Ritz Cracker Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli reaches its highest form in this Broccoli Cheese Casserole with Ritz Crackers. A holiday classic, this recipe boasts roasted broccoli in a homemade cheese sauce, topped with an irresponsible amount of crisp, buttery Ritz crackers.

Add it to your Thanksgiving menu or Easter dinner, and watch it disappear!

Ritz Cracker Broccoli Casserole: Vegetable Comfort Food

A scoop of Broccoli Ritz Casserole being lifted from the dish.

A few months into my son’s first year of Kindergarten, he came home raving about broccoli. Broccoli! Apparently, he had some in a school lunch and loved it.

I, of course, was thrilled. My son likes broccoli! Hooray!

I asked him how the broccoli was prepared, hoping I could replicate it at home. His Kindergarten-level descriptors weren’t particularly helpful, so I just set about making broccoli in every form I could think of.

I steamed it. I made the best roasted broccoli and cauliflower of your life. I made a cheesy broccoli Ritz casserole. I even made broccoli cheddar soup.

None of them were THE BROCCOLI.

After prodding him a bit more for a description of the elusive AMAZING broccoli, we finally cracked the code.

Dear friends, it was raw broccoli. My son had fallen head over heels with plain ol’ crunchy raw broccoli.

Welp, there are certainly worse things to love. And while this broccoli adventure didn’t lead to me discovering my son’s new favorite veggie side dish, it did lead me to this incredible Ritz Cracker Broccoli Cheese Casserole. So, I’m calling it a definite win.

I love broccoli in all its forms, but there’s something special about broccoli smothered in cheese and buttery Ritz crackers. I think you’ll agree!

Spoon scooping up broccoli cheese casserole with ritz crackers.

Here’s Why You’ll Love Broccoli Ritz Casserole Too

  • It’s roasted! Most broccoli cheese casseroles are made with steamed broccoli. I do enjoy them that way, but I found I prefer to roast the broccoli first. It has a deeper flavor that stands up well to the homemade cheese sauce.
  • No soup, no velveeta– A lot of broccoli casseroles call for canned cream of mushroom soup and/or Velveeta. There’s nothing wrong with these recipes, but the homemade cheese sauce makes it so much better!
  • The buttery Ritz topping– Listen, Ritz crackers will forever and always be my comfort food. They’re the perfect base for a quick appetizer, my go-to topping for chili, and make the best sweet and salty chocolate dipped Ritz cookies. Here, they blanket broccoli cheese casserole with their irresistible crisp, buttery crunch, and be assured the ratio of crackers to broccoli in this recipe is PERFECT (and by perfect, I mean, there’s a lot of crispy crackers!)
  • Make ahead friendly and great for gatherings– This casserole can be made in advance and it’s perfect for holidays and family gatherings.

What’s In Broccoli Cheese Casserole?

Ingredients for broccoli ritz casserole in prep bowls on a wood background.

Here are the key ingredients you’ll need to make the casserole!

  • Broccoli– You’ll need 1 pound of broccoli florets, which is about 3-4 heads. You can buy the broccoli already cut into florets to save some time.
  • Butter and Flour– These are the base ingredients for the roux, which is how we’ll make our thick and creamy cheese sauce.
  • Milk– Whole milk is ideal here, but 2% will also work fine.
  • Salt and seasonings– A little garlic powder, pepper, and a hint of cayenne make the cheese sauce sing.
  • Cheddar cheese– I use a medium cheddar, but you could experiment with colby jack or Monterey Jack cheese as well. Whatever cheese you pick, I always recommend shredding it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it that makes it more difficult to melt.
  • Ritz crackers + Butter– Finish the casserole with crumbled Ritz crackers drenched in salted butter.

