Cheesy broccoli casserole is made with tender cooked broccoli and homemade cheese sauce, topped with a buttery panko crust. An easy holiday side dish to make from scratch!
Broccoli and cheese are the perfect pair. If you agree, you're going to love this cheesy broccoli casserole - it's the perfect addition to your next holiday meal!
Crisp tender broccoli is coated in a flavorful homemade cheese sauce. Sprinkled on top is a crunchy, buttery garlic panko crust. Baked in the oven until hot and bubbly, this side dish is easier than you think to make from scratch.
Homemade broccoli casserole tastes much better than the condensed soup version. Try making it from scratch this year - you won't go back! Broccoli casserole is perfect for your next Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter meal.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Broccoli - You'll need two large heads of broccoli for this recipe. Chop up the crowns into medium, bite size pieces. This equals about 20 to 24 ounces of broccoli.
- Butter and flour - You'll be making a roux, which is a paste made of butter and flour, to thicken your sauce. Unsalted butter and the salt listed for the cheese sauce can be substituted with salted butter if needed.
- Milk - I recommend using whole milk for a thick and creamy sauce. 1% or skim milk can still work, but your cheese sauce will turn out on the thin side.
- Spices - Salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder add flavor to your casserole.
- Cheese - I recommend sharp cheddar cheese, but monterey jack, pepper jack, gruyere, or mild cheddar are other great choices. Do not use pre-shredded, bagged cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping powders that when melted, become grainy. Grate your cheese fresh from a block instead.
- Panko bread crumbs - Can be substituted with crushed butter crackers or regular breadcrumbs. Panko bread crumbs add extra crunch compared to regular bread crumbs.
Can you use frozen broccoli?
Yes, frozen broccoli will work! Allow your broccoli to thaw first, then follow the recipe card as directed, minus one minute of boiling time. Frozen broccoli is usually partially cooked before freezing, so it will need less cooking time.
To use frozen broccoli in a microwaveable steam bag, follow the cooking directions listed on the bag, but for half the amount of time listed. Use your discretion based on the type/brand/size of broccoli you have on hand. You're looking for partially cooked broccoli that's still crisp, not completely cooked through.
Otherwise, your broccoli will turn out overcooked and mushy once it is baked.
You may be wondering, do I need to partially cook my broccoli before adding to the casserole? The answer - yes. The baking time listed in the recipe is not long enough to cook your broccoli completely through.
Baking the casserole for longer can cause the cheese sauce to break, so the best option is to par-cook your broccoli before adding it to the casserole.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add your chopped broccoli and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until there's still a bit of give when pierced through with a fork.
Drain your par-cooked broccoli and allow to rest while you make the cheese sauce. Do not toss wet broccoli straight into your cheese sauce - this can make your casserole watery.
What to serve with broccoli casserole
Cheesy broccoli casserole makes a great side dish for family meals like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It's also perfect for a sit down family meal any time of year!
Here are a few main courses that pair well with broccoli casserole:
- Marmalade Glazed Ham
- Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
- Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
- Pan-Seared Ribeye
- Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- 24 ounces broccoli florets, about 2 large heads of broccoli
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add your broccoli florets and boil for about 2-3 minutes, or until broccoli is tender crisp and bright green (if using frozen, thawed broccoli, cook for one minute less - frozen broccoli is already partially cooked). When pierced with a fork, broccoli should still have a bit of resistance. Drain and set aside to cool.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk to combine, creating a paste. Cook for one minute. Add milk, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, whisking to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently, until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.
- Add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Add your cooled, par-cooked broccoli and stir until evenly coated. Pour into prepared casserole dish and spread into an even layer.
- In a small bowl, add panko bread crumbs, melted butter, salt, and garlic powder. Toss until evenly incorporated. Sprinkle over casserole in an even layer.
- Bake casserole, uncovered, for 18-20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly in the center. Optionally, turn on the broiler for 2 minutes to brown the top (watch carefully, crust will brown quickly).
- Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- About 20 to 24 ounces of broccoli florets will work for this recipe. This equals about two large heads of broccoli.
- To use frozen broccoli in a microwaveable steam bag: follow the cooking directions listed on the bag, but for half the amount of time listed. Use your discretion based on the type/brand/size of broccoli you have on hand. You're looking for partially cooked broccoli that's still crisp, not completely cooked through.
- Panko topping can be substituted with crushed butter crackers.