Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Best broccoli cheese casserole ever. Broccoli florets, blanched and baked with bacon and cheddar cheese in a milk, cream, and egg custard, spiced with black pepper.

  • Cook time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 5 as a main course, 10 as a side.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds broccoli, stems removed (can use vegetable peeler to peel, then slice and eat like celery), large florets cut, yielding about 8 cups of broccoli florets
  • Salt for blanching water
  • 2 strips of thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of freshly cracked black pepper (1 to 2 teaspoons if using fine ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Method

1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the broccoli florets and boil for 3-5 minutes or until just tender enough so that a fork can easily pierce the floret, but still firm. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

2 While the water in step one is coming to a boil, cook the bacon pieces on medium heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Set aside.

3 Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. In a bowl, whisk the eggs into the flour, then whisk in the cream and milk. Add the black pepper (more or less to taste), salt, and mustard. Mix in about a third of the cheese.

4 Place the parboiled broccoli florets in the casserole dish, sprinkling about a third of the cheese over the broccoli florets as you lay them down. Sprinkle the bacon pieces over the broccoli. Pour the egg, cream, milk, cheese mixture over the broccoli, moving the broccoli pieces a bit so that the mixture gets into all the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle the casserole with the remaining cheese.

5 Bake for 25-40 minutes, or until set. Once the top has browned, you may want to tent with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

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Comments

  1. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger)

    Can’t wait to try this! I find that my kids will eat any veggies if combined with cheese. This will be a hit. Any suggestions for replacing the bacon, for a kosher/vegetarian version?

  2. mantha

    This would not serve 5 at table, if I were at the table. Just pass the big spoon, please.

    I love the idea of using lots of fresh ground black pepper — the fragrance of it with the broccoli, bacon and cheese would be heavenly! Nice tangy flavor of mustard too. Thinking of baking it on a light bed of very good wide egg noodles, or maybe just serving it on them.

    Beautiful photo.

  3. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    OMG! This is too funny. My favorite childhood dish my mom made for me was a broccoli casserole. Hers utilized good ol’ mid-western cans of soup (cream of mushroom and chicken), shredded chicken and lots of cheese. It looks pretty similar to the picture, actually.

    But I’m guessing my grown-up self will like this recipe A LOT more. And plus, it has bacon in it. ;)

  4. Steven

    I like the idea of steaming the broccoli florets first. I usually pan roast them before I add them to my quiche. Steaming would give me a purer broocoli flavor.

  5. AG Wright

    Looks delicious but I need a recipe that has no eggs. Can’t use the substitutes the allergies still affect a couple of my family.

    Hi AG, I suggest that you find a different recipe. This one not only requires eggs, it uses 5 of them. ~Elise

  6. Marie

    This looks great! Do you think it would hold if if made a day ahead of time? (Thinking of holiday meal planning :)

    Yes. I reheated the next day and it was fine. ~Elise

  7. Caroline

    Rivki Locker: I was wondering the same thing. Since it’s only two slices I think you can safely leave the bacon out (maybe throw in some smoked paprika to replicate the flavor).

  8. Judy H

    Unlike former Pres. Bush (father Bush), we love broccoli. Since we like our veggies “crisp tender”, is it necessary to pre-cook the broccoli as directed? I’ve made other casseroles with the pre-cook method and found the broccoli a litter over done. Thank U in advance for your response.

    Hi Judy, I based this recipe on one for cauliflower gratin in Dorie Greenspan’s book. In Dorie’s recipe, she pre-cooked the cauliflower for 10 minutes. I found that it resulted in something too soft in my opinion. I too like my broccoli crisp tender, and the 3 minute pre-cooking was just the right amount of pre-cooking in my taste for this casserole. I don’t think the broccoli would be tender enough if you skipped the pre-cooking. But it’s really up to your taste. And how tough your broccoli is to begin with. You could always just blanch it for a minute and go from there. ~Elise

  9. Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    Our organic grower friend, Suka-san, just dropped off a few heads of the most gorgeous cauliflower heads I have ever seen (better than ours, but don’t tell my husband). I was thinking to make cauliflower gratin for the school today so your broccoli gratin came at a providential moment. And I ordered Dorie Greenspan’s book a few weeks ago…where the heck is it? Amazon works in mysterious ways. Sometimes my books come in a few days and sometimes it takes months. Is it me or is it them? Anyway thanks for this. Funny how you always seem to be reading my mind from afar.

