one with a kick, stir in a diced jalapeño, or sprinkle on Pepper Jack cheese.
Slow Cooker Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 8 to 10
cream cheese, at room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
uncooked pork sausage, casings removed
small onion, diced
medium red bell pepper, diced
(30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash browns (do not thaw)
shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces), divided
Coat a 6-quart slow cooker generously with cooking spray.
Place the eggs, milk, sour cream, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard in a large bowl and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined; set aside.
Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to the slow cooker.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft and golden-brown, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the onion and bell pepper to the slow cooker.
Add the frozen hash brown potatoes and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and stir to combine. Pour in the egg mixture and stir until completely incorporated, then spread into an even layer.
Cover and cook until the edges brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the casserole registers 160°F, 7 to 8 hours on the LOW setting or 2 to 3 hours on the HIGH setting. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole when there is 30 minutes remaining. Cover and continue to cook until the cheese melts completely.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Meatless variation: Omit the sausage and skip right to sautéing the onion and bell pepper in butter, but add an extra 1/2 teaspoon salt to the vegetables. Continue as instructed above.
Straight to the slow cooker: You can add the onion and bell pepper to the casserole raw without sautéing first. You'll miss out on some flavor, but the vegetables will cook through.