Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
A steaming bowl of baked mac and cheese is pure comfort food. This Broccoli Mac and Cheese is a creamy, cheesy homemade macaroni and cheese at its best.
Macaroni and Cheese. The ultimate comfort food. At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a bowl full of warm, cheesy pasta. My kids love Panera Mac and Cheese and butternut squash mac and cheese and I love the ease of an Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.
With this broccoli mac and cheese, we’re adding in a vegetable to make more of a complete meal. You can also add cooked chicken to this homemade baked mac and cheese for extra protein. I always serve roasted broccoli or steamed broccoli on the side with mac and cheese anyways, so this recipe saves a step by mixing the broccoli right into the casserole. And cheese-smothered broccoli is a pretty amazing thing.
I like to serve this meal with a green salad and some bread. It’s also a delicious side dish for baked chicken. If you have leftovers of this recipe, they make a delicious lunch.
This baked mac and cheese works well as a make-ahead meal. You can prep the casserole in the afternoon, or up to one day ahead, and then bake it until hot and bubbly in the evening when you’re ready to serve it.
How to make Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Making this broccoli mac and cheese requires just a few simple steps. You’ll find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
Cook Broccoli and Pasta
The first step in this easy recipe is to bring a pot of water to a boil. You’ll first cook the broccoli in the boiling water. When the broccoli is done, remove it using a slotted spoon and then boil the pasta. It’s so convenient to be able to cook both the broccoli and pasta in the same pot.
Make Cheese Sauce
While the pasta boils, you’ll make a simple cheese sauce on the stove. To start, we make something called a roux, which is a fancy name for equal parts flour and fat (in this case butter) that is used to thicken a sauce.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk or stir in the flour and some minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring the whole time. Then whisk in milk. Cook the milk mixture, stirring often, until it thickens. Turn off the heat and stir in salt, pepper and a little Dijon mustard. You can leave out the mustard if you don’t care for it, but it just enhances the flavor of the macaroni.
Assemble the Casserole
Stir the pasta, broccoli and cheese sauce together (you can do this in the pot that you used to cook the pasta). Then pour everything into a casserole dish or 13×9-inch baking dish.
Sprinkle on the breadcrumb topping, a mixture of breadcrumbs and melted butter.
Bake the broccoli mac and cheese until it’s hot and bubbly and the topping is light golden brown. Then enjoy!
Cooking Tips for Baked Mac and Cheese
- Cut the broccoli into small pieces, so that you can get a little bit of pasta and broccoli together in a bite. If you’re feeding a family, smaller pieces of broccoli are often more appealing to kids.
- This recipe calls for shredded cheddar cheese. You can use orange cheddar, white cheddar, or a combination of the two.
- You can add cooked chicken breast to this mac and cheese. Stir it in with the broccoli.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my slow cooker broccoli chicken and rice casserole.
Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese
For the casserole:
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 10 ounces dry pasta (preferred shells or macaroni)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 ½ cups milk (lowfat or whole milk)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese ((10 ounces by weight))
For the topping:
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs (store-bought or homemade*)
- 1 tablespoon butter (melted)
Make the casserole:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and boil for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the broccoli to a colander, keeping the water in the pot boiling.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta and return to the empty pot.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then the minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it comes to a low boil and thickens, whisking often, about 5 minutes total. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and Dijon. Then stir in the cheddar cheese, a little bit at a time, until it melts into the sauce.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta in the pot. Add the cooked broccoli and stir gently to combine. Pour into a 3 quart or 13x9-inch baking dish.
Make the topping:
- Stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake mac and cheese in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Check after 12 minutes and cover with foil if needed to prevent the topping from over-browning.
- It is best to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese from the store often has a coating that prevents it from melting smoothly.
- To make homemade breadcrumbs: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a food processor, process 4 slices whole-wheat bread until you have fine crumbs. Lay crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the preheated oven until dry and very lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Stir after 10 minutes to help crumbs brown evenly. Extra breadcrumbs can be stored in the freezer.
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