Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

If you are looking for an irresistible, condensed-soup-free cheesy broccoli and rice casserole, look no further. This meal was amazingly delicious and renewed my faith in eliminating processed ingredients from the meals I make for my family. Granted, this takes a bit more time than tossing the ingredients with canned goods, but the end result is well worth it, I promise. Fresh broccoli, lots of extra sharp cheddar and fresh bread crumbs make this casserole a remake for sure. My husband, who, bless his little heart, is not discretionary when it comes to food and would eat hot dogs every day for the rest of his life if I let him, was very complimentary about how this casserole tasted heartier, creamier and better than similar casseroles I’ve made in the past.

What To ServeAdd some tender, shredded chicken and this would be a delicious, complete meal.

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Yield: Serves 8-10 as a side dish

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole


  • 2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted; plus two tablespoons chilled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 pounds broccoli (about 3-4 medium heads of broccoli), florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stems chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups long grain white rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9X13-inch baking dish. Pulse bread, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and melted butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add garlic. Set aside.
  2. Microwave broccoli florets (save stems for later), covered, in a large bowl until bright green and tender, 2 to 3 minutes (no need to add water). Be careful not to overcook or they will become soggy and discolored. Melt remaining butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and broccoli stems until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, half-and-half, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Off the heat, stir in cheddar cheese, cayenne, remaining parmesan and broccoli florets.
  3. Pour the mixture into prepared baking dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Serve.


Make Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions. After pouring the mixture into the prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Store the bread crumb mixture separately in the refrigerator. Before baking, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the casserole. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country

91 Responses to Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

  1. Sara says:

    Is there a way that I could use leftover rice for this? My husband will ONLY eat brown rice and I was thinking of cooking it ahead of time and using less liquid and just simmering it for awhile? Any thoughts? I know if I try to substitute brown rice straight across it will never get soft enough, I’ve tried many times and failed everyone of them!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sara – I think it’s certainly worth a try although I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t tell you for sure how to decrease the liquid. I think it should work, though – my favorite rice pudding recipe (not terribly different from this, just a sweet version!) uses cooked rice and it works great.

  2. Linda says:

    How do you think it would take freezing? I wanted to make it for Christmas but am trying to get most of my food prepared and freeze so I can enjoy a relaxing week of Christmas!

  3. Kate says:

    I’ve made this twice now recently and it’s delicious! The first time I used already cooked chicken and added it in at the very end, and this time I used raw chicken and cooked it with the onion/broccoli stems. I’m afraid that the chicken will be overcooked, but it shouldn’t be a big deal with so many other components. This is a winnnnner in my house!

  4. Anna says:

    I started reading through the comments but didn’t make it all the way through so sorry if this has already been asked. I have a bunch of different veggies I want to use up so do you think I could do broccoli along with green beans, cauliflower, and maybe carrots? I might go ahead and try it and see what happens. Thanks, Mel, for being my number one online recipe source!

  5. Amy C. says:

    Mel, I want to try this recipe but don’t have any cheddar cheese. Do you think swiss will work?

    • Mel says:

      I think it’s worth a try; the cheddar makes it a bit more creamy and cheesy-tasting – obviously the Swiss cheese will change the flavors but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you really love Swiss cheese. 🙂

      • Amy C. says:

        I went with the Swiss and added some diced ham I had in the freezer and this was really delicious. My husband said that I hit it out of the park with this one. Thanks Mel!

  6. Kasci says:

    Oh yeah and I use jasmine rice! Love it!

  7. Kasci says:

    I made this last night! It was delicious! I love all your recipes! Even my 3 year old ate this and had seconds! I added chicken to it and made a complete meal! I had to stop everyone from eating the whole casserole in one night! The only other thing I did differently was I use chicken stock instead of broth, I just like the flavor better! Definately would make again! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Lisa says:

    I made this again using brown rice, and it turned out amazing! I just wanted to share my changes since some people have asked about using brown rice. First, know that it will take quite a bit longer! For the liquid, I used 6 cups chicken broth, 1 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup sour cream. All the other ingredients were the same. When I got to the step where you simmer the rice on the stovetop, I first simmered the rice for 30 minutes COVERED without lifting the lid. Then I simmered another 30 minutes uncovered. At this point the rice should be tender and you should have probably 1/2 to 1 cup unabsorbed liquid in the pan. Then follow the directions like normal by stirring in the cheeses and broccoli and baking it in the oven. It was so creamy and delicious with that nuttiness from the brown rice. Yum! It is worth it if you’re thinking of trying it with brown rice. Just make sure you allow yourself about 1 1/2 hours to complete the whole thing.

