Broccoli Mac & Cheese

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Broccoli + cheese is a match made in heaven! This comforting dish is both kid and freezer friendly.
Freezer Friendly

Is Broccoli Mac & Cheese the ultimate comfort food? Let’s see;

✅ Rich and gooey sauce
✅ Crispy crunchy topping
✅ The dynamic duo of broccoli and cheddar cheese

Sure does seem like it! It checks all of my own boxes for a cozy and nostalgia filled meal.

I don’t like broccoli. How can I customize this to my taste?

Great news, folks! Mac & cheese is one of the most easily customizable dishes! So long as you have a cheese sauce, some sort of pasta that will hold the sauce well, and a crispy topping, you really can toss anything else in there that you like. You can even add some meat or play around with different cheese combinations. Just keep in mind that you want to use a cheese that both has a strong flavor and will melt well, otherwise you’ll end up with a sad, broken sauce.

Here are some of my favorite combinations;

Roasted Veggie: use an equivalent volume of roasted bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini for the broccoli and use fontina in place of the cheddar. Omit the nutmeg from the sauce and use 1 tsp of sweet paprika in its place.

Southwest: Use a combination of roasted red peppers, green chilis, and black beans in place of the broccoli. Swap out the nutmeg for 1 tsp smoked paprika. Toss in a bit of cayenne if you like it spicy.

Spinach and Mushroom: Stir some sautéed mushrooms and raw spinach into the cheese sauce. Use a mix of equal parts sharp white cheddar and gruyere for the sauce.

Bacon and Brussels: Add in halved & roasted brussel sprouts and some chopped, cooked bacon. Use gouda in place of the cheddar for the sauce.

Roasted Tomato: Stir in a pint of halved and roasted tomatoes along with some chiffonade basil. Use a mix of white cheddar and gruyere for the sauce.

What kind of pasta should I use?

Any pasta shape that the rich cheesy sauce can cling to will work here. There’s always the classics like elbow macaroni and shells, but spiral pastas like fusilli or cavatappi, tubes like penne or rigatoni, or curled/cupped shapes like campanelle or orecchiette.

Can I freeze this?

Not only can you, but you absolutely should! This makes a pretty large batch, and if you’re a household of only 1 – 2 people, working your way through the leftovers can be a bit much. Luckily, you can split the batch between 2 8x8 baking dishes and pop one in the oven, the other in the freezer. If you have a larger household, you can always double the batch with very little additional time and effort.

To freeze, wrap the dish tightly in aluminum foil. If the dish is small enough to fit into a freezer bag, use that in addition to the foil. Cool completely before placing in the freezer.

To cook, thaw completely in the fridge. Bake according to the recipe.

Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Prep Time:
10 min
Cook Time:
1 hour
Total Time:
1 hour, 10 min
Equipment Needed


For the topping

2 tbsp butter, melted

1 cups, panko

1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated

For the cheese sauce and macaroni

6 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces

3 tbsp unsalted butter

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

2. 3/4 cups milk (you can use any kind, the higher the fat content the richer the sauce will be)

3/4 cup heavy cream

4 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

pinch of ground nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 lb pasta of your choice


Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and plung into ice water until cooled. Drain and set aside.

To Make the Topping:

In a bowl, stir together the melted butter, panko, and 1 cup of cheese until well combined.

To Make the Sauce:

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes to make a blonde roux. Whisk in the milk in a slow stream, then bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, the 4 cups of Cheddar, mustard, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside.

To Assemble and Bake:

In a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente. The cooking time will vary based on what type of pasta you choose. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Do not rinse the pasta.

Stir the reserved pasta water into the sauce a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Your sauce will thicken quite a bit as it bakes, so you want to thin it a little without making it soupy. Add in the cooked pasta and broccoli then transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Tips
  • You can use frozen broccoli in this recipe. Just defrost, then skip the blanching step as it was already blanched before freezing.
  • You should never, ever, rinse your pasta after cooking, for two reasons. First is that any time someone rinses pasta, an nonna somewhere in the world weeps. Secondly, is that you rinse away all of the starch from the surface of the pasta, which is crucial for helping sauces stick.
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