This Creamy Broccoli Rice Casserole is made with three types of cheese, tender broccoli, white rice and topped with more melty cheese! Plus there is no canned soup in this recipe! This broccoli and rice casserole is great on its own as a main course or as a stellar side dish. Perfect for the holidays or a dinner with family and friends. Plus, kids are sure to love it (all while eating their greens)!
Easy Broccoli Rice Casserole
I’m thrilled to share this Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe with you today because it has quickly become one of my all-time favorite casseroles ever! It’s comfort food at its finest loaded with fresh broccoli, tender rice, and three different kinds of cheeses — sharp cheddar, cream cheese, and Parmesan.
And the best part? This dish is a great way to entice your kids to eat their green vegetables because they’re mixed with so many delicious and familiar ingredients. It’s a perfect addition to your holiday table, served as a vegetarian-friendly main course, or as a simple side dish. It’s also a great addition to potlucks! However you eat it, you’re sure to enjoy!
Broccoli Rice Casserole Ingredients
Perhaps the best part of this recipe is that there’s no condensed or canned soup in this recipe! No cream of chicken, cream of celery, cream of mushroom, or cream of whatever. Only wholesome fresh and dry ingredients that allow you to control the amount of salt in this dish.
- Broccoli: Cut into bite-sized pieces. Fresh broccoli works best however frozen thawed and drained broccoli could be used as well.
- Rice: Cooked long grain white rice works best however brown rice can be substituted. The rice is cooked beforehand. This is a great meal to make when you have leftover rice!
- Unsalted butter: And flour make the base of our cheese sauce: the roux. This thickens the sauce and makes it oh so creamy.
- Milk: I used whole milk however use whatever you have on hand!
- Seasonings: To flavor the cheese sauce we add mustard powder, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.
- Cheese: I use a combination of cheese in my cheesy broccoli rice casserole for extra flavor. Grated parmesan, cream cheese and extra sharp cheddar cheese are added.
How To Make Broccoli Rice Casserole
Prep Work: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9 x 13 pan with non stick cooking spray.
Blanch the Broccoli: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in broccoli and cook for 2 minutes then immediately transfer it to a bowl with cold ice water, set aside.
Make a Roux: Heat butter in a medium saucepan. Add in flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly.
Add in the Milk and Dry Spices: Allow this mixture to come to a simmer stirring constantly over medium heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.
Stir in the Cheese: Take off of the heat, and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine Ingredients for the Casserole: Add cooked rice, blanched broccoli and cheese sauce to a large bowl or the pot you cooked the broccoli in. Toss to combine then layer into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Bake: Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.
Serve immediately, and enjoy!
How To Blanch Broccoli
The trick to preventing your broccoli from turning to mush during the cooking process — especially if you’re planning to bake it — is to blanch it.
Blanching is a culinary technique in which vegetables, especially green vegetables like broccoli or asparagus, are flash boiled for just a couple minutes, then submerged in an ice bath to halt the cooking process in its tracks. This ensures that it’s cooked enough to break down cell walls of the vegetables molecular structure, but not to much so that it’s fully cooked; similar to browning meat.
Blanching is often practiced before freezing vegetables so they don’t succumb to freezer burn or spoil, but it’s also useful in this Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe because it allows the broccoli to cook enough to easily bite into, but not so much that it melts into the rest of the dish.
- Add more vegetables: Diced carrots, peas, or mushrooms would be amazing in this. You could also swap the broccoli for cauliflower florets.
- Add some crunch: Crumbled up ritz crackers or toasted panko can be added to the top of the casserole along with the cheddar cheese.
- Use your favorite type of cheese: I love using extra sharp cheddar cheese in this recipe however use what you have on hand. Monetary jack cheese, Colby swiss or gouda would all be great.
- To make this low carb substitute the cooked rice for cauliflower or quinoa!
- Substitute frozen broccoli: I recommend using fresh broccoli in this easy broccoli rice casserole. However if you would like to use frozen broccoli instead simply thaw the broccoli first before tossing it with the rice and cheese sauce. I also like to make sure I drain the broccoli after it’s thawed to remove any excess moisture which could make the casserole watery.
Chicken broccoli and rice casserole: Make this a meal and add in your favorite protein. Leftover rotisserie chicken or my instant pot shredded chicken would both work great.
Can Broccoli Rice Casserole be made ahead of time?
I love making this casserole during the holidays because it is so easy to make ahead of time. Simply make the recipe as directed and store it unbaked covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake! Allow it to come to room temperature while the oven preheats then bake as directed.
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
- Store leftover broccoli cheese rice casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freeze the cooled and cooked casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to 3 months. To reheat defrost overnight in the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake as directed.
- Reheat this casserole in the microwave with some water or chicken broth for 3-5 minutes, or in the oven until warmed through and bubbling around the edges.
More Recipes To Try
- Instant Pot Potato Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower
- The BEST Broccoli Salad
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Green Bean Casserole
Broccoli Rice Casserole
This Broccoli Rice Casserole recipe is great on its own as a main course or as a stellar side dish. Perfect for the holidays or a dinner with family and friends.
- 4 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 ounces softened cream cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with non stick cooking spray.Blanch the broccoli: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add in broccoli and cook for 2 minutes then immediately transfer it to a bowl with cold ice water, set aside.
- Make a roux: Heat butter in a medium saucepan. Add in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add in milk and spices: And allow it to come to a simmer stirring constantly over medium heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.
- Stir in cheese: Take off of the heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and cream cheese. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss everything together: Add cooked rice, blanched broccoli and cheese sauce to a large bowl or the pot you cooked the broccoli in. Toss to combine then layer into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Bake: Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve: Immediately and enjoy!