Make this kid-friendly, stove top Mac and Cheese with Broccoli for a hearty side dish or dinner! It’s extra creamy, made with two types of cheese, and ready in 25 minutes… what’s not to love?
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Creamy Homemade Mac and Cheese With Broccoli
There’s nothing like a bowl of creamy mac and cheese when you’re craving comfort food… or is there? We think this homemade Broccoli Mac and Cheese – a copycat combination of Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup and creamy mac and cheese – might just have the traditional version beat!
Tender noodles and broccoli florets are mixed into a rich, cheesy sauce made with heavy cream, chicken broth, cheddar cheese, and gruyère cheese. The result is a mouthwatering pasta dinner that kids and adults alike will race to the table to devour!
Making mac and cheese with broccoli really doesn’t take that much more effort than making regular mac and cheese does. It takes 25 minutes from start to finish and requires some whisking, but that’s pretty much it. So, treat yourself, and make a pot of this cheesy mac for dinner tonight! You won’t regret it.
Why This Is The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe
Macaroni and cheese is a classic dish, so there are a ton of recipes for you to choose from. We think you’ll love this broccoli mac and cheese recipe in particular, for a few different reasons:
- Rich and Creamy: The cheese sauce for this mac and cheese is made with both heavy cream and whole milk. It’s thick, creamy, and just 110% delicious – you have to try it!
- Easy: It’s a great idea to keep this recipe on hand for busy weeknights when you only have half an hour to make dinner. Plus, since there’s broccoli included, you don’t even need to make a veggie side dish if you don’t want to!
- Picky Eater Approved: If you have a tough time getting your kiddos to eat veggies, this mac and cheese is the dream solution! Broccoli coated in a cheese sauce? Who could turn that down?
What You’ll Need
Let’s get into the ingredients that you’ll need to make this cheesy pasta! Note that you can find the exact quantities used below, in the recipe card.
- Pasta: We like to use cavatappi pasta or elbow noodles when we make this meal. You can use any small to medium sized noodles.
- Fresh Broccoli Florets: You can use frozen broccoli florets if needed. Just heat them in the microwave, then drain well and pat dry.
- Butter: Salted and unsalted butter both work, add in whichever one you prefer.
- Flour: All-purpose flour thickens up the creamy cheese sauce.
- Whole Milk and Heavy Cream: These two ingredients are the keys to making the ultimate cheese sauce. We like to use whole milk because it makes for a super rich sauce, but you can use 1% or 2% milk instead if you prefer.
- Chicken Broth: You can substitute with vegetable broth if you like.
- Seasoning: We like to mix in a simple combination of garlic powder and onion powder.
- Cheese: This recipe calls for both cheddar cheese and gruyère cheese. If you don’t have gruyère, you can use fontina, swiss, or even gouda.
How to Make Broccoli Mac and Cheese
Alright, now we can discuss how this mac and cheese with broccoli comes together. Here are the step-by-step instructions (the full set can also be found in the recipe card below):
- Prepare the Pasta: Cook the noodles according to the package directions in well-salted water, adding the broccoli to the pasta for the last 2 minutes before draining.
- Make the Roux (Combine Flour + Butter): While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring the entire time. This will ensure that the mixture (the roux) comes out perfectly smooth, without any lumps!
- Whisk in the Milk, Heavy Cream, and Chicken Broth: Then, stir in the garlic powder and onion powder and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add in Both of the Cheeses and Whisk Until Melted: Remove the pot from the heat and fold in the cooked noodles and the broccoli florets. Serve immediately!
Tips & Recipe Variations
Easy peasy, no? There are just a few more quick tips and tricks that we’d like to share with you about this creamy mac and cheese before you get started:
- Shred the Cheese From a Block: Pre-shredded cheese that you buy from the store is coated with an anti-caking agent that can be gritty when melted and also causes sauces to thicken more than desired. So we highly recommend grating a block of cheese for the best results. It takes just a couple of minutes but makes a big difference to your final dish. Plus, shredded cheese is more expensive than block cheese per oz and we are all about saving money when we can!
- Smoked Cheese: Another fun flavor option is to use a smoked cheese to add a good smoky flavor to your mac and cheese. We will often switch out the gruyere cheese in this recipe for smoked gouda!
- Add Bacon or Chicken: Crumbling some crispy bacon over the top of your mac and cheese is a great idea! You could also add in cooked shredded chicken if you want to make the meal a little heartier.
- Add More Veggies: Carrots, spinach, and peas would also work in this mac and cheese recipe if you want to add more vegetables and make it healthier.
What Goes With Veggie Mac and Cheese?
Not sure what to serve with macaroni and cheese? These are some of our go-to options!
- Veggies: Parmesan Roasted Broccoli would taste great in the rich cheesy sauce, and so would Roasted Green Beans!
- Chicken: If you want to serve it as a side dish, broccoli mac and cheese tastes great alongside dishes like this Pan Seared Chicken Breast! Or this crispy Ranch Ritz Cracker Chicken is super easy and always a hit with kids.
- Beef: Mac and Cheese and this Easy Meatloaf is a classic pairing! Or go for some tender Air Fryer Steak Bites that are ready in under 10 minutes!
- Rolls: Toasted bread is a great way to make sure none of that glorious cheese sauce goes to waste – you could even make these Cheesy Herb Crescent Rolls instead of traditional rolls if you’ve got time on your hands!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
If you’ve got leftover mac and cheese, save it and store it for later for easy lunches and dinners! Here’s how to do it:
- To Store: Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat: To reheat, simply microwave your mac and cheese for 30 seconds to a minute, and enjoy! You can also warm leftovers at about 350 degrees F in the oven if you want.
Can I Freeze This Pasta?
Sure! Once cooled, broccoli mac and cheese can be frozen in an airtight container for 2-3 months. To reheat, simply thaw the container in the fridge, and then follow the directions above.
More Easy Pasta Dinners
Ready to dig into some more easy pasta recipes? Here are a few of our favorites!
- Parmesan Butter Noodles
- Taco Pasta
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- One Pot Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
Broccoli Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 12 oz cavatappi pasta, or elbow noodles
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
- Cook the noodles according to the package directions in well salted water, adding the broccoli to the pasta for the last 2 minutes. Then drain well.
- While the noodles are cooking, melt the butter in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking the entire time.
- Then whisk in the milk, heavy cream, and chicken broth. Stir in the garlic powder and onion powder and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add in both of the cheeses and whisk until melted. Remove from the heat, fold in the cooked noodles and the broccoli florets. Serve immediately.