Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said it was a so-called "contained" engine failure, meaning small parts such as fan blades came out the back of the engine. A more dangerous scenario would be if the pieces penetrated the engine's cover and were uncontained.
It was not immediately clear what caused the failure, Bergen said.
Sheriff's deputies recovered pieces of what appeared to be the damaged engine from an area near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said Broward County Aviation Department spokesman Greg Meyer.
The plane returned to the airport shortly after its 7:45 a.m. takeoff and landed safely, Meyer said.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said the 119 passengers and six crew members on Flight 1846 changed planes and arrived in Minneapolis 3½ hours after the original scheduled arrival.
The jet was a Boeing 737-800 with CFM56 engines. A new engine was being trucked to Fort Lauderdale to be replaced overnight so the plane can be put back in service, Black said.