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This broccoli casserole recipe is supremely creamy and cheesy and has an irresistible buttery and crunchy topping! If it’s not already a family favorite in your home, this classic is sure to become one very soon.
Why you’ll love it
Can you name a more iconic combo than broccoli and cheddar? This broccoli cheddar casserole is rich, decadent, and will please the pickiest eaters. Pair it with a Sunday roast, or bring it to a holiday meal. I know that every year at my table it’s requested as a Thanksgiving side dish. It’s equally delicious for any old weeknight to complement a variety of main courses, though.
This broccoli cheese casserole is a side dish that’s made with love! And by that I mean we’re making this casserole from scratch without condensed soup. Trust me, the results are extremely worth it for that homestyle, feels-special-but-isn’t-hard-to-make taste. And if you’re looking for a way to get your kids to eat broccoli, look no further than this straightforward recipe. Each bite has tender, cheesy broccoli and the heavenly crunchy topping.
Is this broccoli gratin?
- Pretty much! This casserole just has a less fancy name. The breadcrumbs in broccoli au gratin are swapped for crushed Ritz crackers in my version, but you could certainly use breadcrumbs as the topping if you prefer.
What you’ll need
- Broccoli – we’re using fresh broccoli here, but see tips for frozen below!
- Cream cheese – for the base of the creamy sauce. I use Philadelphia.
- Heavy cream – it adds luxuriousness and moisture to the sauce
- Onion powder and garlic powder – along with salt & pepper, our aromatic seasonings
- Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce – both are my not-so-secret ingredients to make the sauce next level delicious. They are both savory flavor enhancers.
- Cheddar cheese – be sure to buy a good quality sharp/old cheddar for the best flavor. It’s always best to get a block and grate it yourself so that it melts properly. I grated the cheddar with this Microplane grater.
- Parmesan cheese – what makes my version extra special. More cheese! Using two varieties adds more dimension.
- Ritz crackers and butter – to make the golden crunchy topping
How to make broccoli casserole
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Boil a large pot of water for the broccoli and prepare the recipe ingredients. Cook the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, then drain it well and add it to a 9×13 baking dish. Make the creamy cheddar sauce in a skillet by whisking together the sauce ingredients. Once you’ve got a smooth sauce, stir in the cheddar.
Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli and toss so that every floret is coated, and then spread it out evenly in the casserole dish.
Top the casserole with the remaining cheddar and the parmesan cheese. Mix the Ritz crumbs with the melted butter, then sprinkle it on top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly!
How to make broccoli casserole ahead
- A day or two ahead of time: assemble it up until just before the baking step, cover the casserole dish tightly, and refrigerate once it’s cooled down a bit. You may want to wait to add the Ritz topping until just before baking so that it remains crispy. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until it’s heated through.
- For the freezer: assemble just prior to the baking step as outlined above, cover the casserole dish tightly, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until heated through.
Substitutions and variations
- You can use frozen broccoli instead of fresh here. In that case, I recommend thawing it first and draining it well. You can then skip the boiling step since it’s already partially cooked before it’s frozen.
- Don’t have Ritz crackers? Try using panko breadcrumbs instead. You could use regular breadcrumbs, but they will be a bit denser and you may want to toast them in a skillet for a few minutes ahead of time to get the browning process started.
- Sub the cream for something lower fat at your own discretion. The sauce may not thicken up the same, and it’s possible it’ll curdle. You may need to make a roux if you go that route.
- Try making it even more decadent by adding some crumbled Oven Cooked Bacon right over top!
What to serve with it
- Since it’s fairly rich, this broccoli casserole pairs well with Easy Pan Seared Pork Chops Recipe or Parmesan Crusted Chicken for a comforting family meal any time of the year.
- It’s fantastic for a special occasion, so make it with holiday favorites like Easy Roast Turkey or my Easy Roast Chicken (Lemon & Herb).
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers of this cheesy broccoli casserole will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days if it’s covered, but keep in mind that the topping will lose its crunch as time goes on, and it’ll absorb some of the sauce as well.
- Pop the baking dish right back in the oven to reheat leftovers if still in there. Or you can reheat in a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through, or warm it up in short increments in a microwave-safe dish.
- I wouldn’t recommend freezing leftovers. Once cooked, it won’t hold up very well after thawing.
Questions about this cheesy broccoli casserole recipe? Let me know in the comments below, or leave me a review! I’d love to see your creations, so tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- 6 cups broccoli florets see note
- 8 ounces cream cheese (1 block Philly) softened, see note
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 1 cup Crushed Ritz crackers or panko breadcrumbs
- Boil a pot of water for the broccoli. While you're waiting for it to boil, start prepping all the recipe ingredients (ensure they're ready to go before starting the sauce). For the melted butter, I recommend microwaving it in a small bowl and setting it aside until needed.
- Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli and cook it for 2-3 minutes, then drain well and add it to a 9×13 casserole dish.
- To a skillet or medium saucepan, add the cream cheese, cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, and some salt & pepper. Cook it over medium-high heat, stirring/whisking nearly constantly until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce (this should take about 5-6 minutes). The sauce consistency should be similar to (or a little thicker than) Alfredo sauce.
- Take the skillet off the heat and stir in half of the cheddar cheese (stir until smooth).
- Pour the sauce over the broccoli, then toss and spread it in an even layer.
- Top the casserole with the remaining cheddar, followed by the parmesan.
- Add the crushed Ritz crackers to the bowl that has the melted butter and stir until they're evenly coated in butter.
- Top the casserole with the buttery Ritz pieces. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.
- Let the casserole sit for 5 minutes prior to serving.
- Wondering how much broccoli to buy? It’s not an exact science because broccoli comes in all sizes, sometimes has larger or smaller stems, and you also will cut it into different sized florets every time. For this recipe, I buy between 1.5-2 pounds of broccoli to ensure I have enough for 6 cups. You can always add a bit more than suggested or use the leftover broccoli in another recipe.
- Take the cream cheese out of the fridge at least an hour prior to starting the recipe and/or microwave it in 20-30 second intervals (it should be very soft).
- Serves 6-8 depending on portion size/what it’s served with.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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