  9. angela says:

    Ok, I know this is an old post, but I needed to tell you how I feel about this casserole. It is delicious! I have to improvise a little…but only because I didn’t have some of the ingredients. I only had enough parm to use in the topping, and I had to use panko in place of the bread. I also added shredded chicken to make it a complete meal. Omg, so good! My kids ate it, and there wasn’t a crumb left in the pan. This made enough for dinner last night, plus an extra pan to freeze for later.

  10. Lisa says:

    I know this is an old recipe, but I just made it and it is amazing! I never have half and half, so I used 1 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup sour cream. It made it so creamy and delicious! I’m going to try to portion it into muffin tins and freeze for individual servings. Thanks for all your recipes, Mel. Our tastes are exactly the same so everything you post I know I’m going to like!

  11. Julia says:

    Tasty. I thought it was perfect. My husband thought it needed more topping so I’ll make more next time for him, but we all liked it.

  12. Barb says:

    I hadn’t made this in a very long time, but i just made it again and was reminded how very creamy and tasty and good this is! More and more, I have been trying to stay away from
    the processed and chemically things. If you read the label of “cream of” soups, its really an eye-opener. Thanks to your website, our family meals keep on getting better and better. I have made this with ham cubes also, for a complete meal.
    PS- I made your lemon bars and spiderweb no-bake cheesecake ( minus the web) for Easter, and they were Heavenly!! Everyone loved them.

  13. Becky says:

    And by the way, just looking at a couple comments above – I did add chicken to mine. I cooked it in the skillet first, then set it aside and threw it in when I threw in the broccoli. THe only thing is, I wish it had a little more moisture so next time I will go a little heavier on the broth/milk ratio.

  14. Becky says:

    So I had a friend introduce me to your blog a couple years back, and i have used it faithfully ever since. I realized how lame of me to never thank you for all your work since I use it A LOT! Can’t thank you enough for recipes with ingredients I already have (I am not the best meal planner). I just had my fifth child and started breaking out in crazy blisters after she was born – turned out I have a wheat allergy. So anyway, I am still seriously navigating this new gluten free world, but I can’t thank you enough that I can still use most of your recipes!! I know you have a gluten free tab, and don’t worry, I check there too, but most of your stuff I can still use if I just use gluten free versions of the food. I made this casserole last night for dinner and just used gluten free bread for my bread crumbs and it was great. You have a ton of gluten free options beyond what you classify as gluten free and I wanted to say thank you thank you thank you. I don’t know how you find the time to keep up such a great blog, but I really appreciate that you do!!

  15. Jena says:

    Hi Mel,
    Do you think this dish could work with brown rice instead of white?
    Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jena – it probably could although I’ve never tried it. You’d definitely want to keep an eye on liquid to rice ratio and it will need a much longer simmer/cooking time. Good luck if you try it!

  16. Brianne Seamons says:

    I am excited to try this recipe! I want to make it with chicken so my question is how much to add. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Brianne – you’ll have to experiment a bit with this but if you are using cooked chicken, you can just stir in the amount you’d like to use right before baking it (maybe 2 cups or so?).

  17. M says:

    Don’t use Minute Rice! I have small kids and tried to cut corners as my 3 month old impatiently complained from his swing. This turned out more like soup. The flavors are really good though. Might try again with real rice.

  18. […] I made the recipe almost exactly from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, with minor modifications noted. ( […]

  19. Regina says:

    I just loved cooking this! I work second shift so I decided to do this today so all I have to do is pop it in the oven when I get home. Recipe was easy and looks delicious. Can’t wait to get home to eat it I’m sure my two boys will love it too..I love all your recipes you have developed a new fan 🙂 I did the manicotti last week and it was a huge hit with the family

  20. Lisa says:

    We love this recipe! It is so delicious. Thank you!

  21. Emily Marie says:

    Used this recipe as a guide to doctor up some plain white rice after my husband had already started rice in the rice cooker. Once the rice was done I added the butter, whipping cream, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and cheeses, then steamed broccoli. Not quite the same dish you made, but the same flavor profile, and it was so good!! Thank-you for the inspiration, we loved it!!

