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Vegan Broccoli Casserole

$5.87 Recipe/$1.47 Serving

Vegan broccoli casserole is the ultimate comfort food meal. This healthy vegan broccoli rice casserole is easy to make, packed with flavor and so filling! Ready in about 30 minutes, this dairy free, gluten free broccoli casserole is made with no soup and is a great use for leftover rice.

Vegan broccoli rice casserole in a white casserole dish.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Casseroles are perfect for fall or winter nights and are so hearty and filling! This healthy dairy free broccoli casserole is no different! Rice and broccoli smothered in a creamy cheesy sauce is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters!
  • Budget friendly – made with simple budget friendly ingredients, the white beans and rice help to keep the cost down on this filling meal.
  • Easy to make – the sauce for this vegan broccoli rice casserole is made in the blender and the casserole can be made directly in the skillet or transferred to a larger casserole dish. This entire dish can be assembled and baked in under 30 minutes.
  • Great use for leftover rice! If you made a large batch of rice and aren’t sure what to do with your leftovers, try this simple casserole!
Ingredients to make vegan broccoli casserole.
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Ingredients

  • Onion – helps add a depth of flavor to the dish. If you are short on time or don’t love onions, you can simply omit this ingredient.
  • Broccoli – in this recipe I prefer to use just the broccoli crowns, as they cook down quickly. Be sure to cut your broccoli into small, bite size pieces as it will be part of a casserole and should be easy to eat. If you buy bagged broccoli, take a minute to cut down the florets before adding them to the skillet.
  • Salt – it’s very important to season the broccoli before adding the rice and other ingredients.
  • Cooked rice – for this recipe, you can use white or brown rice, jasmine or basmati is preferred. Since you are using leftover rice, I strongly recommend using jasmine or basmati as the rice grains do not stick together or get hard and crunchy when leftover. The easiest way to make a large batch of rice early in the week is to use your instant pot!
  • Vegetable broth – this helps to steam the broccoli and also helps to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Creamy Vegan Cheese Sauce

  • Soaked cashews – soaked cashews help add a creamy texture to the sauce. The cashews are soaked to help them break down easily in the blender and ensure that the sauce is smooth and creamy. As cashews soak, they get softer and easier to break down. You could also use pepitas or sunflower seeds to keep this nut free or use hemp hearts (which don’t need to be soaked ahead of time).
  • White beans – white beans are the secret ingredient to this sauce. They help give it the creamy texture and are also a great way to add protein and fiber to this vegan dish. If you can’t tolerate beans you could also use more cashews or steamed peeled russet potatoes in place of the beans.
  • Nutritional Yeastnutritional yeast helps to add a cheesy flavor to the sauce. You can find nutritional yeast in most grocery stores now, but I buy mine online since I need a non-fortified version. Typically nutritional yeast is fortified with B vitamins, so if you need methylated B vitamins, it’s important you get non-fortified nutritional yeast.  
  • Spices: Salt, garlic powder, paprika – these spices help to flavor the casserole and also help add to the cheesy flavor of the sauce.

Almond flour breadcrumbs (optional)

  • Almond flour – almond flour is used to create a gluten free breadcrumb on top. You can also use your favorite gluten free breadcrumbs or even pulse up your favorite gluten free cracker to top the casserole with instead.
  • Avocado oil – avocado oil helps to moisten the almond flour and allows it to brown up under the broiler. You could also use extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil or ghee.
  • Salt and garlic powder – these help to add some flavor to the breadcrumbs.

How to make vegan broccoli casserole

Start by finely chopping an onion and cutting the broccoli down into small bite size pieces.

Chopped broccoli and finely chopped onions on cutting board.

Preheat a skillet over medium heat.

Add cashews to a large cup or bowl and cover them with boiling water (I use my electric kettle for this). Let the cashews soak at least 5 minutes while cooking the veggies.

Cashews soaking in glass jar.

Spray the skillet with olive oil or avocado oil spray and add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Before and after cooking white onions in a skillet.

After 3 minutes, add the broccoli florets and stir well. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing burns.

Skillet filled with broccoli and cooked onions.

Turn off heat. Add the salt to the broccoli and stir well.

Add the rice and vegetable broth to the broccoli and put a lid on the skillet.

Rice being added to skillet before and after stirring.

While the broccoli steams, make the cheesy sauce by combining the soaked cashews, rinsed and drained beans, vegetable broth, salt, garlic powder and paprika in a blender. Blend on high for 1 minute until thick and creamy.

