Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

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This healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole recipe is made with your choice of pasta, tender chicken and broccoli, and the most delicious creamy cheddar mushroom sauce.

Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Raise your hand if you grew up eating broccoli chicken casserole!  Make that two hands if yours always included a can of cream of mushroom soup!  Ah, what can we say, it’s what all of the cool kids were doing back in the 80s. ♡  For those of you who still crave a good throwback chicken casserole every now and then nowadays, I have a modern version today that I think you are going to love.

Meet my 100%-from-scratch, lightened-up, still-ultra-creamy-and-cheesy, comforting chicken and broccoli casserole recipe!

It’s made with all of the classic components from the broccoli chicken casserole recipes of my childhood, just freshened up a bit to bring us into 2019.  We’re talking lots and lots of broccoli (you can use fresh or frozen), tender chicken (feel free to use a rotisserie as a shortcut), your choice of pasta (I used whole-wheat, but any kind will do), and lots of sharp cheddar cheese (get the good stuff!).  Then in lieu of canned cream of mushroom soup, this broccoli chicken casserole recipe features an easy homemade creamy mushroom sauce instead, made with lots of fresh mushrooms and zesty seasonings to ensure that this casserole is anything but bland.

It’s modern, creamy, cozy comfort food at its best.  And get ready, because it disappears in a flash.

Let’s make some chicken casserole!

Broccoli Chicken Casserole Recipe

Chicken Broccoli Casserole Ingredients:

Ok!  Before we get to the full recipe below, let’s talk about our shopping list.  To make this broccoli chicken casserole recipe, you will need:

  • Pasta: Literally any type of pasta that you love best will work here — traditional (semolina), whole-wheat, gluten-free, egg, or any other kinds of alternative-grain pastas that you prefer.
  • Broccoli: You can either use fresh broccoli (about 1 large head, cut into florets) or frozen broccoli (about 1 pound) for this recipe.
  • Mushrooms: I love the flavor of baby bella (cremini) mushrooms in this broccoli casserole recipe.  But any of your favorite mushrooms will do.
  • Creamy sauce stuff: Butter (or olive oil), onion, garlic, flour, stock (chicken or veggie), milk (any kind), Dijon, salt and pepper.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: I really recommend buying a block of good-quality aged sharp cheddar for this recipe, and then shredding it yourself.
  • Chicken: Any cooked chicken will work for this recipe!  You can use my favorite baked chicken breasts recipe or sauté two breasts in olive oil in a skillet until cooked through.  Or for a shortcut, feel free to shred a rotisserie chicken.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole Recipe

How To Make This Casserole:

To make this broccoli chicken casserole recipe, simply…

  1. Cook the pasta and broccoli.  Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water (don’t forget to generously salt the water!) until it is al dente.  But — plot twist! — toss the broccoli florets into the water about 1 minute before the pasta is done cooking to give it a quick cook too.  Drain both.
  2. Make the mushroom sauce. Meanwhile, we’ll work on the sauce.  Sauté the onion, followed by the mushrooms and garlic in butter (or oil) until softened.  Stir in some flour and let it cook for 1 minute (this will help to thicken the sauce).  Then add in the stock, milk, Dijon, salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce reaches a simmer.  Stir in half of the shredded cheese, taste, and adjust any seasonings as needed.
  3. Put everything together.  In a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish, give everything a good toss — the cooked pasta, broccoli, mushroom sauce and chicken — until combined.
  4. Bake.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Then remove pan from the oven, sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese evenly on top of the casserole, and bake for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty.
  5. Enjoy! Serve nice and warm, garnished with extra black pepper and/or fresh herbs, if desired.

See full recipe instructions below.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole Recipe

Possible Variations:

Want to customize this chicken broccoli casserole recipe?  Feel free to…

  • Use a different protein: Cooked sausage, pork, steak, or shrimp would all be delicious in this casserole in place of chicken.
  • Use rice instead of pasta: To make classic chicken and rice casserole, cook 1 cup of (uncooked) rice according to package instructions.  Then stir it into the casserole as you would the pasta.
  • Use a different kind of cheese: If cheddar isn’t your thing, this casserole would also be delicious with a mix of good-quality mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Or some sort of spicy pepperjack would be delicious too!
  • Add fresh herbs: Feel free to add in some fresh Italian herbs (such as parsley, basil, rosemary or thyme) if desired.
  • Make it vegetarian: We made a vegetarian version to test this recipe by just omitting the chicken, and the broccoli casserole was great on its own.  Or, of course, you’re welcome to add some extra veggies to the mix as well.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta, then thicken the sauce with an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.  (Or you can stir a few tablespoons of gluten-free cornstarch into the cold milk before adding it to the sauce.)

