This Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole is a wonderfully easy to make main dish with creamy sauce surrounding nutty wild rice, earthy broccoli, and hearty meatballs. Your family will love it!
It’s a classic vegetarian casserole with wild rice and broccoli. I first published this recipe in 2017. I’ve updated it with new pictures, information, and step by step instructions for a better user experience.
There’s just something mouth watering about the combinations of broccoli and rice together. I think it’s pure comfort food. So, I wanted to make a casserole that shines with these flavors and toss in a bit more substance, like vegetables and protein.
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When I first became a vegetarian, I made a broccoli and wild rice soup that was amazing!
I recreated that soup for the blog as Creamy Broccoli and Wild Rice Slow Cooker Soup.
And I have a beautiful and delicious Wild Rice Salad you’ll love!
What if I can’t find wild rice at the store?
I go to Trader Joe’s to get the plain wild rice. I would guess that many health food stores would also carry plain uncooked wild rice, like Sprouts, Mother’s, and Whole Foods.
But, if you can’t find plain wild rice at the store, you can use a rice blend instead.
There are many rice blends that have wild rice in them.
If you can find it, I highly recommend getting it, as the nice nutty flavor is so good!
I’ve also seen already cooked frozen wild rice at some stores (try Trader Joe’s); if you get a pre-cooked version, just defrost it before throwing it in this casserole. It’s a nice time saver!
If wild rice is not available to you, try brown rice or black rice, for a nice whole grain flavor and texture. The cooking time might be a few minutes less for brown rice, as wild rice tends to take longer to cook.
What kind of meatballs should I use?
I’m a big believer in using what already tastes good to you.
As for the meatballs in this wild rice meatballs casserole, use your favorites!
I love Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs. In fact, most of my family prefer the meatless ones over the meat ones, and this is a great Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs recipe.
I also really like Gardein meatless meatballs.
But, if you prefer, use your favorite – beef, pork, turkey, chicken, or homemade. Anything will work here.
Can I make this with plant-based milk?
Use the milk of your choice, dairy, vegan plant-based, it’s all good.
I recommend whole milk for this recipe. The big rich taste helps carry the casserole.
If you want to use plant-based milk, I recommend almond milk to carry over some of that nutty flavor, or a nice neutral soy milk would work.
Coconut milk will also work, but it will change the flavor profile of the casserole.
How to make this casserole
Be sure to scroll down to the printable recipe card for full ingredient amounts and instructions.
This is hearty enough to be served as a healthy vegetarian main course or serve it as a simple veggie filled holiday side dish. Either way you serve it up, Broccoli and wild rice casserole is always a good combo!
First, you’ll want to cook the wild rice. Follow the package directions, but in general, wild rice is cooked kind of like pasta, simmered and then drained.
Keep the wild rice covered as you simmer it.
Chop the veggies.
As you’re chopping the broccoli into florets, remember that the stalks are sweet too. Peel the tough outer part off the stalk, then chop the remaining inside into smaller pieces. Check out this Broccoli Salad recipe for more into on using the stalks.
While the rice cooks, cook the chopped leeks until they begin to wilt, about 3-5 minutes.
Add chopped mushrooms, carrots, and thyme, and cook until all the liquid from the mushrooms has released, and the rest of the veggies are browned and tender, about 10-13 minutes.
Stir in the flour, cook a bit.
Then stir in the milk and heat through.
Stir in the cream cheese that’s been cut into chunks, cooking until it melts.
Remove pot from heat, and stir in cooked wild rice, meatballs, broccoli, green onions, salt, and pepper.
Pour the casserole mixture into a 13×9-inch pan, and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle the baked casserole with almonds, and pop back in the oven and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
Yes, you can make the casserole ahead and leave it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before baking.
And, if you have leftovers or want to prebake it, it’ll store in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.
This casserole would make a great gift for a friend in need, like someone who’s just had a baby. Bake it in a disposable casserole pan and you don’t even need to worry about getting the pan back.
Can I freeze this?
This is perfect for a make-ahead meal and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
To freeze your casserole, after baking, let it cool completely. Cover it tightly, or place any leftovers in air tight containers and pop in the freezer.
How to Thaw and Rewarm
Thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight, or until completely thawed. Then re-heat in a 350° F oven for about 30 minutes, or until warmed through.
How to prepare the mushrooms
Chop the mushrooms into really fine tiny pieces. They incorporate really well into the casserole that way.
And, my family doesn’t mind the mushrooms being in there if they are tiny pieces. Some people like the taste of mushrooms, but not the texture. You might want to try this with your own kids or husband!
You can chop them by hand or in a food processor; either way works well.
If you pop them in the food processor, be sure to quarter them so they don’t just bounce around in there.
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Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole
- 1 ½ cups uncooked wild rice (3 cups cooked)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts cleaned and sliced
- 4 ounces mushrooms finely chopped, about 1 ½ cups
- 4 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 ounce cream cheese cut into cubes
- 16 ounces frozen meatballs
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 3 green onions sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup sliced almonds optional
- If the wild rice is uncooked, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the wild rice according to package directions, about 45 minutes. Drain cooked wild rice.1 ½ cups uncooked wild rice
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- While wild rice cooks, heat oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add leeks, and cook until leeks begin to wilt, about 3-5 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms, carrots, and thyme, and cook until all the liquid from the mushrooms has released, and the rest of the veggies are browned and tender, about 10-13 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 leeks, white and light green parts, 4 ounces mushrooms, 4 carrots, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk; cook 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until smooth, and cook a couple of minutes or until slightly thickened.¼ cup all-purpose flour, 4 cups milk, 1 ounce cream cheese
- Remove pot from heat, and stir in cooked wild rice, meatballs, broccoli, green onions, salt, and pepper. Taste for salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a 13×9-inch pan, and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with almonds. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly and almonds are toasted.16 ounces frozen meatballs, 3 cups broccoli florets, 3 green onions, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup sliced almonds
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.