Before and after blending vegan cheese sauce.

Remove the lid from the pan. You can either make the casserole in the pan you cooked the broccoli in or transfer the broccoli and rice mixture to a casserole dish. Pour the sauce over the broccoli and rice and stir well.

Once the sauce is well incorporated, press down the broccoli and rice mixture so it has a flat, uniform top.

Combine the ingredients to make the almond flour breadcrumbs in a small bowl.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the casserole.

Bake in a 425F oven for 10 minutes, after 10 minutes turn on the broiler and broil 3 minutes.

Steps to assemble vegan broccoli casserole in a casserole dish.

Carefully remove from oven. Serve hot.

Top tips

  • Be sure to soak the cashews – soaking cashews ensures that the sauce will be thick and creamy and not gritty. This is easy to do – check out the 4 ways to soak cashews below to find the way that works best for you.
  • If you want to cook the casserole in the skillet, be sure to have an oven safe pan (cast iron or stainless steel are my go-to oven safe skillets).
  • Use frozen broccoli – you can also use frozen broccoli in this recipe. Follow the same instructions in the recipe, but you may need to add 2-3 minutes of cooking time to the broccoli to ensure most of the water has evaporated from the pan from the broccoli defrosting.
  • Stay close to your oven when you are using the broiler – the broiler can easily take your food from golden brown to burned quite quickly, especially when you are using almond flour as the breadcrumb topping. Stay close to your oven and check in on the casserole starting at 1:30 under the broiler.
  • Time saving tip: Chop the onions and cut up the broccoli florets in advance. This is a great thing to add to your weekend meal prep. Store the cut up onions and broccoli in air tight containers for up to 5 days.
  • Need dinner in 15 minutes? Skip the oven and instead put the casserole directly under the broiler for 3 minutes. The casserole should already be warmed through from cooking the broccoli and letting the rice heat up while covered. You can save even more time by prepping the broccoli and onions in advance!
Vegan broccoli casserole with a scoop removed from the pan.

Common Questions

How to soak cashews

Typically, I recommend using raw cashews because they get soft quickly and blend well, however you can use roasted cashews as well. Be sure to discard the soaking liquid after draining the cashews (do not use this water in the recipe). To soak cashews, you can use any of the follow methods:

  • Add boiling water over top of the cashews: This is the method I use most often. Bring water to a boil (I use my tea kettle) and pour boiling water over the cashews in a large glass or bowl. Let the cashews sit in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drain the water.
  • Counter: Cover the cashews with room temperature water and allow them to sit out on the counter 8 hours. Drain the water from soaking.
  • Boil the cashews on the stove: Add water and the cashews to a small pot on the stove. Bring the water to a boil and cook the cashews in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before draining the water off the cashews.
  • Microwave the cashews: Add just enough water to cover the cashews in a large jar or bowl. Microwave the cashews for 2:30 minutes (the water will come to a boil in the microwave). Carefully remove from the microwave (use oven mitts) and drain off the water.

What is nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. Nutritional yeast is typically yellow in color and has a very nutty, cheesy flavor (don’t mistake this with brewer’s yeast, they are not the same). You will notice that many vegan and Whole30 dishes to give the dish a cheesy flavor!

You can typically find nutritional yeast at most grocery stores now. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and many specialty stores has it on stock if you cannot find it at the regular grocery store. Another great option is to order it online (this can save money as many stores consider it a “specialty item” and may charge more for it).

Note: Many brands of nutritional yeast are fortified with B-vitamins, so if you are sensitive to B12, you will want to get non-fortified nutritional yeast.  Typically, you will have to order non-fortified nutritional yeast online as it’s not usually in stores.

Other recipes that use nutritional yeast

Can you make this nut free?

Yes! Cashews are great to make a creamy sauce but you can also use these nut free alternatives if needed!

  • Hemp hearts – you don’t need to soak hemp hearts ahead of time
  • Sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – soak these the same way you would cashews
  • Tahini – tahini is made from ground sesame seeds and adds a ton of creaminess to the sauce.
  • Use gluten free crackers pulsed in the food processor in place of the almond flour breadcrumbs. 
Forkful of vegan broccoli casserole.

Can you use frozen broccoli?

Yes, you can use frozen broccoli in this recipe. Follow the same instructions in the recipe, but you may need to add 2-3 minutes of cooking time to the broccoli to ensure most of the water has evaporated from the pan from the broccoli defrosting. Also check to ensure the broccoli is all bite sized, as many times frozen broccoli will vary in size and many florets may need to be cut down.

