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Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole is the from scratch version of a holiday fave. It’s good anytime though. No holidays required!

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole

UPDATED 4-2017! This recipe is popular around every holiday, be it Easter or Thanksgiving, so I updated my old janky photos for you and refreshed this post a bit. Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole is still a staple in our house at every big potluck meal. This version is a total win. 

This is a holiday staple in my family.
I know it doesn’t really look all that impressive because it’s a casserole, and let’s be honest– when served casseroles are kind of more sloppy than impressive– but this stuff is hearty and rich while still being light and full of veggies. Trust.

You’ve probably had a version of the broccoli rice goodness somewhere along the way. My mom’s recipe HAS to be on the table at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It’s like an unwritten rule or something. It gets spooned onto my plate alongside the green bean casserole and in my mind it feels like a healthy choice because um… broccoli. But actually my mom’s recipe calls for Minute rice and a whole jar of Cheez-Whiz so … it’s basically the vegetable equivalent of brownies.

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole

It’s so important that mom’s broccoli casserole makes it to our holiday table that one year she tried to turn it out while she was suuuuper sick. Like that head-floating-off-your-body-borderline-pneumonia kind of sick. And my mom gets sick like once every 10 years so she was trying to pretend that everything was cool while she cooked and wandered around in a Dayquil stupor. She took the broccoli casserole out of the oven and set it on the stove. My sister was admiring her thrice-yearly splurge, and thankfully she turned her back to the stove because the burner was on, and glass dishes don’t really like hot burners. The broccoli rice casserole exploded all over the kitchen throwing cheese and glass shrapnel everywhere. My sister hit the deck.


Broccoli Rice Casserole Recipe

This version of broccoli rice casserole is full of good things like fresh broccoli and brown rice, because my theory is that the more good things you eat at your meal the more Easter candy it cancels out. My recipe starts with homemade cream of mushroom soup which actually deserved a post of it’s own – someday I’ll get to that. Please don’t think I’m crazy for making my own cream of mushroom soup. It’s so easy and calls for only the most basic of things like flour and milk. Plus it only takes 15 minutes.

You could buy the canned condensed soup too if that’s more your speed. But the homemade was so fresh and creamy and I want to eat it for lunch every day this week.

So let’s do broccoli and rice casserole for the Easter table. And let’s do our best to not explode it all over the kitchen.

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole

Yield: serves 8-10
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole has all the cheese and fresh broccoli but none of the Cheez Whiz. It's TERRIFIC.



  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice

Homemade Mushroom Soup:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% or skim milk, divided
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley


  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat shredded cheese (I used a cheddar blend)


  1. Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 3 or 4 qt casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Step 2

    Bring 2 cups of the broth to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer on low until all the liquid is soaked up-- about 30 minutes. Remove the rice from the heat and set aside.

  3. Step 3

    While the rice cooks, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped mushrooms and saute until golden, about 3 minutes. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of broth and 1/2 cup of the milk. Stir and bring to a slow boil (careful-- milk will bubble over if it gets too hot!). Reduce the heat to medium.

  4. Step 4

    Whisk together (I just mixed it all together in my liquid measuring cup) the last cup of milk, the 3/4 cup flour, the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and parsley. Pour this into the broth mixture that is simmering on the stove and cook over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, whisking occasionally. The soup will thicken as it cooks and more as it cools.

  5. Step 5

    In a large bowl mix together the cooked rice, 3 cups of the soup (this will be most of it-- add more as you see fit or save it for later), the onions, broccoli, and 1 cup of the cheese.

  6. Step 6

    Spread the mixture into the prepared dish and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.

  7. Step 7

    Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until the cheese melts and the soup is bubbly.


1. Skip cooking the rice ahead of time and just use instant brown rice. No broth required. just mix the uncooked instant rice in before baking.
2. You can use canned cream of mushroom soup, but it's totally not as good.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 258 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 379mg Carbohydrates: 27g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 5g Protein: 14g

The cream of mushroom soup portion of this recipe is based on Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum. Who knew the real stuff was so easy to make at home?


If you love casseroles you should also try…

Chicken Broccoli Casserole Recipe

Easy Chicken Broccoli Bake

Cheesy Tamale Casserole Recipe

EasyCheesy Tamale Casserole

Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole is made with fresh broccoli and homemade cream of mushroom soup. SO GOOD!
Copycat Mellow Mushroom Pizza Dough
Copycat Mellow Mushroom Pizza Dough
Croque Monsieur Rolls
Croque Monsieur Rolls

Sookie's Chicken Casserole | Sugar Dish Me

Tuesday 13th of August 2013

[...] the resulting stock for something!#2- If you want to take this a from-scratch step further, try my Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe in place of the cream of celery! (it is included in the middle of the broccoli casserole [...]

Cream Cheese Cookies with Carrot Cake M&M's | Sugar Dish MeSugar Dish Me

Friday 3rd of May 2013

[...] the second year in a row and you can have soooooo many things for brunch! Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake and Lightened Up Broccoli Rice Casserole and Prosciutto and Provolone Baked Egg Breakfast and BLT Sliders with Cucumber Dill Sandwich Spread [...]


Friday 29th of March 2013

OH MY GOD I love broccoli casserole!!! It's my Thanksgiving favorite!!! NOM NOM NOM!!!

Choc Chip Uru

Tuesday 26th of March 2013

I would love to eat this delicious casserole :D

Cheers Choc Chip Uru


Wednesday 27th of March 2013

Thanks, Uru!

The Foodie Affair

Tuesday 26th of March 2013

Love hearing about favorite family recipes and the great stories that go side by side with them. I'm sure if your mom wanted to kill your sister, it wouldn't be with broccoli casserole -haha! Totally digging the homemade cream of mushroom too. Love this recipe, Heather!


Wednesday 27th of March 2013

The reason the story is so funny for us is because #1-my mom has not a cross bone in her body- like I can't think of one single time my whole life that she ever raised her voice at us, and #2- she notoriously leaves burners on and melts things. Try the soup, Sandra! I've been eating it for days. I just keep making more. So So good.