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole Recipe

More Favorite Casserole Recipes:

Lookin’ for more casseroles to love?  Here are a few of my faves. ♡

Print
Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x

Description

This hearty Broccoli Chicken Casserole recipe is made with your choice of pasta, tender chicken and broccoli, and the most delicious creamy cheddar mushroom sauce.  See notes above for possible ingredient variations too.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta* (I used whole-wheat rotini)
  • 1 large head of broccoli*, cut into bite-sized florets (about 1 pound of florets)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups diced (or shredded) cooked chicken

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook pasta in a large stockpot of generously-salted boiling water until it is al dente.  However, about 1 minute before the pasta is done, add the broccoli to the boiling pasta water and stir until combined.  Drain both the pasta and broccoli, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the butter (or oil) in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mushrooms are cooked through.
  4. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onion mixture and stir until combined.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Add in the stock, and stir everything together until most of the clumps are gone.  Add in the milk, Dijon, salt and pepper and stir until combined.  Continue cooking the sauce until it reaches a simmer.  Then remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese until it is combined.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. In a large 9 x 13-inch baking dish, combine the cooked pasta, broccoli, mushroom sauce and chicken.  Toss until combined.  Smooth the casserole out into an even layer.
  6. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Then remove pan from the oven, sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese evenly on top of the casserole, and bake for 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty.
  7. Serve warm, garnished with extra black pepper and/or fresh herbs, if desired.


Notes

*Pasta: Any type of pasta will work here — traditional (semolina), whole-wheat, egg, gluten-free, or alternative-grain pasta.

*Broccoli: Feel free to use 1 pound of frozen broccoli florets (thawed) in place of fresh broccoli if you prefer.

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole Recipe (Pasta Bake)

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155 comments on “Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole”

  1. Highly allergic to mushrooms. Is an alternative that could be used?
    Thanks!

  2. To prevent this from being bland you need to properly season the chicken before baking. I season 3-4 olive oil coated breasts with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp onion powder before baking the breasts. It is very flavorful. Without properly seasoned chicken yes, this recipe will be bland. With properly seasoned chicken it’s an outstanding family dish. All of my (5) kids love it.

  3. Made this recipe tonight and loved it. So much better than just using a can of condensed mushroom soup. The flavours were great. I didn’t have Dijon mustard so used mustard powder instead.

  4. Doubled the recipe, added ~14oz bags of frozen corn, frozen peas, and canned carrots, all thawed/washed. Added a lot of spice. Salt, pepper, cracked pepper, cumin, paprika, chili powder, tumeric, a little cayenne. Cooked the chicken first, then cooked the veggies in the remaining (canola) oil after the chicken. You really gotta taste this as you go along to make sure you like the flavor. When doubled, and with these added veggies, it made about 13 servings. I love it and will make it again. Next time, I will add a little more flour and milk to make sire it is creamier woth the added veggies. Thank you!

  5. Great recipe! Def need to season the chicken generously while cooking. (salt, pepper, Italian seasoning) Salt the pasta/broccoli water. And season mushroom sauce to taste. I also used an entire bag of sharp cheddar from Tillamook. Made a ton of food, possibly a good recipe for meal planning for a weeks worth of lunches. Will def make again. 👍🏼👍🏼

  6. Delicious!

  7. My kids love this recipe. We blend the mushrooms and onions in the food processor and omit the dijon. Tastes amazing!

    • Fantastic recipe, just use a rotisserie chicken and the flavor was perfect. I only used about 10 oz of frozen broccoli and it was the perfect amount. Delicious!

  8. LOVE everything about this recipe!! The only downfall is I eat half the casserole in one night!
    Flavorful, easy recipe that makes great leftovers. Highly recommend!

  9. Tonight was the 2nd time I make this recipe. I used fresh green beans instead of broccoli. It was delicious. A recipe to redo again and again.

  10. My husband and I both loved this recipe. The mushroom sauce is great. I made some of it to go with rib eye steaks we had a few days later.

  11. I didn’t have the ingredients for my regular chicken brocolli casserole…boy am I glad!!!

    This was a hit all around. Thank you so much for a better option.

  12. Only thing I did differently was to use egg noodles (spaetzle in this case); came out great, now in regular rotation at our house. Grilled chicken (shredded) adds more flavor too.

  13. This is fantastic! I doubled everything except for the chicken and the mushrooms and put in a larger baking dish to feed my family of 7. Barely anything left!

  14. Made this last night for ourselves and as a meal provided to a church family. Only change was adding chopped parsley to pan once sauce thickened and was removed from heat (before adding milk, etc.) The casserole was fantastic, we absolutely loved it and the nutrition was acceptable for our healthy (but not limited ingredient) preferences. Although they normally prefer more rich and high-fat casseroles, the church couple said they loved it, too, and they ate nearly all of the 4 portions! This was easy and worth the extra few minutes to make everything from scratch. Will make it again (maybe tomorrow!) Thank you for this recipe.

