Did you know that cheddar cheese isn’t actually orange? It’s really white, and they add orange coloring to make it orange. We’ve been duped all along. I know.
I opted for cheddar without coloring, so this broccoli cheddar casserole may not look like the kind you grew up eating. It’s also more redeeming than typical Midwestern broccoli cheddar casseroles, while still being gloriously cheesy and creamy.
You won’t find mayonnaise, cream of mushroom soup, or annoying Béchamel sauce to make in this healthy broccoli casserole recipe. You don’t need it!
Casseroles aren’t my typical fare, but they do hit the spot on cold, gray winter days. Plus, they make for great leftovers. Hooray for meals that keep on giving!
Watch How to Make Broccoli Casserole
The Best Broccoli Casserole
- My broccoli cheddar version here features tons of caramelized roasted broccoli for extra flavor, plus some milk and sharp cheddar cheese.
- Nutritious quinoa magically blends into creamy oblivion while it’s in the oven.
- Top all of that with some garlicky breadcrumbs and you have one amazing dish that makes for great leftovers.
You can be fancy and call it a “grah-tahnnnn” in your best French accent, or announce it as a “hot dish” in your finest Minnesotan. Either way, it’s a stellar broccoli casserole.
Please let me know how this broccoli casserole recipe turns out for you in the comments! I always love to hear from you.
Craving more lightened-up comfort foods? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Real Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Spaghetti Squash “Pizza” Bowls
- Best Vegetable Lasagna
- Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole
For even more hearty dinner recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook!
Better Broccoli Casserole
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Cooked and baked
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Broccoli casserole made better with roasted fresh broccoli, cheddar cheese, creamy quinoa and irresistible, garlicky whole grain bread crumbs. This healthy casserole is easy to make and tastes amazing! Recipe yields 6 to 8 servings.
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup quinoa (any color), rinsed under running water in a mesh sieve for a minute and drained
- 16 ounces broccoli florets, either pre-packaged or sliced from 2 large bunches of broccoli
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, omit if sensitive to spice
- 8 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) freshly grated cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup low-fat milk (cow’s milk tastes best but unsweetened plain almond milk works, too)
- ½ tablespoon butter or 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 slice whole wheat bread (substitute gluten-free bread for a gluten-free casserole)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- To cook the quinoa: Bring the vegetable broth or water to boil in a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 17 to 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Cover and set aside to steam for 10 minutes.
- To roast the broccoli: Slice any large broccoli florets in half to make bite-sized pieces. Transfer the broccoli to your prepared baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, until lightly coated on all sides. Sprinkle with salt and arrange in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and starting to caramelize on the edges.
- To make the breadcrumbs: Tear your piece of bread into bite-sized pieces and toss them into a food processor or blender. Process until the bread has broken into small crumbs. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, stirring often. Add the bread crumbs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly browned and crisp. Set aside to cool. (If you cooked your bread crumbs in a cast iron skillet, transfer them to a bowl to prevent them from burning.)
- Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the pot of quinoa, and stir to combine. Set aside ¾ cup of the cheese for later, then add the rest of the cheese to the pot. Pour in the milk and stir until the cheese and milk are evenly incorporated in the quinoa.
- Pour the cheesy quinoa into a 9-inch square baking dish and top with the roasted broccoli. Stir until the broccoli is evenly mixed in with the quinoa. Sprinkle the surface of the casserole with the reserved ¾ cup cheese, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from my creamy roasted Brussels sprout and quinoa gratin, which was originally adapted from The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook by Katie Parker of Veggie and the Beast.
Storage suggestions: Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days. Gently reheat in the oven or microwave before serving.
▸ Nutrition Information
I usually LOVE Cookie & Kate recipe’s and was excited to see an updated version of Broccoli Casserole. Unfortunately–it didn’t taste much different than the old school “church supperish” dishes from the past. Won’t make it again.
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe. Thank you for your feedback.
This has become a staple meal in my home. I follow your recipe to a T and it comes out perfectly each time. My husband loves it too, which was a bit surprising because he loves meat as a main dish for dinner. I even attempted to put meat in this casserole once and he told me after he prefers it without! I asked him tonight if he’d rather I make this or chili for dinner and he picked broccoli casserole – who would’ve thought! Thanks for the great recipe.
That’s great, Ella!
Updating my appreciation for this recipe-just made with oat milk and a combination of vegan Parmesan and vegan bleu cheese (with vegan butter in crumb topping) and it tastes amazing, even dairy free! Thanks again!
Thank you for sharing, Julie! I’m glad it turned out for you.