  22. Meg says:

    I just made this for my second time tonight. . . It is SO delicious! We all LOVE it! The flavor is so much better than anything from a can! I used whole milk, whole wheat bread and about half the called-for butter, and it turns out great every time! Thank you! This is childhood favorite of mine, but now so much better:)

  23. Courtney says:

    This was (hands down) the best casserole I’ve ever had/made. So so so good! The addition of the bread crumb topping was perfection.

  24. Kim T says:

    This was great. Thank you.

  25. Cami says:

    Just made this tonight with quinoa instead of rice. It was perfect and cheesy and delicious. Thank you!

  26. Bethany says:

    This was so good. I made it with turkey to use as a main dish casserole. It was great! I love that it doesn’t use canned soup. I hate making any casserole with canned soup. Thanks for a better tasting alternative!

  27. Rita says:

    Ohh I figured it out sorry

  28. Rita says:

    I Really loved this dish.. It was wonderful at Christmas dinner 🙂
    I wanted to Pin it to Pintrest but it wouldn’t let me .. 🙁

  29. AnnetteBrunette says:

    Mel, I love casseroles and I love your recipes and wish you had more casserole recipes! I made this the other night with your suggested addition of leftover turkey and it was so yummy. The whole family gobbled it down, Thanks again!

  30. Emily says:

    I know it’s been forever since you originally posted this recipe, but it’s one of my favorites and definitely a must on my thanksgiving menu. Question – do you think I could make this in the morning or even the night before and then stick it in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it? I just wanted your expert opinion before I experiment on the big cooking day. Thanks in advance for your help and all your work helping me feed my family lots of great food!

    • Mel says:

      Emily – I definitely think you could make this ahead and refrigerate to bake later. If possible, I’d make it the morning of but in a pinch, it will probably work out to make the night before. If you make it ahead of time, refrigerate the bread crumb mixture separately and sprinkle it on top just before baking. Good luck!

  31. Rhonda says:

    I love love broccoli and rice however as much as I love it I dislike cream of any soups even more. Sad to say I have not made it in years because I wasn’t sure how to get around the cream soups. I tried this recipe out for sunday lunch. The only thing I did differently was boiled 2 chicken legs/thighs and used the broth from that to cook the rice in and then boned the chicken and added it to the rice with the broccoli and cheese. Then I put it in a crock pot for while we were at church (I made it on saturday) It was so so so amazing that it about brought tears to my eyes. Hello to a long lost and missed friend, Thanks Mel for your great recipes and for most of all not using canned cream soups!!

  32. Valerie says:

    This turned out great. I added chicken and we’ve had lots of leftovers – which we love.

  33. Clairissa says:

    I was craving some sort of broccoli rice casserole….so glad you are my default website to search first before going anywhere else. This is a winner for sure. We omitted the cheddar cheese (but kept the parmesan) and substituted the half and half for homemade almond milk. Turned out to perfection. Thank you!

  34. Veronica says:

    This was extremely labor intensive for me! I’m all about “Just add water,” or “open the can and dump it in a pot on the stove.” But last night my husband and I were feeling adventurous. I thought I was running a marathon making this haha. But it turned out gorgeus, and tasted better! I was so proud of myself!

  35. Tina says:

    This dish is wonderful! I wasn’t sure if that much effort put into a side dish would be worth it, but it was. Thankyou so much for the recipe!

  36. Julie says:

    Hi Melanie…just wanted to say that I love your blog! every single recipe that I have tried has been amazing. thank you for sharing! I do have a question about the broccoli/cheese dish…can I use instant rice?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Julie – thanks for your comment! In answer to your question, no, instant rice would not sub well in this recipe since the rice cooks for so long.

  37. Kensi says:

    This was PERFECT! Thank you so much! I’ve never tried a broccoli cheese casserole recipe that didn’t involve “condensed soup” and it was so much better! The store here hasn’t had chicken stock/broth for weeks!! (Any idea on how to make your own?) So I used a packet of chicken flavor from Ramen Noodles, and it worked well but was a bit salty, however I’m in love with this recipe! Thanks so much Mel!!

    • Mel says:

      Kensi – I’m actually making this recipe later this week to try it out with leftover turkey. I’m so glad you liked it! As for the chicken broth, you can definitely make your own. It requires a bit of work but basically you boil a whole chicken in a large pot with about 8 cups water and add vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves, and salt (probably a teaspoon or two to start). I also like to add a bit of rosemary and thyme (dried or fresh). Simmer it, covered, for about 2 hours until everything is well cooked down. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove it from the bones and save it for another use. Strain the broth into another bowl or pot and add salt to taste. Refrigerate it (after cooling, the fat will rise to the top and you can skim it off). You can freeze the broth in ziploc bags or freezer safe tupperware containers to use later. I hope that helps! Homemade chicken stock is so flavorful and delicious.

