This Broccoli Cheese Wild Rice Casserole is perfect for a side dish or an easy, delicious vegetarian dinner. This dish is incredibly versatile and appropriate to serve all year round. It’s a perfect side for a protein like ham, steak, lamb, or venison.
Every holiday, this dish makes its way to the table. What can be better than healthy wild rice, fresh herbs, and stretchy cheese?
I love the fact this dish is packed with nutrition as well as tasting heavenly.
It’s not your traditional Southern casserole; it’s been modernized with the use of fresh herbs and melty cheese. No cream of mushroom soup here.
Let’s talk ingredients.
The Rice of Choice
There are many wild rice brands on the market, but for me, Ralston’s Nature’s Blend is the best.
The nutty flavor can’t be beat, and the fact that it is sustainably grown in the US and is non-GMO makes it that much better.
You can find it at Kroger, Publix, Fresh Thyme, Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, and Sprouts.
To bring out even more of the nutty flavor, cook the rice a few minutes before adding the water. I promise this is not a waste of time. Your wild rice casserole will be exponentially better.
For a few other side dishes, check out my Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Pine Nuts, Wild Rice with Pecans, Cranberries, and Scallions, and my Cheesy Squash Casserole.
Now for the aromatics. I find that the sweetness of Vidalia onions and carrots pairs beautifully with the thyme. Any sweet onion will work, but I’m partial to Vidalia onions.
You may be tempted to leave out the celery, which is your prerogative, but I suggest that you don’t do that.
The celery adds the flavor of umami — the perfect amount of bitterness and acid to round out the sweetness of the vegetables and nuttiness of the rice.
The Cheesy Layer of Your Wild Rice Casserole
The cheese makes this dish!
I use white cheddar cheese and Gouda, but I suggest you play around and use what you love. The cheddar gives that pungent, sharp flavor I just can’t get enough of.
Along with the cheddar, I intended to use Gruyere or Swiss but had neither on hand, so I used Gouda.
Talk about serendipity! Gouda resulted in a creamy, luscious texture I never imagined.
Now I’ll never use anything but Gouda for this recipe.
Keep the wild rice covered as you simmer it.
Once it’s nice and hydrated, add the broccoli and cheese. You are going to want to eat it at this point, but hang on: add the remaining cheese and cook it for 20 more minutes in a 425-degree oven. This step is going to bring all the flavors together and thicken the casserole to perfection.
Once you remove it from the oven, it’s time to chow down.
You have used your self control in not eating it before you put it in the oven, and now it’s time for your reward.
You can prepare this casserole ahead and leave it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before baking.
After cooking, your casserole will be fine for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator as well.
This is perfect for a make-ahead meal and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How to Freeze your Wild Rice Casserole
To freeze your casserole, allow it to come to room temperature and then wrap the entire casserole in plastic wrap. Wrap again with foil. With an indelible marker, write the dish’s name and the date.
Voila–You will be ready for a holiday or picnic in minutes!
How to Thaw and Rewarm
Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator until completely thawed. Then re-heat in a 350-degrees F. oven for about 30 minutes, or until warmed through.
If you make this dish, please leave a rating! I hope this dish becomes a staple in your home.
Broccoli Cheese Wild Rice Casserole
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup sweet onion finely diced
- ½ cup celery finely diced
- 2 whole carrots peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 teaspoons fresh thyme plus more for serving
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups wild rice blend I like Ralston’s Nature's Blend
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup Gouda cheese shredded
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Once the butter has melted, add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add the wild rice and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour 5 cups of water in with the rice and vegetables and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Allow the wild rice mixture to cook covered for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
- Once the rice is tender, stir in broccoli, ½ cup of the cheddar cheese, ½ cup of the Gouda cheese, and the heavy cream cream. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the casserole.
- Bake casserole in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown. Serve warm.