I have a pan of comfort food for you today in the form of this healthy Broccoli Rice Casserole.
It’s fully loaded with all the best parts of the original broccoli rice casserole recipe—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 easy broccoli rice casserole is made from scratch with healthy 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 (Chicken and Rice Casserole agrees).
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 and Broccoli Bake have incredible meal potential.
- Casseroles offer multiple food groups in one pan.
- You can scale casserole to feed a crowd.
- Casseroles are freezer friendly, whether you are meal prepping or bringing dinner to a friend.
This wholesome spin on a classic casserole tastes just like mom’s or grandma’s cheesy broccoli rice casserole, but it’s so much better for you (like my homemade Hash Brown Casserole).
5 Star Review
“No one could believe it was so creamy and cheesy tasting yet so healthy and light! This is my trusted site for eating right without sacrificing flavor!”— Mer —
How to Make Broccoli Rice Casserole from Scratch
This simple broccoli rice casserole may share a name with the classic dish, but it’s much better for you (like this Healthy Green Bean Casserole).
My modern take is made with fresh vegetables like broccoli and carrots and offers whole grains thanks to brown rice.
It’s also easy to make—Sunday nostalgia meets weeknight practical.
- Instant Brown Rice. Saves time (and dishes). Instant rice cuts nearly 40 minutes out of the cook time and steams together with the broccoli right in the same pot. I opt for instant brown rice since it is higher in nutrients and fiber than its white rice counterpart. I especially love its chewy texture in casseroles too.
- Broccoli. The star veggie in this casserole (and Broccoli Cheddar Soup). It’s packed with fiber and vitamin C. Plus, it’s begging to be coated in the cheesy flavors.
- 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 (as seen on this healthy Asparagus Casserole).
- Butter. This healthy broccoli casserole with rice does need some richness, so I added just enough butter to do the job without weighing it down with excess fat.
- 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. Skip the canned soup. This fantastic ingredient is perfect for making creamy casserole sauces (ahem, Turkey Tetrazzini) that typically call for cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. It’s high in protein, low-calorie, and contains zero mystery ingredients.
- Cheddar Cheese. Once you try this recipe (or Instant Pot Mac and Cheese) with freshly grated cheese, you’ll swear off Velveeta broccoli rice casserole. I prefer sharp cheddar cheese. Not only does it melt like a dream, it is more fully flavored than mild cheddar too. That means a lesser amount goes a long way. Same great taste, fewer calories.
- Panko + Parmesan Cheese. Is it actually a casserole without the topping? I think not. I like the larger-sized Panko breadcrumbs here because they make the topping especially crunchy (just like on my favorite Pineapple Casserole).
- 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.
- Whisk in the yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese.
- Stir the cooked rice and broccoli. Pile the mixture into a greased baking dish.
- Scatter on the breadcrumb topping.
- Cover and bake broccoli rice casserole for 25 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees F, uncovering it part way through. ENJOY!
- To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge 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.
Meal Prep Tip
For make-ahead broccoli rice casserole, prepare the casserole as directed through Step 6 of the instructions. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Finish as directed, adding the panko topping to the casserole just before baking.
What Goes With Broccoli Rice Casserole
Baked Chicken Breast
Air Fryer Pork Chops
Rosemary Chicken Thighs￼
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Dish. This one is beautiful!
- Dutch Oven. Perfect for preparing the casserole ingredients.
- Cheese Grater. You can use a microplane grater or a box grater for this recipe.
This easy broccoli rice casserole with fresh broccoli bridges the divide between the food we “want” to eat with the food we “should” eat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frozen broccoli florets will have a mushier texture, but if you’d like to use it for convenience, you can thaw it and chop it into bite-sized pieces, then stir it into the casserole along with the rice just prior to baking. If you do try it this way, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Whether or not rice should be cooked before adding it to a casserole will vary between recipes. In this easy broccoli rice casserole recipe, the rice is cooked with broccoli in vegetable broth before being combined with the other ingredients and baked in the oven.
I have not tried making this casserole recipe vegan, so it would be an experiment. In addition to using vegetable broth rather than chicken broth, vegan swaps would need to be made for the milk, butter, cheese, and Greek yogurt. If you decide to play around with the recipe to make a vegan broccoli rice casserole, I’d love to hear your results.
Broccoli Rice Casserole
- 1 can low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth (14.5-ounces)
- 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-sized pieces (about 8 cups)
- 4 tablespoons butter 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 cook for 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 of butter. 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 flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, 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 of butter. 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 for 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.
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More crowd-pleasing, healthy, and delicious side dish recipes:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Oven Roasted Potatoes
More crowd-pleasing, healthy, and delicious sides. For the holidays, check out my other favorite Thanksgiving sides.
Since I do not like yogurt, can I omit it in this dish or would it come out too dry? Would adding more milk be ok?
Hi Patty! Leaving out the Greek yogurt would definitely cause the dish to be more dry. I haven’t experimented with adding milk, but you could give it a shot. If you like sour cream, you could try that too.
This recipe is a keeper. Delicious!
I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe, June! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!
Although this dish was somewhat labor intensive.. it was a labor of love! This dish was delicious and my family loved it. I added some grilled chicken in when combining the rice with the sauce and it turned out great!
Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Danielle! I’m so happy that this recipe was a hit!
