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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

252 comments on “Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole”

  1. Does this freeze well?

  2. This was really good. Great family night dinner. I seasoned my chicken with Cajun seasoning based on another review and added panko breadcrumbs and broiled. Loved the dish and will make it again. Thank you for this really easy and delicious recipe.

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

  4. 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!

    • I used bowties & forgot to add the milk till it was already in the oven. I poured about a cup & mixed it up – came out great! Thanks!

  5. My whole family loved this!! Delicious!!

  6. I made this exactly as written except used half and half instead of milk because that was what I had. Made in two 8c8 pans so we could throw one into the freezer. (Just two of us). Sooo much better than the old cream of mushroom soup recipe my mom made. I wonder if I could do this with spaghetti squash?

  7. This looks delicious!!
    I’m going to make this today!!

  8. This recipe is delicious! My one comment is this – prep time: 15 MINS – NO!!! Unless you have a live-in sous chef! It took me at least 45 minutes prep time! It was definitely worth it but we didn’t eat until 7:00!

  9. This recipe is delicious! My one comment is this – prep time: 15 MINS – NO!!! Unless you have a live-in sous chef! It took me at least 45 minutes prep time! It was definitely worth it but we didn’t eat until 7:00! Also I used Perdue short cuts Chicken Breast strips – maybe a little more expensive but so much easier! Just shake them out of the package and cut them up!

  10. that looks delicious, curious about it’s taste.

  11. It was yummy and comforting! I added fresh parsley and dried Herbs de Provence at the end.

  12. This is a keeper! We are not “casserole lovers” but I wanted a meal that could be shared easily with my elderly father. Wow, we love it! It also works very well with my WW food plan! I used rotisserie chicken, added a couple large, chopped carrots (parboiling for about 2 minutes with pasta) and used all other ingredients. My chicken measured out as 3 cups, and I used some extra broccoli. Well, I added another 1/2 cup of cheese to the top. LOVE that mushroom sauce! I hate canned soups. I had a bag of shredded sharp cheddar and monty that I used. The 13×9 pan was very full. I read a lot of the reviews, so I increased the salt & pepper and used some dried thyme. It made 6 generous servings Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  13. Absolutely loved this! From the flavor, texture, and all the helpful hints, we not only enjoyed this casserole, but also many other recipes. Looking forward to making many more wonderful dishes. Thank you ?

  14. I just tried this following the recipe EXACTLY and it was really lovely!

    For those people saying that 15 minutes isn’t enough to cook the broccoli, it’s 25 minutes in total if you read the recipe fully. Mine was cooked thoroughly.

    For those saying it was bland, there are instructions to taste the sauce and season accordingly to your taste — everyone’s tastes are different so it’s up to you to adjust.

    For those saying it was mushy, it sounds like the pasta was fully cooked in the first steps instead of al dente like the recipe instructs, so it will, of course, overcook and go mushy.

    Keep the recipe out in front of you and keep referring back to it throughout the process, don’t read it once and think you’ll remember, then leave negative reviews when you haven’t followed the instructions properly.

  15. We loved this dish. Only change we made was to swap the cheddar with a shredded mozzarella/Parmesan/provolone mix and it was so good! Your recipes are always a hit!

  16. Do you know how many calories

  17. Delicious! Just added a bit more seasoningto our taste. Is nutritional information available?

  18. Wow! This was so tasty! IT’S A KEEPER!

  19. Takes longer than 15 minutes to prep and needs more flavor – be VERY liberal with the salt, could probably add more dijon, maybe some chili powder. Very filling, was tasty with more salt, makes lots of leftovers!

  20. This was delicious and so easy to make. The mushrooms are a game changer as they add so much flavor. Also make sure to use good aged cheddar as that makes a difference as well.

  21. Not to be this person, but do you think this will come out good without the mushrooms?
    Allergy’ but this looks so good!

    • I made some substitutions to make this recipe dairy and gluten free. I used chickpea pasta, olive oil instead of butter, oat milk, and miyokos vegan oat milk shredded cheddar cheese. It turned out amazing!! Next time I’m definitely going to use double the chicken. I could also see this working well with sliced andouille sausages. It would also be nice to add some sort of crunch like crumbled up crackers on top.

