One-Pot Cheesy Broccoli Rice

cheesy broccoli rice with lemon zest
June Xie

Imagine creamy risotto married mac & cheese. Now, add in some aromatic garlic, onion, scallions, and a pop of green broccoli and you’ve got yourself a one-pot meal for dinner. 

For added texture, flavor, and fiber, you can use short-grain brown rice instead. For best results, give brown rice an hour-long soak before cooking to help it cook more evenly. Adjust the recipe accordingly: increase the broth amount to 3 cups and the simmering time to about 35 minutes.

This recipe incorporates broccoli into every bite by steaming it alongside the rice. If you are planning on using the broccoli stems in this dish, be sure to chop them finely—no larger than ½” pieces—and let them simmer with the rice until completely tender. By the time the rice is cooked, the broccoli will have softened enough that once you stir the pot, it will disintegrate into a broccoli sauce. Keep the bright green color of the broccoli vibrant by reserving half your florets to fold into the mixture after you turn off the heat.

To make this dish vegetarian-friendly, swap out the chicken broth and use vegetable broth or water instead: The rich milk will help ensure you get creamy results either way!

If you’ve made this recipe, give us some feedback down below in the comments and let us know what you thought!

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 15 mins
Total Time: 0 hours 45 mins
3 tbsp.

butter, divided


medium yellow onion finely chopped


cloves garlic, finely chopped


jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)


scallions, thinly sliced

1 tsp.

kosher salt

3/4 tsp.

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp.

smoked paprika

2 c.

short- or medium-grain white rice, rinsed

1 1/2 c.

whole or evaporated milk

2 1/2 c.

low-sodium chicken broth


large head broccoli, cut into small florets, divided

2 c.

shredded cheese (such as American, cheddar, gouda, or Parmesan)

1 tsp.

lemon zest (optional)

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño (if using), scallions, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, paprika, and rice and cook, stirring, until grains are toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add milk, broth, and half the broccoli. Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and continue cooking until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 17 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining broccoli, cheese, and lemon zest (if using) until broccoli is bright green and cheese is melty.
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