Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

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
4.9 from 13 reviews

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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19 comments on “Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole”

  1. Yum! This is such a perfect weeknight meal!

    Paige

  2. I made this tonight. It was delicious. I Followed the recipe exactly. Next time I *may add some dry white wine to it. I definitely recommend. My kids mostly liked it too (but they are tough to impress and unlike their parents haven’t grown up on casseroles – this was a good intro).

  3. Made this tonight- easy and delicious!!

  4. Turned out great! Do you think this would be good to prepare and freeze to bake later?

  5. I love all of your recipes! I recently created my own healthier chicken and broc casserole because I loved the one I grew up on, but have a rule about casseroles that incorporate “cream of” soups! Mine uses quinoa and greek yogurt, as well as curry powder, and shaved almonds on top. SO good, can’t wait to try yours!!

  6. Love this recipe! I shredded my own white cheddar and it was so worth it. I used frozen broccoli because I had that on hand and I turned out fine. I’m pregnant and trying to stick to whole foods as much as possible. I was grateful to find a casserole with a DIY mushroom sauce so I could skip the condensed soup and it’s preservatives and sodium! Yay! This is a balanced, healthy meal that sticks to your bones :) Will definitely make again! Would this make a good freezer meal?

  7. This also cooks up beautifully in a 12” Lodge cast iron skillet. I smother it with the cheese on top by using a cover to melt the cheese to avoid heating up the oven – and thus the kitchen – by using the broiler to melt the cheese at the end. The Dijon is a good accent but I also like to spice up the chicken before sautéing with Cajun seasoning, garlic & onion powders and white pepper. And a sprinkling of smoked paprika on each portion to serve makes for a tasty and colorful accent.

  8. I made this recipe tonight for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. I love Gimme Some Oven recipes for her beautiful photography, simple to follow instructions, and health conscious choices. Thank you, Ali!!

  9. This was delicious! We took a chance, shared it with company the first time we tried it, and we all had seconds. My husband made the white sauce separate from the rest of the dish, changing the 1 1/2 C milk to 1 C milk and 1/2 C cream to make it a bit richer and adding a touch more Dijon. It’s a little more work, and more pans, but was great. Terrific healthier dish. Thank you for your website and excellent recipes.

  10. Can you make ahead and freeze?

  11. About how much onion? Not sure if your small is same size as my small?

  12. Very Good! As others have asked is this a good freezer meal.

  13. I made this last night and it was amazing! My daughter is vegetarian (this month!) so went with the veggie option by adding in a little extra broccoli and it was delicious.

  14. This looks delish. I’d love to make it vegetarian. What would you substitute for the chicken or should I just omit it? Thank you.

  15. Delicious! I didn’t follow the recipe exactly since I was trying to use up what I already had so I can only imagine how good it would be with excellent cheese! My husband said this is definitely a make again. Thank you for such a good meal!

  16. This looks great. Do you think this would freeze well? Thanks.

  17. I made this last night but I only put one cup of dry pasta and one small head of broccoli in the recipe so it turned out delicious with a great mushroom flavor and really saucy. Loved and will make again! I also used Barilla pasta made from beans and no one could tell the difference.

  18. Made this a few days ago! Omitted chicken and added spinach. Soooo delicious!