These easy Italian baked eggs are perfect for breakfast (or breakfast-for-dinner!) With spicy Italian sausage, crushed tomatoes, and plenty of fresh basil. Top with parmesan cheese and serve over toasted bread.
This easy baked egg recipe is the perfect accompaniment to a loaf of fresh, crusty bread - and it's ready in under an hour!
This recipe is also very forgiving: It's easy to pare down for two people but simple to scale up for a crowd. Serve these spicy baked eggs as a standalone breakfast or brunch, or whip this recipe up for a cozy breakfast-for-dinner.
Inspiration and Origins: This recipe is inspired by Shakshuka - a traditional tomato and egg dish popular in North African and Middle Eastern Cuisines - and by Eggs in Purgatory (also called Uova in Purgatorio or Uova All’inferno), a tomato-based baked Italian egg dish. Different cooks (and different regions of the world) all have their own spins on these recipes: If you're looking for authentic versions, we recommend starting with this Easy Shakshuka Recipe from The Mediterranean Dish and this Eggs In Purgatory Recipe from Marcellina in Cucina.
Order of operations
These baked Italian eggs come together very quickly! Here's a quick overview of our process:
- Cook Italian sausage in an oven-safe pot (we like to use a Dutch oven or large skillet here!) Note: Don't worry about draining or removing the fat from the cooked Italian sausage - this fat will help the onion and garlic cook (just like you might add olive oil to a skillet before cooking something - the leftover sausage fat here serves that same purpose). If your sausage is on the fattier side, and releases too much grease as it cooks, feel free to spoon a bit of that fat out of the pot and discard it - just be sure to leave a teaspoon or two in with the meat to help the onions cook and brown a bit.
- Stir in garlic and onion; cook until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to the pot, then stir in crushed tomatoes. Bring this to a simmer and cook until the tomato sauce is quite thick: when you drag a spoon along the bottom of the pot, the sauce should stay in place without pooling back into the center of the mark you just made.
- Use a spoon to make small "pockets" in the sauce, gently tip an egg into each pocket, then transfer to a preheated oven and bake until the egg whites are set.
- Top with fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese, then serve and enjoy!
Three tips for excellent baked eggs
- Cook your tomato sauce until it is very thick before adding the eggs. If there's too much liquid in the tomato sauce before it goes into the oven, the final product can be a bit runny and form watery pools across the surface of the eggs (which still tastes fine, but isn't as pretty to look at!)
- Taste your sauce and adjust as you go! Tomatoes are typically quite acidic and can vary by brand and season. Just before you add the eggs, give the sauce a taste: If the flavors don't "pop" yet, add a pinch of salt. If the sauce is too acidic, stir in ½ teaspoon at a time of honey, sugar, or brown sugar to cut the acidity.
- Crack eggs into a small dish. Cracking each egg into a small bowl or ramekin (instead of directly into the sauce) gives you much more control. Once your egg is ready, use one hand to make a small pocket in the sauce with your mixing spoon, and the other hand to gently tip the egg out of the bowl and into the pocket so it stays in place.
Riffs and Substitutions
This recipe is very forgiving: feel free to mix it up and use whatever you have on hand! A few of our favorite swaps:
- Use any style of tomatoes you like. We used canned crushed tomatoes here, but this recipe also works with canned diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes (break them up with a wooden spoon as they cook for a smoother sauce), or plain tomato sauce. You can use fresh tomatoes (either diced large tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes) if you prefer: just make sure you allow extra time for the sauce to cook down before adding the eggs as fresh tomatoes will have a higher water content. You can also use a jar of your favorite store-bought pasta sauce or marinara sauce (or even extra pizza sauce in a pinch!)
- Add extra veggies. Stir in some fresh kale or spinach for a pop of green. Add sliced mushrooms along with the onion and garlic if you like.
- Swap the Italian Sausage for butter beans, chick peas (garbanzo beans), or black beans if you prefer a vegetarian version.
- Add extra spice by stirring in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes or a bit of smoked paprika when you add the garlic and onion.
- No basil? Swap it for fresh oregano or parsley, or serve these eggs with a dollop of basil pesto, garlic scape pesto, or arugula pesto instead.
The sauce can simmer away on the stove for quite awhile - throw the sauce together and let it hang out while you do other things (if it starts to get too thick or dry, just add a splash of water or chicken stock and let it continue to simmer).
- Serve with a few slices of toasted sourdough, a fresh crusty baguette, or our favorite Easy Crusty Bread (these eggs are also great with our jalapeño cheddar bread!)
- Add a dollop of whipped feta cheese, ricotta, or whipped goat cheese on the side.
- Pair with our favorite 5 minute arugula salad for a full meal.
A few FAQs
The eggs themselves won't keep very well once cooked, so we recommend baking this dish right before you're going to eat it. The sauce, though, is easy to make ahead of time: Make the sauce as directed, then let it cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. When you're ready to bake, transfer the cold sauce to an oven-safe baking dish, add the eggs, and bake (you may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time).
