This Cheesy Broccoli Casserole has tender broccoli smothered in a rich and creamy homemade cheddar cheese sauce, and is topped with crushed butter crackers. This is one Thanksgiving side dish that is sure to please them all!
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole Recipe
When I was a kid, smothered in cheese sauce is literally the only way I would eat broccoli. I’m pretty sure that what actually ended up in my mouth was way more cheese than broccoli. I’m also fairly certain that if the words broccoli casserole ever crossed my mother’s lips, I’d run from the table. My kids aren’t fans of cooked broccoli either, and I realized that I had never showed them my mom’s method to get me to eat it.
With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s a perfect time to be sharing casseroles and hearty side dishes like this one. My Broccoli Cheese Casserole is full of cheesy goodness with a crispy crunchy topping that people go nuts for. I have to refrain myself from picking off that yummy topping while I’m waiting for the rest of dinner to be ready!
So what’s so great about this broccoli casserole?
- It’s cheesy – I use a made from scratch cheese sauce that is super easy and so tasty.
- That crunchy topping though – I am pretty much a sucker for a crispy, crunchy topping and the buttery ritz crackers crushed on top are so yummy.
- Did I mention it’s so cheesy?
How Do You Make Broccoli Casserole?
This Broccoli Cheese Casserole couldn’t be easier to make!
- The broccoli is blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to get the cooking process started, then smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. The sauce is just a roux of flour, butter and milk (or half & half) and cheddar cheese.
- The topping is just crushed up butter crackers (like Ritz) and melted butter with a little more shredded cheddar thrown in for good measure. Because you can’t have too much cheese in a broccoli casserole.
- Toss the broccoli with the cheese sauce, top it with the crushed crackers and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The top will get nice and golden and the cheese sauce will be bubbling up on the side and it will look and smell amazing. That’s how you know it’s finished!
- If it’s not brown enough for you, flip on the broiler for a few minutes until it’s golden.
PRO TIP: Broccoli has a pretty strong flavor on it’s own, so a bunch of seasonings and spices aren’t necessary. Add a little garlic powder, nutmeg or paprika to the cheese sauce to kick it up a little and call it good.
Can this be made with other vegetables?
Yes! Cauliflower would be a super easy swap. Baby carrots would also work.
Can a Broccoli Cheese Casserole be Frozen?
Absolutely! Here are some tips for freezing your broccoli casserole.
- Bake the casserole and let it cool completely. Putting a warm casserole in the freezer will encourage condensation to form inside the dish resulting in a soggy and inedible mess when thawing.
- Cover tightly. Wrap the cooled dish with plastic wrap, then tightly with foil. You could even slide the dish into a freezer zip-top bag for an extra layer of protection.
- To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight. Bake the thawed, uncovered broccoli casserole in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until it’s hot in the center. If it needs longer and starts to get too brown on top, cover it with foil and continue baking.
Can I make broccoli casserole ahead of time?
If you want to make this casserole a day in advance you can definitely do that. There are two options that will work equally well.
- Make and bake the casserole a day ahead. Cool, cover tightly with foil, and store in the fridge. Reheat, covered, at the recipe provided temperature until hot and bubbly.
- Prepare the casserole and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Bake at the recommended temperature and add 5-10 minutes.
Best cheeses to use in a casserole
Sharp cheddar is the king of cheeses when it comes to a good, creamy cheese sauce for broccoli casserole. However you could also use a milder cheese like Mozzarella, Monterey Jack or a sharper cheese like Fontina, Parmesan of Blue Cheese. It helps to know what cheese pair best with what flavors. Adding a little Parmesan is never a bad call.
Everybody loves this delicious broccoli casserole, and I bet your family will too!
Here are some more broccoli recipes we love:
- Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Soup
- 15 Minute Broccoli Tortellini Alfredo
- Broccoli Slaw with Apples and Dried Cherries
And how about some more cheese side dishes:
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Easy Cheese and Ranch Potatoes
- Ham & Cheese Biscuits
- Creamy Homemade Alfredo Sauce
Watch how to make a Broccoli and Cheese Casserole:
Easy Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- 2 ½ pounds broccoli florets roughly chopped (7-8 cups)
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 3/4 cups half & half
- 8 ounces about 2 1/4 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese (divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 sleeve butter crackers like Ritz, about 30
- ¼ cup butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a medium sized rectangle baking dish (about 11x7) with cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add broccoli and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, garlic powder and paprika and cook for several minutes until golden. Add half & half and bring to a simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for topping). Stir in salt and black pepper. Taste and add salt as desired.
- Arrange broccoli in the baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over the broccoli and gently stir to coat.
- In a small bowl, combine crushed crackers with melted butter and stir in the remaining cheese. Sprinkle cracker mixture evenly over the casserole.
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned. If topping isn't browned enough, place under the broiler for a few minutes.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
- To freeze, bake and cool casserole completely, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed in step 6.