Thick and creamy Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup is a quick and easy, naturally gluten-free broccoli cheddar soup prepared in only 15 minutes!
It started with a simple craving for healthy, homemade, thick and creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup in the instant pot.
What should have been an easy task to find THE BEST RECIPE sent me down a recipe rabbit hole, with overwhelming possibilities of ingredients, methods, and soup consistencies.
My brain literally turned into soup mush, and I still didn’t have one recipe I was entirely convinced of. They were either not gluten-free, extremely unhealthy, looked too blah, or weren’t easy enough.
So our family consumed a lot soup of for the following weeks while I tried my hand at making THE BEST Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup RECIPE.
why this instant pot BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP recipe works
Try it for yourself and see. But if you need some convincing first, I’ve come prepared.
- It takes 15 minutes! If you don’t have 15 minutes to make soup, go to Panera. (However, I must point out it will take longer than 15 minutes to go to Panera.)
- The recipe requires only a handful of basic, wholesome ingredients.
- Don’t have an instant pot or scared of pressure cooking? I’ve included stove top directions too. Equal-Opportunity-Equipment soup here.
- The taste is spot-on Broccoli Cheddar Soup heaven! And what is not to love about the classic combo of broccoli and cheese (Hello, Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake!)
- Butter – This is where the soup gets a lot of flavor. Many recipes skimp on the butter, but it gives it that “it” factor
- Broccoli – Use fresh broccoli florets or frozen broccoli.
- Broth – Chicken or Vegetable broth
- Cheese – I suggest using sharp cheddar cheese for best taste, but Velveeta, mild cheddar, or smoked cheddar may be used.
- Half & Half – This is what I recommend, but use heavy cream for a richer soup or milk to save calories.
- Optional add-ins – Readers have written in with many suggestions, such as adding a touch of dijon mustard, chopped ham, diced potatoes (cut small to cook faster), or shredded carrots (similar to Panera Bread soup).
How To Make Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Cut broccoli in small florets. This eliminates the need to process the soup with an immersion blender.
- On the SAUTE mode, cook onions and garlic until soft and translucent.
- Add broccoli, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Cook on HIGH manual pressure in the Instant Pot 2 minutes for fresh broccoli, 1 minute for frozen broccoli.
- Quick release the pressure and change back to SAUTE function. Add cornstarch slurry to pot and boil until thickened.
- Stir in cheese to melt. Slowly stir in half and half.
Can I Use Pre-Shredded Cheddar Cheese?
I’m not going to call the shredded cheddar police if you’d rather save your arm strength, but hear me out.
Bagged shredded cheddar has a tendency to leave a grainy texture. Manufacturers add cellulose to prevent the cheese from clumping together. The additives make the cheese not melt as smoothly.
So, although both types of cheese can be used interchangeably in the recipe, I find shredding your own cheese yields better results and it’s cheaper to boot!
How to Thicken or Thin Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup uses 4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with water because I love a thick, hearty soup, just like creamy gluten-free corn chowder.
To thin the soup, either use 1-2 tablespoons less cornstarch mixed with less water or add additional milk or cream at the end.
To thicken, add softened cream cheese, additional cheddar, or more cornstarch mixed with water.
Can I Substitute Other Kinds of Cheese?
Of course you can! I love using sharp or extra sharp cheddar because the cheese flavor shines through more than mild cheddar.
Some people prefer using Velveeta cheese in Broccoli Cheese Soup. Velveeta will guarantee smooth results and is very tasty, but the “cheese” flavor will be more subdued.
To make Velveeta Broccoli Cheese Soup in the instant pot replace the cheddar with 8 ounces cubed velveeta cheese. For velveeta cheese lovers, also check out Velveeta Mac and Cheese recipe!
A mixture of cheeses can also be used. Extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack, white cheddar, or gouda would also work perfectly!
is this recipe Gluten-Free?
If you are looking for a gluten-free broccoli cheese soup recipe, you are in luck! No modifications have to be made, since cornstarch is used as a thickener and all the other ingredients are naturally gluten free.
For a complete meal planning guide, check out the best gluten-free instant pot recipes!
For a low carb or keto version of broccoli cheese soup, replace the cornstarch with xanthan gum. Generally 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum replaces 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour, but I start with less because a little goes a long way!
For Low Carb / Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup in the instant pot, start with 2 teaspoons xanthan gum dissolved in 2 tablespoons water. Increase by the teaspoon (mixed with a little water) for thicker soup.
