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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. ♡

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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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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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Recipe rating

251 comments on “Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole”

1 3 4 5
  1. Sounds amazing! I’d like to bring this dish to a grieving friend, but I’m wondering if it will re-heat well, & not dry out. Any suggestions?

  2. Tasty & easy enough to pull together on a weeknight with some rotisserie chicken!

  3. Delicious casserole! My family loved it. I made without mushrooms, still delicious. I would like to make again with. Followed the recipe exactly. Only added Parmesan to serve. Would definitely recommend. Big flavour and not too heavy. A lighter pasta dish.
    Definitely a redo.

  4. I really love the light hints of this dish! Not so much cheese. Very good!

    • This casserole was so tasty and reheats amazingly! The sauce really makes the dish. I can’t wait to make it again! I was excited to find a casserole that made a sauce from scratch so I knew exactly what ingredients I was putting into my food :)

  5. Eating this right now – yummy!!! I used a combo of fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and a handful of shredded carrots (you know, what I had in the fridge). Still measured up to about a pound. I was a little skeptical about the sauce being enough to cover. It was just fine. Love it! Even picky husband went back for seconds! Keeping this in the regular rotation. So many options. Thanks for recipe.

  6. Really enjoyed this. A healthier casserole, but delicious! Thank you!

  7. Little tame. Gets thick and dry. Maybe less flour more milk more broth. Add some hot sauce when serving it. Also add more garlic I think. This recipe is basically good just don’t be afraid to switch it up some. It’s a bit bland !

  8. I’ve made this now 2 times and I absolutely LOVE it! This second time though I did add double the mushrooms because I love mushrooms. I would love to know though if someone could tell me where I could find the calories per serving? Thank you in advance. <3

  9. Ok, I previously asked if anyone knew where I could find the calorie per serving but I went ahead and did the math how I make it with double the mushrooms and 1 and a half pounds of chicken divided by 12 servings in my 9’13 pan (I think I’m good with 1/12th as a meal) and that comes out to about 327 calories. =)

  10. This was sooo good! Can it be frozen?

  11. This has become a family favourite… Easy, tasty and so enjoyable to make…!!!

  12. It was great. I added spinach and Parmesan too!!
    Was wondering calories per serving. Is that anywhere?

  13. This is a great recipe that includes “real food” and allows for many variations and creativity!

  14. This was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and would make this over and over again. Yum!

  15. didn’t like at all the Dijon mustard too much

  16. Yummy! This was delicious. Love your recipes ! Your baked chicken advice was a wonderful find. Now I always brine my chicken before baking. Your Cajun Seasoning blend is my favorite and have even proved it’s a winner with other people in a taste test against two other rubs.
    Have you ever used the mushroom sauce from this recipe in a stroganoff of some sort?

  17. What’s a serving size? One cup?

  18. Loved this recipe. Very light . I did add some roasted red peppers to it only because I have allot in my freezer Definitely making this again . Thanks for sharing

  19. Will this freeze well? I want to make it ahead for lunches as it looks amazing!

  20. We loved this! I modified and made it dairy free by using unsweetened almond milk and a dairy free cheese alternative. It turned out soo good. This is making it to our repeat list for sure!

  21. Lovely when you cook and serve immediately. Can it be frozen for a future date ?

  22. Honestly, Ali. I’ve been following you since my Pinterest time began. It’s been years. And every time I think of a meal I want to make I type “ gimme some oven” followed by what I want to make. Your recipes are always my go to, and always my families favourite. I hope yours is doing stupendous! Take care, chef! Your recipes are the heart of our family meals. Xo

  23. I substituted cauliflower rice for the pasta amd it was great! I will definitely make it again! Even the teenagers had 2nds!

  24. This was amazing. I made it a little bit ahead of time and kept it in the fridge until it was suppertime and put it in the oven then. My entire family ate it even though they don’t like mushrooms! I kept eating it straight out of the pan. I’ll definitely be making this again!

  25. 5 stars because the sauce is amazing! The flavors all complimented each other very well. I’m planning to add celery next time for a good crisp vegetable. Also, I cooked one cup of rice as the recipe suggests, but next time I’ll cook 1 1/2 cups. The sauce drowns the rice in just one cup. But still an amazing dish and I’ll be glad to eat it regularly!