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Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin Recipe

by Jeanette on December 12, 2013 · 29 Comments
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This Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin is a clean-eating and so much more flavorful version of a classic childhood dish.

Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin © Jeanette's Healthy Living

I don’t know who invented Broccoli and Cheese Sauce, but I’m sure it had something to do with trying to get kids to eat their vegetables by just covering everyone up with a brightly colored creamy cheesy sauce.

Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Today, I’m sharing a whole foods version of the cheese sauce that is sometimes made with Cheese Wiz or Velveeta sauce, both of which are highly processed foods. My sauce is not only rich and creamy in texture and flavor, but it tastes a whole lot better. Sauteed onions and garlic, a touch of cayenne and nutmeg, a few spoonfuls of nutritional yeast and a garlicky Gluten-Free Panko Crumbs topping add that little something extra special.

Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Although I typically serve broccoli, simply steamed drizzled with garlic red pepper infused extra virgin olive oil, this Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin was a nice change for the kids. In fact, they really liked it. After all, it was creamy and cheesy ~ who could resist.

Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin © Jeanette's Healthy Living

This Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin would make a nice addition to your holiday table and it’s lighter than anyone would guess.

Today I’m participating in Food Network’s Fall Fest event where Broccoli is being featured. Please be sure to check out what my fellow foodie friends made:

The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Broccoli with Hoisin Dipping Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Italian Broccoli with Garlic, Chiles and Parmigiano Reggiano
Red or Green: Szechuan Broccoli and Chicken
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Broccoli with Garlic, Parmesan and Lemon
Dishing: Broccoli Soup
Weelicious: Broccoli Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Broccoli and Bell Pepper Soup
The Sensitive Epicure: Pureed Broccoli with Garlic
Domesticate Me: Roasted Broccoli, Chicken and Cheddar Quinoa Bake
Dishin & Dishes: Broccoli Garlic Pancetta Quiche
FN Dish: When Broccoli Meets Cheddar

5 from 1 reviews
Garlicky Cheesy Broccoli Gratin
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Nutritional yeast is high in B vitamins and has a natural "cheesy" flavor. It's a great way to add a boost of flavor without the fat and calories of cheese.
Serves: 4
  • 4 cups organic broccoli, trimmed, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup low-fat organic milk
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup finely shredded sharp rBST/rBGH free cheddar cheese (reserve a few tablespoons for topping)
  • ¼ cup gluten-free panko crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Steam broccoli until just tender, about 6 minutes; remove to a baking dish.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add onion and garlic; saute until onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice flour and whisk for a minute or two; whisk in milk, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg; cook until slightly thickened. Add nutritional yeast and shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour cheese mixture over steamed broccoli. Mix together panko crumbs, oregano, reserved cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Sprinkle on top of broccoli and cheese mixture. Broil until top is lightly browned and cheese melts.

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  1. A fantastic gratin, Jeanette. The photos are mouthwatering.

    • Thanks Angie – the boys really enjoyed this rich tasting gratin, much cozier than the way I typically prepare broccoli.

  2. This broccoli gratin looks great and love that it’s lighter than most gratins. Love all the spices and flavors in here. This dish would definitely be kid friendly for even those that don’t like their veggies :)

    • Thanks Kelly – the extra spices, onions, garlic and nutritional yeast bump up the flavor in this lightened up gratin. It’s my clean-eating version of broccoli and cheese.

  3. That cheese sauce sounds incredible! I bet this would get even the most serious broccoli-haters to eat their greens!

    • Thanks Faith – my kids loved the cheese sauce. It really does taste rich and creamy despite the fact that it’s actually quite light.

  4. Jeanette,the broccoli gratin looks to die for… so creamy…love the idea of sweet rice flour.

  5. this reminds me of a favorite dish i used to make my children when we were vegetarian/now vegan. i am going to replicate that and add gluten free pasta noodles and make it into a casserole for dinner tonite!! funny, but i made one of your dishes for lunch a couple days ago, and another for dinner last nite. you are becoming my “go to” girl for inspiration for our meals, Jeanette! i like your style : )

    • Suzi – sounds like a comfort meal is in store for tonight’s dinner. So glad you’ve found some ideas that have helped you get dinner on the table. Thanks for letting me know and keep cooking!

  6. Ooo, that looks so cozy!

  7. Heeheeh, you know I never had trouble getting my kids to eat broccoli (strangely) but that’s not to say they wouldn’t adore this cheesy version all dressed up for the holidays! Great photos too – not necessary an easy subject; you did the tasty/ooey-gooey factor justice :).

    • Fortunately my kids like broccoli, so it’s not too much of a challenge getting them to try different variations. Thanks for your nice comments about the photos – my photography is a work in progress but hopefully it’s improving.

  8. My mom definitely made our veggies a little more exciting with some cheese sauce…though I’m pretty sure she used melted Kraft’s singles and not Velveeta or Cheese Whiz! (I actually don’t think I’ve ever had either of those.) I love this from scratch, healthier version!

    • Joanne – like most moms, getting kids to eat their veggies can be a challenge, so cheese sauce will just about make anything go down easier 😉

  9. My daughter tolerates the sauteed broccoli I make – but she sure would LOVE your version! This is a delightful and healthy gratin – thanks for sharing Jeanette

    • Shashi, I love how you use the word “tolerate” – my boys eat lots of different vegetables now, but it took a long time. I can’t say they love their veggies, but fortunately, broccoli is one that they like better than most.

  10. I eat quite a lot of broccoli but have never made the cheesy gratin version. This sounds so wonderful and hearty. Definitely a great dish to serve during holiday parties. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I love a good, cheesy gratin this time of year. There’s no better aroma than one bubbling away in the oven, and yours looks irresistible, Jeanette! Happy holidays!

  12. Hi Jeanette, I don’t make gratins often enough. They are so easy to whip together that I should. Besides garlicky broccoli should be an incentive enough! :)

  13. Even broccoli haters could not resist this cheesy goodness! Love that it’s all natural ingredients.

  14. I’m one of those adults who doesn’t really love broccoli, and often put some type of cheese on it. This looks like a must-try for me!

  15. Lovely way to serve broccoli!

  16. I love broccoli. Typically we just eat it lightly steamed but I love finding new recipes for it!

  17. Broccoli has always been one of my kids favorites, but I seem to always cook it the same for them (roasted)…this looks like a delicious way to change it up!

    • I usually steam broccoli and serve it with a drizzle of red pepper garlic olive oil, but this was a great way to mix things up and my kids really enjoyed it.

  18. This is making me crave broccoli and it is 7am. I guess that means you have a winner. Pinning!

  19. That is a pure comfort side!

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