What if you don’t have rice prepped ahead?

If you don’t have rice prepped in advance, you can use frozen rice (you can find this at many grocery stores, Trader Joe’s carries a frozen jasmine rice) or quick cooking rice packets from the grocery store. You can make fresh rice before starting this recipe, which can take about 20-30 minutes depending on your cooking method and the kind of rice you decide to make.

What is the best way to prep rice in advance?

I find that the easiest way to make large batches of rice at once is to use the instant pot (or pressure cooker). I usually make 2-3 cups of dry jasmine or basmati rice at once and store the leftovers in the fridge or in the freezer. Check out all my tips on how to use the instant pot to make jasmine rice (or basmati rice).

Vegan broccoli casserole in a casserole dish with white napkin.

Substitutions

  • Onions – onions are 100% optional and if you don’ have them on hand, simply omit them.
  • Broccoli – if you don’t have broccoli on hand, you can use cauliflower or shredded brussel sprouts. To use cauliflower, I recommend steaming the cauliflower vs. cooking it with the onions.
  • Cooked rice – you can use quinoa, frozen, defrosted cauliflower rice or even cooked pasta in place of the cooked rice in this recipe.
  • Vegetable broth – vegetable broth helps to add some flavor to the dish. If
  • Cashews – you can make this recipe nut free by using raw sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hemp hearts or even tahini in place of cashews. If you can tolerate nuts, you can also use cashew butter to replace the cashews.
  • White beans – white beans helps to make a thick, creamy sauce that is packed with nutrition. You could also use ¾ cup of cashews (or substitute) or 2 cups of russet potatoes, peeled and steamed.
  • Nutritional yeast – nutritional yeast is tough to replace in this recipe, as it creates that cheesy flavor in the sauce. You could add ½ cup of your favorite vegan cheese to mix into the sauce after it’s blended. If you don’t have nutritional yeast, I would recommend just omitting it, the sauce will still be flavorful, just not cheesy.
  • Almond flour – if you don’t have almond flour, you could use ground up crackers (your favorite gluten free crackers would work great here) or omit the breadcrumbs completely. If you need a nut free option, you can use the crackers or use ground up sunflower seeds instead.
  • Avocado oil – you can use extra virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil or melted ghee or vegan butter in place of the avocado oil.
  • Spices: Garlic powder can be replaced with 1 tablespoon of dried chives (this will turn the sauce green so stir them in instead of blending them) or onion powder in place of the garlic powder. Paprika can be replaced with smoked paprika (will add a smoky flavor to the sauce) or can be omitted.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge – store leftover broccoli rice casserole in the fridge for up to 5 days. However please note that rice should not be stored in the fridge for more than 5 days, so if your rice has been in the fridge for a few days, you may want to freeze your leftovers instead of putting them in the fridge.
  • Freezer – Store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend storing leftover vegan broccoli casserole in individual servings before freezing if you are freezing leftovers. I like to use Soupercubes to portion out the leftovers into individual servings. Once frozen, transfer the casserole to a freezer safe bag, be sure to label this with the name, date and use by date.
    • You can cook the casserole in the oven from frozen at 350F for 20-30 minutes or defrost in the fridge for a few hours before heating up in the oven, air fryer or microwave.

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Vegan broccoli rice casserole with white napkin and wooden spoon.

Vegan Broccoli Casserole

$5.87 Recipe/$1.47 Serving
Vegan broccoli rice casserole is the ultimate comfort food meal! Easy to make in just 30 minutes, this creamy, hearty casserole is made without any soup and is surprisingly filling! Great for weeknight meals or to serve at your favorite holiday meal!
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free broccoli casserole, vegan broccoli casserole, vegan broccoli rice casserole
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 23 mins
Total Time: 28 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow) - $0.33
  • 1 pound broccoli, florets only - $1.65
  • 1/2 tsp salt - $0.03
  • 3 cups cooked jasmine rice (white or brown) - $0.40
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth - $0.25