  10. Espahan

    This looked too good not to try right away. I made it this evening and it not only looked good, it tasted good. I am putting this recipe into my permanent collection. One more thing, my girlfriend came by about the time I took this out of the oven and she was majorly impressed. I, of course, directed her to your web site.

    Big Yay for impressing your girlfriend! I love to hear stories like that. So glad you liked it. ~Elise

  11. Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    Just to report back…I did make this for my little Japanese preschoolers today and even those who still pick at the vegetables cleaned their plates. I mixed cauliflower and broccoli because that is what we had and perhaps added a teence more mustard, otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. I’ve never made this kind of gratin with eggs, flour, and cheddar cheese but now am a total convert. Oh and I cubed the peeled stems and added those as well. Lovely.

  12. jennifer

    We don’t eat grains. Wondering what to sub for the flour. What purpose does the flour serve in this? Thanks!

    It’s a thickener. Without it you have a quiche. Should still work, though I haven’t tried it without the flour. ~Elise

  13. Dan

    Tried it last night and it was very good. But I was expecting more of a creamy sauce, like most casseroles I remember, than I got. Seemed more like a quiche actually. Wondering if adding a can of that mushroom soup would do the trick there?

    If you want a creamier sauce, I would just add more cream. ~Elise

  14. Maximisedky

    Made it as soon as I saw this in my email, came out absolutely delicious!!! My daughter loved it soo much she even thanked me (rare) with teens!

  15. monty

    While I normally agree with Mr. Kimball and folks. You have outdone yourself. This is excellent. By the way, test kitchens misses the mark sometimes too. Their latest issue had a dreadful chili recipe in it. Keep up the good work. You always delight and inspire.

  16. ideasinca

    Just in time — needed something for a school holiday potluck this week!

    Broccoli/cheddar/bacon is one of our favorite flavor sets! I’ve been using it for years for my kids’ favorite frittata. For the frittata, I also saute a bit of onion or shallot, and in addition to the mustard I toss a small squirt of Worcestershire sauce into the egg/cream mix.

    I didn’t know that Chris Kimball said that. As much as I respect him, I have a hard time with that comment, and I also have a lot of proof that he is wrong, but not sharing that today!

  17. Nancy

    Made this for dinner tonight,Yummo! I used less salt and only a tsp. of pepper and it was a mistake. Another tsp of pepper would have been better. Thanks for the recipe, I’m making this one for Christmas dinner.

  18. Tammy Chapman

    Elise:

    Any suggestions for replacing the bacon?

    Your recipes are inspiration for me; that I don’t need any culinary experience or fancy equipment to produce great tasting, quality food. Keep up the good work!

    TC

    Turkey bacon? Turkey sausage? Or just butter. ~Elise

  19. EXrider

    Slightly offtopic, but if y’all love steamed broccoli, you should try the Ziplock (or Glad) microwave Steam Bags; not the freezer steam bags, you use your own fresh broccoli with these. They make the most amazing steamed broccoli ever, and it’s super easy, fast and no cleanup necessary! It seriously rivals broccoli made in a steamer. I usually throw some fresh chopped garlic in with mine. This casserole looks freakin amazing too, I will definitely be bringing this to my family Christmas dinner.

  20. Jen

    So this is pretty eggy then right?

    Although it has a lot of eggs in it, I don’t find it particularly eggy. Probably because of all the cheese, cream, and milk. ~Elise

  21. Bella

    Hi Elise! I’d never cooked broccoli before and that pic is so beautiful that I just HAD to try it! Made my 1st batch (half batch, that is) last nite!