This is SO good. I used half broccoli and half cauliflower as that’s what I had on hand, but I followed the rest of the recipe as written (minus the red pepper flakes). Its warm, comforting and cheesy without being too heavy. Perfect on a cooler winter night. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing, Kelsey! I’m glad you were able to adapt it and enjoy.
I made it exactly as directed (except red pepper flakes) and my entire family loved it. I actually prepared it ahead of time and baked it later in the day. I liked that it didn’t change the result at all and this made it more flexible for me. I don’t agree with previous review. It was special and very tasty.
Thank you for adding the make-ahead option. This is a busy week with friends. Popping a finished side into the oven will make my day easier!
Hi, Kate, I just discovered your site here as I was looking for info on quinoa. I am eager to try this broccoli/quinoa casserole! It looks delicious and healthful too!
I think it will be a nice side dish with chicken. Thanks for the inspiration!
Martha in Charlotte, NC
PS-Cookie looks so sweet! She likes veggies, just like my doggies do.
Welcome Martha! I hope you love it. Be sure to report back to let me know what you think.
mom of girls
Love this, my 3yr old toddler loves taking scoops of the quinoa and cheese mix and my 7 yr old loves the roasted broccoli… great family meal! So filling and healthy! Thank you so much, keep up the great work!
I love that! Thank you for sharing and for your review.
This is a delicious dish! I love the cheesy broccoli and the breadcrumbs give a delicious texture. Also tried with roasted butternut squash we had and it was incredible. Highly recommend as is, or with squash!
This has become a staple in my house hold!
I love that! Thank you, Shannon.
This was good but I was expecting it to be bigger since it’s listed as a “main” dish with 6-8 servings. Also I wasn’t sure if I should be following the cooking directions on the package of quinoa or your directions? I don’t cook very often so I don’t have that intuition, but as a beginner cook it was really easy to make! I’m definitely going to try it again with some adjustments.
Hi Emily, You want to follow the directions I listed. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I love this casserole! I don’t even like quinoa. And the flavor with the cheddar cheese and garlic crumb topping, yum! I’ll be making this again
Honestly, if this was the only thing I could eat forever I wouldn’t be mad.
My new FAVOURITE comfort dish!! Love it!
Dropping in to say that I’ve been making this recipe for three-ish years, and it’s delicious every time! Such a good meal for leftovers.
This is a wonderful recipe. I added sauteed mushrooms which made the dish even better.
I just made this for dinner. Only second time I’ve made quinoa and this is a new favorite! Absolutely the creamiest dish with that extra crunch. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Stella! I’m glad you loved it.
This is a favorite of my husband’s!! Last time I made only half the recipe and he complained that there wasn’t enough!
That’s to hear, Marilou! Thank you for your review.
This was SO DELICIOUS. I will definitely make with other veg in the future. Your directions were perfect, made it just as you said and it was seriously fantastic.
Yum yum yum! Takes a while to make but totally worth the effort
This was good. I really liked the cheesey spiced quinoa and will make that again even without the broccoli. I did not cook the broccoli as long as written and am so glad I did not as it was starting to burn, roasted it about 10 minutes. This is not your church broccoli casserole, not creamy or “goopy”.
This is a staple dish in my house. Love this. Roasted broccoli one of my favs. Can make it the day before and my husband just puts it in the oven for us to have after my 12.5 hour shift. In all honesty I am not vegetarian but cook a lot of your dishes. This with a baked salmon fillet goes perfectly!
I’m glad you both enjoy this recipe, Alice! Thank you for your review.
This is another winner Kate! I made this as a side dish using vegetable broth to cook the quinoa. The dish flavors were divine! I made it for 7 adults. Everyone went back for seconds. I have just enough left for lunch! My vegetarian sister ate this with a salad. She had plenty to eat! I’ve made 6 of your recipes using measurements and directions you provide. Every dish has been yummy success! I can’t wait to try another! Thank you.
You’re welcome, Susan!
My favorite broccoli recipe! This is amazing for a side during the week or perfect for a gathering! I’m excited to bring it to a superbowl party. I know everyone will fall in love like I did after my first bite.
Love, love, love, thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you for your review, Brittany!
Hi, Kate and puppy, I get your newsletter with recipes on a regular basis to my email. You’re my favorite chef, both of you. I always know when I see a recipe from Cookie and Kate that it’s going to be simple, delicious, and healthy. Thank you. I’ve been meaning to tell you that for a long time now.
Thank you, Kenna! I’m happy to hear that.
