This Broccoli Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy, and full of extra veggies! It’s an easy side dish and can easily be turned into a complete meal for a comfort food recipe that both kids and adults will love!

Why I LOVE This Recipe

Who can ever say no to a bowl of warm mac and cheese? It’s the ultimate classic comfort food! 

While I’m all for cozying up with my favorite indulgent dishes, Im also all about adding nutrients where I can. That’s why this broccoli mac and cheese recipe is my go-to side dish. Even better than the infamous Panera broccoli mac and cheese, my version is ultra cheesy and made with even more nutrients thanks to the inclusion of carrots. 

It comes together in minutes and can easily be customized to suit your needs. Make a big batch to feed the whole family, or store it to enjoy throughout the week!  

broccoli cheddar Mac and cheese ingredients in small bowls


Cavatappi Noodles: these are my favorite for mac and cheese. They’re wide spirals that hold the sauce well so you get cheesy goodness in every bite. Feel free to swap the cavatappi for your favorite noodles. Elbow, penne, or farfalle are all great options!

Salted Butter: I prefer to use salted butter for the cheese sauce but feel free to use unsalted if it’s all you have.

All-Purpose Flour: this helps thicken the sauce so it clings to the noodles. 

Whole Milk: this creates the base of the cheese sauce.

Dijon Mustard: Mac and cheese isn’t mac and cheese without a little dijon mustard in my personal opinion.

Seasonings: you’ll need garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper for this recipe. 

Cheese: I prefer sharp white cheddar for this recipe (it’s what I always have on hand) and the extra sharpness helps to add some good flavor.

Broccoli: fresh broccoli works best for this dish as it holds up to the heat, becoming tender while keeping its shape. Trim the stems, and chop your florets into small pieces so you get a bit of broccoli in each bite.

Carrots: for even more veggies we’re adding a bit of freshly grated carrot to the mac and cheese.

What is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?

Sharp cheddar is the most popular type of cheese for mac and cheese recipes because it has a bold flavor and melts down into a creamy consistency. It’s what I use in this recipe! 

However, any melty cheese you like best will work great. The key is to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents that prevent it from melting completely and creating the creamy, cheesy consistency.

cheese sauce

Ingredient Substitutions and Additions

  • Noodles – Need this recipe to be gluten free? Feel free to swap the cavatappi noodles with your favorite gluten free noodles. 
  • Cheese – If you want to switch up the cheese in this recipe, go for it! You can use a combination of cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, or Monterrey jack cheeses. 
  • Veggies – Not a fan of broccoli or carrots? Want even more veggies? Mix and match whatever you have on hand! Some great options are green peas, chopped bell peppers, or cauliflower. 
  • Protein – Transform this side dish into a complete meal by stirring in protein like cooked turkey or shredded chicken. It’s a great way to use up any leftover roasted chicken or turkey you have on hand! 

How to Make Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Step One: Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions until al dente. Then, drain the liquid, and set the pasta aside. 

Step Two: Next, heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter, and allow it to melt completely. Then, add the flour, and stir until it is well combined, creating a roux. Continue to cook the mixture for another 1 to 2 minutes. 

Step Three: Slowly whisk in the milk, and let the mixture come to a simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until it is thickened. Be careful not to let it boil! Then, add the seasonings, and whisk until well combined. Fold in the shredded cheese, broccoli, and grated carrot until everything is well combined and the cheese is melted. 

Step Four: Next, reduce the heat, and add the cooked pasta. Stir until it is well combined and heated through. Add more milk as needed to reach your desired consistency. 

Mac and cheese in pot

Tips and Tricks

  • Choose short-cut pasta – Short pasta like cavatappi, elbow, or shells work best because they have lots of surface area to hold the cheese.
  • Avoid overcooking the pasta – The noodles will continue to cook slightly when combined with the rest of the ingredients. So, you want to be sure to cook them just to al dente to prevent them from becoming soggy. 
  • Use warm milk – Heating your milk in the microwave or on the stovetop before adding it to the pot can make it easier to mix into the roux and prevent clumps from forming in the sauce. 

What Could I Serve with Broccoli Mac and Cheese?

Honestly, a bowl of this mac and cheese all on its own is really delicious. However, if you want to serve it as a side, some of my favorite main courses to pair it with include: 

Mac and cheese in blue bowl with spoon

How to Store and Reheat

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. 

Reheat your broccoli mac and cheese in the microwave or in a pot over medium heat on the stove. Add a splash of milk or broth as needed to loosen the cheese sauce back up. 

More Side Dish Recipes

Mac and cheese in casserole dish with spoon

I hope you give this Broccoli Mac and Cheese a try! It’s perfectly creamy, cheesy, easy to make, and delicious! If you do give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @allthehealthythings on INSTAGRAMYour reviews and ratings help support All the Healthy Things and make it possible for me to continue to create the recipes you trust and love.

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Mac and cheese in blue bowl with spoon

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

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  • Author: Ashlea Carver
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Broccoli Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy, and full of extra veggies! It’s an easy side dish and can easily be turned into a complete meal for a comfort food recipe that both kids and adults will love!


  • 8 oz cavatappi noodles
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, stems removed and chopped small
  • 1 large carrot, grated


  1. Make the pasta: Boil the pasta in salted water and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Make the cheese sauce: Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir until well combined. Cook the butter and flour mixture for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, slowly whisk in the milk. Let the mixture come to a simmer for 3-5 minutes until thickened being careful to not let it boil. Once it’s simmered, add the mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well combined. Then, fold in the shredded cheese, broccoli, and grated carrot. Stir until everything is well combined and the cheese is melted.
  4. Lastly, lower the heat and add the pasta. Stir until it’s well combined and everything is heated through. If you like, you can add a bit more milk depending on your desired consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat, serve, and enjoy!

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