How to Make Ritz Cracker Broccoli Casserole

  1. Prep. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Season the broccoli. Spread the broccoli over a half sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over all of the florets, tossing well to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste a floret to make sure it is well seasoned, and add additional salt if needed.
  3. Roast the broccoli. Place the broccoli in the oven and roast for 14-16 minutes, or until the florets are browned on the edges and softened. Remove from the oven, then lower the heat to 375 degrees.
  4. Make the cheese sauce. While the broccoli roasts, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the 3 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk together until smooth. Cook until bubbly, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly to combine. The mixture may be a little lumpy at first, but just keep whisking. As the mixture cooks it will become smooth and thick. Turn the heat to low, then stir in the garlic powder, and cayenne. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Stir in the cheese until melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Make the Ritz cracker topping. Add the Ritz crackers to a ziplock bag or tray and use a rolling pin to break them up into smaller pieces. Pour the ¼ cup melted butter over top and stir well to combine.
  6. Prepare the casserole. Spread the roasted broccoli over the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over top, stirring so the florets are well coated. Top with the cracker crumbs.
  7. Bake. Bake the casserole for 16-20 minutes, or until crackers are browned and cheese sauce is bubbly. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Tips for Making a Roux Based Cheese Sauce

The cheese sauce for broccoli casserole is made with a roux. A roux is simply a mixture of cooked butter and flour used as a thickener for soups, stews, and cheesy sauces. We use it in many of our favorite recipes including Creamy Mac and Cheese, Creamy Ham and Potato Soup, and Cheesy Potatoes.

A roux is easy to make but there are a few things to keep in mind to make it foolproof.

  1. Prep your ingredients. Get the butter, flour, milk, and seasonings ready before you begin.
  2. Warm your liquids. In this case, you’ll want to warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds so it’s warm but not hot. This allows it to more easily incorporate into the butter and flour mixture.
  3. Add liquids slowly. The milk will bubble a lot and the roux will look thick, pasty, and clumpy. And that brings me to my third tip:
  4. Just keep whisking! You don’t want to leave a roux alone on the stove. Continually whisk the liquids into the flour while slowly drizzling. It will smooth out and become a creamy sauce that’s ready for lots of melted cheese!

Make Ahead and Freezer Instructions

One of the best things about broccoli cheese casserole is how easy it is to made in advance. It’s a great side dish to prepare ahead of time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.

  • Make Ahead Instructions– Prepare the casserole as usual, then cover with foil or saran wrap and place in the fridge. The casserole will keep for up to 3 days. Uncover and bake as usual whenever you’re ready.
  • To Freeze Broccoli Ritz Casserole– Prepare the casserole in a freezer safe pan, then double wrap in saran wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bake as usual, allowing an extra 5-10 minutes for bake time.
  • Leftover instructions- Store leftover casserole in the fridge for up to five days.
  • Reheating instructions- To recrisp, place the broccoli cheese casserole in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or reheat individual portions in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes. Leftovers can also be microwaved, but the crackers won’t be as crisp.
Freshly baked Broccoli cheese casserole with ritz cracker topping in a white casserole dish.

FAQS

Can I halve this recipe?

Instead of halving, I recommend making the full batch then dividing it between two 8 inch pans. Bake one now, and freeze the other one for a busy weeknight!

Does fresh broccoli need to be cooked before using in casserole?

Yes, raw broccoli won’t have enough time to cook properly if it’s placed directly in a casserole.

Can I steam or blanch the broccoli instead of roasting it?

Absolutely. If you prefer, you can blanch the broccoli by placing it in salted, boiling water for 3 minutes, then draining and putting it in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again, then  proceed with the rest of the recipe as usual. You can also steam the broccoli.

What goes with broccoli cheese casserole?

This casserole is a great side dish for chicken, pork or steak! We love it with a store bought rotisserie chicken, Italian dressing chicken, and Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.

It’s also a nice compliment to Crispy Air Fryer Pork Chops, Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin, and Cast Iron Ribeye.

Broccoli Casserole is right at home on your holiday menus, alongside favorites like Easy Oven Roasted Turkey, Roasted Prime Rib, and Orange Glazed Ham.

Broccoli cheese casserole with ritz cracker topping in a white casserole dish.
A scoop of Broccoli Ritz Casserole being lifted from the dish.