I originally made this for my vegetarian daughter who actually doesn’t even like many vegetables and is a very picky eater. She loves this recipe and requests it, which thrills me because it’s hard to feed (healthfully) a vegetarian who doesn’t like to eat plants. My carnivorous son loves it, too, and so do I. It’s a yummy mix of flavors and textures—very satisfying. We love many of your recipes (my carnivorous brother and sister-in-law especially love your vegetarian chili). My favorite is the roasted vegetable enchilada recipe—delicious! Thanks for your recipes!
Hooray! It’s great to hear this was a hit with everyone.
This is a staple at our house!!! Super yummy, neatly comfort food! We add ground turkey sometimes for extra protein. LOVE!!!
That’s great to hear, Katie! Thank you for your review.
Delicious! My daughter is a vegetarian so I’m always looking for filling veggie dishes and this one was great. My family loved it!
That’s great, Dana! Thank you for sharing.
I make this all the time. It’s great for my mom who avoids wheat, onion, and garlic. I use a 8×8 dish, add a can of chickpeas and broil for the last two minutes.
I’m happy she can enjoy it too! I appreciate your review, Liz.
I’m not someone who ever comments and I make tons of recipes from cookies and Kate but this has to be a favourite. Not only do I love it, but my picky kids do too! It’s also highly requested when going places so had to say a big thank you!
I’m happy you did, Tracy! Thank you for your review.
This was a good recipe that I followed completely. I love that it does not use one of the canned “cream of ____” soups which are so common in casseroles. I was a little disappointed about the amount of broccoli the recipe calls for. I usually serve a broccoli casserole as a side, and I was thinking it would be a “broccoli with a little quinoa” recipe and it was more of a “quinoa with some broccoli” recipe. It definitely feels like a complete meal and I will make it again, but I will probably cut back on the quinoa.
Thank you for your review, Rachel! You can add more broccoli if you like and use a bigger dish.
Can I use rice?
Sure, I believe others have and didn’t mind the results. Be sure to let me know what you think!
Hello Kate – I can’t wait to try this recipe. Once it’s cooked can it be frozen? Thank you! :-)
Hi! I believe others have had luck with this frozen.
I have made this recipe in the past and loved it. Wondering if it’s possible to prep in advance and bake later. We are planning a big family dinner and I’m hoping to do some prep the day before. Any recommendations for doing this?
Hi CT, I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. It does make great leftovers! You can gently reheat when you are ready to serve.
FYI – I prepped the night before but didn’t bake it. Stores it in the fridge overnight. Baked it as per instruction but left it in a few minutes longer to account for the fact that it was chilled. Turned out great.
How does this hold up when made the day before cooking?
Hi Kristi, I haven’t tried it. I don’t think you would get the result you want. It does make great leftovers though!
This came out great. My husband loved it. I want it healthier next time. I used organic 1/2 & 1/2. I had in my frig for my cats and only had unsweetened vanilla Almond milk. Next time I MIght Try your recipe as is. What is your opinion of using Whole fat yogurt.?
Was looking for a cheesy quinoa casserole to make during the week of Passover. Found this one, decided to give it a try. Delicious!!! Subbed matzah meal for the breadcrumbs and stuck it under the broiler for a minute at the end to get the top extra crispy. Will totally add this to the annual Passover meal list but will definitely make it throughout the year as well.
Thank you for sharing, Audrey! I appreciate you sharing.
A family favorite! Super filling and hearty. Definitely don’t miss the mayonnaise or cream of chicken soup that’s usually in a broccoli casserole!
Thank you, Brooke! I appreciate your review.
This was good! I simplified it even more by subbing panko crumbs mixed with garlic powder, to avoid having to make homemade bread crumbs. The key is to use a good quality cheddar, to avoid the “church supperish” quality someone mentioned. I used English Coastal Cheddar from Trader Joe’s which gave the dish a nice, sharp, gourmet bite. I used oat milk too to avoid a dairy overload. Thank you for helping me to use up the extra quinoa I cooked up!
Thanks for sharing how you made it, Kerri! I appreciate your review.
I’ve made this several times. My husband (who is a former Chef) loves it, as do I!
Thank you for your wonderful , delicious and healthy recipes
I’m glad it’s a hit! Thank you for sharing, Maria.
Does it have to be low-fat milk? Or is it OK to use 2% or whole milk?
Sure, I know others who have made it with whole milk and liked the results. I hope you love it!
The dish was a winner!!! Everyone loved it fresh out of the oven. My husband has never had quinoa but he really loved it. He said it was a must have around the house now!!! Thanks a bunch!
Wonderful to hear, Jill! Thank you for your review.