Well, I’m new to this website and I’m already breaking the “rules”. I haven’t completed making the recipe yet but I still wanted to leave my thoughts here:
Everything about this recipe appealed to me- I had been seeking a recipe for Broccoli Rice & Cheese casserole for several days and was having a hard time finding one that found a healthy AND yummy way of getting around the ‘cream of ___’ canned soup ingredient. I’m a vegetarian – though not a vegan- so for me this dish is an entree, not just a side so it HAD to have a good strong nutrition/ healthy bend to it. (I was delighted to see that brown rice had a co-starring role to play!) I made the following adjustments due to lack of foresight on my part:
to compliment my carrot under-supply , I used some lightly sauteed yams I had from another recipe; I love plain old Dannon lowfat yogurt but greek yogurt not so much, so I used about 1/8th C. of low fat yogurt (all that was left) and then added light sour cream to make up the other 6 -eighths, as you had suggested to someone else at odds with yogurt). Lastly, with my inclination for messing with spices, I added 1/2 tspn. each of chili powder and cumin to the cooked veggies before adding the flour. From the sampling I’ve done at various points in preparation of this casserole, it seems like it’s on track to be pretty dang delish once the finished product is out of the oven- I keep going over to the oven to sniff the aroma and watch out for the panko topping over-cooking! I will let you know how it went but in the meanwhile, THANKS A BUNCH for posting this great recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to share this awesome review, Nina! I hope the recipe was a hit!
Growing up in Texas I ate a lot of different examples of this casserole. All grown up, living in California, and cooking for myself, I got hungry for it and went googling for a recipe. Almost all of the recipes call for canned cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup (!). Or even processed cheese brick (I will avoid saying the brand name). California has had a big influence on my cooking — more fresh food, fewer packaged conveniences. Now I’m almost afraid to ask my mother and grandmother what they put in theirs. I kept googling, I wanted a recipe where you build the sauce up yourself, and there it was. Like someone said, it’s labor-intensive but awesome. Lightening the fat without losing the creaminess by using Greek yogurt is a great idea. The mustard is a nice touch (spicy brown is what I had), and the topping really makes it. I left out the carrots because for me, carrots have a very specific flavor that can overpower a dish. For some pops of saltiness and color I added a couple of ounces of diced ham steak like you’d see in a Denver omelet, but mixed in right before baking so the hamminess did not flavor the whole dish. I used a 9″x13″ so there’d be more surface area to brown. After one serving I decided this would be dinner, not a side dish, and went back for more. This one’s a keeper.
Thank you for sharing this kind review, Joe! I’m so happy that the recipe was a hit!
This recipe was excellent; I first thought it would be too much food, but in this self-q time it was PERFECT!! Side dish and main course through the week. And delicious! A little prep time to do the broccoli and carrots, but well worth the outcome!
I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the recipe, G. Donald! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
I trust and love your other recipes…. what could I do to make this work with regular ole white rice? Yes, it will destroy the nutrition, but it’s what we have in the house!
Hi Erica, thank you for your kind words! I’ve only used instant brown rice in this recipe, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. The cooking time and amount of liquid needed will differ from the recipe. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes!
This casserole was absolutely delicious! It was a very easy and satisfying dinner and the panko bread crumbs definitely added a nice touch. I think that canned tuna would really complement this casserole’s flavor, so I will try that the next time I make it. Thanks so much for creating this recipe!
I’m so happy that it was a hit, Z! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Hi Erin! Can I make this today – up to the baking part – and store in fridge to cook tomorrow? Thanks!
Hi Jane! I think you could prepare the base of the casserole today, but you should wait to add the panko topping until just before baking. I hope you enjoy it!
No one could believe it was so creamy and cheesy tasting and yet so healthy and lite! My very fit and healthy nieces gobbled it up. This is my trusted site for eating right without sacrificing flavor!
I’m so happy that it was a hit, MER! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Can you use frozen broccoli? If so, how to prep it? Thaw it first?
Hi! The frozen broccoli will have a mushier texture, but if you’d like to use it for convenience, you can thaw it and chop it into bite-sized pieces, then stir it into the casserole along with the rice just prior to baking. If you do try it this way, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Does this recipe call for 2 cups of cooked rice or 2 cups of raw rice that should be cooked?
Hi Josh! The recipe calls for uncooked instant brown rice, and you will cook it in Step 2. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!
This recipe is delicious and very simple to make. I made this for Thanksgiving, and all 3 of my kids asked if I could make it again soon!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Sheila! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
My family loved this recipe! It was pretty quick to prepare, and very simple. An easy way to get some extra veggies in, this casserole is so flavourful and cheesy. I didn’t have brown rice, so I used white rice instead and it turned out perfectly. And the leftovers the next day are even better! Simple ingredients, easy to make and very delicious. I highly recommend trying this recipe.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Ashley! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
This is a wonderful healthy broccoli, brown rice and cheese recipe. I love that combination, but others recipes are not very healthy. I am trying to lose weight and my husband is diabetic 1. Your recipe is delicious and perfect for us. I did substitute light sour cream for the yogurt and it worked well.
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Mary Ellen! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Super yummy meal and very easy to make! I don’t think you can go wrong with any of her recipes.
So glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you for your kind review Amy!
Just tasted this before I put in oven and it is amazing. I can’t wait to serve it for dinner tonight. You have to try it!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Marianne! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
This made a delicious meatless entree! The touch of Dijon mustard in the background was delicious. I used white whole wheat flour to make the sauce. Your recipes turned me on to that product and I love it.
Hi Heather! Thanks for the feedback!