  15. Just got done eating this with the fam. It was great! Thanks for the recipe and all the accurate details (like broccoli wt, etc).

  16. Very nice balance of flavor. I would increase amount of chicken and cheese next time.

  17. Made for the 1st time. I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms but my god this was DELICIOUS and fairly easy. Especially if you had leftover already cooked chicken . I bbq’d my chicken which made better flavour. Definitely will make again.

  18. This is delicious! I blitzed the onion in the food processor (little kids) and served the sautéed mushrooms on the side (again, kids) and everyone loved it. It seemed plenty hearty and creamy, but with better ingredients than other casseroles.

  19. This is so freaking good! My boyfriend literally hates mushrooms and ate two big servings of this without picking them out.

  20. Great week day night dinner ! Quick and easy . I added more cheese than called for . You will need to add more seasoning than the recipe calls for or it will be bland . I also used all fresh ingredients and I couldn’t be more pleased.

  21. I’m single and looking for healthy meals I can make ahead of time. How well does this recipe freeze? What would be your reheating suggestion?

  22. Can this be made ahead of time, put in the fridge and take it out to bake when needed?

  23. I’ve made this a few times, last night I didn’t have any broccoli on hand but a few left over frozen veggies ( peas & carrots and mixed veggies) my family LOVED it even more with the random veggies than the broccoli. Also used the super greens rotini pasta – one way to get them to eat a lot of fiber and veggies 😜.

  24. Made this tonight and EVERYBODY LOVED IT! This is nearly impossible with my picky family. Definitely a keeper!

  25. I typically roast broccoli for 20 minutes at 450F, so I was a bit skeptical that 1 minute of parboiling and 15 minutes in a 400F oven while all mixed up would be sufficient.

    It wasn’t.

    After letting it go much longer in the oven before adding the rest of the cheese, it was just okay. Like most casseroles, there’s never enough acid. The Dijon helps, but it needs lemon or sherry or a handful of herbs or some such to help it not taste like you’re just eating a bunch of cheese and milk. But that’s comfort food for ya. I’m a terrible Minnesotan, apparently.

  26. I’m going to stick this into my instant pot today. Pray for me. I’m not really good with that thing. But I did want to say thank you for providing a recipe for my search of homemade. All I could find was canned soup recipes until this one. Really?

  27. Planning on making this dish this week! Would unsweetened almond milk work instead of milk?

  28. Terrific recipe!

  29. Love this recipe!!! I added panko bread crumbs to the top and broiled it.

  30. Delicious recipe, will make again!!

  31. This looks juicy. I will try it out.

  32. Excellent recipe! I made exactly as written with the exception of marinating boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks in hot Peri Peru sauce for a few hours before sautéing.

  33. Even though I pre cooked the pasta just to al dente, we both found the baked casserole to be very mushy (overcooked). Could this recipe be made without the pre cooking of the pasta? If so, what would you think to be a sufficient amount of extra liquid to compensate for the uncooked pasta? thanx

  34. I love this recipe, it’s fast and easy and tastes so good!!

  35. Can this be frozen?

  36. Anyway to make this without cheese? I can’t have dairy 😟 But hoping to make this tonight for my hubby and I

  37. This taste just like my childhood only better! I added some peas and topped it with breadcrumbs. The leftovers were amazing, too! Thanks for another amazing recipe.

  38. Great recipe! Fine without mushrooms. Made ahead and refrigerated.

  39. This is so yummy and easy to make. Even my 18 month old devoured it!

  40. I really loved this recipe!! I did make a couple changes to the original recipe that I think gave it that extra flavor that I was looking for. First, like many other comments say: season your chicken before cooking (if not using rotisserie). I used my go-to combination of paprika, garlic power, onion power, salt and pepper, then shredded the chicken. Second, double the mushrooms (I’m a mushroom lover) and make a little more sauce. I used 1.5 c of broth, and 2 c skim milk (I also added a bit more flour to ensure it got thick enough), & 2 tsp dijon. Finally, adding in a some cajun seasoning to the sauce and on top of the casserole made it especially delicious! If you have one take-away from my review, let it be: cajun seasoning. I will 100% be making this again!!! Thanks for another great recipe, Ali!

  41. So yummy. I also used your chicken recipe and it turned out so flavourful.

  42. So good! Even my 8 yr old son loved it!

  43. After reading comments on all the recipe changes made by others, I decided to just make the recipe as provided. The only difference I made was I used spicy brown mustard as I don’t have any Dijon. Well, it was delicious!! The sauce was so rich – it was like I had used cream and butter. I will definitely make this again!

    Question: Has anyone frozen leftovers? With just the two of us, I have a ton leftover!