Broccoli Cheddar Rice Casserole
A classic casserole done just the way it should be. (No canned soup here!)
When I need a little dose of comfort in the form of food I’m usually looking for something creamy and/or cheesy with a little bit of crunch going on. And casserole sure knows how to answer that call! You know the type — the carb-heavy, retro mishmash of ingredients that gives you an entire meal in a single baking dish in the creamiest, cheesiest fashion it can, and oftentimes with a can of cream of ‘whatever’ soup involved. This Broccoli Cheddar Rice Casserole is basically that kind of casserole, except the sauce is from scratch (no canned soup!) and let me tell you — that sauce is divine. Easy, cheesy, comforting, and filling, this is the type of thing casserole dreams are made of. (And you don’t want to miss that topping!)
Your base here is white rice, which might seem a little boring, but it’s the perfect comforting but neutral base to a cheddar and cream cheese sauce that’s a little zesty and pretty indulgently creamy. (There’s also plenty of broccoli to round things out, don’t worry.) You’ll also need a sleeve of Ritz crackers, but more on that later.
You’re going to start by making your sauce. Don’t worry — it’s not hard, and a can of soup just can’t touch that flavor. It’s very similar to making a sauce for mac and cheese, if that’s something you’ve done before. You’ll melt some butter in a saucepan and cook down some diced onion before stirring in some flour to thicken the sauce up. Cook that for just a minute or so to cook out the raw flour taste and then gradually stir in your milk. Keep whisking, and once it bubbles, it should be thick enough to move on to the rest of the additions.
Those include garlic powder, mustard powder, and paprika, which add a nice zesty depth of flavor but don’t overpower the starring role of the next additions which are cream cheese and cheddar cheese. It’s a thick sauce, it’s a rich sauce, but boy is it a yummy one.
You’ll want to blanch your broccoli for just two minutes. It’ll cook more in the oven but just needs a little head start.
You’ll add that broccoli to some cooked white rice…
… and then add that lovely cheese sauce to the mix.
Stir it up, get it into a casserole dish, and then it’s time to top it off. Is this the best part? It just might be!
Take some crushed Ritz crackers, stir them into some melted butter, and sprinkle them alllll over the top.
And then bake. You get an irresistibly buttery, crisp topping that gives way to soft creamy, cheddar coated rice with pops of bright broccoli to balance it all out. A classic done just the way it should be!
Broccoli Cheddar Rice Casserole
20m prep time
35m cook time
- 6 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated and divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the topping:
- 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 2qt baking dish with butter or nonstick spray. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute more, whisking continuously.
- Gradually pour in milk, still whisking continuously. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in garlic powder, mustard powder, and paprika. Add cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Blanch broccoli in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain.
- Stir together rice, broccoli, and cheese sauce and transfer to baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
- Stir together cracker crumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake until lightly golden and bubbly, about 35 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Spend With Pennies.