Who doesn’t love Broccoli Cheddar Casserole?? This cozy homemade version doesn’t contain any canned “cream of” soup and comes together quickly. This comforting classic is great as a Thanksgiving side, or just a tasty addition to dinner any night of the week. Plus, it’s a great way to use up leftover rice from the night before!
Don’t Have Pre-Cooked Rice?
This recipe is written using rice that is already cooked. Much like fried rice, this recipe benefits from rice that has already been cooked and cooled so the grains are no longer sticky and are slightly more absorbent. If you don’t have rice on hand that is already cooked, allow time to cook some rice and allow it to cool before making this recipe. To cool your cooked rice faster, spread it out onto a baking sheet and place it in the refrigerator. The large surface area will help it cool quickly.
Can I Use Brown Rice?
Yes! I’ve made this recipe using both brown and white rice and it’s delightful either way. Since you’re measuring the rice after it has been cooked, no adjustments need to be made to the recipe below if you plan to use brown rice. Brown rice gives this broccoli casserole a slightly nutty flavor and a little bit more texture.
Can the Broccoli Cheddar Casserole Be Assembled Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can assemble this broccoli cheddar casserole up to one day ahead of time, keeping it refrigerated until you’re ready to cook. Because the casserole will be chilled when going into the oven, you may need to add an extra 20-30 minutes to the cooking time to make sure the casserole is heated through.
Broccoli Cheddar Casserole
- 1 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($1.99)
- 4 cups cooked rice (white or brown) ($0.67)
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese ($1.69)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 3 Tbsp butter ($0.42)
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.03)
- 2 cups milk (2% milk fat or higher) ($0.75)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika ($0.02)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.01)
- 1/8 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.01)
- Thaw the frozen broccoli, then chop it into smaller pieces. Add the chopped broccoli to a large bowl along with the cooked rice and about 1.5 cups of the shredded cheese (save the last ½ cup for topping the casserole).
- Begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Add the butter, onion, and garlic to a small saucepot and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the flour and stir until a paste forms. Continue to stir and cook the paste for about two minutes, or just until it turns a light golden brown.
- Whisk the milk into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk the mixture as it heats, allowing it to reach a simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Season the sauce with the salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, and pepper. Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if desired. The sauce should be heavily seasoned because it will be spread out over the broccoli and rice, which contain no seasoning of their own.
- Pour the sauce over the rice, broccoli, and cheese, and stir until everything is evenly coated in sauce. Spread the casserole mixture evenly into a 9×9 inch casserole dish. Top with the remaining shredded cheddar.
- Bake the casserole for about 35 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and is slightly browned around the edges. Divide into six portions and serve.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
Looking for a low-carb alternative? Check out my Cheesy Loaded Cauliflower Casserole.
How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Casserole – Step by Step Photos
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Thaw one pound of frozen broccoli florets, then chop them into smaller pieces.
Add the chopped broccoli to a large bowl along with four cups cooked and cooled rice, and 6 oz. (1.5 cups) shredded cheddar cheese. Save the remaining ½ cup cheddar to top the casserole.
Stir the broccoli, rice, and cheese together until evenly combined, then set them aside.
Next, begin the white sauce. Finely dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a saucepot with 2 Tbsp butter. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the cooked onions and garlic. Continue to stir and cook for about a minute more. The flour will form a paste with the butter.
Pour two cups of whole milk into the saucepot and whisk until all the flour is dissolved into the milk. Continue to stir and cook until the milk begins to gently simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream.
Season the white sauce with ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp smoked paprika, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, and ⅛ tsp black pepper. Give the sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning if you prefer (it should be heavily seasoned).
Pour the white sauce into the bowl with the broccoli, rice, and cheddar, then stir to combine.
Transfer the broccoli rice mixture to a casserole dish (about 9×9 inches) and then add the remaining shredded cheddar on top.
Bake the casserole for 35 minutes, or until the cheese is melted on top and it’s browned around the edges.
Serve hot and enjoy that cozy comfort!
Can I make this with cooked pasta instead of rice?
That would probably work!
Delicious recipe. One of our favorites. We like to switch up the spices – sub curry powder for the smoked paprika and cayenne.
This has been a staple in our dinner rotation with a couple changes.
I adapted this for the instant pot and subbed in your nacho cheese recipe to use evaporated milk instead of the rue. I use uncooked rice, fresh uncooked broccoli, bacon bits, and add chicken broth for the additional liquid needed to cook the rice. Don’t get the crispy bits but that can be remedied by putting some in a ramekin under the broiler for a couple minutes.
It required a larger dish, 11×9 but it worked fine. I added about 1 cup of sliced, cooked chicken and it worked great and was delicious.
Unfortunately, nor I nor my family were very impressed with this recipe.
We adore broccoli, but something about being baked in with rice just created this God-awful bitterness that was hard to stomach. The recipe is definitely much too under seasoned… I had to add 4x as much seasoning before it started being flavorful.
The instructions were super clear and easy to follow. We loved the cheese on top, at least! This is just not one we’d try again.
Honestly, without the broccoli this could’ve been completely fine. Not sure what else I could substitute the broccoli for, though!
This is the best broccoli cheese casserole ever. I have tasted others and they are nothing compared to this one. My family asks for it all the time now and it is so delicious I just can’t believe it thank you for sharing this recipe
Just made this today, it turned out very well. One bit of advice, the recipe says to over season, absolutely over season. I didn’t and it came out pretty bland. Definitely making again.
Yeah, I generally double seasoning amounts in any recipe. But I’m a glutton for spice. :)
Looks amazing! Adding to my meal plan for next week!
We make this all the time!
I double the recipe and make two small batches and one large batch. I freeze at least two of the batches prior to baking. To bake them, I let unthought in the fridge for a day. If it’s jiggly then it’s ready to bake and I proceed with the baking instructions.
We love to sprinkle Cajun seasoning on top of ours!
This is my go-to me off for bringing a meal to a needy family.
I also add shredded chicken.
This was surprisingly good! I added about a pound of cooked ground beef along with a cube of chicken boullion mixed into the sauce, and omitted the onion as I was out. I was initially worried because the rice mix didn’t look as “dry” as it does in the photos, but it ended up being perfect. I can see this recipe being extremely versatile and I’ll definitely be making it again.
Wow this was delicious! My husband and I loved it! I was concerned with the flavor of the sauce because it seemed a little off however it was the perfect combination with the brocolli and rice! I did almost double the seasoning as that was just what tasted right to me, but this recipe is a keeper! Thank you!
Delicious! I cooked 1-1/2 cups of rice, so we would have plenty. We had 4 cups fresh broccoli that I boiled for 5 minutes. I added 1-1/2 cups of ham that we had in the freezer from Christmas. 3 adults loved it! It did fill a 9 by 13 pan. I still baked for 35 minutes. Ham wasn’t all the way defrosted, so I did warm it up in the microwave before adding it to the pan. We just happened to have all the ingredients in the house.
Can this casserole be made ahead of time and frozen?
If so, how long would I need to let it dethaw for or can it go straight into the oven?
Unfortunately, I haven’t tried freezing this one, so I can’t offer any specific advice for thawing and reheating.
Could I use fresh broccoli in this recipe?
Yes, but you may want to steam or blanch the broccoli first just to make sure it is tender enough after baking with the rice.