Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole: After much testing, this is my favorite way to make broccoli casserole. Simple ingredients layered in the right order can make something really delicious! | macheesmo.com
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Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole: After much testing, this is my favorite way to make broccoli casserole. Simple ingredients layered in the right order can make something really delicious! | macheesmo.com

I must admit that this Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole recipe took me more than a few times to get right. Some might think that’s embarrassing for a dude who has been developing recipes for almost a decade. After all, a casserole is about as basic as it gets right? RIGHT?!

I mean sure. If you are just stirring together stuff with a few cans of soup and popping it in the oven, that’s definitely true (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but making a casserole from scratch can be a lot harder than you might think.

It took a few stabs to nail down the right amount of rice (too much equals a brick) and the order of ingredients (can’t just stir everything together). The cool things are that A) I did all the work for ya. Just follow the steps ya’ll.  And, B) you can make this well in advance and pop it in the oven to reheat and it’s maybe even better than the first time you bake it because of some unknown casserole law of nature.

I won’t call it the Best Ever, because any long time reader knows my thoughts on that, but it’s damn good. Your work will be well rewarded.

Yield
Serves 6.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

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Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

After much testing, this is my favorite way to make broccoli casserole. Simple ingredients layered in the right order can make something really delicious!

Ingredients

2 pounds broccoli, blanched
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
2 cups cooked long grain white rice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces bacon, crispy
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a large 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Blanch broccoli in salted boiling water for about 2 minutes until it’s bright in color. It should still be a bit crispy, not soggy at all. Remove and let cool.
  3. If you need to cook rice, you can do so in the broccoli water, but it’s easiest to use leftover rice. Once rice is cooked, measure out two cups of cooked rice.
  4. Add chopped bacon to a skillet over low heat, cook until pieces are crispy and fat is rendered, about 7-8 minutes. Then remove bacon and add breadcrumbs. Stir well until bread crumbs absorb the bacon grease and start to brown. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large pot (you can use the same one for cooking broccoli and rice – just wipe it out), add butter and melt over medium heat. Then add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Add flour to the pot and stir. Cook for a minute or two, then add milk in 1/2 cup batches, stirring constantly to incorporate. Add cream last. Once mixture is together and warm, add rice. It’ll be a bit watery at this point, but will thicken while baking. Add mustard to mixture and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  7. Pour your rice base into the prepared casserole dish. Top with broccoli florets. Then top with grated cheese, followed by bacon and breadcrumbs.
  8. Bake casserole at 350 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes until it’s bubbly and browned on top.
  9. Serve while warm!

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

First, let’s just get this picture out of the way. This is WRONG. Very very wrong. It actually didn’t taste that bad but the proportions and toppings were just way off in my opinion.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

FAILURE.

Compare that to the nice clean layers and perfectly browned topping in the final version and you’ll agree that I had a lot of work together from my first version to my last version here.

But let’s start with bacon. You could easily make this casserole vegetarian by just toasting the breadcrumbs in some olive oil, but bacon is delicious so unless you have a reason not to, I’d add it.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Why not?!

Crisp up the bacon in a skillet and then use the bacon grease to brown your bread crumbs over LOW heat so they don’t get too toasty.

You’ll obviously need broccoli for this recipe. A lot of it actually. You could use frozen, but fresh is better. Blanch it in some salted water for a few minutes and then remove it. It should have some crunch too it still.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Lotsa trees.

Rice is the glue for this casserole. You can cook a batch in your broccoli water after blanching if you want or, even better, use leftover.

Actually measure the rice here people. The difference between two and three cups of rice in the casserole is the difference between perfection and brick of food.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

The glue.

The sauce the casserole is a standard béchamel sauce, but with onions and garlic added in. Melt the butter and cook the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Then add in the flour.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

The roux.

Once that cooks for a minute or two add the milk slowly, whisking or stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Then the cream and mustard.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in your rice. It’ll look a bit watery at this point, but will thicken as it bakes.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

This’ll be a bit watery.

The layers of this game are important. I actually don’t recommend stirring the broccoli and cheese into the rice base. Keeping stuff separate works better for this guy.

Pour in your rice mixture into a buttered dish. Then layer on your broccoli and cheese.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Layers.

Bacon and bread crumbs go last!

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

Bacon and crumbs.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until it’s bubbling and the topping is browned.

Let it cool a bit before serving, but it’s best warm obviously!

This ultimate broccoli cheddar casserole actually reheats beautifully. Feel free to make it in advance and warm it in a 300 degree oven until it’s heated through.

Fall is casserole season and this recipe is a keeper.

Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole: After much testing, this is my favorite way to make broccoli casserole. Simple ingredients layered in the right order can make something really delicious! | macheesmo.com

4 comments on “Ultimate Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

  1. Nick, can I cut the recipe in half to try it before Thanksgiving or will that mess up the proportions and the seasoning? Also, my recipe which I wrote to you about some weeks ago is corn pudding. I am trying a NYT recipe also for Thanksgiving but would love your input.

  2. Thanks Nick for sharing yet another great recipe. I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious to say the least. A keeper for sure. My husband and I ate half of it for supper. I had it for lunch the next day too. I wouldn’t cut the recipe in half as I don’t believe there would even be any left overs.

  3. Made this w/o bacon and w/ brown rice instead of white. Worked well (but I wish I’d included bacon)! Thanks!

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