Cheesy Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole will keep you warm and snug on chilly evenings. It's the perfect dinner for busy weeknights, but it's great for weekends and special occasions, too. This easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Comfort food season is here, and I can’t think of anything more comforting that a hearty cheesy casserole. This casserole is made with brown rice and broccoli and it just might be my favorite cold weather meal.
Broccoli is probably my favorite vegetable. I came to love it because of the cheese sauce my mom would make it with when I was little. It was frozen broccoli drowning in a sauce made from a packet of powdered mix, but I loved it.
I still love broccoli and cheese, only now as an adult, I’ve ditched the dairy. Often, I'll add broccoli to my mac and cheese, and I make my own cheese sauce with hidden veggies. There’s just something really magical that happens when cheese sauce combines with those little florets.
What You Need
- Nutritional yeast
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Sea salt
- Cooked brown rice
See the recipe card for exact measurements
Cooked Brown Rice
If I know I'm going to have a busy week, I'll make a big pot of brown rice on Sunday and store it class containers in the freezer. You can also buy bags of frozen rice in most grocery stores. If you're using frozen rice, make sure it's thawed before using it in this recipe.
When making the casserole for these photos, I used rice that was leftover from Chinese food take-out.
How to Make Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole
This recipe is super easy to make!
- First, you boil the carrots, cauliflower, onion, and cashews in a large pot on the stove.
- Then, you mix them together with the nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, cornstarch, mustard, and see salt and water in blender until smooth and creamy. (I like to use my Blendtec for this step.)
- While the vegetables for the sauce are cooking, you steam the broccoli. Add about an inch of water to a large pot. Place a steamer basket inside the pot and fill it with the broccoli florets. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and let cook for about 3 minutes.
- If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can blanch the broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Cook the broccoli in the water for a minute or two. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and plunge into immediately in the ice water.
- Then, in a large bowl, mix together the cooked brown rice, steamed broccoli and cheese sauce.
- Finally, you pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake your casserole for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top has turned golden brown.
Having leftover rice in the fridge helps this casserole to come together pretty quickly. I like to make a big batch and then freeze it in small containers. The cheese sauce can be made in advance, if you know you’re going to be pressed for time. You can make the whole casserole in advance, cover it and place it in the fridge, and then pop it in the oven when you’re ready for dinner.
Serving Your Broccoli and Rice Casserole
A big bowl of Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole is all I need for dinner on a chilly weeknight. If you want to add a little protein, you can add a can of cooked chickpeas in when you’re mixing the rice, broccoli, and cheese sauce together.
You also serve this as a side dish along with veggies, such as pan-seared brussels sprouts, and a protein, like baked tofu.
Vegan Broccoli and Rice Casserole
For the Cheese Sauce
- 2 carrots chopped (about a cup)
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Casserole
- 2 bunches broccoli cut into bite-sized florets (about 6 cups)
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Place the carrots, cauliflower, onion, and cashews in a large pot. Fill it with enough water to cover the vegetables plus about two inches.
- Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
- Drain the vegetables and save the water. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then place them in a high-speed blender or food processor along with the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, cornstarch, and salt. Add 2 cups of the reserved cooking water and blend until smooth and creamy.
- While the vegetables are cooking, steam the broccoli. Add about an inch of water to a large pot. Place a steamer basket inside and fill it with the broccoli florets. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and let cook for about 3 minutes.
- If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can blanch the broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Cook the broccoli in the water for a minute or two. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and plunge into immediately in the ice water.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cooked brown rice, steamed broccoli, and cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
- Bake your casserole for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the top has turned golden brown.
If you love broccoli like I do, you might also like:
- Broccoli with Fermented Black Bean Sauce
- Lemon Pepper Soy Curls with Broccoli
- Vegan Broccoli Quiche Cups
- Broccoli and Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Ooh this looks like a perfect Thanksgiving side, and I bet you could make it ahead, to save yourself some day-of prep!
Thank you, Becky! Yes, you can definitely make it ahead of time. It reheats well.
This dish reminds me of my childhood. We ate broccoli rice casserole a lot, but of course, this is a much healthier version! I have a bunch of broccoli in my fridge right now and we always have rice, potatoes, and carrots, so this will be happening! The kids will love it too!
I hope everyone loves it as much as I do!
I had so many rice casseroles growing up, but it's not something I ever think about now. Your cheesy, broccoli-filled rice casserole sounds incredibly cozy!
Vanessa @ VeganFamilyRecipes
Perfect! I was looking for a new casserole recipe to try out for dinner tonight! I have all the ingredients on hand! So excited to make this! Thanks for the recipe, Dianne!
Thank you, Vanessa! I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you, Cadry!
I do a lot of stove top rice dishes but never think to bake them. I love this concept and I'm down with anything dairy-free cheesy with broccoli!
Broccoli and cheese is the best, isn't it?
Linda from Veganosity
This looks and sounds so delicious!! I love cheesy rice, and the added broccoli makes it even better.
Thanks so much, Linda!
Broccoli and rice casserole is such an amazing comfort food, especially in this cold weather. I can't wait to make it.
Thank you, Kathy! I hope you enjoy it!
Just made this and loved it!!! Great cheesy sauce recipe!
I'm so happy to hear that, Heather!
can you substitute cauliflower for the potatoes?
Hi, Jennifer. I'm sure cauliflower would work instead of potatoes. Let me know how it goes!
Potatoes aren't in your ingredient list...did you substitute cauliflower or use both potatoes and cauliflower?
For some reason I typed "potatoes" instead of "onions". But yes, potatoes can be used instead of cauliflower, if you like.