Italian Baked Eggs in Marcella’s Tomato Sauce

Cheesy baked eggs, minty fresh basil, a splash of cream, and a burst of flavor from sweet zesty tomato sauce. With only a handful of familiar and simple ingredients, this mini cocotte recipe featuring Italian style baked eggs looks fancy but it’s super easy to make.

Baked eggs with cheese and tomato sauce in three small Staub cocotte dishes.

So if you’re looking for something a bit different from the usual scrambled eggs on your next weekend breakfast or brunch menu, be sure to give them a try!

Baked Egg Goodness

What can I say, if you’ve never experienced the soft creamy goodness of baked eggs then what are you waiting for??

This Italian-inspired dish of individually baked eggs in mini cocotte dishes starts with a base layer of rich tomato sauce with the eggs nestled in the sauce and then topped with a splash of cream, fresh basil, and shredded parmesan cheese.

They are baked in the oven until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still a bit runny. Serve this easy eggs en cocotte recipe with a side of crusty Italian bread for dipping, it’s so good!

Looking for another easy yet sophisticated brunch recipe idea? Check out our fabulous and flavorful Asparagus Ricotta Tart with Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

Italian baked eggs in a mini cocotte dish with fresh basil garnish.

What is an egg cooked in the oven called?

Baked eggs, also known as shirred eggs and oeufs en cocotte (eggs in a pot), are eggs that have been baked in a flat-bottomed dish often with the addition of cream. Mini cocotte dishes are like tiny Dutch ovens. For this recipe I used 8 oz. (.25 quart) size Staub mini cocotte dishes but individual ramekins or small dishes of similar size would also work. If you have the smaller 4 oz. size, you can just halve the recipe.

These baked eggs en cocotte are a great brunch or easy breakfast egg bake recipe but really, they could do the job for any meal. Just add a mixed green salad or vegetable and you can have a quick and easy dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

Tomato sauce, heavy cream, eggs, fresh basil, parmesan cheese.

What you’ll need to make Italian baked eggs

  • Tomato sauce: In my humble opinion, the most important flavor ingredient in this recipe is the tomato sauce. I always have a batch of homemade tomato sauce in my freezer which makes putting together recipes like this at the last minute a breeze. My go-to tomato sauce recipe is Marcella Hazan’s famous version, from her book Essentials of Italian Cooking, which is simple to make but so rich and flavorful (it’s made with butter, go figure, and vibrant San Marzano tomatoes). It really is worth the effort to make a homemade marinara sauce with San Marzano tomatoes which are known for their sweet ripeness and gentle acidity. The instructions are included further below but here are the ingredients you will need to make Marcella’s sauce:
    • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes
    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 small white onion, peeled and cut in half
    • Sea salt (or kosher salt) to taste
  • Fresh eggs: the fresher the better!
  • Heavy cream: A splash of creamy adds an extra silkiness to the eggs. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute with half-n-half or whole milk.
  • Parmesan cheese: freshly grated is the best for melting, but the pre-grated stuff will work fine. Mozzarella or any other hard Italian cheese (Fontina, Asiago, etc.) are good substitutes if you don’t have parmesan.
  • Fresh basil: I like adding fresh basil leaves to this dish plus adding some as garnish after baking. In a pinch you could use dried basil instead.

How to make Italian baked eggs

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil the individual dishes with nonstick spray.
  2. Layer the ingredients into each cocotte dish: First spoon in 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Carefully crack two eggs, keeping the yolks whole, into each dish. Add about a tablespoon of fresh basil and then a splash of heavy cream (about a teaspoon). Lastly, sprinkle two tablespoons of parmesan cheese over the top of the eggs.
  1. Place the dishes on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven. Set your timer for 12 minutes in and start checking the eggs to achieve desired doneness and avoid overcooking.
  2. Once desired doneness achieved, remove from the oven and be careful to use oven mitts when plating.
  3. Serve immediately with toasted bread for dipping. If you like focaccia, try pairing these Italian baked eggs with our fall focaccia with bell pepper “maple leaves” for an elegant presentation.

How long does it take to bake eggs in the oven?

It depends on a few different factors: how well you like your eggs done, the temperature of your oven, and the thickness of the baking dish.

