This timeless classic of mac and cheese only gets better with roasted broccoli thrown into the mix. Roasted broccoli macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods to make, especially because it's perfect for meal prep!
Macaroni and cheese knows no seasonality, it is perfect for every single day of the year.
While I love my easy baked macaroni and cheese, and my creamy spinach pasta, I wanted to marry two of my loves: cheesy pasta and broccoli. This recipe is the culmination of that, and it is so freaking delicious.
What do I need for this recipe?
This recipe starts with the basic mac and cheese ingredients, and then we add in the roasted broccoli. Here's what you will need:
- Pasta: any kind will do, I used shells here and I was super happy with them. I will say, short pasta like fusilli, shells, and of course macaroni will work best.
- Shallot: minced and sautéed adds amazing flavor.
- Roux: a roux is a mixture of butter and flour, whisked together to form a thick paste-like consistency. This aids in thickening a sauce or in this case, a cheese sauce.
- Cream or milk: a key ingredient in making the cheese sauce for the mac and cheese
- Stock: helps make the cheese sauce
- Cheese: it wouldn't be mac and cheese with cheese! Sharp or mild cheddar works perfectly here, or feel free to branch out to other varieties.
- Olive OIl
See the recipe card below for specific quantities.
How do I make this recipe?
We'll work in two separate steps for this pasta dish: we'll start with roasting the vegetables, simultaneously cooking and prepping the pasta. Here is how to make this:
To roast the broccoli:
Preheat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the broccoli in olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool. DO NOT shut off the oven, you'll bake the mac and cheese for a short time.
For the macaroni and cheese:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your desired pasta a minute or two less than the box or package indicates. Strain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté the shallot in the olive oil over a medium heat, and cook until fragrant and slightly translucent. Add in the butter and melt. Pour int he flour and whisk until it combines and forms a thick texture. To the roux (flour and butter), add in the heavy cream and stock. Bring the heat down a touch and let the roux come to a gentle boil.
Turn off the heat, pour in the cheese, and stir to combine. Let the cheese fully melt and then add in the pasta. Pour in the broccoli to the pasta, fold in the broccoli, and mix to combine. Transfer the broccoli mac and cheese to an oven safe baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, bringing the temperature down to 350º. Let cool before serving or cover for another night as a meal prep.
HINT: Remember to cook the pasta a few minutes less than what the directions say, because we are baking this dish, we don't want the pasta to overcook in the pasta water.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
This pasta recipe is completely delicious the way it's created and developed, but if you are looking to swap and substitute some things to fit your dietary needs, here are a few suggestions:
I would be remiss if I didn't offer you some substitution and swap options for this recipe, so that you can fully enjoy it, regardless of any dietary needs.
- Pasta - instead of using durum or regular flour penne, you can easily use gluten free penne.
- Cheese - swap the regular mozzarella for dairy-free.
- Veggies - the vegetable options are entirely up to you! Feel free to use whatever veggies that you have on hand, including frozen!
Not into broccoli? Want to add some extra flavor? Here are a few ways you can create this recipe and make it your own with your own variations:
- Spicy - add a few red pepper flakes to the garlic and onion as it cooks.
- Topping - add ricotta dollops in between the mac and cheese, or top the entire bake with breadcrumbs before baking.
- Mini - make minature versions by baking in smaller ramekins for perfect portion sizes.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
For this recipe, we'll need pretty standard tools and kitchen equipment when it comes to making the pasta and baking it. One of the tools I highly recommend using is a spider skimmer or spatula. This spatula is circular, and has tiny holes in it. I find it's a lot easier to make pasta recipes when it calls for straining and baking pasta to just use the spider spatula and move the pasta from the water and pot directly to the dish. Less mess and less things to dirty.
Otherwise, here's other common tools you'll need:
- Strainer - if you're not using the spider skimmer/spatula
- Medium Frying Pan - to saute the onion and garlic.
- Large pot
- Measuring spoons and cups - to measure the chicken stock and the milk, etc.
- Oven-safe casserole dish
- Baking sheet - for the broccoli
How do I store the leftovers? Can I freeze this?
Most of my recipes are built for the freezer, and can be stored in the fridge for a few days after initially cooking.
This dish stays well for up to five days in the fridge in a tightly sealed tupperware. If you want to make this and freeze for another day, simply put the pasta and broccoli into a freezer-safe container, labelling with the oven temp and cook time (in the recipe card), and take out a few hours before you want to bake it. When it's mostly thawed, pour into an oven-safe dish, top with more cheese, and bake!
Add ¼ cup pasta water to the roux when making the cheese sauce for the dish, it'll give the entire recipe a creamier taste.
Hungry for More?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Roasted Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 strainer
- 1 oven safe baking dish
- 1 spatula
- 1 whisk
- 1 large frying pan
- measuring spoons and cups
- large serving spoons optional
- 1 baking sheet for roasting broccoli
For the Broccoli
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup flour
- ¾ cup half and half or heavy cream
- ¼ cup veggie stock
- 1 ½ cups mild or sharp cheddar cheese
For the Broccoli
- Preheat the oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the broccoli in olive oil and season with salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool. DO NOT shut off the oven, you'll bake the mac and cheese for a short time.
For the Macaroni and Cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your desired pasta a minute or two less than the box or package indicates. Strain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté the shallot in the olive oil over a medium heat, and cook until fragrant and slightly translucent.
- In the same pan, add in the butter and let it begin to melt. Pour in the flour and whisk until it combines and forms a thick texture.
- To the roux (flour and butter), add in the heavy cream and stock. Bring the heat down a touch and let the roux come to a gentle boil.
- Turn off the heat, pour in the cheese, and stir to combine. Let the cheese fully melt and then add in the pasta.
- Pour in the broccoli to the pasta, fold in the broccoli, and mix to combine.
- Transfer the broccoli mac and cheese to an oven safe baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 350º.
- Let cool before serving or cover for another night as a meal prep.