The Best Broccoli Rice Casserole Comes From Scratch

This homemade broccoli rice casserole uses fresh broccoli florets, delicate long-grain rice, and a simple cream cheese sauce to create a wonderful vegetarian main or side dish.

Despite the fact that the name “broccoli rice casserole” conjures up images of the stereotypical 1970s dish, this version is everything from boring. In this new, homemade spin on a classic, you won’t find any canned soup or soggy broccoli.

Exactly what constitutes Broccoli Rice Casserole?

This vegetarian dish is composed of fresh broccoli florets and long-grain white rice. A cheddar cheese topping and a cream cheese sauce coat the filling. As it bakes, the layers combine to form a creamy casserole that can stand on its own as a main meal for vegetarians or be served as a side with grilled or baked meats.

Broccoli, Fresh or Frozen?

The fresh broccoli is what makes this dish special. When the florets are blanched, they retain their bright green color and get a head start without becoming mushy when cooked in the dish.

It’s fine to use frozen broccoli if you want, but know that it will have a milder flavor and be mushy than fresh. The dish may be assembled by letting the frozen florets thaw, then draining the excess water before mixing them with the cooked rice.

Helpful Hints

The food should not be baked for too long:

Avoid drying out the casserole by not baking it for too long. After around 30 minutes, the sauce will begin to boil, and since all of the ingredients are already cooked, it will only need to bubble for another 5 minutes before it is ready to serve. If you leave the casserole out for too long, it may dry out.

Prepare the rice on your own:

 The finest results, in my opinion, may be achieved when using long-grain rice prepared in either of three ways: by boiling, by using a pressure cooker, or by using a rice cooker. Parboiled rice that I boiled in a bag and used in the recipe turned out to be a dried mess. Instead, you should put any leftover rice aside for fried rice.

DIY cheese shredding:

Bags of pre-shredded cheese aren’t worth the time or money saved. Never use pre-shredded cheese in this dish; always use the cheese you’ve shredded yourself. Freshly shredded cheese melts more evenly than pre-shredded cheese because it lacks the chemicals used to prevent clumping in the latter.

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Substitutes for Ingredients:

The nice part about cheesy dishes is that you can experiment with different types of cheese to create a unique flavor. In place of the cheddar, you might use other melty cheeses like Colby, fontina, Havarti, provolone, or smoked Gouda.


Although broccoli is the star of this show, other vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus can be substituted for a portion of it. Do as you would with broccoli and blanch them. Onion, whether sautéed or caramelized, is also a unique ingredient.

Although white long-grain rice is my go-to for this dish, cooked long-grain brown rice works just as well.

Simple Variations on a Classic:

Broccoli and Rice Bake

This meal may be served as either a vegetarian side or a main course, and meat can easily be substituted if desired. Meats like bacon, ham, turkey, chicken, and rotisserie chicken can be added after being chopped and cooked. Avoid having your casserole dish overflow by sticking to 1–2 cups of meat.

Add some sautéed sliced mushrooms for some meatless protein if you’re looking for a heartier vegetarian option. White buttons, cremini, and even maitake mushrooms cooked to a cup each provide a delicious taste to this dish.

Have a Successful Outcome

You may create this casserole up to 24 hours ahead of time, but it’s best when cooked right away. Put together the casserole but skip the baking step; instead, cover it in plastic and keep it in the fridge.

Plan on letting it set out for about 30 minutes at room temperature to let the ingredients warm up. The sauce needs to bubble for approximately 5 minutes before it’s ready to serve, so you may need to bake it for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Because of the rice, freezing this dish is not recommended. It tends to go mushy when cooked.


  • 1 cup of uncooked long-grain white rice 1 1/2 cups of water
  • Divide 1 3/4 tablespoons of salt into
  • florets from 1 pound of broccoli crowns (approximately 2 tiny crowns) (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter, plus extra for coating the pan
  • a scant 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
  • Two cups of regular milk
  • A block of cream cheese, 2 ounces softened
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, 1/2 teaspoon
  • a pinch of dried garlic
  • 14 teaspoons of cayenne pepper powder
  • Shredded cheese equivalent to 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) of medium-aged cheddar.
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley


Broccoli Rice Casserole

Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit:

Prepare an 8×8-inch or equivalent 2-quart casserole dish by greasing it with butter.

To prepare the rice, place it in a mesh colander and cover it with water. Drain it well after rinsing for 30 seconds under running water.

Put some rice and water into a big pot:

 Fifty percent of a teaspoon of salt should be mixed in. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Keep a tight eye on it during the cooking process and reduce the heat to low after 10 minutes.

After the ten minutes are up, remove the pot from the heat and leave it covered. With a fork, fluff the rice, and put the pot to one side.

Broccoli should be blanched:

In the meantime, boil some water in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. While it’s heating up, fill half of a medium bowl with ice water.

To the boiling water, toss the broccoli. Allow the water to come to a boil and simmer until the broccoli is brilliant green, 3 to 5 minutes. Broccoli may be blanched for 3 minutes if you like it crisp, or 5 minutes if you prefer it mushy.

The broccoli should be transferred from the boiling water to the icy water using a spider spatula or a slotted spoon. Drain the broccoli after it has soaked in the cold water for 5 minutes, and place it in a big bowl.

Prepare the casserole by combining:

Cooked rice should be added to the bowl containing the broccoli and stirred to mix.

Get started on the cream cheese sauce by:

Butter should be melted over medium heat in a pot of appropriate size. When the flour is added, it should be whisked in right away to prevent lumps from forming. This should take around 90 seconds, or until a boiling, golden paste develops on the bottom of the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the milk while whisking continually. Keep cooking for another 2–3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until melted and creamy. Combine the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

Put together the dish by:

Put in the prepared casserole dish about 3/4 of the broccoli and rice. Add a half cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Spread the cheddar cheese with the cream cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining broccoli and rice on top, and then gently press the entire thing into the sauce. The remaining cheese should be sprinkled on top.

To prevent any cleanup after baking, set the casserole on a sheet pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until cheese is melted, broccoli edges are browned, and sauce is boiling.

Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes after garnishing and serving. Serve heatedly with a sprinkle of minced parsley on top.

You may keep refrigerated leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. Single portions are best reheated in the microwave.

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