This is a staple in our house. I cook it in a deep cast iron skillet and it crisps everything up around the edges. I use 1/2-1c panko in place of the sliced bread and it’s so crunchy and garlicky. Sometimes I’ll throw chopped red peppers or an onion in with the broccoli if I have stuff I need to use. It’s so versatile and easy. Thank you!
Sounds delicious, Erin! Thank you for your review.
Thank you for recipe, my family lov ite, and for some reason it’s much easier to cook compare to original recipe
Any idea if this freezes well? I have a plethora of broccoli from my CSA and would like to squirrel away a few meals for after my baby is born. Looks delicious!
Hi Karen, I haven’t tried it myself. But, I believe others have tried it and liked the result.
This really is the BEST broccoli casserole EVER! All of the ingredients work together perfectly…I used extra sharp white cheddar (grated from the block is key here) and it was fantastic! Will be making this again…and again. Thanks for the recipe!
I’m excited you agree, Angie! Thank you for your review.
I love this recipe. I even make it in the summer in Southern California! Sometimes it’s too much to make breadcrumbs, so I top it with other things I have on hand. Panko, ritz crackers, and pretzels are all great
I used this as a base recipe and it was FANTASTIC! So yummy and comforting.
That’s great, Heather! Thank you for your review.
I am wondering if I could use millet and what the amounts would be?
Thanks so much. I am looking forward to making this. Love all your recipes.
Hi, I recommend this as is. I do know some have used rice in the same quantities and enjoyed the results.
I have a glut of zucchini
Do you think I could replace the broccoli with zucchini in this recipe?
Hi Beth, I don’t know if that would be a great option here as zucchini can get quite watery. If you try it, let me know!
This is absolutely delicious. I did make two substitutions: beef broth for the vegetable broth and Pecorino for the Cheddar. Thank you, this will definitely become a staple at my table:) EM
Great to hear, Elizabeth! I appreciate your review.
I found this recipe a couple of years ago and it has become a household staple. Over the years I have found a couple of ways to simplify it, perhaps slightly minimizing the delicious factor, but certainly making my life easier. First, I just microwave the broccoli florets for about 3 minutes until crisp. Then — for the topping I use stuffing mix and plenty of it, which I saute with lots of garlic and olive oil. Everybody loves the topping, which is what gets the children to actually eat what’s inside without complaining. My husband hates broccoli but loves this dish!
This is delicious! First time I try baked quinoa in a casserole. It turned out awesome. I omitted the breadcrumbs and added some fried onions (Trader’s Joe) instead for a little crunch. Nonetheless, still tasty and I love it. Thank you for an amazing vegetarian recipe.
Deeelicious! I’m not vegetarian but every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has been a bit with my family. Thank you!
You’re welcome, TW! I appreciate your review.
Could oat milk be substituted?
I don’t know how that would be here, but you could try it. Let me know if you do!
Gawd, I LOVED this , I make it quite regularly now , always so good! Thanks !
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing, Heather.
The most delicious-Better Broccoli Casserole! Full of flavor and healthier then most others. Very easy to make.
I made this using all my veggie odds and ends which ended up being some green beans, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and cauliflower all in ranging amounts haha. I was surprised at how nice it turned out. A lighter version of a classic and much more filling with the quinoa. :)
So easy & yet so tasty & fairly healthy! Thanks for yet another winning vegetarian dish!
Loved this casserole – especially the crusty bits from the edges.
Added two plant based hot sausages cut into coins and halved instead of the red pepper flakes to up the flavor.
Thank you for sharing, Connie!
Can you make this the night before?
This is great as leftovers!
I love this with broccoli but had cauliflower to use up tonight, so used that instead. It is just ok. The broccoli has more flavor, but now I know!
Think you could finish this off in the slow cooker instead of baking? Like make the cheesy quinoa and broccoli and then layer in the crockpot with the crumbs and cheese on top?
I recommend this best as written. I don’t think you will be able to accomplish the same top not in the oven. If you try it, let me know!
One of my all-time faves! Comfort food made more interesting through the use of quinoa. The bread crumb topping is great, but I skip it when I don’t have time or bread in the house, and the casserole is still delicious. Pairs really well with a crisp white wine.
Can this casserole be frozen?
I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure.
Sadly, this dish was just not good, and I even used really good quality white cheddar cheese. I made it because it was labeled as “Better” but it just reminded me of bad cafeteria food.
Hi Greta, I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one.
Kate, I loved this recipe. Thank you for sharing. I made it for the vegetarian eaters on Thanksgiving — filling enough to be the staple and so delicious it appealed to the omnivores as well.
