I have a pan of comfort food for you today in the form of Broccoli Rice Casserole. It’s a fully-loaded nine square inches of all the best parts of an old-school casserole—the creamy, cheesy inside, the scrumptious mix of veggies and rice, and the irresistibly buttery, crispy topping—and exactly none of the worst parts.
This recipe is sponsored by Land O’Lakes.
This healthy broccoli rice casserole is made from scratch with ingredients you can feel good about.
Its family-friendly flavor will be a hit with kiddos and grown-ups alike.
Courtesy of a midwestern upbringing peppered with a large family collection of what I can only describe as “church lady” cookbooks, I consider myself a steady casserole connoisseur.
Dishes like southern broccoli cheese rice casserole were a staple at our childhood dinners, but when I started cooking for myself, I avoided them at first.
I associated casseroles with processed ingredients.
When you step away from the stereotypes, however, recipes like this broccoli rice casserole have incredible meal potential. They offer many rich food groups in one pan, can scale to feed a crowd, and are freezer friendly too.
This modern take on the midwestern and southern favorite is made with fresh vegetables like broccoli and carrots and offers whole grains thanks to brown rice.
The luscious, velvety sauce is made with cheese and Greek yogurt.
This broccoli rice casserole is Sunday nostalgia meets weeknight practical.
You can keep this recipe as is for a dynamite side that’s excellent for potlucks and holidays, or add diced chicken or ham for a dinner the entire family is guaranteed to love.
Another option to add protein but keep it vegetarian is to add white beans, as I did in this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole.
Secrets to the Best Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Freshly Grated Cheese. Once you try this recipe with freshly grated cheese, you’ll swear off broccoli rice casseroles with Velveeta or Cheese Whiz.
- Butter. The casserole does need some richness, which is why I opted for Land O Lakes® Butter with Canola Oil. It’s made with only sweet cream, canola oil, and salt, has a fresh buttery taste, and is ultra-convenient. We always have a container in our refrigerator. I love that I don’t need to wait for it to soften or cut into a fresh stick of butter when I only need a few tablespoons.
- Instant Rice. For this casserole, I opted for instant brown rice, which cuts nearly 40 minutes (!!) out of the cook time. It also saves a dish, since the rice and broccoli steam together in the same pot.
- Go for Greek Yogurt. A fantastic ingredient to make creamy casserole sauces, it’s high in protein and low-calorie. (I also used it in this Broccoli Quinoa Casserole.)
- Breadcrumb Topping. Is it actually a casserole without the topping? Let’s discuss over our second helpings.
How to Make Broccoli Rice Casserole
This simple broccoli rice casserole may share a name with the classic dish, but it’s much better for you.
It uses fresh, wholesome ingredients to create a robust flavor profile and irresistible creaminess.
- Brown Rice. Brown rice is higher in nutrients and fiber than its white rice counterpart, and I especially love its more chewy texture in casseroles.
- Broccoli. The star veggie in this casserole. It’s packed with fiber, Vitamin-C, and is begging to be coated in the cheesy flavors. (Learn more about the health benefits of broccoli here.)
- Carrots. In addition to broccoli, I supplemented the casserole with carrots. Another kid-friendly favorite, carrots provide color and texture, and they are a natural pairing with broccoli.
- Flour. A little all-purpose flour helps make a thick, velvety sauce. Swap a 1:1 gluten free flour to make this casserole gluten free.
- Milk. I used skim milk as the liquid base for our creamy sauce, but you can use any milk you have on hand.
- Dijon Mustard. A subtle addition that makes the cheesy flavors pop.
- Greek Yogurt. A weapon for creating healthy casseroles that don’t skimp on flavor.
- Cheddar Cheese. I used freshly grated sharp cheddar, which melts beautifully. I prefer sharp cheddar because it is more fully flavored, and thus a lesser amount goes a long way.
- Panko + Parmesan Topping. I like the larger-sized Panko breadcrumbs here, because they make the topping especially crunchy.
- Boil the brown rice. Add the broccoli, cover the pot, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Saute the onion and carrots in a big pot.
