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Savory, Cheesy, and Comforting, this Broccoli Rice Casserole is loosely based on the chicken rice casserole I loved growing up. We are ditching the chicken and swapping for broccoli but keeping the cheesy flavor, creamy texture, and nostalgia in this classic family favorite casserole.
For some more delicious veganized family favorites click on the links:
- Pasta Bake an Easy and Delicious Family Meal
- Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
- Vegetable-Filled Easy Black Bean Enchiladas
Believe it or not, I was inspired to write this broccoli rice casserole recipe inspired by THIS story (click link) about two women feuding over the rights to their broccoli casserole! And further by this EXTREMELY hilarious TikTok video by user @lubalin (click to watch on YouTube). You really owe it to yourself to take a look! Don’t worry…the recipe will wait!
When I was developing this recipe I luckily had my mother’s cheesy chicken rice casserole recipe to rely on. With a few major swaps (broccoli for chicken and vegan cheese for dairy cheese) as well as a few minor adjustments, this creamy, cheesy, full of flavor Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole was born!
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To make this recipe you will need:
- broccoli florets (I get lazy and buy the 12 ounce bag – it’s the perfect amount)
- uncooked white rice
- sliced almonds
- vegan butter
- unsweetened plant milk (I use oat milk)
- one envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix (surprisingly vegan at the time of this writing)
- vegan cheese shreds (optional – I used Chao brand today)
- panko bread crumbs (check ingredients – most are vegan)
- nutritional yeast (affiliate link)
- dry mustard
- sweet paprika
- black pepper
How to make the BEST broccoli rice casserole
The broccoli part
Start by cutting the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. You can buy a couple of small crowns of broccoli or buy a 12 ounce bag pre-cut. I find even with the pre-cut broccoli, I still need to cut some of the larger pieces down and get rid of a few wonky stems.
Prepare the pan with a spritz of cooking spray, place a layer of broccoli in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle the slivered almonds on top.
Do you have to use almonds? Certainly not. But it adds to the texture and protein value.
The sauce part and the rice
Start by making a roux of equal parts vegan butter and all-purpose flour. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, and cook for about two minutes. It will get nice a bubbly.
Next, I slowly pour in the plant milk I already have out and measured, whisking as I pour so that everything is nice and smooth.
Add the other dry ingredients except for the rice (you will be adding that later) along with the vegan cheese shreds.
HINT: Make life easy on yourself and have all of the ingredients already measured and available so that you just have to dump them in.
Cook on med/high, stirring, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. This might take up to ten minutes. At this point, add the dry rice and continue to cook and stir for one more minute. You don’t want to cook the rice – you just want to get it started.
Finally, pour the cooked sauce mixture over the broccoli and almonds already in the casserole dish. The rice is going to be stubborn about coming out. Spoon it out of the pan and evenly tuck it around the broccoli pieces.
The topping and cooking part
This is the best part in my opinion! Make a nice soft buttery crumb topping with panko bread crumbs, melted vegan butter, paprika, and more nutritional yeast.
Toss it together until everything is well mixed and evenly sprinkle on the top of the casserole. You will notice that the sauce mixture is still quit liquidy. That’s how it should be at this point. It will thicken up as the rice fully cooks and absorbs the liquid.
Cover tightly with foil and place in the preheated oven. I use non-stick foil on all of my casseroles. If you don’t have non-stick foil, spritz the part that is against the food with a little cooking spray.
Bake in a 350° oven for one hour. Then remove the foil and continue baking for another ten minutes. After you take it out of the oven, it might still have a tiny bit of liquid in the corners. Don’t worry about that, it will fully absorb as it sits and slightly cools for ten more minutes.
This works great for meal prep. I can fill seven average-sized meal prep containers. We eat this as a main course and get 6-7 serving. If you eat it as a side dish, you will probably get more.
The printable recipe card:
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Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole (Vegan)
- 9×13 pan
- stove top
- 12 ounces broccoli florets about 6 cups
- ½ cup slivered almonds see notes
- ¼ cup vegan butter You will also need some for the crumb topping – see notes
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 5 cups plant milk see notes
- 1 cup vegan cheese shreds optional
- 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix see notes
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast You will also need some for the crumb topping
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1¼ cups long-grain white rice uncooked
- ¼ cup vegan butter melted
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons nutritioanl yeast
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- salt and pepper to taste – cayenne pepper is nice if you like a little spice.¾
- Preheat the oven to 350°Cover the bottom and sides of a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Wash and cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. If you are using prechopped broccoli, you might still want to cut down some of the larger pieces including long stems.
- Add the cut broccoli to the prepared pan, spreading evenly so that the bottom of the casserole dish is covered. Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly amongst the broccoli. Set aside while you are preparing the suace.
- Measure out the other ingredients and have them handy.
- On medium heat, melt ¼ cup vegan butter in a non-stick saucepan. Whisk in ¼ cup all-purpose flour and continue cooking on medium heat until the flour is incorporatied and becomes thickend and bublly.
- Add in the plant milk first- stiring until the butter/flour mixture has all been incorporated. Next, add the other ingredients EXCEPT for the rice:one envelope soup mix, nutritinal yeast, dry mustard, black pepper, vegan cheese shreds (if adding).
- Continue cooking on med/high heat, stiring often until the sauce mixture comes to a gentle boil. If you are not using a non-stick pan then you will need to stir constantly in order to avoid the bottom of the pan sticking and burning. This might take up to 10 minutes.
- Once the mixture comes to a gentle boil, add in the uncooked rice and continue cooking and stirring for one more minute. You don't want to cook the rice to completion – just get it started.
- Pour the cooked sauce evenly over the broccoli pieces. Distribute the rice as evenly as possible. There will probably be semi-cooked rice in the bottom of the saucepan. Scoop it out and distribute evenly.
- Melt the butter. I melt mine in the microwave for about one minute.
- In a small/medium bowl, add the panko bread crumbs, melted butter, nutritional yeast, and sweet paprika. Toss around until the bread crumbs are well coated.
- Sprinkle the prepared bread crumbs over the top of the casseole.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350° oven. After one hour remove the foil and continue baking for ten more minutes. Any remaining liquid will be absorbed as the finished dish cools.
- If you are allergic to tree nuts then just leave the almonds out. I made it without almonds for a very long time. They just add a little extra texture and protein (and fat as well). ALSO if you serve this dish to others, do inform them of the nuts!!
- You will need a total of 1/2 cup vegan butter 1/4 cup for the sauce and 1/4 cup for the crumb topping. You may use tub butter or a stick. Using a stick makes it super easy to measure. Just cut the stick in half.
- The plant milk you choose should be unsweetened and plain (no vanilla). I choose oat milk because some unsweetened nut milks have a naturally sweet taste.
- The Lipton onion soup mix is vegan at the time of this writing. Please verify for yourself that it meets your eating ethics,
- The vegan cheese is optional. If you are new to plant-based eating and haven’t used vegan cheese before, you could leave it out until you have developed a taste for it. Also, since the vegan cheese is optional, it is not included in the nutrition information.
- I use non-stick foil. If you do not use this type of foil, spritz the side you’ll be putting next to the casserole with cooking spray.
- Salt and pepper to taste when finished. If you are okay with a little spice, cayenne pepper adds a nice flavor.
- This recipe makes 7 servings of just under 2 cups each.