That’s great to hear, Josie!
Love this site! Mixing the cheddar and milk into the quinoa beforehand is the level of technique I come back to this site for. For those wanting to “up-the-ante”, you can build on this recipe like I did and make it your own:
(1) At the stage of oven roasting the broccoli, I gave a generous dusting of paprika.
(2) 5% cream instead of low-fat milk
(3) Used 900g shredded old cheddar
(4) Used 1/4 cup of red pepper flakes instead of 1/4 tsp
(5) Added 1 can of navy beans for “the bulk”. Just strained it and mixed it in before the final stage in the oven.
(6) I doubled the amount of broccoli because I was scared it wouldn’t be enough — I was pleased with the result!
Partly hoping to share knowledge, and partly hoping to leave notes for the next time I want to make this. XD
Thanks Kate and Cookie – yer a couple of dolls in this fast-food world!
This was so good!
I’m happy you enjoyed it! Thank you for your review, Maria.
Love this recipe. Made for my vegetarian family member as the rest of us were having gumbo. All loved it. The only modification I made was the topping, I made it with butter, garlic, panko crumbs and toasted, sliced almonds. The nuts were nice.
I’m excited you loved it, Lynn! I appreciate your review.
Thank you for this yummy recipe! I have made this twice now, including last night as a side for Christmas dinner for my in-laws, who are super picky. They’re not “veggie” or whole grain eaters, and have never heard of quinoa I’m sure. To my shock, several of them raved about it. One said it was the best thing I served. One even asked for the recipe! The only changes I make are 1) to add all the cheddar cheese to the quinoa and then add *extra* fresh grated parmesan to the crumb topping. Also I add several extra cloves garlic. Next time I might add 1/2 tsp dry mustard for a little more zing.
Thank you for sharing! I would be interested what you think of the mustard.
I was looking for a new way to use quinoa and found your site. I am quite pleased with the result. I used Panko instead of making bread crumbs and it worked well. I may try adding a little spinach next time and reduce the milk so it isn’t too wet. I’m vegetarian so will return here in the future.
Thank you for sharing how you made it, Bree. I appreciate your feedback.
I’m a huge fan with lots of your creations on regular rotation, but this recipe just didn’t hit it for me. The quinoa I used was very dark and probably gave the dish a flavor that was just too earthy.
Hi Dianna, I’m sorry you didn’t love this recipe. I appreciate your feedback.
We followed the recipe and were happily surprised with how delicious it is. We’ll certainly have it again! I made it ahead of time after reading another person’s success. It was nice to come home and just pop it in the oven. Thanks for your hard work to provide us with new taste experiences.
I’m glad you loved it and plan to make it again, Jane!
This one was a big hit! At first when I stirred in the milk I worried it seemed way too liquidy, but after baking it was the perfect texture. I used rainbow quinoa and it didn’t melt into complete oblivion like white quinoa would, but I love the slightly nubbly texture even more. I used 3/4 Cheddar and 1/4 Parmesan because that’s what I had in the fridge and it worked great! Thanks Kate!
I’ve made this twice and think I am doing something wrong. Both times when I add the cheese and milk to the quinoa and stir it I end up with mush. Am I overcooking the quinoa?
It sounds like you might. Let me know if you try it again!
Is rinsing the quinoa for a minute? Seems like a waste of water
Hi John, I find it works best for flavor. You can choose not to or for as long if you prefer.
Your site is my favorite go-to for new vegetarian recipes. Some have become staples that I make anytime I need a win with friends & family. I tried this one before with broccoli as called for, and it was simple and delicious. I planned to make it for a drop-off dish for friends who were traveling & arriving home at dinner time. My green grocer was out of broccoli so I substituted roasted yellow beets, roasted delicatatta squash, and roasted broccolini. The dish was flexible and accommodated the switches beautifully. I also observed that this time, there was quite a bit more liquid in my quinoa when mixing in the cheese and it was significantly more gooey but a big success. I think I was not as thorough in the rinse process and some extra water made it in the pot with the quinoa. I might do that on purpose next time. Thank you for posting trustworthy options!
You’re welcome! I’m delighted my recipes are a go-to for you, Stephanie.
Very, very good. I have made broc and cheese casserole for 40 years. This is every bit as tasty but much healthier and a full meal on its own. Kudos …
Delicious comfort food.
Great to hear, Ajsoares!
I did not have much faith in this recipe due to that I have never really liked quinoa. But I bought some tri coloured and followed the directions and it was really nice! I’ll be making this again!
Great to hear! Thank you for sharing.