Creamy Cheesy Sauce

Almond Flour Breadcrumbs (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • Chop the broccoli florets into bite size pieces.
  • Finely dice the onions.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add boiling water to a bowl or cup filled with raw cashews to soak. I like to use an electric kettle for this. If you want to use the stove or the microwave, see instructions below.
  • Spray preheated skillet with olive oil or avocado oil and add onions, cook 3 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • After 3 minutes, add chopped broccoli florets to the onions and stir well. Cook 3-5 minutes until broccoli is bright green and starting to soften.
  • Sprinkle the broccoli with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn off heat.
  • Add the cooked rice and 1/2 cup vegetable broth to the skillet. Stir well and add a lid to the skillet.
  • Drain the cashews from the water they are soaking in along with draining and rinsing the beans from the can.
  • Add drained cashews, beans, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder and paprika to the blender. Blend on high 1 minute.
  • Optional: Transfer the broccoli rice mixture to a casserole dish (can leave it in an oven safe skillet as well).
  • Pour the sauce from the blender over the broccoli and rice, stir well to ensure all the ingredients are well combined. Flatten the ingredients in the casserole dish or skillet so you can add the topping.
  • In a small bowl combine the almond flour breadcrumb ingredients. Sprinkle them over the top of the casserole dish.
  • Bake in a 425F oven for 10 minutes. Immediately turn on broiler and broil for about 3 minutes (stay close so it doesn't burn).
  • Serve hot.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be sure to soak the cashews – soaking cashews ensures that the sauce will be thick and creamy and not gritty. This is easy to do – check out the 4 ways to soak cashews below to find the way that works best for you.
  • If you want to cook the casserole in the skillet, be sure to have an oven safe pan.
  • Use frozen broccoli – you can also use frozen broccoli in this recipe. Follow the same instructions in the recipe, but you may need to add 2-3 minutes of cooking time to the broccoli to ensure most of the water has evaporated from the pan from the broccoli defrosting.
  • Stay close to your oven when you are using the broiler – the broiler can easily take your food from golden brown to burned quite quickly, especially when you are using almond flour as the breadcrumb topping. Stay close to your oven and check in on the casserole starting at 1:30 under the broiler.
  • Time saving tip: Chop the onions and cut up the broccoli florets in advance. This is a great thing to add to your weekend meal prep. Store the cut up onions and broccoli in air tight containers for up to 5 days.
  • Need dinner in 15 minutes? Skip the oven and instead put the casserole directly under the broiler for 3 minutes. The casserole should already be warmed through from cooking the broccoli and letting the rice heat up while covered. I recommend baking at 425F for 10 minutes to help thicken the sauce and ensure the vegan broccoli gratin it’s bubbly and hot before broiling.
How to soak cashews
  • Add boiling water over top of the cashews: This is the method I use most often. Bring water to a boil (I use my tea kettle) and pour boiling water over the cashews in a large glass or bowl. Let the cashews sit in the hot water for 5-10 minutes. Drain the water.
  • Counter: Cover the cashews with room temperature water and allow them to sit out on the counter 8 hours. Drain the water from soaking.
  • Boil the cashews on the stove: Add water and the cashews to a small pot on the stove. Bring the water to a boil and cook the cashews in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before draining the water off the cashews.
  • Microwave the cashews: Add just enough water to cover the cashews in a large jar or bowl. Microwave the cashews for 2:30 minutes (the water will come to a boil in the microwave). Carefully remove from the microwave (use oven mitts) and drain off the water.
How to make this nut free
  • Hemp hearts – you don’t need to soak hemp hearts ahead of time
  • Sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – soak these the same way you would cashews
  • Tahini – tahini is made from ground sesame seeds and adds a ton of creaminess to the sauce.
  • Use gluten free crackers pulsed in the food processor in place of the almond flour breadcrumbs. 
What if you don’t have rice prepped ahead?
If you don’t have rice prepped in advance, you can use frozen rice (you can find this at many grocery stores, Trader Joe’s carries a frozen jasmine rice) or quick cooking rice packets from the grocery store. You can make fresh rice before starting this recipe, which can take about 20-30 minutes depending on your cooking method and the kind of rice you decide to make.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge – store leftover broccoli rice casserole in the fridge for up to 5 days. However please note that rice should not be stored in the fridge for more than 5 days, so if your rice has been in the fridge for a few days, you may want to freeze your leftovers instead of putting them in the fridge.
  • Freezer – Store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend storing leftover vegan broccoli casserole in individual servings before freezing if you are freezing leftovers. I like to use Soupercubes to portion out the leftovers into individual servings. Once frozen, transfer the casserole to a freezer safe bag, be sure to label this with the name, date and use by date.
    • You can cook the casserole in the oven from frozen at 350F for 20-30 minutes or defrost in the fridge for a few hours before heating up in the oven, air fryer or microwave.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
404
Fat
 
9
g
Carbohydrates
 
66
g
Fiber
 
10
g
Sugar
 
4
g
Protein
 
19
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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