Hey guys, I’ve got a “cheat” recipes for you today. This Easy Cheesy Broccoli rice is what I make when I’m too impatient to make a full blown Broccoli Cheddar Casserole. This is what I make when I need food like, yesterday. It’s also the perfect side dish because it’s about half vegetable, half rice, and just enough cheese to trigger those endorphins without being too heavy. Plus, this is a great “base” recipe that you can use to customize into several different sides or meals.
What Type of Rice Can Be Used in Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice?
You can use any type of rice that you like for this recipe, brown, white, wild, whatever (probably even quinoa). Just follow the cooking directions on the package for your particular type of rice and then start the recipe once you have a pot full of cooked rice (about six cups cooked, or two cups uncooked). If you want more flavor, try cooking your rice in chicken broth and reduce the added salt later in the recipe.
Make it a Meal
Want to make it a meal? Add some shredded rotisserie chicken or a soft boiled egg. Need to make this vegetarian? Sub the Parmesan (one of the few non-vegetarian cheeses) with nutritional yeast, and add more butter. You can even combine 3-4 cups of this rice with a whisked egg, shape it into cakes, and fry them up in a skillet. There are just SO MANY things you can do with this recipe.
But me, I like to just eat a big bowl of it and call it a day because I’m all about simple food. …But I might put a fried egg on top because that’s how I roll. #putaneggonit
Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice
- 2 cups long grain rice ($1.32)
- 3 cups water ($0.00)
- 1 lb. frozen broccoli florets, thawed ($2.59)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.26)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.41)
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar ($1.25)
- Place the rice in a large pot and add 3 cups water. Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After simmering for 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let the rice rest without removing the lid for an additional 5 minutes. (OR use your favorite method of cooking rice -- rice cooker, Instant Pot, etc.)
- While the rice is cooking, chop the broccoli florets into tiny pieces.
- Once the rice has cooked, fluff it gently with a fork. Add the butter, salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and some freshly cracked pepper. Fold the butter and spices into the rice until fairly well combined (the butter should melt quickly in the hot rice).
- Add the chopped broccoli and gently fold it into the rice. The broccoli should bring the temperature of the rice down just to the point where it is hot/warm, but not so hot that the cheese immediately melts when stirred into the rice.
- Finally, add the Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, and fold to combine again. Taste and adjust the salt or butter if needed. Serve immediately.
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I’ve found this cheesy broccoli rice makes a great “all in one” side dish for main dish recipes like my Baked Chicken Drumsticks.
How to Make Broccoli Cheddar Rice – Step by Step Photos
You can use whatever method you like to cook 2 cups of rice (about 6 cups once cooked), but I like to do it in a pot on the stovetop. I add the 2 cups rice plus 3 cups water to a large pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, I turn it down to low and let it simmer there for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes I turn off the heat and let it rest for another 5 minutes before lifting the lid and fluffing. Use a large enough pot to hold the broccoli and cheese later, or transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl after cooking.
While the rice is cooking, chop 1 lb. of thawed frozen broccoli florets into tiny pieces. I do not cook my broccoli any further. Frozen broccoli is blanched before freezing, so when it thaws it’s about halfway between cooked and raw, and for me that is the perfect texture. It still has tooth. If you need the broccoli more tender, you can steam it for a few minutes before chopping.
Just after the rice has cooked and it’s still piping hot, add 2 Tbsp butter (or more if you want it extra indulgent), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and some freshly cracked pepper. Fold the butter and spices into the rice until the butter has melted and the spices are fairly well combined with the rice.
Next fold the chopped broccoli florets into the hot rice. This will bring the temperature of the rice down a bit, which I like because I don’t want my cheese to actually melt in. I want to taste the individual flavors in each bite. That’s also why I add the salt and spices AFTER cooking instead of cooking them with the rice. I like the little pops of flavor rather than one confluent flavor throughout.
Finally, add 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Fold the cheese into the broccoli and rice mixture.
And that’s it! The Easy Cheesy Broccoli Rice is ready to devour. There should be just enough heat in the rice to warm the cheese and make it soft without making it all gooey. The reason I like it like this is the same reason you want to serve a cheese on a cheese board at room temperature rather than cold. Cheese tastes different at different temperatures. It tastes one way cold, another at room temperature or slightly warmed, and totally different once it’s melted. You can certainly heat it until the cheese is melted if you like, but this is the way I like it for this dish. :)
Need more help learning how to cook rice? Check out my guide on How to Cook Rice.
As a vegetarian this is perfect and I would probably batch cook this and freeze part of it
sounds delicious, and healthier than soup based rice & broccoli. I need to make it the day before though. Would it work to put this in a casserole dish and reheat in the oven rather than the microwave? If so, how much time, and temperature to keep it from drying out?