We recommend 1-2 eggs per person if you're serving this as a full meal. We recommend baking at least 4 eggs with this recipe to pair well with the amount of sauce here. With 4 eggs, you'll have a little bit of extra sauce; with 6-8 eggs the egg-to-sauce ratio is just about perfect. You can also adjust the amount of tomato sauce here to suit your ideal number of eggs (see the full recipe below for some notes on how to do this!)
One of the most frustrating things about baked eggs: it's tough to cook them long enough to completely set the whites without overcooking the egg yolks. If you want a better chance of runny yolks with firm whites, we recommend either 1) letting the tomato sauce cool for 20-30 minutes before adding the eggs, so they don't start cooking as quickly or 2) spooning some of the hot tomato sauce over the top of each egg to start the cooking process on the top and help the egg whites set more quickly. You can also bypass this technique entirely, and opt to cook eggs separately from the sauce (either by poaching them or pan-frying them) for more control over their final texture.
These easy Italian baked eggs have a bit of spice from hot Italian sausage. Perfect for a cozy breakfast or brunch!
- 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
- ½ large yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4-6 large eggs
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- Toasted bread, for serving (optional)
- Heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Heat a wide, oven-safe pot or skillet (we like to use a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage and cook, using a spoon to break it up as you go, for 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through and begins to brown.
- Add onion and garlic; stir to combine. Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.
- Add salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar to pot and stir to combine. Be sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot as the balsamic sizzles - that’s where a ton of flavor is!
- Stir in crushed tomatoes and another pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until tomato sauce is thick, then turn off the heat. Optional: Let the sauce cool for 10-20 minutes here to encourage the eggs to bake more evenly.
- Crack an egg into a small bowl or ramekin (this makes it easier to tip the egg into the sauce). Use a spoon to make a small well on the surface of the sauce, then carefully tip the egg into the well. Repeat with remaining eggs.
- Transfer pot to a 375° F oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until egg whites are set and yolks are still slightly soft. If you’d like more well-done eggs, add another 4-5 minutes to the cook time!
- When eggs are set, remove pot from the oven. Top each egg with a pinch of salt and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper, then garnish with a handful of shredded parmesan and fresh chopped basil. Serve immediately with toasted bread.
Equipment notes. A wide pot is the best choice here - you want a large surface area so the eggs have room to cook. We like to use a large Dutch oven (the enameled surface makes for easy cleanup!) but you can also use an oven-safe stainless steel skillet or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.
Do I need to drain any fat from the sausage? If your sausage is especially oily, spoon some of the excess fat out of the pot before moving on to the next step (but be sure to leave at least a teaspoon or two of fat in the pot to help cook the onions!) Don't worry about draining or removing the fat from the cooked Italian sausage - this fat will help the onion and garlic cook (just like you might add olive oil to a skillet before cooking something - the leftover sausage fat here serves that same purpose). If your sausage is on the fattier side, and releases too much grease as it cooks, feel free to spoon a bit of that fat out of the pot and discard it - just be sure to leave a teaspoon or two in with the meat to help the onions cook and brown a bit.
How thick should my tomato sauce be? To avoid runny, watery baked eggs, cook the tomato sauce until it is quite thick: When you drag your spoon along the bottom of the pot, the tomato sauce should stay where it is instead of immediately pooling back into the space you just created.
How many eggs should I use? We recommend using 1-2 eggs per person, but this recipe is flexible and easy to customize! As written, if you make 4 eggs, you’ll have a bit of extra sauce; 6 eggs gives you a just about perfect egg-to-sauce ratio. If you’d like smaller or fewer servings, you can use a smaller can (15 ounces or so) of crushed tomatoes instead of the larger 28 ounce can. If you’d like to stretch this sauce further, you can add extra tomato sauce to accommodate additional eggs.
Finish the eggs on the stovetop if you don’t want the extra step of baking them in the oven! Make the sauce as directed, then reduce the heat to its lowest setting, crack the eggs into the sauce, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 10-20 minutes, until egg whites are set and yolks are at your preferred level of doneness. We find the eggs cook a bit more unevenly on the stovetop (since the heat is coming directly from the bottom of the pan, the undersides of the eggs tend to cook more quickly and can reach doneness faster than the tops) but they’ll still taste great!
Additions and Substitutions. Use any style of canned tomatoes you like here: crushed, diced, and plain tomato sauce all work well. Use whole canned tomatoes if you prefer; just use a sturdy spoon to break them up as they cook so the sauce is a bit smoother. You can use fresh diced tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes) if you like - just plan to let the sauce simmer a bit longer so the tomatoes can cook down to a thick consistency. Add extra veggies to the sauce before you add the eggs (fresh kale, spinach, mushrooms, butter beans, or chick peas/garbanzo beans are all tasty here!) Stir in a pinch or two of red pepper flakes when you add the onions if you’d like extra spice.
Nutrition information was calculated for 6 eggs total, averaged between 4 servings.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 601
- Sugar: 11.1 g
- Sodium: 1979.5 mg
- Fat: 44.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 19.8 g
- Protein: 31.2 g
- Cholesterol: 368.5 mg
Keywords: breakfast, brunch, eggs