Ritz Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This Broccoli Ritz Casserole is a holiday classic! With roasted broccoli, a homemade cheese sauce and a generous topping of buttery Ritz crackers, there's no better way to get your serving of veggies.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. (about 6 cups) broccoli florets, about 3-4 small heads
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk, 2% or whole
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 36 Ritz crackers (about 1 1/2 sleeves)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Instructions

  1. Prep. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  2. Season the broccoli. Spread the broccoli over a half sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over all of the florets, tossing well to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste a floret to make sure it is well seasoned, and add additional salt if needed.
  3. Roast the broccoli. Place the broccoli in the oven and roast for 14-16 minutes, or until the florets are browned on the edges and softened. Remove from the oven, then lower the heat to 375 degrees.
  4. Make the cheese sauce. While the broccoli roasts, prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the 4 Tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk together until smooth. Cook until bubbly, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly to combine. The mixture may be a little lumpy at first, but just keep whisking. As the mixture cooks it will become smooth and thick. Turn the heat to low, then stir in the garlic powder, and cayenne. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Stir in the cheese until melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Make the Ritz cracker topping. Add the Ritz crackers to a ziplock bag or tray and use a rolling pin to break them up into smaller pieces. Pour the ¼ cup melted butter over top and stir well to combine.
  6. Prepare the casserole. Spread the roasted broccoli over the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce over top, stirring so the florets are well coated. Top with the cracker crumbs.
  7. Bake. Bake the casserole for 16-20 minutes, or until crackers are browned and cheese sauce is bubbly. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Make Ahead Instructions- Prepare the casserole as usual, then cover with foil or saran wrap and place in the fridge. The casserole will keep for up to 3 days. Uncover and bake as usual whenever you’re ready.
  • To Freeze Broccoli Ritz Casserole- Prepare the casserole in a freezer safe pan, then double wrap in saran wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then bake as usual, allowing an extra 5-10 minutes for bake time.
  • Leftover instructions- Store leftover casserole in the fridge for up to five days.
  • Reheating instructions- To recrisp, place the broccoli cheese casserole in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or reheat individual portions in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes. Leftovers can also be microwaved, but the crackers won’t be as crisp.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 343Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 411mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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57 Comments

  1. This looks fantastic!! My boyfriend loves broccoli cheese casserole but I’ve never made one – I love that this is made completely from scratch!

  2. I’d like to make this for Easter. Wondering if it can be prepared a day ahead and reheated.. or perhaps only the broccoli/cheese mixture and then top with ritz & bake before serving the following day. Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried making it ahead, but I think it would work. I would just mix up the broccoli and cheese, place it in the casserole in the fridge over night and then top with Ritz and butter in the morning before baking!

  3. LOVE the recipe remix here. I didn’t like this as a kid but I sure do like it now, I’ll have to give your healthier version a try.

  4. We devoured many a casserole back in the day. I still love them. This recipe looks amazing. Girl, I love your new site design. Your logo rocks!

  5. Oh my goodness roasted broccoli is my favourite so the idea of having it in a traditional broccoli cheese casserole sounds incredible. Hubby was never a fan of it when we were living in the US but I think this would change his mind.

  6. This is surly a classic! So much so I made one for this same theme 2 years ago! I love your version and love knowing that roasted broccoli gives it more depth.

  7. This looks delicious! And I’m with you and love roasted veggies! Sounds perfect in this dish.

  8. That’s so amazing! We NEVER had casseroles growing up (I think I had my first one in college at a friend’s potluck), and I was just telling my friend the other day that I wanted to try making my own broccoli cheese. I’m definitely saving this healthified version 🙂 thanks, girl! Happy Sunday!

  9. Ritz crackers, canned soup, and jello! Yes, those are ingredients of the 60’s and 70’s that I remember well! I even remember my mom making a mock apple pie with Ritz!

  10. Broccoli is one of my favorites! This looks like a serious vegetable side dish I can’t wait to make!

  11. Oh the canned soup casseroles. I’m so glad to see updated ones these days with sauces made from scratch. So much better!

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