  38. Shanon says:

    I just made this, the only modification was adding two cans of already cooked chicken (I know, I know, the whole point of this recipe was to avoid processed things but technically I don’t think this chicken was very processed, and I wasn’t sure how to actually add fresh chicken to this…cooked? Raw? anyways..) AMAZING! I could have eaten half the pan myself.

  39. Melanie says:

    Hatch Family – love your changes! That’s my favorite part of checking comments – to see how people have adapted the recipes to fit their needs. Love it!

  40. The Hatch Family says:

    This was so great! I didn’t have frozen broccoli, so I steamed some fresh broccoli lightly and threw it in. I also added corn, and used whole wheat bread crumbs that I pulsed in my mixer. Thanks for a great recipe!

  41. Melanie says:

    Nicole – I was just reviewing some recipes and saw this one and thought I should make it since it has been a while. Your testimonial has pushed me to do it – I think I’ll make it this week. I’m glad it was a hit and that Holden raved about it.

  42. Nicole says:

    This was another great Sunday meal – Holden said “We could have this every week!” This is a huge compliment coming from him because he likes a lot of variety. I used wheat bread and added chicken like you said, but I accidentally put all the parmesan in the food processor instead of saving some, anyway I kind of fixed it, but it was nice because it turned out well anyway – not a recipe that gets messed up easily which is always a plus for me. Next time I might add some mushrooms in. This was very yummy, thanks again.

  43. Mary Karlee says:

    I love this recipe! I could eat it all the time!

  44. Melanie says:

    Rebecca – so glad you liked this recipe. It takes a bit more time than throwing together cans of soup but the result is worth it, as you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!

  45. Rebecca says:

    I know I’m commenting on this months after it was posted, but I just ate leftovers of this dish for the 3rd day in a row (I cook for 2, so a dish like this leaves a LOT of leftovers). Its just as good today and I’m not even sick of it! Normally, I grow a bit homicidal having to eat the same leftovers for an entire week. Thanks for the fabulous recipe, its so much better than the one I’ve thrown together with the condensed soup. I’ll never go back!

  46. EmilyCC says:

    I made the Cook’s Country version a couple months ago and LOVED it. I agree–with chicken it would be a perfect one dish meal.

  47. Melanie says:

    Hi Allison – thanks for letting me know about your changes. I love to know when people adapt and make things different. I’m glad to know the addition of chicken worked great and I’m going to have to eliminate some of the fat next time I make it, too. Thanks!

  48. Kara@ Creations by Kara says:

    This looks just wonderful! Love that it doesn’t have the usual cream of chicken soup. I can’t wait to try it!

  49. Heather says:

    thanks so much for this. I am excited to try it and hopefully, it will be soon. It looks amazing and pretty simple!!

    thanks again, heather

  50. Christy says:

    Mmmm-this looks wonderful and will be great for summer get-togethers! I can’t wait to try it!

  51. Erin says:

    That looks GREAT

  52. grace says:

    yes, sadly, the only way i’m able to convince myself to eat broccoli is to shroud it with cheese. this casserole is lovely and would do quite nicely. 🙂

  53. Jo says:

    This looks wonderful and I would love to make it. I am sure it will go down a treat with my family as well.

    Can I ask what is “half-and-half”? I haven’t heard of it here in Australia.

    Thanks – Jo

  54. Kevin says:

    Cheese and rice broccoli casseroles are the best!

  55. Melanie says:

    Teri – I know it seems like a lot of liquid but the rice slowly absorbs it while the pot is uncovered and it is being stirred. It makes the rice plump and tender.

    Let me know how it goes!

  56. Ben and Summer says:

    Looks yummy! Do you think whole wheat/grain bread would work just as well?

  57. Megan says:

    I really dislike (read – will not use) condensed soups – they are horrible! But this looks great, and I will definitely be trying it soon! Thanks for sharing –

  58. Justin says:

    yum. funny, I was just writing about a casseroles book.

  59. Stacey says:

    My mom has made this recipe (or one similar) and it is soo good! Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner!

  60. Melanie says:

    Kara – I’m going to have to try this with chicken next time. I’m glad it worked out and that your fam loved it. Thanks for letting me know!

  61. teresa says:

    Oh wow, this looks great!

