This broccoli cheese casserole will convince even the most reluctant picky eaters that broccoli 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, so I created this broccoli cheese casserole. It's a reliable way to serve broccoli to picky children, but adults also love it. I especially like how easy it is to make – it’s ready in 30 minutes!
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this 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.
- To season: Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Grated cheddar: I like to use extra-sharp cheddar. I love its intense flavor.
- Add some type of protein to the casserole, such as a cup of shredded rotisserie chicken. If you do, increase the sauce by about 50%. So add ¼ cup more of mayonnaise, and increase the mustard and spices by 50%.
- I like to add ¼ cup of bacon bits or chopped cooked bacon to the mixture.
- You can use additional spices, such as onion powder and - my personal favorite - dried thyme. You can use ½ teaspoon of each.
- Replace the mayonnaise with sour cream, or use ¼ cup of each. I prefer mayonnaise, but sour cream works too.
- 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.
Broccoli Cheese Casserole Instructions
Here's an overview of the steps for making this recipe. The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below.
You'll want to lightly pre-cook the broccoli before placing it in the baking dish. You can do this in the microwave. (Microwave broccoli is an excellent side dish, by the way).
Prepare the creamy sauce. Mix mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and grated cheddar cheese.
Mix the broccoli with the sauce.
Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle it with more cheese. Bake the casserole 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 my preferred method. It gets the cheese browned fast without overcooking the broccoli.
Yes. But cook it minimally and lightly, or it will become overcooked and mushy.
You can use fresh or frozen broccoli in this recipe. So it's one of those side dishes you can always whip up, even if you're out of fresh produce.
Having said that, this casserole tastes 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. Adding eggs will turn it into a casserole you can slice rather than scoop.
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 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 at 50% power. You can also freeze this casserole for up to three months.
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Broccoli Cheese Casserole
- Olive oil spray
- 1 pound fresh broccoli florets (small florets work best)
- ½ cup avocado oil mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon of any other salt)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (just a pinch if you don't like spicy food)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese grated, divided
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil.
- Place the broccoli florets in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another large bowl, prepare the creamy sauce. Mix the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and half the grated cheddar cheese. Add a small amount of water to thin 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.
- If your baking dish is broiler-safe, you can broil the casserole in the middle of the oven until browned, 2-3 minutes. This method is better than baking because it ensures the broccoli is not overcooked.
- You can use fresh or frozen broccoli in this recipe. So it's one of those side dishes you can always whip up, even if you're out of fresh produce. Having said that, this casserole does taste significantly better if you use fresh broccoli. So whenever possible, that's what I use.
- 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 at 50% power. You can also freeze this casserole for up to three months.