Broccoli cheese baked potatoes make the perfect comfort food meal for any busy weeknight. Perfectly baked, fluffy potatoes are topped with a flavorful cheese sauce filled with tender broccoli.
Looking to take the classic baked potato to the next level? Broccoli cheese baked potatoes are the perfect choice. Perfectly baked, fluffy potatoes are topped with a creamy and flavorful homemade cheese sauce that's filled with tender steamed broccoli.
Sound like too much work for a busy weeknight? The cheese sauce comes together in just ten minutes on the stovetop and broccoli can be steamed in the microwave. All while your potatoes bake to perfection in the oven.
Broccoli cheese baked potatoes are hearty enough to be served on their own as a complete meal. Or, add to your favorite main course, like pan seared flank steak.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Potatoes - I highly recommend using russet potatoes. They are low in moisture and high in starch, meaning they'll bake up light and fluffy in the oven. Russet potatoes may also be labeled as Idaho potatoes in the US. Sweet potatoes would also work as an alternative in this recipe.
- Salt - You'll need two tablespoons of salt to make a brine. Not all of this salt will make its way onto your potatoes, so don't worry about them turning out "salty".
- Water - Used to make a brine - simple tap water is fine.
- Broccoli - One head of broccoli chopped into small florets, or frozen broccoli florets, will work for this recipe.
- Butter - Can be substituted with olive oil if needed (but butter adds better flavor to the cheese sauce).
- Flour - All-purpose flour is necessary to make a roux, which thickens the cheese sauce.
- Milk - Whole milk is best because it makes a thick and creamy sauce. Using a lower fat milk results in a thinner sauce.
- Cheese - I used sharp cheddar cheese, but monterey jack, gruyere, or pepper jack would also work as substitutes. I highly recommend using freshly grated cheese from a block rather than pre-grated bagged cheese. Pre-grated cheese are coated in anti-clumping powders that add a grainy texture when melted.
- Hot sauce - Just enough hot sauce is added for flavor without making the sauce hot or spicy. Feel free to add more to taste.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, and paprika add flavor to the cheese sauce.
Baked potato tips
- Potato size - Choose medium potatoes that are all about the same size - around 8 to 10 ounces is ideal for this recipe. This way, your potatoes all finish cooking at the same time. Larger potatoes take much longer to cook through.
- Scrub your potatoes - Give your potatoes a quick scrub under running water before beginning. Potatoes are often coated in dirt and debris that washes off easily.
- Prick with a fork - Prick each potato about 6 times with a fork - about ¼ to ½ inch deep. This helps prevent your potatoes from exploding in the oven.
- Do not wrap in foil - Wrapping potatoes in foil traps moisture inside, causing the potatoes to turn out soggy. We want that moisture to escape to create a crisp skin and fluffy interior.
- Testing for doneness - I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer if you have one on hand. Baked potatoes are fluffy and perfectly cooked when they reach 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Other ways to check for doneness? Pierce through a potato with a knife or metal skewer. If it slides through easily with no resistance, your potatoes are done.
- Optionally, brush with oil - Once your potatoes are done, brush them with oil and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes. This helps crisp up that skin even more and adds extra flavor. We add oil at the end because otherwise, it seals in the moisture and cause the potatoes to turn out soggy.
- Slice potatoes open quickly - For best results, slice your baked potatoes open quickly after baking. Otherwise, steam builds up inside and makes the exterior heavy.
Cheese sauce tips
- Cook the roux - Cook your roux for at least one minute. This cooks the flour and removes that raw flour flavor.
- Use a whisk - Whisking the milk into the roux (butter and flour mixture) removes lumps and creates a smooth base for the cheese sauce.
- Cook the sauce - Allow the sauce to cook for up to 5 minutes to allow it to thicken. Depending on the type of milk used and the heat of your stove, your sauce may thicken in as little as 2 minutes. Keep an eye on your sauce and don't walk away during this time.
- Use freshly grated cheese - Many pre-shredded cheese are coated in anti-clumping powders that add a grainy texture when melted. Using cheese that's freshly grated from a block is best.
- Remove from heat before adding cheese - Adding cheese to a hot, bubbling sauce can cause the cheese to separate and get lumpy. Instead, remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese gradually, stirring until melted.
- Pat wet broccoli dry - Allow broccoli to cool slightly, uncovered, after steaming. Pat dry with a paper towel if needed to get rid of excess water. Adding wet broccoli to the cheese sauce will make it runny.
Frequently asked questions
I highly recommend baking potatoes this way. The brine adds flavor to the skin of the potatoes and helps the skin turn out crispy when baked. It also seeps into the potato where the skin has been pierced, which helps season the flesh of the potato. Have you ever tried to salt the outside of a potato? Large salt granules roll right off. Using a brine ensures the salt adheres to the skin and seasons the potato evenly.
While using a thermometer is the most foolproof method, it's not the only way to tell when potatoes are done. Pierce through the center of the potato with a sharp knife or a metal skewer. If you're met with no resistance, your potatoes are done.
Leftover baked potatoes will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Broccoli Cheese Baked Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ cup water
- 4 medium russet potatoes, about 8 to 10 ounces each
Broccoli cheese sauce
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 16 ounces whole milk
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce, more to taste
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil and if you have one, place an oven-safe cooling rack on top (this helps air circulate all around your potatoes).
- In a bowl, add salt and water. Stir until salt is dissolved, creating a brine.
- Using a fork, prick each potato about six times all over. Roll each potato in the prepared brine to coat all sides. Place potatoes on prepared sheet pan.
- Bake for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until potatoes reach 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. A metal skewer or fork should pierce through the center of the potatoes with little to no resistance.
- Remove from oven and slice open quickly to release steam from the potatoes.
Broccoli cheese sauce
- Steam broccoli using either the stove top or microwave:Stove top - Add ½ inch of water to the bottom of a saucepan, bring to a boil, then add broccoli (water will not cover broccoli). Cover with a lid and steam for about 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Microwave - In a microwave safe bowl, fill the bottom with about ½ inch of water and add broccoli. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for about 2-4 minutes, or until broccoli is tender.
- Strain broccoli and allow to set, uncovered, to release steam and moisture. If needed, pat dry with a paper towel to soak up excess water.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine, creating a paste. Cook for about one minute, then slowly whisk in milk. Add paprika, salt, and pepper, whisking to combine.
- Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens to your liking. Remove from heat.
- Add hot sauce and stir to combine. Slowly add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Add broccoli last, stirring to coat.
- Top baked potatoes with broccoli cheese sauce and serve immediately.
- Don't worry so much about the time it takes to bake the potato. Ovens can run hotter or cooler than the next oven, so the time that worked for me may not work for you. Larger potatoes will take longer to bake. The most important part about this recipe is reaching that 205 degrees Fahrenheit in the center for a fluffy, perfectly baked potato.
- Optionally, brush your finished potatoes with oil and return the oven for 10 minutes for an even crispier skin.
- Leftover baked potatoes will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.