A delicious, creamy, cheesy broccoli casserole made from scratch and with fresh broccoli will be your new favorite side dish. It’s really very simple to make this casserole with broccoli, and everyone loves it!
This broccoli bake is probably the easiest way to make sure everyone eats their veggies. Because, even if you aren’t a fan of broccoli, you won’t be able to resist it when it’s enveloped in a cheesy fresh cream sauce and topped with a buttery, crunchy topping.
I definitely eat more broccoli in one sitting when it’s broccoli casserole for dinner. This might be true of all vegetables actually. Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, and this Pasta with Peas recipe all have the benefit of making a vegetable extra appealing.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- From Scratch: This is a fresh broccoli casserole, made from scratch with a homemade cream sauce with cheese. It’s completely delicious this way, and I don’t think I can ever make it with canned soup again.
- No Canned Soup: Who even knows what’s in that stuff? This casserole uses simple ingredients that you might already have on hand.
- Perfect Side Dish: Cheesy broccoli casserole is the side dish that is always welcome on the table. Everyone loves it, and it pairs well with all sorts of main dishes. You can serve broccoli casserole for a holiday dinner, or a regular weeknight meal.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Broccoli: Fresh broccoli cut into florets is preferred, but you can also use frozen broccoli florets for this recipe. We will blanch the fresh broccoli first to get the cooking process started. If you’re using frozen broccoli, just thaw it.
- Butter, onion, and flour: Because we aren’t using any canned soup or sauce, the base for this recipe starts the way most creamy sauces start: with a savory onion-y roux. This will thicken the sauce and add lots of warm flavor.
- Cheese: We are using both shredded cheddar cheese and grated parmesan cheese to make this cheesy, delicious broccoli casserole.
- Milk: This gives our sauce the perfect amount of creaminess. I suggest using either 2% or whole milk. A milk with less fat won’t be quite as creamy.
- Crackers: The crunchy topping for broccoli casserole is just crushed up crackers with butter. Use a buttery cracker like Ritz, or cheese crackers like Cheez-its.
How to Make Broccoli Casserole
First, we will blanch our fresh broccoli florets, then we’ll make a creamy cheese sauce, and then we’ll put it all together.
- Prepare: Boil a large pot of water and prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes.
- Blanch: Add the broccoli to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. The broccoli should be bright in color, crisp, but tender at the same time.
- Chill: Remove from the saucepan and plunge the florets into the ice water. Leave for 4-5 minutes, then drain and set aside to add to the casserole later. Check the broccoli so it’s easy to pierce with a fork.
- Cook Onion: In a skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium high heat and sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
- Finish Sauce: Add flour, and cool while stirring for 1 minute. Then gradually add the milk while whisking. The sauce will thicken. Season with salt, then add 1 cup of cheddar cheese and all of the parmesan. Stir until the cheeses melt.
- Combine: Stir the blanched broccoli florets into the cheese sauce.
- Make Topping: Melt the remaining butter in the microwave, then in a small bowl combine the crushed crackers with melted butter and ½ cup of cheddar cheese.
- Bake: If you’re not using an oven safe skillet like mine, add the broccoli mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish. Top the broccoli with the crumb topping. Bake for 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.
Don’t skip the blanching step. Cooking the broccoli partway by blanching is key to making sure that the broccoli is tender when the casserole is done baking. You can also steam the broccoli, cutting the usual time in half so that it doesn’t overcook.
Bake in the skillet. If your skillet is oven-safe, feel free to make the whole casserole in one pan. Otherwise, bake this in a 9×13 inch casserole dish, or a shallow oval casserole dish.
Add More Flavor. The flavors in this casserole are pretty basic, but definitely enough. If you like a more bold broccoli casserole, you can add garlic to the sauce, or a splash of hot sauce for an extra kick.
Serve a Crowd. This recipe serves 8 as a side dish. You can double the recipe easily, and bake in a larger pan, or just bake in two casserole dishes.
Careful when Crushing: You don’t want to crush the crackers too finely for the broccoli casserole topping. A bit of texture is good here.
What to Serve with Broccoli Casserole
Yes, you can use frozen broccoli in this recipe, although I really recommend using fresh broccoli if you can. Frozen broccoli will not need to be blanched. Instead, allow it to thaw, and drain it before adding to the cheese sauce.
More cheese is always better, right? Sharp cheddar is the traditional option for this casserole, but you can get creative. Substitute ½ cup of the cheddar in the sauce with Velveeta cheese for a super creamy option. You can also replace the cheddar completely with another melty cheese like gouda, or Colby cheese. Add extra cheese if you like, but not too much more. You want the sauce to stay creamy.
The parmesan cheese is more of a seasoning in this recipe. I suggest you keep that one for the umami flavor notes that it adds.
Feel free to substitute cauliflower for all or some of the broccoli in this recipe. You can also add other vegetables like kale or sauteed mushrooms to your broccoli bake.
This delicious homemade broccoli casserole will be a dinner time favorite at your house after the first time you make it! Be sure to pin this recipe for later if you aren’t cooking it right now.
- 2 pounds (900g) broccoli cut into small florets (1 inch pieces)
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- ½ medium yellow onion finely diced
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups 350ml milk I used 2%
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers or any buttery or cheesey crackers
- 9 x13 casserole dish
Blanch the broccoli:
- In a large pot, boil water and salt it.
- Prepare an ice bath by combining cold water and ice cubes in a large bowl, and set aside.
- Add the broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes, the broccoli should be bright in color, crisp but tender at the same time. Do not overcook.
- Remove from the saucepan, and plunge into the ice bath. Leave for 4-5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
To make the creamy cheese sauce:
- In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat and sauté the onion until soft and translucent.
- Add flour, and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Then gradually add the milk while whisking, the sauce will thicken. Season with salt, then add 1 cup of cheddar and all of the parmesan. Stir the cheeses in until they melt.
- Add the broccoli florets to the sauce, and stir gently to coat the broccoli with the cheese sauce.
Make the Topping:
- Melt the remaining butter in the microwave, then in a small bowl combine the crushed crackers with melted butter, and ½ cup of cheddar cheese.
- Top the broccoli with the crumb topping. Bake for 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown, and the sauce is bubbly.
- Frozen Broccoli. I recommend that you use fresh broccoli, but if you’re using frozen broccoli then thaw it completely and drain it from any liquid. You do not need to blanch it.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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