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This Cheesy Broccoli recipe has it all! It’s easy, kid-friendly, and the homemade cheese sauce makes it absolutely delicious. A simple recipe that comes together in minutes, it turns one of the greatest of all combos (broccoli! cheese!) into an easy side you can serve with anything.

Best cheesy broccoli in a bowl

Why You’ll Love This Easy Cheesy Broccoli Recipe

  • Broccoli in its Finest Form. Roasted Broccoli is fantastic, as is Air Fryer Broccoli. But broccoli with cheese is the ultimate! The best! The classic old-school broccoli side dish (it’s why everyone loves Broccoli Cheddar Soup!). 
  • For Real Cheese Sauce. No gloppy jarred cheese sauce here, friends! This recipe uses real cheddar cheese and milk to create a creamy, cheesy sauce that tastes so much better than store-bought. (I promise it’s worth the extra effort.)
  • Quick and Easy. Yes, even with the homemade sauce, this cheesy broccoli recipe comes together in just 20 minutes, making it a great option for busy weeknights. Pair it with a simple main dish like Air Fryer Chicken Thighs or Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin for a dinner that’s practically effortless.
  • A Side Dish Everyone Will Love. Kids will devour cheesy broccoli because that rich, creamy cheese sauce has a magical way of making even the most objectionable veggies more palatable. Adults will love it for that little hit of nostalgia—the same kind you get when eating a Meatloaf Sandwich or Chili Mac and Cheese.
Fork with piece of cheesy broccoli

How to Make Cheesy Broccoli

The Ingredients

  • Broccoli. Buy a broccoli crown and cut it into florets, or buy a bag of pre-cut broccoli to save some prep time.
  • Butter. I recommend unsalted butter, which gives you more control over the flavor.
  • Flour. The base of our roux for the cheese sauce. You can make this cheesy broccoli gluten-free by using a measure-for-measure flour substitute.
  • Milk. I used 1%, but whatever you have on hand is fine.
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese. A nice, sharp cheddar will add some assertive flavor to the cheese sauce, but avoid anything that’s aged for several years—older cheeses tend to have trouble melting smoothly.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese. Grated off a block for best results.
  • Ground Mustard. Optional, but it helps balance the richness of the sauce and adds some depth.
  • Cayenne. Don’t go overboard, but a little bit of cayenne brings some nice warmth to the sauce.

The Directions

Broccoli in bottom of pot
  1. Prepare. Cut the broccoli into florets and set them in a saucepan.
Pot of broccoli with cover
  1. Steam. The broccoli will be bright green and crisp-tender.
Steamed broccoli in pot
  1. Drain. Transfer to a bowl and cover.
Butter and flour in pot with whisk
  1. Start the Sauce. Make the butter and flour roux.
Roux for cheese sauce in pot with whisk
  1. Add the Milk. Simmer until the sauce thickens.
Cheese added to roux for sauce
  1. Add the Cheese. Do this slowly.
Cheese sauce in pot with whisk
  1. Finish the Sauce. Stir in the Parmesan, salt, and mustard and cayenne (if using). 
Broccoli added to cheese sauce
  1. Add the Broccoli. Spoon the sauce over the broccoli, or add the broccoli to the pot and stir to coat. Season the cheesy broccoli to taste, then ENJOY!

Recipe Variations

  • Use Different Cheese. Swap out cheddar for other types of cheese, such as gouda, fontina, or gruyere, for a twist on the original.
  • Start With Frozen Broccoli. The homemade cheese sauce in this recipe is a fantastic way to jazz up frozen broccoli. Simply prepare the broccoli as instructed on the package and combine it with the cheese sauce.
  • Try It With Cauliflower. Swap the broccoli for cauliflower, or use a combination of both.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate cheesy broccoli in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Heat leftovers in a skillet set over medium heat or in the microwave. If you’ve refrigerated the cheese sauce separately, you can warm that in the microwave or in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.
  • To Freeze. Freeze cheesy broccoli in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator before heating. 

Meal Prep Tip

Shred the cheese and cut the broccoli into florets up to two days in advance. Store them in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

Leftover Ideas

Leftover cheesy broccoli is excellent warmed up and spooned onto baked potatoes or Crock Pot Baked Potatoes!

Bowl of easy cheesy broccoli with fork

What to Serve with Cheesy Broccoli

  • Chef’s Knife. Use a sharp chef’s knife to easily cut the broccoli florets.
  • Whisk. A whisk makes it easy to create a smooth and creamy cheese sauce without any lumps.
  • Grater. Use a grater to shred the cheddar and Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Cut the Broccoli into Uniform Pieces. This will help ensure that it’s all done cooking at the same time.
  • Shred Your Own Cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives that keep it from melting super smoothly. For the smoothest, creamiest texture, shred your own cheese from a block.
  • Don’t Overcook the Broccoli. To avoid mushy broccoli, take the pan off the heat as soon as it’s fork tender. Mushy broccoli is the easiest way to ruin this cheesy broccoli recipe!
  • Add the Milk in Slowly. I like to pour a splash into the flour and butter, whisk until the mixture is entirely smooth, then pour in another splash and whisk until smooth. After that, I’ll slowly stream in the rest of the milk while whisking constantly. This helps keep lumps out of your cheese sauce.

Cheesy Broccoli

5 from 6 votes
This cheesy broccoli recipe is a classic side dish that's kid-friendly, delicious, quick and easy. The homemade cheese sauce is perfection!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound broccoli cut into florets (about 6 cups florets)
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk I used 1%
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
  • Pinch ground mustard optional
  • Pinch cayenne optional

Instructions
 

  • Place the broccoli in a large saucepan. Cover with enough water to create a thin layer of water across the bottom of the pan (about 1 cup or so should do it; the broccoli itself will not be covered). Bring to a simmer over high heat, then cover the pan and let simmer until the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then place in a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  • With a towel, carefully wipe the pan dry. Add the butter and melt over medium-low. Once it melts, sprinkle the flour over the top. Whisk constantly until the flour turns golden, about 1 full minute.
  • Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Let simmer, whisking the entire time, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Working a small handful at a time, whisk in the cheddar cheese, allowing it to melt fully between additions (if you add too much at once, the sauce will clump). Stir in the Parmesan, salt, and mustard and cayenne (if using). Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired (I add a pinch of extra salt). Serve the broccoli warm, with the cheese sauce over the top. Or, stir the broccoli gently into the sauce and serve it mixed.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate cheesy broccoli in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Heat leftovers in a skillet set over medium heat or in the microwave. If you’ve refrigerated the cheese sauce separately, you can warm that in the microwave or in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze cheesy broccoli in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months, then thaw in the refrigerator before heating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 11gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 39mgPotassium: 477mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1207IUVitamin C: 101mgCalcium: 285mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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6 Comments

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  1. Simple but awesome recipe. I added bacon and ham to taste. It came out so flavorful and not salty at all, the taste was great. I made this without as much cheese because I’m not a huge fan of cheese but it was amazing!5 stars

  2. The Smell was awesome while cooking. Also added chicken as well as onion and garlic powder with the other seasonings. Had a little rice left over and added it to a small portion. Would make again, but maybe with a different cheese. Thank you!5 stars

  3. Great recipe. I left out the salt because my little one isn’t into too much salt or flavor and I added pasta to make it as close to mac & cheese as possible. Came out really good.5 stars