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Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

Such a delicious way to enjoy broccoli, one of nature’s most healthful vegetables!

This isn’t just any old broccoli casserole recipe! You won’t find things like canned soup or processed cheese products here. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. 

A rich combination of flavorful ingredients makes this Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole the perfect side. In fact, it is so scrumptious and filling you could even pair it with a green salad and serve it as a main dish.

How can you go wrong with fresh broccoli, mushrooms, onion, homemade cream soup, and both cheddar and Parmesan cheeses? Talk about a savory taste explosion! Plus, the veggies are health building powerhouses.

Looking for more fresh side dish recipes? My cheesy squash and zucchini casserole is a delicious way to use up an abundance of Summer squash. Or, my easy corn succotash with bacon combines all the goodness of summer — sweet corn, lima beans, and cherry tomatoes — into one tasty, colorful dish.

cheesy broccoli rice casserole in a white oval dish with a spoon on a table.

Why you’re going to love it!

  • Fresh, real food ingredients 
  • Fancy looking, but uncomplicated to make
  • Familiar, easy to get ingredients
  • Full of rich, cheesy deliciousness!

Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole: behind the recipe

I recently got an order of produce from my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box and was blessed with fresh garden broccoli. It was the perfect time to make Broccoli Rice Cheese Casserole again. 

The original recipe was one I’d had in my file for more than a few years. It was very tasty, but it included canned mushroom soup and Velveeta. Um. No thanks.

I knew I could do better. By making my own cream soup, using real cheeses and fresh broccoli, the improved version reaches a whole new level of goodness.

ingredients for a casserole: broccoli, rice, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese.

Key ingredients and substitutions

  • Instant white rice — Instant rice is specially prepared to cook extra fast. It’s the kind you need for this recipe. If you really want to use regular white rice, you’ll need to par boil it by cooking it for 8 -10 minutes before adding it to the recipe.
  • Broccoli — Fresh broccoli will give your finished dish the best, full-flavor complement. It’s just so good! If fresh isn’t available, then frozen is the next best option.
  • Onion — Chopped onion is such a powerful ingredient for enhancing the savory factor in your cheesy broccoli casserole. Feel free to use any kind of onion you prefer. 
  • Mushrooms — Chopped mushrooms help tie all the wonderful, savory flavors in this recipe together. Choose any type you like. If you are not a mushroom person, just leave them out or substitute with more broccoli or cauliflower.

How do I make it?

process steps for making a broccoli rice casserole: 1) make the cream sauce 2) mix together broccoli, rice, cheese 3) mix all ingredients 4) place in casserole dish

STEP 1 | Make the cream soup

Create a roux of melted butter and flour over medium heat. Slowly add milk and chicken broth and cook until the mixture is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. EASY! No weird canned stuff here.

STEP 2 | Cook broccoli and rice

Give the broccoli a rough chop and steam it. Cook one cup of instant white rice per package directions.

tip

  • Using a microwave steamer basket makes cooking casseroles with fresh ingredients especially easy. Use it to steam broccoli florets in just five minutes — it takes at least that long to cook frozen florets and fresh tastes so much better!

STEP 3 |  Sauté the mushroom and onions

Add a little butter to a skillet and saute your chopped mushrooms and onions just until soft, not mushy.

STEP 4 |  Mix all the ingredients together 

In a large bowl, combine the steamed broccoli, cooked rice, and sautéed veggies. Stir in the homemade cream soup, and cheddar cheese. Pour it all into a lightly greased casserole dish.

STEP 5 | Bake

Sprinkle more shredded cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese over the top and bake until hot, bubbly and a little golden brown on top.

tip

  • Feeling a bit indulgent? Add a cracker crumb topping or french fried onions to the top before baking for a little crunch.

sprinkling shaved parmesan cheese on an unbaked casserole.

Serving suggestions

  • Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole makes an ideal side dish when you’re serving pork chops, barbecue chicken, meatloaf or nearly any other favorite main course.
  • This rich, cheesy broccoli creation will be a big hit at special occasion dinners and gatherings, too.
broccoli rice and cheese casserole in a white oval dish on a table.

Frequently asked questions

How well done should my broccoli be after I steam it?

It should still be a little firm (al dente) and not too soft.

Can I cook my broccoli in my instant pot?

Yes, but it’s tricky. You have to set your electric pressure cooker to zero and let it reach full pressure. Then immediately release the pressure manually and open the lid. If you remove the broccoli right away it will be perfect. Any longer and you’ll have mush.

How do I store leftovers of this cheesy broccoli rice casserole?

Store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 4-5 days or in your freezer for 1-2 months. For best results reheat in the oven at 350 until it gets bubbly again. 

cheesy broccoli rice casserole in a white oval dish with a spoon on a table.

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Yield: 8 - 10 servings

Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole

cheesy broccoli rice casserole in a white oval dish with a spoon on a table.

A rich combination of flavorful ingredients makes this Southern Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole the perfect side. In fact, it is so scrumptious and filling you could even pair it with a green salad and serve it as a main dish.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked instant white rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups broccoli (cooked and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Homemade Cream Soup

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cook the rice in 1 1/2 cups boiling water per package instructions. Fluff and place in a large bowl.
  3. Steam the broccoli in a microwave steamer basket for 5 minutes; then roughly chop and add to bowl with the rice.
  4. In a skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onions and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, just until softened, and add to the broccoli mixture.
  5. Add 2 cups cheddar cheese along with the homemade cream soup and stir until combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cup of cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Homemade Cream Soup

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and chicken bouillon until smooth. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add milk, whisking continually until mixture thickens.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in black pepper.

Notes

  • This recipe can be easily halved.
  • Change up the recipe by using whatever cheese you have on hand (or a combination of cheeses) and even add a cracker crumb topping or french fried onions.
  • Store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 4-5 days or in your freezer for 1-2 months. For best results reheat in the oven at 350 until it gets bubbly again. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 440mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 16g

Did you make this recipe?

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sheila thigpen in her kitchen

Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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