  62. Melanie says:

    Ben and Summer – whole wheat bread can still be used for bread crumbs – you’ll get a slightly different texture and flavor but if you are used to the taste of whole wheat, it shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure to use really good quality bread (none of that cardboard stuff!).

  63. Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog today.
    I love all the new blogs
    I have found. Quite a unique group.
    I love making new blogging friends..
    I have several Disney posts already on my blog and have several more to post. Hope you will stop by for a visit.

  64. Tharon & Alicia says:

    I love how you have added “You might like these stories” on the bottom of each post.

  65. Melody says:

    I love one dish meals and I commend you for not using the processed convenience foods. This looks delish and I bet it tastes even better!

  66. Gianina says:

    Looks very yummy and easy! 😀

  67. Melanie says:

    JoAnn – I’m so sorry this didn’t turn out for you. If it makes you feel any better, my kids are usually trying to poke each other’s eyes out, too. It makes me feel better they aren’t the only ones who do that around dinnertime! Better luck next time!

  68. Jonelle Hughes says:

    This was delicious Mel! I did it a bit different, because my baby is teething and needs to nurse all day, and truthfully I am lazy in the kitchen lately- so I did a quick version. I threw everything except the cheese into my rice cooker. I added a bit more broth. I also threw the uncooked broccoli in, because I don’t use a microwave. Pushed the steam cook button and twenty minutes later, it was done. I also used Trader Joe’s wild rice/basmati/veggies mix because I had it and it is a favorite. I added the cheese, then spread it in a casserole, and put the crumb topping on. Then I baked it. ALL my kids had seconds. (my husband was at work) So, we are making it with dinner tomorrow to accompany our whole chicken with 40 cloves of garlic in the crock pot. Thank you for this delish recipe- and best of luck with the move!!!

    PS… My aunt used to make something similar but it had velveeta and condensed soup
    (cringe), this was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better!

  69. Melanie says:

    Jonelle – I love it when you comment to let me know what you tried and what variations you did. It sounds like your simplified version of this dish was fantastic – I’m so glad! Thanks, thanks, thanks for letting me know.

  70. Kara says:

    I made this the other night for my family and I loved it. I added chicken to make a meal out of it. It was delicious and I loved the garlic bread crumbs on top!!!

  71. Abby says:

    This is great husband food. I’m bookmarking it right away! Love the idea of adding chicken.

  72. Cara says:

    This casserole sounds great! I’ve been looking for a side like this that contains veggies but enough other stuff that my picky hubby and son might try it….but that ALSO doesn’t have all the processed ingredients. I’m trying to cut back on the processed stuff too. Can’t wait to try it!

  73. Allison says:

    Changes I made to healthify it a bit. Used whole wheat bread for the bread crumbs. I reduced the fat a bit and made it with skim milk instead of half and half, used only 2 TBS butter for the crumb topping, and only used about 1 TBS olive oil for sauteing the onions. I also added chicken breast to make it a main dish. It turned out wonderful! I loved not having to use condensed soup for a casserole! Thank you for the recipe!

  74. JoAnn says:

    Okay, so let me start this off by saying I’m a real idiot in the kitchen. I tried this recipe one night…but I accidentally bought brown rice–an hour later, I realized that it wasn’t cooking like it should. So, I tried it again the next night, with white rice. But my kids started trying to poke eachother’s eyes out, so I threw the rice in the rice cooker with the half-n-half and the broth, thinking it would save me some time…what a mistake. I salvaged what I could of the rice, and it was all right meal for us…but it will be along time before I try this one again. *sigh*

    It is OK to laugh at my expense.

  75. Teri says:

    this seems like so much liquid for so little rice – it doesn’t get soupy?

    1 1/4 c rice and 5 1/4 c liquid?

    I love your recipes & I plan to make this one today for a family get-together…I’m just a little nervous about the rice to liquid ratios!!! I’ll take your word for it, though!! 🙂

    • Meagan says:

      I made it last night, and if you cook it as directed with the lid off, after 20-25 minutes, the liquid is almost completely gone, leaving it VERY creamy and delicious.

  76. Rob and Sara plus 1 says:

    This was soooo delicious! I’m wondering if you have ever tried to freeze something like this? I know you’ve got a bigger fam than me, but with just 2 of us eating it, this made way more than we could eat.

  77. Melanie says:

    Rob and Sara plus 1 – I have never frozen this particular casserole but my gut feeling is it would freeze just fine (the texture may be a bit different after baking from frozen due to the cream but the taste would still be great most likely). If you try it, let me know!

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