- Sprinkle flour over the vegetables, stir in the milk and cook until thickened. Add the yogurt and cheese.
- Transfer the rice and broccoli to the pot with the cheese mixture, and stir. Pile the mixture into a greased baking dish.
- Make the breadcrumb topping, then scatter it over the top of the baking dish. Cover and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F, then bake uncovered for 15 to 20 more minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes, then DIG IN!
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. If you want to add some extra protein, check out this tasty Healthy Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole.
- To Make Vegetarian. Use the vegetable broth option instead of the chicken broth.
- You *can* use instant white rice or regular brown or white rice, but the cooking time and amount of liquid needed will differ. If you’d like to swap in different rice, I recommend cooking it separately, steaming the broccoli separately, then stirring everything together in the pot as directed.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Broccoli Casserole
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat gently in the microwave or in a casserole dish in the oven at 350 degrees F. If using the oven, loosely tent the casserole pan with foil and place the pan on the center rack for 15 to 25 minutes, until warmed through (the larger the serving, the longer you will need).
- To Freeze. Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Healthy Recipes with Broccoli
If you are looking for wholesome holiday side dishes, this dish is just one of the many healthy Thanksgiving sides on my site.
Recommended Tools to Make Broccoli Rice Casserole
This easy broccoli rice casserole bridges the divide between the food we “want” to eat—food that fills, is comforting, and is both sentimental and scrumptious—with the food we “should” eat: balanced, wholesome recipes made with ingredients we feel can good about.
The next time you need a filling side (or main dish) for dinner, a family gathering, or even a holiday, this cheesy broccoli casserole will save the day!
: 6 servings, about 10 cups
Easy Broccoli Rice Casserole! Cheesy and creamy like the original, but lightened up with everyday ingredients. A favorite dinner or potluck side.
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups instant brown rice — if you use white rice or non-instant rice, the cooking time and amount of liquid needed will differ
- 1 pound broccoli florets — chopped into bite-size pieces, about 8 cups
- 4 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Butter with Canola Oil — divided
- 1 small yellow onion — diced
- 4 medium carrots — peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 1/2 pound
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder — divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper — divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk — I used skim
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese — about 4 ounces
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a deep 9-inch-square baking dish or similar 2 1/2-quart casserole dish.
Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot, then add the rice. Return to a boil, add the broccoli to the top of the rice (no need to stir it together), then cover, reduce the heat to low, and let cook 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes. Most of the rice liquid should be absorbed.
Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or other large deep pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Butter with Canola Oil. As soon as it melts, add the onion, carrot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté until the onion is soft and starting to brown, about 4 to 6 minutes.
Grab a whisk and keep it handy. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon or a spatula, until all of the white parts of the flour disappear. Splash the milk into the pot a little at a time, whisking to keep the sauce smooth. Once all the milk is added, stir constantly and cook until thickened, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the Dijon and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Let cool slightly, then stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until smooth.
With a large spoon, scoop the rice and broccoli into the pot with the cheese mixture. Stir to combine the rice and broccoli with the creamy sauce. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread it into an even layer.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons Land O Lakes® Butter with Canola Oil. Add the panko and Parmesan and stir to combine. Sprinkle the topping over the casserole.
Cover the casserole (with the lid or foil if it doesn’t have an oven-safe lid) and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until hot and bubbly and the panko is toasted, about 15 to 20 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then serve.
- TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat gently in the microwave or in a casserole dish in the oven at 350 degrees F. If using the oven, loosely tent the casserole pan with foil and place the pan on the center rack for 15 to 25 minutes, until warmed through (the larger the serving, the longer you will need).
- TO FREEZE: Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: broccoli rice casserole
Amount per serving (1 (of 6)) — Calories: 404, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Potassium: 692mg, Carbohydrates: 48g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 11g, Protein: 19g, Vitamin A: 7909%, Vitamin C: 71%, Calcium: 385%, Iron: 3%
I am sharing this post in partnership with Land O’Lakes. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue to create quality content for you!
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