This easy scratch made Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole is a total crowd pleaser! We love this vegetarian recipe for everything from holiday meals to family dinners. It can be made in advance and the leftovers rock! No cans or condensed cream-of-anything soup.
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a bad@$$ in the kitchen.
Other times I grab a 400 degree baking sheet with my bare hands and wind up in bandages.
It’s the cast iron skillet fiasco all over again, guys, and I’m kind of a moron.
So next time you have a little kitchen snafu and think “Man I’m really bad at cooking” or “I’m such a mess in the kitchen” don’t fret. Instead think of your friendly neighborhood food blogger, who still grabs scalding hot things with her bare hands, drops and breaks drinking glasses like it’s an olympic sport, and makes a big ole mess on the regular.
Trust me, you’ve got this.
Now that we’ve got the pep talk out of the way, I can thoroughly gush over the amazingness that is this cheesy broccoli rice casserole! HOLY COW it’s good!
Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole
This easy cheesy broccoli rice casserole is one of our favorite vegetarian side dishes! It features a creamy, totally luxe homemade cheese sauce made with gouda, cheddar, and some buttery garlic for good measure! Cue excessive swooning.
It’s even kiddo approved! I made this dish recently while Paul was in Africa and shared half with my photog bestie — her broccoli-hating babe gobbled it up! <— hello best news ever!
Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole
- 3-4 cups cooked rice
- 1 lb fresh broccoli (I used the tops as well as 2/3 of the stems)
- 1 medium onion (approx. 2 cups chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1.5 cups milk (2% or whole)
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg or allspice optional
- 4 oz gouda cheese (freshly grated)
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
- 1 TBSP butter (separate from above)
- 1/4-1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- optional fresh chopped parsley to garnish
- First cook your rice via your favorite method. I used my Instant Pot and you could also use a rice cooker or trusty stove-top method to fluff up some rice!
- While the rice cooks, roughly chop the broccoli florets and chop up those stems as well! I usually chop off the bottom-most portion of the stem and dice the remainder. You'll want a pound total which you can usually get out of one large head of broccoli! Cook via your favorite method. I blanched mine in boiling water until the tops turned bright green. Steaming works great too!
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.
- Heat a sauce pot to medium heat and add the butter, onion, and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft and tender, then add the flour and stir into a paste. Continue to stir and cook the paste for about two minutes, or just until it turns a light golden brown. I use whisk and babysit this step to prevent burning. The browning cooks off the four taste and will help us make our sauce nice and thick.
- Whisk the milk and vegetable broth into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk the mixture while it heats, allowing it to reach a simmer and thicken. Remove from the heat.
- Season with the salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. If you're a fan of nutmeg, add a pinch here. Allspice works great if you're not a fan of nutmeg! Gradually add half of your grated cheese and mix well. Give it a taste and add more seasoning if desired. Since we're not seasoning the broccoli or rice all the flavor is going to come from our dreamy, creamy cheese sauce!
- Pour the sauce over the rice, broccoli, and cheese, and stir until everything is evenly coated in sauce. Coat an 8x8 or 9x9 casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread the casserole mixture evenly in the dish. Top with the remaining shredded cheese.
- Melt 1 TBSP of butter in a small skillet and add breadcrumbs. Mix constantly while toasting, then sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake the casserole for 35 minutes, or until you get some light browning around the edges and on top.
adapted from Budget Bytes
If you get a chance to try this cheesy broccoli rice casserole, let me know! You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!
special diets and swaps
Gluten-Free? You can totally use your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour in place of the conventional flour to thicken the sauce. My favorite one is the cup for cup GF King Arthur flour blend. If you want to forgo the roux altogether that may be possible as well! There will be less of a thick cheese sauce to blanket the broccoli and rice with but I’m thinking the results would be crazy tasty all the same! Let me know if you get a chance to experiment!
hungry for more?
- Chopped Cauliflower Broccoli Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
- Broccoli Cauliflower Brussels Sprout Gratin
- Cheesy Kale, Mushroom, and Rice Casserole
- Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup
Delicious casserole. I used fresh steamed broccoli, plant based butter and full fat oat milk, but used real cheese. I try to use mostly plant based, but didn’t think the vegan cheese would work too well. It was pretty amazing.
So glad you enjoyed the broccoli casserole, Ken! Thanks!
