Broccoli Mac and Cheese is a creamy and indulgent side dish, made with sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese mixed with tender pieces of broccoli and topped with a crispy cheesy breadcrumb topping.

Mac and cheese is for special occasions in this house. For more ideas, check out this Shrimp Mac and Cheese, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese, and Baked Lobster Mac and Cheese!

A spoon scooping broccoli mac and cheese out of a baking dish.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods, made with a blend of sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese, and baked with a crispy gluten free breadcrumb topping. The crunchy topping and the smooth creamy sauce is the perfect combination of textures! 

Ingredients You’ll Need

Individual ingredients for Broccoli Mac and Cheese on a table.

Gluten Free Pasta. For this recipe, I used gluten free rotini pasta. You can use regular macaroni or penne pasta if you can find it. 

The key for gluten free mac and cheese is to only cook the pasta until just al dente, then immediately rinse it with cold water. This stops the pasta from cooking further, so it doesn’t fall apart when you bake it.

I followed my package directions to boil for 8 minutes, but stopped the pasta at 6 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it. 

Butter. I always use unsalted butter so I can add salt as-needed later in the recipe. This is a key ingredient for the cheese sauce. 

Gluten Free Flour. A regular gluten free 1-to-1 all-purpose flour works here. Whisk together with the butter to create a roux, which will help thicken the cheese sauce. When the flour starts to brown and smell nutty, you know it’s done. 

Milk. I used whole milk, because the fat adds some mouthfeel to the cheese sauce. You could also use 2% if that’s what you have. 

If you want an even creamier cheese sauce, use heavy cream or half and half. 

Cheese. We’re using a blend of sharp shredded cheddar cheese and gruyere. I highly recommend shredding the cheese yourself, because the pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking ingredients and it won’t melt as well. 

I used a food processor and got through shredding the cheese really quickly. 

Broccoli. I use broccoli florets, because I like the texture and how it looks in the mac and cheese. You can use the full piece of broccoli if you want to, just cut into smaller pieces. 

The important part is to pre-cook the broccoli, so it has a soft texture with the pasta. 

Spices. The spices for this recipe are pretty simple, kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Then some paprika for color and flavor, and a dash of nutmeg for flavor.

You can also add garlic powder and onion powder for extra flavor. 

Olive Oil. The olive oil is going to be drizzled on the cooked pasta, to keep it from sticking together while you’re making the cheese sauce. 

Breadcrumbs. I use plain gluten free breadcrumbs, but this recipe would also work with seasoned breadcrumbs. This gives the mac and cheese a crispy topping. 

How to Make Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Step by step photos for how to make broccoli mac and cheese.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook your pasta according to package instructions, stopping a few minutes early when the pasta is al dente. Drain the water and drizzle the pasta with olive oil, and set aside. Separately, cook the broccoli in a saucepan over medium heat with about 1 inch of water in the pan. When the broccoli is soft, about 5 minutes, drain the water and set aside. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and spices. When flour begins to brown, continue to whisk and slowly add milk. When the milk mixture begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes, add shredded cheese and stir until melted. Season with any additional salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Grease a large baking dish. Add cooked broccoli and pasta to the baking dish, then pour cheese sauce over and stir everything together. Spread out evenly in the baking dish. Top the mac and cheese with extra shredded cheese.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle over mac and cheese evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. For an extra crispy topping, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I add to broccoli mac and cheese?

If you want to make this a complete meal, try adding cooked pieces of chicken to the mac and cheese. 

You can also add other vegetables, like asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, kale, or zucchini (or whatever your favorite vegetable is). For a sharper taste, add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to the sauce and another 1/2 cup to the breadcrumb topping.

If you want to make this spicy, try adding red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or a dash of hot sauce. 

More Pasta Recipes

Storage

Refrigerate broccoli mac & cheese in an airtight container for 3-4 days. 

Freeze mac & cheese for 2-3 months, wrapped tightly in an airtight container. 

Cooking Tips

  • Make sure the pasta is only cooked until just al dente, or it will over-cook when baking in the oven. I also recommend adding salt to the pot of water to flavor the pasta. Or if you really want to add flavor, cook the pasta in vegetable or chicken broth. 
  • This recipe uses 2 cups broccoli florets, but you can add more or less depending on what you like. 
  • If you don’t have both cheddar and gruyere, just use cheddar instead of a two-cheese mixture. 
  • You can use frozen broccoli for this recipe, just make sure it’s fully cooked and drained before adding to the pasta. I think fresh broccoli florets hold up the best, though.
  • If you want a thicker sauce, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons flour (gluten free).
  • If your bread crumbs aren’t browning, turn the broiler on for 2-3 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn. 
A spoon scooping broccoli mac and cheese out of a baking dish.

If you loved this recipe, be sure to leave a 5 Star review below, and tag me with a photo of your finished recipe on Instagram @Jacqui_DishingDelish!

A spoon scooping broccoli mac and cheese out of a baking dish.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Broccoli Mac and Cheese is a creamy and indulgent side dish, made with sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese mixed with tender pieces of broccoli and topped with a crispy cheesy breadcrumb topping.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Jacqui
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients
 
 

  • 12 ounces gluten free pasta, rotini, macaroni, or penne
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free all-purpose flour, 1:1
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese , shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere cheese , shredded
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free breadcrumbs, plain
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Equipment

  • 1 baking dish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a large baking dish and set aside. Cook pasta according to package instructions, stopping a few minutes early at al dente. Drizzle pasta with olive oil, stir, and set aside.
  • Separately, cook the broccoli in a saucepan over medium heat with about 1 inch of water in the pan. When the broccoli is soft, about 5 minutes, drain the water and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and spices. When flour begins to brown, continue to whisk and slowly add milk.
  • When the milk begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes, add shredded cheese and stir until melted.
  • Add cooked broccoli and pasta to the baking dish, then pour cheese sauce over and stir everything together. Spread out evenly in the baking dish. Top with extra shredded cheese.
  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle over mac and cheese evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. For an extra crispy topping, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn.

Notes

Click on the time in the instructions to start a timer!
Storage
Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days. 
Freeze for 2-3 months, wrapped tightly in an airtight container. 
Cooking Tips
  • Make sure the pasta is only cooked until just al dente, or it will over-cook when baking in the oven.
  • If you don’t have both cheddar and gruyere, just use cheddar instead of a two cheese mixture. 
  • You can use frozen broccoli for this recipe, just make sure it’s fully cooked and drained before adding to the pasta. I think fresh broccoli florets hold up the best, though.

Nutrition

Calories: 528kcal (26%)Carbohydrates: 35g (12%)Protein: 22g (44%)Fat: 34g (52%)Saturated Fat: 19g (119%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 92mg (31%)Sodium: 545mg (24%)Potassium: 192mg (5%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 1083IU (22%)Vitamin C: 14mg (17%)Calcium: 575mg (58%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
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