  • Bake the eggs for about 12-15 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still soft. Per Julia Child, “the eggs are done when they are just set but still tremble slightly.” They will set a bit more once removed from the oven. Runny yolks are all the better for dipping with some nice crusty bread, yum!
  • For those who prefer fully cooked egg yolks, bake for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Pay close attention at about 12 minutes in and check the eggs to achieve desired doneness and avoid overcooking.
  • Once desired doneness achieved, remove from the oven and be careful to use oven mitts when plating. Serve immediately with toasted baguette for dipping into all that goodness.
A hand dipping bread into baked eggs in a small cocotte dish.

Storing and reheating

This dish is best eaten immediately after baking. However, if you want you may store the Italian baked eggs in the fridge for a day or two covered with a lid or plastic wrap or another airtight container. Scoop out the egg mixture into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 – 3 minutes. Reheating in the microwave will result in a more well-done egg and you won’t be able to achieve the same soft egg texture as when it was originally baked.

Instructions for Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan (onion halves face down) and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn down heat to low and stir occasionally using a spoon to crush and break up the tomatoes against the sides of the pan.

Simmer for about 45 minutes, sauce should be slightly thickened. Remove the onion and discard (or save for another use) and then serve. For really silky textured sauce use an immersion blender. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

More delicious Maplevine Kitchen recipes to try!

baked eggs in tomato sauce in mini cocotte dishes

Easy Italian Baked Eggs in Marcella’s Tomato Sauce

Creamy Italian eggs baked in a sweet zesty tomato sauce topped with melted parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Looks fancy but is so easy to make with only a handful of familiar ingredients. Buon appetito!
By: AllieAllie Cleveland
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 3
Calories 353 kcal

Equipment

  • 3 Mini Cocotte Dishes (8 oz. size) or Ramekins

Ingredients
  

For the Baked Eggs

  • olive oil or cooking spray for greasing the dishes
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons heavy cream
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce Marcella's is recommended
  • 6 tablespoons parmesan shredded or grated
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil torn into small pieces
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • baguette (French bread) or other crusty bread for serving

For Marcella's Tomato Sauce

  • 1 28 oz. can San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion peeled and cut in half
  • sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Instructions
 

For the Baked Eggs

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil the individual dishes with nonstick spray.
  • Layer the ingredients into each dish: First spoon in 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Carefully crack two eggs, keeping the yolks whole, into each dish. Add about 1 tablespoon fresh basil and 1 teaspoon heavy cream. Lastly, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
  • Place the dishes on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven and set your timer for 12 minutes.
  • Bake the eggs for about 12-15 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still soft. They will set a bit more once removed from the oven. For fully cooked yolks, bake for about 15-18 minutes. Start paying close attention at about 12 minutes in and check the eggs to achieve desired doneness and avoid overcooking.
  • Once desired doneness achieved, remove from the oven and be careful to use oven mitts when plating. Serve immediately with toasted bread for dipping. If you're a fan of focaccia, try pairing these Italian baked eggs with our fall focaccia with bell pepper "maple leaves" for an elegant presentation.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan (onion halves face down) and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn down heat to low and stir occasionally using a spoon to crush and break up the tomatoes against the sides of the pan.
  • Simmer for about 45 minutes, sauce should be slightly thickened. Taste and adjust for salt if needed. Remove the onion and discard (or save for another use) and then serve.
  • For really silky textured sauce use an immersion blender. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Recipe Notes

  • Baking time can really vary depending on your particular oven and the thickness of the baking dish. The first time or two you make this dish you will need to pay careful attention towards the end of the baking time to achieve the desired doneness for the eggs. 
  • Heavy cream may be substituted with half-n-half or whole milk.
  • Parmesan cheese may be substituted with any hard Italian cheese like Mozzarella, Fontina, Asiago, etc.
  • Fresh basil may be substituted with dried basil.
  • Marcella’s tomato sauce is great to use in any recipe calling for tomato sauce but especially for chicken/eggplant parmesan, meatballs, pizza, or simply tossed over ravioli or spaghetti.
  • Marcella’s tomato sauce may also be made with fresh Roma tomatoes during the summer when they are in season.

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 23.9g | Fat: 21.7g | Saturated Fat: 10.6g | Cholesterol: 405mg | Sodium: 1258mg | Fiber: 3.6g | Sugar: 11.1g

*Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Maplevine Kitchen makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword brunch, eggs, tomato sauce
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