    Everything was going according to plan, but in my dogged determination to get my casserole as pretty brown as yours, I kept it in the oven much longer than I was supposed to, and while the top looked nice, I ended up with a cottage-cheesy, gloppy dish. The little I was able to consume was tasty. I will try it again!

  22. Laura

    This looks wonderful! I want to make it for Christmas dinner. Have you tried to double this recipe?? Ten eggs seems like a lot if I double the recipe, but, maybe not. I am serving it along with beef tenderloin, so it won’t be the main dish.

    I haven’t tried doubling it, but don’t know why it wouldn’t work. ~Elise

  23. Momma with an apron on

    I made this for the first time last night with my Christmas dinner and what a HUGE success it was! This is my NEW favorite way to make broccoli. It went great with the ham and mashed potatoes. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you Elise! I have been using your recipes for so long yet this is the first comment I have ever made and the first time I have thanked you. Because of you, my holiday meals and sometimes just regular meals are always spectacular!

    You are very welcome, Jessica. I’m so happy the recipe worked out for you! ~Elise

  24. Carmen J

    Thank you so much Elise! I wanted to serve this for Christmas dinner but had to work that day. So took a chance and prepared it the night before and had my daughter pop it it in the oven the next day. Got home in time for dinner and your dish was a HUGE hit! Compliments from everyone. I, of course, gave you the credit. It was the first time making this but not the last. Thanks again.

  25. Bebe

    This sounds fantastic! I was wondering if it could be prepared through step 4 the night before, put in the fridge covered in saran wrap, and then baked the next morning. Do you think the recipe would suffer at all?

    Well, you can make a standard breakfast casserole the night before and just bake the next morning. This recipe isn’t that much different except that it doesn’t include chopped up bread. So I think doing what you propose, preparing through step 4, would work. ~Elise

  26. ruth f.

    Another fabulous recipe from my fave food site; was a big hit with everyone at Christmas – thanks Elise! I ordered Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook and love it.

  27. Jen

    I just had to comment and say what a HIT this was at my christmas table! I doubled the recipe and the casserole dish was practically licked clean. Even veggie haters had seconds. I made a small portion for a vegetarian family member without the bacon, cooking it alongside the larger one, and he proclaimed that version delicious as well. Thanks for a great recipe!

      • Leslie

        Oops, hit submit accidentally. Was just going to say I am already anticipating that everyone will want seconds, so I might as well just go ahead and double it!

  28. Jen

    Forgot to add, I cooked the casserole two days ahead and it held fine in the fridge. I then reheated it in the microwave because oven space was at a premium. That did make the cheese topping kind of oddly soggy, though, so I just popped it in a scorching hot oven for 5 minutes or so and it crisped up again. Great make ahead!

  29. Che

    I made this during the Christmas holiday and boy was it a hit! Delicious! I tried making it again adding cauliflower and carrots but it didn’t come out quite as good as the first time. I attribute that to the water the cauliflower generates when cooked. However this will definitely be one of my go to recipes for a vegetable dish. Loved it!

  30. Holly W

    Made it this morning and it is by far my favorite egg casserole. I left out the flour and milk and doubled the cream and bacon, since I’m doing the paleo diet. YUM! Thanks!

  31. Jon

    I made this for the first time last night as a side to ham steaks. This is not to die for, it is to KILL for. Serves 5, sure. Or two incredibly greedy hogging broccoli cheese lovers. This is going into the non-fail recipe book.

  32. Angie--Bigbearswife

    I make Broccolo Casserole for almost every holiday :) We use rice on our but no bacon… I’ll have to try adding bacon to mine

  33. Samantha

    I made this for the first time tonight and my whole family raved the entire meal. We usually have the traditional cream soup and velveta type of broccoli casserole. After tonight we will only have this! I did add a whole cup of heavy cream instead of just one half, made it a little creamier. Next time I will also mix everything in a bowl first, then pour into casserole dish and then top with cheese, had a few spots that werent mixed well. But overall a fantastic dish!!!

