Chicken Broccoli Bake

This Chicken Broccoli Bake is a classic comforting casserole with a healthier twist. It is made with tender chicken and broccoli, whole-wheat pasta, and the most delicious cheese sauce. This is a family-friendly recipe that everyone can enjoy. You can make it ahead for the week or freeze for an easy dinner later in the month.

Creamy homemade chicken broccoli bake with pasta

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Pasta bakes have always been a favorite in my house. Some of our favorites include Cheeseburger Macaroni, Baked Ziti, Pizza Pasta Bake, Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, and this Chicken Broccoli Bake.

I’ve been making this chicken broccoli casserole for years. It’s one of those recipes that I grew up eating and look forward to making when I want a comforting classic.

Reasons you’ll love this recipe

  • No processed ingredients. If you’re an 80s kid (like me), then you probably have fond memories of mom breaking out condensed cream of chicken or mushroom soup to make this delicious casserole. Not this one! This creamy cheese sauce is made from scratch – no processed ingredients in sight! But, don’t worry, it’s easy to make.
  • Healthy comfort food. Often, pasta bakes and casseroles are seen as off-limits when eating more nutritious. Not here. With a few tweaks, this comforting recipe can easily be a part of your weekly meal plans.
  • Make-ahead. You can make this chicken broccoli pasta bake on Sunday to warm up for dinners during the week. Or assemble the ingredients 2-3 days ahead of time to pop in the oven after work. Even better, you can make a couple of pans to freeze for future dinners.

5-Star Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“This was delicious! I appreciate the healthier sauce base of chicken broth and 1% milk. It was still very flavorful and creamy, but I didn’t feel guilty eating it. I also did not have Romano cheese at the time I made it, and it was still tasty! I made it even easier to throw together by using up some chicken from a Costco rotisserie chicken. This will definitely be a repeat dinner. Thanks!” Nicola

Ingredients

ingredients to make chicken Broccoli pasta bake

To make this chicken broccoli casserole, you’ll need these easy to find classic ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pasta – Any short pasta will work. I like using penne, rotini, medium shells, and elbow pasta in this recipe.
  • Cooked chicken – This recipe calls for cooked chopped boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can use any cooked chicken breast. For example, you can cook the chicken in the oven or on the stove and then chop it into pieces. You can also use leftover crockpot shredded chicken. Even rotisserie chicken will work perfectly.
  • Broccoli florets – To keep this recipe simple, I often use steam in-bag microwave broccoli. However, fresh broccoli will work too. If you use fresh broccoli, I then blanch it before using it in the casserole; This helps keep the flavor, color, and texture.
  • Chicken broth, milk, flour, and seasonings – are the foundation for the creamy homemade sauce.
  • Cream cheese, grated parmesan cheese or romano cheese, and cheddar cheese – this adds to the creaminess and also gives the sauce a delicious cheesy flavor.
  • Panko breadcrumbs and butter – for a crunchy buttery topping that sends this pasta bake over the top.
pasta bake with chicken and Broccoli

Cooking Tips

  • Switch or leave out the protein – This casserole is a great way to use up any leftover meat. It’s delicious with smoked sausage, Italian sausage, steak, shredded beef, or shredded pork. Or, if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, then leave out the meat altogether.
  • Swap in a different cheese –  Pepper Jack, mozzarella, and Monterey jack cheese are all tasty substitutes.
  • Use rice instead of pasta – I’ve made this both ways and don’t have a preference; it depends on what I have on hand; when you use rice, substitute 3 cups of cooked brown rice for the pasta. Essentially, you want the sauce to cover the rice without being soupy.
  • Keep it gluten-free – I’ve made this many times using gluten-free pasta and oat flour. Just make sure to cook the pasta very al dente before using it in the recipe.
  • Drain the broccoli – When making the “steam in bag” frozen broccoli, or if you blanch the broccoli, make sure to drain all of the water before adding to the recipe. This prevents the sauce from becoming watered down and possibly ruining the casserole.

Supplies

chicken broccoli bake cooked and on a plate

How to Make Chicken Broccoli Bake

step by step collage showing how to assemble and bake a chicken broccoli casserole made with pasta
  • Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for about 5 minutes and drain. The pasta must still be very firm because it will continue to cook in the sauce, and you don’t want it to get mushy.
  • After the pasta is done then add it to the casserole dish. Place the cooked chicken breasts and broccoli on top of the pasta.
  • Using the same pot, make the cheese sauce. Pour the chicken broth and milk into a medium pan. Wisk in the flour until it’s dissolved.
  • Cook over medium heat until it is thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes or so. This can take more or less time, so just keep an eye on it and wish the sauce consistently to keep the milk or flour from burning at the bottom of the pot.
  • After the sauce starts to thicken then whisk in the onion powder, granulated garlic, dry mustard powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Stir in the cream cheese until it melts, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Slowly stir in the parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese until it melts, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and stir in additional salt if you need to.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the chicken, broccoli, and pasta. Stir until the sauce coats all of the ingredients. Set aside for a moment.
  • Into a small microwave-safe bowl, melt one tablespoon of butter in the microwave for about 25 seconds or melts.
  • Stir in the panko crumbs into the melted butter. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the casserole.
  • Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes or until bubbly, and the top is brown.
step by step collage showing the cooked results of the chicken broccoli pasta bake.