I love this recipe because I am not a fan of canned mushroom soup! So, shout out to you for passing along this delicious recipe!
WOW, YUMMY! I used arborio rice and oven roasted my broccoli and carrots and a red pepper.Love, love, love the cheeseness and the delicious crumb topping. I combined panko and italian breadcrumbs. I think the nutmeg adds a wonderful “sweetness”. Thanks for a “keeper” recipe.
Love this recipe. Can you use a non grain flour to make the sauce? I am gluten free.
Thanks Vicki! I’ve used gluten-free all purpose flour blend from King Arthur flour to make roux for sauces before and had great luck!
Well, I never come and leave reviews over good recipes, but here I am because it’s that great. It seemed like it took me a lot longer than 35 minutes to prep, but I used fresh broccoli I needed to chop up and I shredded some of the cheese. I also had lots of little feet running around me so that always adds to it. Definitely worth making though! Yum!
Ahhhh yay! I am so honored you came back to leave a review, Emily. Thank you so much!
I will make this today. I have all the ingredients. Has anyone added feta? I have some feta just curious?
Hi- I want to make this dish for a potluck. Is is OK to 1 and 1/2 or double this recipe for a 9x 13 casserole dish?
So excited you’ll be making the recipe Karin! It can absolutely be doubled and if you wind up with more than a 9×13 can fit you can add the rest to a separate baking dish and you’ll be good to go!
Can I freeze this? Thank you
Hi Ashley! You should absolutely be able to freeze it. Stop at step 8 and after topping with cheese cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and label with the name/date. It should freeze up to 1 month I believe. To reheat – thaw overnight in fridge before baking. Add breadcrumb topping before baking and bake at 350F until hot and melty!
It was a challenge to make but well worth it!! Turned out absolutely perfect! I used gluten free all purpose flour and gluten free bread crumbs and it was the favorite dish today! This will be a go to dish in the future for sure.
Can you add a rotisserie chicken and make it a main coarse?
Yes absolutely! You may end up needing a little more sauce if the chicken soaks it up but since I haven’t tested it, keep me posted! xoxo
I’ll admit I was nervous to prep this, but it was TOTALLY worth it when my 2yo gobbled it down like a happy meal from mcD’s. Delish and good for ya. Definitely recommend this one.. Even for those picky eaters!!
I’m so thrilled y’all enjoyed the casserole! Thanks!
Delicious! Ive made this twice and really enjoyed it. The only part i get hung up on is step 8 says pour over broccoli cheese and rice but really youre supposed to save that other half for step 9. Im not a frequent cook but my friends now think im at least profocient thanks to you! Appreciate this recipe. Happy Thanksgiving!!
So so glad you’re enjoying the recipe and I hope you had a marvelous Thanksgiving Marcus!!!
i had the same question, can you clarify?
Hi Sudheshna! I’m afraid I don’t quite understand the question as the sauce should indeed be poured over the casserole in step 8. You should have some extra cheese left over for topping the casserole after the sauce is added, as half the grated cheese goes into the sauce, and the other half of the cheese goes on top after the sauce is poured. Let me know if this helps! xoxo
Could i make this the wednesday morning before thanksgiving dinner on thursday?
Thanks so much! Excited about it!!!
Hi Brandi! Thank you! I personally love the leftovers of this dish so I say go for the make-ahead tactics lol! By the next day the rice rice can soak up some of the saucy goodness but you can add alway stir in a little milk or broth if you’d like.
Though I haven’t had a chance to test it yet, I’m curious how it would work making the recipe through step 9 and saving that final bake and breadcrumb for Thanksgiving. Thoughts?
Made this for dinner tonight! It was delicious! I only had almond milk and gluten free breadcrumbs and it was SO yummy. The sauce was amazing! Thanks!
So stoked to hear it!!! Thanks Tera!
The combo of gouda + cheddar in here = magic! I love how cheesy and delicious this is.
Broccoli and cheese, you can’t go wrong! This sounds so yummy and comforting, and I love the spices added. Yum!
White rice? Wild rice? Brown rice? Or doesn’t really matter? Thanks
Whatever rice you adore and eat on the regular should work great! I used Basmati b/c it’s our favorite right now. I’ll add a note in case anyone else had the same question! Thanks Karen!