Using Frozen Broccoli
Fresh or frozen broccoli can be used in this instant pot recipe. It’s just a matter of preference.
I’ve cooked it both ways and there is no noticeable difference between using fresh or frozen. Whichever used, though, make sure the broccoli is cut in small florets or use frozen florets (not stalks or chopped).
Using a smaller-sized broccoli eliminates the need to process the soup with a blender.
Substituting Milk, Cream, or Non-Dairy Milk
This recipe calls for half and half because it’s creamy but doesn’t have as many calories as heavy cream.
Regular milk or dairy-free milk, such as almond milk may also be substituted. It would reduce the calories in the soup and make it even healthier. However, the soup will be thinner and not as rich tasting.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a richer taste use heavy cream and more power to you.
Can I Freeze Broccoli Cheddar Soup?
Yes, it can be frozen, BUT the soup may “break” or have a thinner consistency upon thawing.
Move the soup from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Reheat gently on the stove or at 50% power in the microwave. If the soup is thinner than desired mix together 2-4 tablespoons of cornstarch with equal amount of water.
Bring soup to a boil, add cornstarch slurry, and stir until thickened.
Intimidated by using an Instant Pot? Learn in minutes with this Easy Start Instant Pot Guide full of tips, hacks, and tricks.
More of the best soup recipes!
- White Chicken Chili – A creamy, white bean chili loaded with tender chicken, diced chiles, and a secret ingredient made in the instant pot or slow cooker.
- Cream of Tomato Soup – Recipe is made from scratch, using fresh tomatoes, yet it requires hardly any work!
- Stuffed Pepper Soup – To die for version full of peppers, rice, ground beef, and a flavorful tomato base.
- Lemon Orzo Soup – Made all in one pot, loaded with tender bites of chicken, orzo, carrots, spinach, dill and of course, tangy lemon flavor.
- Lasagna Soup – Made in the slow cooker or on the stop in just 30 minutes.
- Buffalo Chicken Chili – The perfect amount of spice, a smooth creamy base, lots of tender chicken, and takes only 10 minutes to prepare.
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Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 8 ounces freshly shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup half and half
- Select SAUTE mode on the pressure cooker to melt butter. Once the butter is melted add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds longer.
- Stir in the fresh or frozen broccoli, broth, salt, and pepper. Lock the lid in place and select HIGH manual pressure for 2 minutes cook time if using fresh broccoli or 1 minute cook if using frozen. When the timer ends, carefully quick release the pressure, wait for valve to drop, and carefully remove the lid.
- In a small bowl whisk together ¼ cup cornstarch with ¼ cup water until it's smooth. Select SAUTE function and add the cornstarch / water mixture to pot, stirring constantly, until the soup comes to a boil and thickens. Hit CANCEL to turn off the pressure cooker.
- Add handfuls of cheddar at a time, stirring to melt between each addition. Once the cheese has melted, stir in the half and half. Serve hot with additional shredded cheddar on top, if desired.
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stove top instructions
- Complete step one in a large saucepan.
- Add broth, salt, pepper, and broccoli. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until smooth. Add cornstarch slurry to pot and boil until thickened.
- Return to pot and add handfuls of cheddar at a time, stirring to melt between each addition. Once cheese is melted, stir in half and half. Serve hot with additional shredded cheddar on top.
Substituting Milk, Cream, or Non-Dairy MilkRegular milk or non-dairy milk, such as almond milk may also be substituted. It would reduce the calories in the soup and make it even healthier. However, the soup will be thinner and not as rich tasting.
Freezing Broccoli Cheese SoupBroccoli Cheese Soup can be frozen, BUT the soup may “break” or have a thinner consistency upon thawing. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stove. If the soup is thinner than desired mix together 2-4 tablespoons of cornstarch with equal amount of water. Bring soup to a boil, add cornstarch slurry, and stir until thickened.
Low Carb / Keto Broccoli Cheese SoupReplace the cornstarch with xanthan gum. Start with 2 teaspoons xanthan gum dissolved in 2 tablespoons water. Increase by the teaspoon (mixed with a little water) for thicker broccoli soup.
How to Thicken or Thin Soup
- To thin the soup, either use 1-2 tablespoons less cornstarch mixed with less water or add additional milk or cream at the end.
- To thicken broccoli cheese soup add softened cream cheese, additional cheddar, or more cornstarch mixed with water.