If planning to make it ahead and reheat it in the oven, I will direct you to our very similar recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Casserole (link below). You can find some specific instructions on how to prep ahead/cook later in the section of that post labeled, “CAN THE BROCCOLI CHEDDAR CASSEROLE BE ASSEMBLED AHEAD OF TIME?” However, I assume that this recipe would reheat in the oven about the same way.
Typically, reheating rice in the microwave is ideal because you can add a few tbsp of water/broth (approx. 2 tbsp per cup of cooked rice) to the bottom of the dish, and since it heats up much faster, it will steam without overcooking. You can definitely do this in the oven or on the stovetop, too, it’s just a little more tricky to execute. (I do it often since my microwave broke and I still haven’t replaced it! Lol.) Let the baking dish come up to room temperature for 20-30 minutes if coming from the cold fridge — especially if it’s glass. Make sure the rice is spread out in a thin, even layer and the oven is fully preheated (~300*F), sprinkle with the same amount of water/broth (2 tbsp per cup), then cover with aluminum foil to trap the steam. Bake, covered, for about 20 minutes. It should steam without getting too crispy or overcooked. Remove the foil and fluff the rice, and if desired, you could pop it under the broiler for a minute to brown the cheese. ~ Marion :)
thanks so much for your quick reply, Marion. I think I will just reheat it in the microwave this time because its easier. I really like the other recipe and am saving it for the next time I serve a broccoli rice casserole.
A total favourite. This is one of my go-tos when I have some leftover rice — I use 8oz of broccoli to 1 cup of cooked rice. Great way to make a slightly fancier side dish than plain rice and broccoli while still only using the microwave 😁
Does using fresh broccoli mess anything up?
The only difference between frozen broccoli and fresh is that fresh broccoli is a bit firmer (so it takes more time to cook through, around 6-8 minutes v. 4-5 minutes). I’d suggest steaming or blanching the fresh broccoli for about 5 minutes (to par-cook it). If blanching, make sure to drain it well in a colander before adding it to the rice. Following the rest of the recipe as written should cook it the rest of the way. ~Marion :)
Hi I made this tonight with our chicken strips. It was really delicious! We love rice in this house. I like to try out new and different recipes on rice. Come to think of it I forgot to put in the Parmesan cheese. I only used cheddar and Monterrey cheese mix. Didn’t measure the spices, cheese,or butter. I used my favorite rice basmati and it turned out perfect. We loved it thanks!
I love this! I also drizzle with some Franks Wing Sauce for a vegetarian Buffalo bowl sort of thing. I make a batch and freeze in individual portions. Reheats just fine.
Really excited to find this recipe bc broccoli cheese casserole is literally my go to at Thanksgiving. Just too time consuming and not really waist friendly to make it frequently!
Would this be good still without the Parmesan and just going all cheddar cheese? I don’t have Parm or nutritional yeast on hand and have already grocery shopped for the week. But now depending on your response I might have to pick some Parm cheese up bc this sounds so good!!
cheesy, buttery, full of veggies….. perfect. I did the suggested substitution of nutritional yeast + more butter instead of the parmesan and think it works great. ♡
I made this for dinner tonight with some chicken parm sausage I needed to use up thrown in after being browned, and Oh My Word, I think I’ve found my new go-to bulk-preparation meal.
totally amazing quick food, that I made on a late-night when I didn’t want to cook. I used a rice cooker and threw everything in there. my ONLY problem was that I added too much pepper and made it spicey. too spicey. but that’s my fault, overall such great food in a quick time limit!
Looks and sounds delic! Want to make ahead and then reheat next day, any suggestion to prevent it from being overcooked or mushy?
With a dish like this, there isn’t really anything you can do to stop texture changes upon reheating. I would think that a creamy, cheesy casserole dish like this would actually be *better* the next day, but I guess it all just comes down to personal preference. :)
I made this tonight as a quick side dish with chicken. It was so good and so quick. Everyone loved it.
I prepared this and it was basically done and then got an idea to throw it from the pot to a casserole dish, add a can of cream of mushroom soup and a splash of milk. mixed it all up. Shredded more sharp cheddar on the top and threw it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Total comfort food. I would enjoy this both the original way and my last minute experiment way. Totally delicious! Definitely a keeper.
I love this recipe. If any leftover from supper I fry and egg put it on top with some sriracha sauce for breakfast.
I only have fresh garlic, would you suggest adding it in with the other spices or should I sauté it separately then mix it in?
I would probably sauté it first to take that raw edge off and get more of that deep garlic flavor. :)