Broccoli…you either love it, or you hate it. I absolutely hated broccoli until I met Cade. I’ll tell you more about that story in a minute, but I guarantee that any hater who tries this creamy cheesy broccoli bake with bacon will be a hater no longer! It’s indulgent, luscious, and topped with a crispy panko crust and bacon.
Ok, back to my story…Cade surprised me with a romantic, homemade steak dinner at his apartment in college and much to my horror he pulled out broccoli with a cheese sauce. What is a girl supposed to do at a time like this? I could hear my mom giggling in the back of my mind as I thought about all the times I had refused to eat broccoli growing up.
Everything Cade had cooked was made from scratch so I really had no choice but to show my appreciation and fake liking it. Have you ever had to eat something you didn’t like and then had to fake liking it? It’s just about the worst thing ever! So I dove in to my first bite of Cade’s broccoli and cheese sauce and there was no faking needed because it was SO GOOD!! Ever since then I’ve been all about finding new broccoli recipes.
This creamy cheesy broccoli bake with bacon is my latest creation. Broccoli and cheese just belong together in my book! Those flavors pair perfectly, and then you top that with panko and bacon, and you’ve got yourself a side dish that everyone loves! We’ve added carrots as well to pack this dish full of color and the best flavors.
This dish is so cheesy! There are three different types of cheese in it!
- Cream cheese
That is the combo that we have come to love in our house, but you could totally swap out the cheddar and mozz for any other hard cheese. If you like a little heat, throwing in some pepper jack is so good! Or if you like strong cheese flavors, you can toss in some grated parmesan!
How Does Broccoli Help Your Body?
Broccoli is one of the champions of vegetables! Most green veggies are packed with vitamins and nutrients that treat your body well and broccoli is no exception. It is a great source of vitamins K and C as well as a good source of folate (folic acid). It also provides potassium and fiber to the body which helps promote digestive health and lower cholesterol.
What is that Smell?
One of the things that disenchanted me with broccoli when I was kid was the smell. It seriously doesn’t smell good at all when it cooks. Just like some of my other favorite vegetables, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s hard to eat something that doesn’t smell appetizing! The strong smell of broccoli comes from the sulfur compounds that make up broccoli. The good news is that the bacon, panko crust, and cheese all help mask the strong broccoli smell while it bakes in this dish so that all you will want to do is dig in!
What is Panko?
Panko is a type of breadcrumb that is typically used in Japanese cooking. Panko is also very different from traditional breadcrumbs as panko is much lighter, crispier, and airier. This makes panko perfect for fried foods and also as a topping for dishes such as this one. I love a little crunch in a casserole and panko adds the perfect texture!
Can this Broccoli Bake be Frozen?
Unfortunately, this is not a great dish to freeze and then reheat. The cheese doesn’t hold up well in the freezer, and of course the bacon and panko get soggy. This is best fresh out of the oven!
That Magical Night
Back to that date night with Cade…did I mention that Cade didn’t even eat any of the broccoli and cheese sauce he made me? He was hard core into eating healthy, and that cheese sauce didn’t make the cut. I’ve since helped him understand that a little cheese sauce every now and then is okay. It’s all about balance! And Cade and I balance each other well!
It’s So Easy!
We love this side dish because it is so easy! It starts with a quick 2-3 minute blanch of the broccoli and carrots. This gives the vegetables a little head start so that they are perfectly tender when the casserole is done baking. Meanwhile, you mix together the cream cheese, milk, garlic powder, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. This gets all mixed together with the blanched vegetables and poured into a greased casserole dish. You top the vegetable and cheese mixture with panko breadcrumbs and bacon bits, cover it with foil, and then bake it! You’re done and just minutes away from being a broccoli lover!
Vegetable Sides RECIPES
Looking for a few different vegetable side dishes other than our Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Bake with Bacon? Here are just a few to get you started: Instant Pot Green Beans and Potatoes, Cheesy Zucchini Corn Casserole, Simple Roasted Garlic Veggies, Southern English Pea Salad, Grilled Corn Avocado Tomato Salad, or Lemon Roasted Broccoli.
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Creamy Cheesy Broccoli Bake with Bacon
- 6 Cups Broccoli Florets, small
- 2 Carrots, sliced
- 8 oz Cream Cheese,, softened
- 2 Tablespoons Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 3/4 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1/4 Cup Mozzarella, shredded
- 1/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs, toasted
- 4 Slices Bacon, fully cooked, chopped
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Add broccoli and carrots to a saucepan of boiling water; cook 2 to 3 min. or until crisp-tender. Do not overcook.
- Meanwhile, mix next 5 ingredients until blended smooth.
- Place cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Add cream cheese mixture and stir until vegetables are evenly coated.
- Spoon into 2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray or rubbed with butter; top with panko and bacon. Cover with foil.
- Bake 25 min. or until heated through, uncovering for the last 5 min.