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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87 comments on “Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole”

  1. Made this today. Amazing! I used Cabot mild cheddar, it’s lactose and gluten free, no growth hormone. Orrington farms powdered chicken broth contains no msg, and Fairlife milk, lactose free. Healthy all the way! Used regular tri-colored pasta. Definitely recommend!

  2. Was super bummed with the outcome of this recipe. I followed it exactly and it came out with barley enough to cover the bottom of my casserole dish (9×13). It barley fed me and my boyfriend. No left overs. All that hard work for not a lot of food. I would double it if your making for first time.

  3. Made it loved it! My wife arrived home from an out of town business trip and was very impressed with the dish. We both enjoy cooking but this is a very simple recipe that any can make. This ones going in the recipe book for sure!

  4. Turned out great! Loved it and so did my husband and daughter. E

  5. Great recipe loved by all, so simple to make and tasty.

  6. What about swapping the cheddar for a cheese blend ? Asiago, smoked Gouda? Cheddar is not that popular in my house lol.

  7. Spectacular!!

  8. Tasty? OK. Delicious? No. Nice and filling and promising,
    Parboiling the broccoli left it nearly raw. 15 minutes in the oven was not long enough to correct that. Try 30.
    1/2 tsp of salt in 8 cups of casserole left it less savoury than I prefer. Needs another 1/4 tsp at least.
    2 cups of aged cheddar made it creamy but not cheesy. Add at least one more cup.
    And maybe a pinch of cayenne.
    I will try again with these adjustments.

  9. We really enjoyed this recipe I did not change a thing maybe next time I will add peppers but it is great as it is
    Thanks

  10. Loved this recipe! Was really easy to make and it appealed to both my toddler and my husband, who both declared it was delicious. Will be adding this one to our family recipes to make again and again!

  11. I was so looking forward to this casserole with all the great reviews, however, we found it very bland. I followed the recipe precisely, but can’t give it the accolades that others did.

  12. Made this for my family last night and my husband loved it! I didn’t have sharp cheddar and could have benefited from it but the rest of the flavors were amazing. I’m so glad I tried it!

  13. Wow! This was fantastic. Halved the recipe…very tasty!!

  14. Sorry, not a rate yet, but a question. I could not find the nutritional info. Could you please let me know where I might find it? Thank you so much…it looks yummy though!!

  15. Nice “from scratch” recipe with easy to follow instructions. I’m a big fan of yours.

  16. Made this tonight for my 2 grand daughters…One is 13 and is picky and the other is 11 and is likes her food, but can be picky….This was a hit!!! I asked if I should make again and the answer was a BIG Yes!!!

  17. Made this tonight, it was a big hit in our house! The whole family loved it. The only change I made was instead of cheddar cheese, I used a shredded Italian Blend from Whole Foods. Delicious!

  18. @gimmesomeoven this recipe was so easy and delicious! Thank you for sharing. I had to improvise a bit because I didn’t have broccoli or mushrooms so I swapped in carrots & canned corn which worked out perfectly! This is going to be a new staple in our house.

  19. My mom and I made this tonight and it was DELICIOUS! It is one of our new favorite dinners. It fed our whole family (4 of us) and we had a little left over. So yummy and easy!

  20. Loved this so much! I changed it up a bit. I used 16 ounces of pasta as I felt like it was a lot of sauce. I used frozen florets, so I threw them in the water with the pasta for the last 5 minutes. Also, when sautéing the onions, I added some Lawry’s garlic salt. When I added the mushrooms, I added in a little Worcestershire sauce. At the end, I baked for 10 minutes, then added a handful of sharp cheddar, a handful of mozzarella, and a handful of shredded parmesan and baked another 10 minutes. Perfect!

  21. I made this and it was delicious! I found it cumbersome to follow the directions! I had to scroll back and forth a lot! But in the end it was worth it!

  22. I tried this recipe today for my BF an me. I was scared that it would not be enough, but it ended up being just fine. It’s really good! It turned out very good as is. I only “seasoned” the chicken with salt and pepper.

  23. Perfect, absolutely perfect. Didn’t change the recipe in any way and it was delicious. Last week, I made my own Beef & Chilli Sausages, my try this dish with these in place of the chicken. Thank you Ali.

  24. this was soo good! i made it for my boyfriend and I and he loved it. i used half light cream and skim milk for the milk, and doubled the mustard, salt, and pepper. i also used a dry rub when i baked the chicken, and it came out perfectly and was delicious! i will definitely be making this again :)

  25. I haven’t actually tasted this yet, but to say that the prep time is only 15 minutes is pretty ridiculous. That might be the case if you start with pre-chopped veggies, pre-cooked chicken and shredded cheese from a bag. So glad I have some extra time today.

  26. Hi

    This looks great. I’m not a fan of mushrooms. Do you have an alternative sauce. Thank you

  27. I added chopped fried courgettes, a good squeeze of chilli paste and extra dijon mustard – was delicious!

  28. My family loved this recipe! It is perfect for mass quantities or picky eaters. This recipe does lack flavor, I would recommend seasoning your chicken beforehand.

  29. Can this be a freezer friendly dish? If so how would you recommend re-heating it from the freezer?

  30. THIS IS AMAZING. We made a double batch and can’t get enough. Thank-you!!

  31. Made this for dinner tonight. My husband, 3 year old and 5 year old all approved. I used penne pasta and seasoned my chicken with sea salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Will make it again!

  32. This was fantastic! Wish I could give it more stars!

  33. Really very good and not difficult to make. 8oz of cheddar was not enough so added some Mexican cheese on the top. Would definitely make again