What to serve with it?

This chicken broccoli casserole is a hearty, comforting dinner recipe that goes best with a fresh green salad or caesar salad. 

Meal prep & Storage tips 

You can make this chicken broccoli pasta bake entirely ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I recommend portioning out into glass containers for a quick individual lunch or dinner; when you’re ready to eat, heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot.

After you cook the pasta bake, you can also freeze it into portions for dinners later on.

Another way to prep this recipe ahead of time is to assemble all of the ingredients into the casserole dish, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. On cooking day, remove the cover and continue with the recipe. You’ll likely need to add extra cooking time if the casserole is cold.

If you’re not planning to make this casserole right away, freeze the assembled casserole for a future meal. Use disposable containers or freeze in the baking dish. If you store it in a disposable container, then you can cook from frozen. However, you will need to add on an extra 30 -45 minutes of baking time, maybe longer. I recommend taking the casserole out of the freezer 1-2 days beforehand to thaw in the refrigerator to considerable reduce the cooking time. For more tips, see my how-to freeze casseroles post.

chicken broccoli bake made with pasta and no condensed soup

Chicken Broccoli Bake

This Chicken Broccoli Bake is a classic comforting casserole with a healthier twist. It is made with tender chicken and broccoli, whole-wheat pasta, and the most delicious cheese sauce. This is a family-friendly recipe that everyone can enjoy. You can make it ahead for the week or freeze for an easy dinner later in the month.

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4.67 from 6 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: dinner, dinner recipe

Cuisine: American

Keyword: chicken broccoli bake, chicken broccoli casserole

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 10 people

Calories: 471kcal

Author: Organize Yourself Skinny

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry whole-grain short pasta elbows, fussili, or penne
  • 3 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 12 ounce “steam in” package frozen broccoli florets cook according to package instructions.
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups milk 1% or 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces low fat cream cheese cut into chunks and softened
  • ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup whole grain panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  • Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for about 5 minutes and drain.

  • After the pasta is done then add it to the casserole dish. Place the cooked chicken breasts and broccoli on top of the pasta.

  • Using the same pot, make the cheese sauce. Pour the chicken broth and milk into a medium pan. Wisk in the flour until it’s dissolved. Cook over medium heat until it is thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes or so. This can take more or less time, so just keep an eye on it and wish the sauce consistently to keep the milk or flour from burning at the bottom of the pot.

  • After the sauce starts to thicken then whisk in the onion powder, granulated garlic, dry mustard powder, salt, and pepper.

  • Stir in the cream cheese until it melts, about 5-7 minutes.

  • Slowly stir in the parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese until it melts, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and stir in additional salt if you need to.

  • Pour the cheese mixture over the chicken, broccoli, and pasta. Stir until the sauce coats all of the ingredients. Set aside for a moment.

  • Into a small microwave-safe bowl, melt one tablespoon of butter in the microwave for about 25 seconds or it melts.

  • Stir in the panko crumbs into the melted butter. 

  • Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the casserole.

  • Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes or until bubbly, and the top is brown.

Notes

Meal prep & Storage tips 
You can make this chicken broccoli pasta bake entirely ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I recommend portioning out into glass containers for a quick individual lunch or dinner; when you’re ready to eat, heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot.
After you cook the pasta bake, you can also freeze it into portions for dinners later on.
Another way to prep this recipe ahead of time is to assemble all of the ingredients into the casserole dish, cover it, and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. On cooking day, remove the cover and continue with the recipe. You’ll likely need to add extra cooking time if the casserole is cold.
If you’re not planning to make this casserole right away, freeze the assembled casserole for a future meal. Use disposable containers or freeze in the baking dish. If you store it in a disposable container, then you can cook from frozen. However, you will need to add on an extra 30 -45 minutes of baking time, maybe longer. I recommend taking the casserole out of the freezer 1-2 days beforehand to thaw in the refrigerator to considerable reduce the cooking time. For more tips, see my how-to freeze casseroles post.

Nutrition

Calories: 471kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 537mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g

Other Healthy Casseroles

Check out all of my other healthy casserole recipes.

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