Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

13.10.21 | Recipe by Renz

There’s no better comfort food on a rainy day than a steaming bowl of creamy broccoli cheddar mac and cheese. This simple recipe uses ingredients that you’re almost guaranteed to have in your cupboard, so why not treat yourself!

 

A white bowl full of broccoli cheddar mac and cheese with a dish and serving spoon in the background

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I love how creamy and cheesy the Panera broccoli mac and cheese is, so I’ve created this recipe so that it’s as close to it as possible.

This recipe is a firm favorite in our household because it’s so comforting and decadent, and it’s also super quick and easy to make. You can have it on your table in less than fifteen minutes.

My broccoli cheddar mac & cheese is also a real crowd-pleaser. Smothering broccoli in yummy cheese sauce is a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies!

Plus, this recipe is entirely vegetarian, so it’s great if you have a vegetarian over for dinner, or you just want to skip the meat yourself.

This is a baked mac & cheese with broccoli recipe, which means that the macaroni and broccoli cook in the cheese sauce in the oven. Oven-baked dishes like this one are lovely because all of the flavors combine in the oven’s heat, and the pasta absorbs all of them.

If you’re looking for another cheesy oven-baked recipe, try this Trinidad macaroni pie - perfect for a Caribbean-style Sunday dinner. 

 

What is the best cheese for macaroni and cheese?


If you want to make a genuinely delicious broccoli cheddar mac and cheese, I recommend that you use sharp cheddar cheese. Cheddar cheese melts beautifully, and you have the choice of using a mature cheddar if you want a more robust flavor or opting for a milder cheddar if that’s your preference.

You can make this recipe with many different cheese options, so feel free to choose your favorite! Some others that work well for mac and cheese are gruyere, gouda, and Monterey jack.

Using a different cheese will alter the flavor and texture of your mac and cheese, so if you want it to be like the Panera broccoli mac and cheese with a nice creamy texture, it’s cheddar all the way!

I also prefer to use blocked cheese rather than buy pre-grated cheese. I especially do this when I have time. Cause by now, we all know the benefits of grating our own cheese versus buying those already grated.

If I'm short on time, I will buy that already shredded cheese though.


What kind of pasta should I use?


You can make this recipe using any kind of dried pasta. I like to use elbow macaroni because it has a better shape, but you can change it for another kind of pasta if you prefer.

If you want to make this recipe using fresh pasta, then don’t cook the pasta in the sauce first. Instead, add it to the baking dish just before putting it in the oven, otherwise, you will overcook it.

Ingredients
 
All the ingredients for creating broccoli mac and cheese

  • Unsalted butter
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Whole milk
  • Uncooked elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • Broccoli florets - you can use fresh broccoli or frozen
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • All-purpose flour

    Preparation


    To make broccoli cheddar mac and cheese, begin by mixing together the flour and two tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. This is a flour slurry, which you will use to thicken your sauce. Set it aside for now.

    Add the butter, chili pepper, salt, and pepper to a pot over medium heat and mix them together.

    Add 3 cups of milk and then cover the pan.

    Once the pan begins to bubble, add the macaroni. Allow it to bubble for between four and five minutes until your pasta is almost cooked (but not quite). Be sure to stir the pasta occasionally to stop it from sticking.

    Add the broccoli to the pot and stir to combine. Allow it to simmer for two minutes more.

    While the broccoli is cooking, preheat your oven to broil (500-550°F/260-288°C).

    Add 8oz of cheese to the pot with the pasta, along with the flour slurry you made earlier. Stir the cheese in so that it melts.

    Grease a baking dish with cooking spray, or a tbsp butter.

     

    Unbaked broccoli macaroni and cheese in a white dish


    Transfer the pasta mix to your prepared baking dish, or even an oven-safe skillet, and sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top.

    Put the baking dish into the oven, and broil for 3 - 4 minutes until the cheese turns golden brown.


    Kitchen tools that helped me

    These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases*

    * Baking dish
    * Cheese grater
    * Deep pot

     

    Baked macaroni and cheese in a white dish with a napkin

    What to serve with broccoli cheddar mac and cheese


    This broccoli cheddar mac and cheese is absolutely delicious eaten by itself. I've spent numerous times on my couch, legs folded diving into a warm bowl of this goodness. 

    Baked mac and cheese with broccoli also makes an excellent savory side dish, try it the next time you have a barbecue with these sticky sorrel BBQ wings! Or, if you’re looking for a mid-week meal that’s simple and delicious, try it accompanying some sticky BBQ jerk chicken.

    Additions


    The great thing about this recipe is that you can really make it your own! If you’d like to take it to the next level, try adding any of the following: 

    • Cooked and diced chicken. 
    • Julienned carrots (this will make it even more like the Panera broccoli mac and cheese!)
    • Cauliflower florets.
    • Leeks.
    • Cooked bacon.
    • Teaspoon garlic powder.


    You can also try topping it with a mixture of breadcrumbs and cheese if you want the top to go extra crunchy. You can make breadcrumbs yourself by grating slightly stale bread - it’s a great way to prevent it from going to waste!

     

    Close up of a bowl of creamy broccoli cheddar mac and cheese

    Storing


    Broccoli cheddar mac and cheese can be easily reheated the next day. I like to make a huge portion because then that’s the next day's lunch sorted, too!

    If you want to store your leftovers, seal them in an air-tight container and put them in the refrigerator as soon as they’re cool enough. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can reheat it in the microwave.

    You can freeze pasta, but if it’s fully cooked it’s likely to go a little mushy when you reheat it. If you’d like to make this ahead and freeze it, put it in the freezer before broiling it in the oven. Then, when you want to eat it, defrost thoroughly and heat it in the oven.

     

    Scooping out some mac and cheese from a white dish


    Some more casserole side dishes:


    Oxtail mac and cheese
    Cassava salad
    Ground provision pie





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