Deliciously cheesy broccoli casserole will convince even the most reluctant picky eaters that this vegetable is, in fact, worth eating!
Ready in just 30 minutes, it makes an easy weeknight side dish. Or mix in a protein to turn it into a complete meal.
Alas, not everyone in my household agrees that broccoli is yummy, which is why I created this broccoli cheese casserole. It's a reliable way to serve broccoli to picky children, but it’s also loved by adults. I especially like how easy it is to make – it’s ready in just 30 minutes!
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty casserole. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Fresh broccoli: Frozen and defrosted broccoli works too, although fresh does taste better and it also has a better texture.
Mayonnaise: I prefer avocado oil-based mayonnaise, but any mayonnaise will work.
Dijon mustard: This traditional French mustard is creamier and less vinegary than yellow mustard.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Garlic powder and cayenne. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Grated cheddar: I like to use extra-sharp cheddar. I love its strong flavor.
Making this broccoli cheese casserole is SO EASY. The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
You'll want to lightly pre-cook the broccoli before placing it in the baking dish. You can do this in the microwave.
Next, mix the broccoli with the cream sauce. Transfer it to a baking dish and sprinkle it with cheese. Bake for a few minutes until hot and bubbly.
If your baking dish is broiler-safe you can broil this casserole instead of baking it, which is actually my preferred method. It gets the cheese browned fast without overcooking the broccoli.
Frequently asked questions
Yes. But make sure you cook it minimally and lightly, or it will end up overcooked and mushy.
You can use fresh or frozen broccoli in this recipe. So it's one of those side dishes that you can always whip up, even if you're out of fresh produce.
Having said that, this dish does taste significantly better if you use fresh broccoli. So whenever possible, that's what I use.
I don't, but you can whisk 2-3 eggs and mix them into the mayonnaise mixture to add volume and make the casserole sturdier. The addition of eggs will turn it into a casserole that you can slice rather than scoop out.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a few ideas for you:
- Add some type of protein to the casserole, such as shredded rotisserie chicken. You'll need to increase the sauce by about 50% if you do. So add ¼ cup more mayonniase, and also increase the mustard and spices.
- Add bacon bits or chopped cooked bacon to the mixture.
- Use additional spices, such as onion powder and dried thyme.
- A nice variation on this recipe is to make it pizza-flavored. So you make it the same way, but you use 1 cup of no-sugar pizza sauce (such as Rao's) instead of the creamy sauce (there's no need to add water), and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella instead of the cheddar.
This is a versatile side dish that truly goes with anything. But since I bake it in a 400°F oven, I like to serve it with main dishes that I can cook in the same oven. So I often serve it with one of the following:
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about 3 days. Reheat them in a 250°F oven, or in the microwave on 50% power. You can also freeze this casserole for up to three months.
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Broccoli Cheese Casserole
- Olive oil spray
- 1 lb. fresh small broccoli florets
- ½ cup avocado oil mayonnaise (or sour cream, or ¼ cup of each)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon fine sea salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup grated cheddar divided
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil.
- Place the broccoli florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on high until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another large bowl, prepare the creamy sauce. Mix together the mayonnaise (or sour cream), Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and half of the grated cheddar cheese. Add a little water to thin out the mixture, about 1 tablespoon.
- Drain the broccoli well and add it to the creamy sauce. Gently toss to coat.
- Transfer the coated broccoli to the prepared baking dish. Lightly spray the top with olive oil. Evenly sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top.
- Bake the casserole until golden brown and bubbly around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.