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broccoli topped with cheese sauce on white plate

Air Fryer Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

Air fryer broccoli recipe featuring florets simply seasoned, air fried quickly, and then topped with a creamy, delicious cheddar + Manchego cheese sauce.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 709kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

For the Broccoli

  • 1 Broccoli head cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper

For the Cheese Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 3 tbsp Flour
  • 1 ½ cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp All spice
  • ½ tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated
  • ½ cup Manchego Cheese grated

Instructions

For the Broccoli

  • Pre-heat the air fryer to 330 degrees F
  • Season broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Air fry 3-5 minutes depending on desired crunch and thickness

For the Cheese Sauce

  • Melt butter in a sauce pan/skillet then add flour and cook 2 minutes stirring consistently. Add cream, Worcestershire sauce, and spices mixing well.
  • Add in both cheese and stir well to combine cooking to a creamy consistency.
  • Serve the broccoli topped with the cheese sauce

Notes

Most cheese sauces use just one cheese but I wanted a bit more complexity of flavor so blended the sharp cheddar with the complex but approachable and sweeter Manchego.
If time permits pre-heat your air fryer.
Cook time will vary depending on thickness of the broccoli florets and desired crunchiness. At 5 minutes and slightly over you start venturing into burnt territory so err on the side of caution and stop cooking early if needed.
Eat immediately. The cheese sauce is delicious but doesn’t do well sitting for a while
You don't need an air fryer for this recipe. You can roast conventionally and add the cheese sauce.
PERFECT CHEESE SAUCE:
Start with a roux. This is critical to quality cheese sauce. But this isn’t a gumbo roux, as you don’t actually want to brown it. Use butter for your roux to get rid of the floury taste
Make sure your cheese and cream are at room temperature before heating. Adding cold ingredients to a roux leads to clumpy congealed cheese.
Don’t set your stovetop too high. Medium-low is good, you just want the pan just hot enough for the cheese to melt, not any hotter.
Remove the pan from heat before adding the cheese. Don’t worry the milk/cream will be plenty hot enough to melt the cheese. The cheese will get really grainy or even start to separate if it gets too hot.
Add cheese in batches vs all at one time. This makes melting easier so you get more of a creamier melt.
Stir the mixture constantly until the cheese is melted fully and incorporated into your sauce. Frequent stirring also ensures the cheese doesn’t burn. 
If sauce is too thick, whisk in more milk. If too thin, then add more cheese.
Serve the sauce immediately. It will develop that unattractive film on top if it sits. So don’t make it until the dish you plan to use it for is ready.

Nutrition

Calories: 709kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 64g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 2790mg | Potassium: 658mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3304IU | Vitamin C: 137mg | Calcium: 504mg | Iron: 2mg
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