A hearty, healthy vegan breakfast casserole — with hash brown potatoes, peppers, refried beans and corn tortillas — smothered in enchilada and cheese sauces.
Why I love this vegan breakfast casserole
Several winters, I’ve cured my cold-weather, gray-day blues with escapes to Cozumel, Mexico. Dining al fresco every morning with an ocean view, digging into a big plate of heuvos rancheros, was definitely part of the appeal.
While I don’t miss eggs—at all—I have missed rancheros for breakfast. Until now.
This Mexican Breakfast casserole brings the best of that dish—corn tortillas, refried beans and mildly spicy oil free enchilada sauce—along with another morning favorite—hash brown potatoes with peppers, cheese & onions. OH, yum!
(If you like hash browns as much as I do, check out this new twist on shepherd's pie.)
Why skip the eggs?
Aside from being chock full of healthy ingredients like beans, corn and peppers, this recipe is perfectly delicious without ingredients like eggs.
Eggs seem to be a popular, convenient breakfast food that many people have a hard time giving up.
But just as meat consumption increases the risk of certain diseases, along with their high fat and cholesterol, eggs have been shown accelerate and promote the growth of cancer cells by producing ‘cancer-friendly’ chemicals in the gut (video).
How to make it
This recipe comes together a bit like a Mexican lasagna, with a few simple layers.
I usually start by making the cheese sauce (5 minutes) and enchilada sauce (about 10 minutes). I like to use my own recipes (of course!) but go ahead and use your favorites if you’ve got them.
Then, we get to layering. A ladleful of enchilada sauce coats the bottom of the baking dish before corn tortillas are layered on.
Next, we spread out some refried beans over the tortillas.
After this, we spread a mixture of frozen hash brown potatoes and peppers, which gets topped with a healthy dose of enchilada sauce.
We bake it until almost cooked through before adding our cheese sauce (or try my cheddar sauce) and green onion. Then we bake some more until everything’s hot and bubbly.
Here it is, step by step (but don't forget to read the recipe!):
Frozen hash brown potatoes. Look for a brand with no ingredients other than potatoes, especially oil.
Peppers. This casserole is delicious with poblano pepper, but you can substitute any other relatively mild pepper of a similar size with great results.
Cheese sauce. To get a nice golden yellow top, you want to use a light touch when spreading the cheese sauce. It's okay if a bit of enchilada sauce mixes in, but the goal is the keep the cheese on top rather than mixing into the enchilada sauce.
Onions. To keep this recipe simple, I softened the peppers in the microwave. But if you really love onions, you could saute a whole yellow onion in a pan with the peppers, and mix that in with the hash browns.
If it's true that you can travel the world without ever walking out your front door just by reading a book, I'd say the same is true with cooking. Whip up this yummy vegan breakfast casserole, and let your tastebuds transport you to a warm, sunny Mexican plaza.
I LOVE hearing from you! Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, or drop me a note in the comments.
If you like this recipe, you might also like these other Mexican/Latin inspired recipes: Ultimate Vegan Guacamole, Healthy Vegan Chile Relleno, Spanish Rice & Beans, Romesco Cauliflower Tacos, Smoky Black Beans and Rice, and Mini Taco Cups.
Mexican Breakfast Casserole
- 6 6-inch corn tortillas oil free, see notes
- 1 15- ounce can vegan refried beans pinto or black, look for low sodium
- 1 16- ounce package frozen hash brown potatoes oil free, see notes
- 2 bell peppers ¼" diced
- 1 poblano pepper ¼" diced (see notes)
- 1 recipe Enchilada Sauce or your favorite oil free vegan enchilada sauce
- 1 cup Easy Cheezy Sauce or your favorite oil free vegan cheese sauce
- 2 green onions sliced
- Optional: Serve with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Prepare your enchilada sauce (about 10 minutes) and your cheese sauce (about 5 minutes.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the diced bell and poblano peppers in a medium, microwave safe bowl with 3 tablespoons of water. Cover and heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until just beginning to get soft. (Or soften in a pan on the stovetop.) Drain the peppers and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the frozen hash brown potatoes and the peppers. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Ladle ½ cup of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Then place the 6 corn tortillas in the bottom of the dish over the sauce. They'll overlap a bit, which is ok.
- Using a large spoon and/or your hands, spread the refried beans over the tortillas, pressing it gently into a nice even layer.
- Spread the hash brown potato and pepper mixture evenly over the refried beans.
- Pour the remaining enchilada sauce evenly over the casserole, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or until heated through.
- Remove the casserole dish from oven, uncover, and pour the vegan cheese sauce evenly over the top. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a rubber scraper to gently spread it over the top of the dish, trying not to disturb the enchilada sauce too much. (See notes). Top with sliced green onion, cover and cook 10 more minutes or until everything is very hot.
- Frozen hash brown potatoes. Look for a brand with no ingredients other than potatoes, including oil.
- Peppers. This casserole is delicious with poblano pepper, but you can substitute any other relatively mild pepper of a similar size with great results.
- Cheese sauce. To get a nice golden yellow top, you want to use a light touch when spreading the cheese sauce. It's okay if a bit of enchilada sauce mixes in, but the goal is the keep the cheese on top rather than mixing into the enchilada sauce.
- Onions. To keep this recipe simple, I softened the peppers in the microwave. But if you really love onions, you could saute a whole yellow onion in a pan with the peppers, and mix that in with the hash browns.
Can this dish be made in advance? & can I cut the dish in half?
Hi Sarah! Yes to both. I'd recommend making this up to a day in advance. For best results, I'd add the enchilada sauce just before cooking. Enjoy!
What is the total amount of enchilada sauce used, in cups/ounces etc.? I'm using store bought sauce.
I recommend about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of enchilada sauce here.
I just made this again tonight. I love how forgiving it is! I used store bought sauce this time. I only had one small bell pepper, so I sautéed it with half of an onion and some mushrooms that needed to be eaten, then threw in a can of green chilis for good measure.. I couldn't find any refried beans in my house (I was also surprised!) so I subbed in black beans and no one else knew the difference. Everyone got seconds, so I know they really liked it! Thank you!
Hi Emily, You are SO very welcome! Glad you found ways to adapt this recipe to what you had on hand. To me, that's always the sign of a good cook, and agree, this one is very adaptation-friendly.
I made this tonight and it was FABULOUS. I used refrigerated hash browns versus frozen - they did make things a little soggy but it was no big deal. For the cheese, I used an entire package of Miyoko vegan pepper Jack slices. Holy cow. So good. And my husband had no idea.... This is a keeper for sure!!!!
Hi Jenny, happy to hear you like and your husband this one! Not sure if it will help, but you can try placing refrigerator hash-browns between towels (or paper towels) and gently pressing out any excess liquid.
Have you tried this recipe with fresh grated potatoes?
Hi Donna, I haven't. It's probably possible, but fresh potatoes hold a lot of water, which could result in a soggy topping. If you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
Have you made this ahead of time and just reheated it? Does that work? Thanks!
Hi Jenny, I've only reheated individual pieces as leftovers. I think if you make it ahead, it would be best just to refrigerate it the prepared recipe, but wait to cook it when you're ready to eat. That would keep it from drying out and the 'cheese' sauce from getting overcooked I think. Good luck!