  34. Debbie

    My girls are vegetarian so could I make this without the bacon or substitute the bacon for something else and still have a tasty recipe?

    Thanks

    I think you’ll just have to experiment and see. I’m not big on substitutes for bacon, not that I have anything against them, it’s just that I like bacon so that’s what I use in my cooking. ~Elise

  35. Anna H.

    I do love a broccoli-cheddar combo, but until this recipe, I mainly accomplished it with steamed broccoli and a cheddar Bechamel sauce. Good, excellent actually, but even better to have something different to try.

    Because of limitations on my larder, I made this minus the bacon, used plain whole grain mustard, and subbed 2% milk for the whole+cream (but added an extra egg) and it turned out well–not grainy or watery or anything. Very pleased! Maybe in the future I’ll make it according to the recipe and be even more pleased!

  36. Vanessa Charland

    I’ve been browsing different recipes on this site today, and everything looks wonderful, and definitely simple. I’ve got my egg casserole in the oven right now, and am excited to eat it! Instead of bacon, since I didn’t have any, and didn’t feel like going to the store, I substituted with sausage. I also added garlic salt, basil and parsley. I will make this with plain cheese quesadillas. Tomorrow I’m trying the apple honey mustard chicken recipe. Thank you for posting!

  37. Jenny

    I am making this delicious dish for school… but I still don’t know if I am supposed to melt the cheese or shred the cheese.
    Thanks for posting this dish!

    Hi Jenny, “grate” means the same thing as “shred” in this context, so you would want to grate the cheese. ~Elise

  38. Cara

    Thank you so much for putting up a broccoli casserole recipe that doesn’t include some version of Campbell’s soup.

    I do still have a hankering for rice in my broccoli casserole, though, since that’s one of the keys to my Mom’s recipe. Any suggestions on the ratio for that? I was probably going to start with 2 or 3 cups uncooked. I’ll cook it before putting it in the dish.

  39. marylou

    For those that want a bacon substitute, try Morningstar bacon strips. It is a soy product (fake bacon) found in freezer section of supermarket with veggie burgers etc. It contains eggs, soy, wheat and milk (not much milk), no bacon. Has great bacon flavor. I use it in places like this where I want the bacon flavor but not the fat.

  40. Kelly

    If put together the night before, refrigerated overnight, and not put in the oven until the next day how much time should you add to the cook time since it’s been refrigerated?

    Oh, it probably adds about 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time. ~Elise

  41. Bella

    I tried making it twice and found it to be quite eggy, cottage cheese-like. I like eggs, but the appearance, once you break into it, is off-putting to my senses. Can the eggs simply be omitted?

    The eggs are what give this casserole its structure. If you omit them, you have less casserole and more broccoli with melted cheese. Like mac and cheese, but without the mac, and with broccoli. It will probably still be fine, it just won’t be this recipe. ~Elise

  42. Jen M.

    Do you think fat free half and half or all 2% milk would work in place of the whole milk and cream? I’m up for any mix of the lower fat items…any suggestions?

    Hi Jen, no idea. It is a cheese casserole, so it’s sort of hard to get around the fat. I don’t usually like the low fat subs. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  43. Susan M.

    I clicked on your link to Christopher Kimball’s “Google broccoli cheese casserole” comment in the NY Times article. Thank you for including that. A Cook’s Illustrated member, I always enjoy Kimball’s homey writing style…and CI’s investigative approach to culinary excellence. Your website is right next to CI in my bookmarks bar. Thank you for the fine work – and writing – you do. You are my go-to culinary favorite.

    Thank you! ~Elise

  44. April

    I agree with you about the quality of recipes out on the web for broccoli cheese casserole. When they tell you to use frozen broccoli (and/or Cheese Whiz or Velveeta) you know you’re going down the wrong path. I made this as directed, except for only making about 1/4 of the original amount. It is yummy!