  22. Absolutely Delicious with a capital D. Thanks for sharing! My picky husband loves it as does my 2 year old daughter!

  23. Tastes like home!

  24. I tried this on Saturday…..it was perfect. I used a aged four year cheddar cheese, whole milk and still felt it was a very healthy meal. Served it to some friends and we gobbled it up. Thanks!!

  25. Needs a crunch, perhaps a breadcrumb, parmesan, butter mixture on top?
    Will try that tonight and let you know.

  26. I found this to be very bland. The concept is a good one, but it definitely needs more than garlic and Dijon for flavor. I will try it again, but will add onion powder and thyme at the very least.

  27. The this was great ?

  28. My husband and I love this recipe! Is there a calorie count available?

  29. I didn’t have any mushrooms and so I put in diced sautéed celery instead. I used rotisserie chicken- the one that’s spiced with a smoky flavor and so it didn’t need any other seasoning. I omitted the pasta, and when the casserole came out of the oven, I served it over cooked jasmine rice. The whole family loved it.

  30. I just made this with one little swap – I cooked the pasta and broccoli in water that had chicken bullion in it and it was so tasty! Will definitely make this again.

  31. Do you have nutrition information for this dish? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

  32. So yummy! I prepared the healthier chicken broccoli casserole on a cold winter Sunday afternoon! Hot right out of the oven ! It was so good!

  33. Bottom line – this is really good! However, this recipe isn’t healthy compared to my nutritionist’s standards, so I omitted the butter/oil (sauteed in veg stock instead – you can’t tell a diff) and reduced cheese to only 1/2 a cup for melting in the sauce. I would completely omit it the next time as I don’t think it’s necessary according to our tastes. Next time I make it, I am going to try it using plant-based milk instead of dairy milk. I had whole wheat penne on hand, so that is the pasta used and it worked great. I also added panko on top thanks to other review tips I read. Me and my husband really enjoyed it.

  34. This recipe is a lot of work but I think is worth it. I didn’t change anything, the fist time I make a new recipe I always follow instructions, next time I adjust to my personal preference. If you’re in a rush but still want to make this casserole I think you can use cans of condensed mushroom soup, I believe it will cut you time by a lot. You can also prepare this ahead of time and bake it when you’re ready. I love this recipe! My whole family loved it, my 11 year old even took leftovers for school lunch at the next day ?. It was absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for sharing.

  35. All I can say is WOW. This tastes amazing, and brings back so many memories from childhood.
    I added cauliflower and used cauliflower/brown rice pasta. So incredibly delicious that my kids asked for seconds!!!!

  36. Hands down one of my favorite casseroles ever. Love everything about it. However, just like other’s mention. The prep time is way more then 15 minutes. Took me two tries to perfect the timing for dinner! ha I would say, 30-45 minutes of prep.

  37. Have you figured calories on this receipe?

  38. Can you leave out the dijon mustard? I am not a fan of any type of mustard.

  39. This is absolutely delicious and so satisfying. I halved everything except the mushrooms because I LOVE mushrooms and baked it in an 8×8 baking dish. Perfect!

  40. really really really!!!!!! good. So good! This is a keeper. I added more broccoli and mushrooms and onion and garlic. So good!

  41. This recipe was amazing! I followed the recipe and ingredients exactly. Wouldn’t change anything

  42. Loved it! Would put two heads of broccoli next time and a little less on the pasta. Had to keep mushroom out as the family doesn’t care for them but I added it to mine at the end, delicious Had to break down the nutritional information though.

  43. Overall, the recipe as written is good. I prepared everything exactly as directed. The sauce was good, but a little mild for my taste-even after adding more dijon and pepper. If I do this again, I will try sharp cheddar or a blend. Maybe a little paprika snd nutmeg (my go-to for ramping up mac and cheese, which this reminded me of.)

  44. What could I use instead of mushrooms in this? Not a fan at all of mushrooms but this looks delish!

  45. Absolutely loved this recipe. This dish is full of flavor. I followed the recipe exactly as written…yummy

  46. Has anyone tried substituting a different cheese? i.e. mozzarella/parm?

  47. I thought it was very good as the recipe states,. My “sauce” never thickened, maybe because I left out the mushrooms? I love them but my wife does not. Would have like to see the nutritional info though. Not sure how “healthy” it was with butter, sharp cheddar cheese and whole milk.

  48. So yummy! Definitely will make again.

  49. Making beautiful food doesn’t happen often for me, I usually fixate on just making everything work but thus meal – not only pretty to look at buy AMAZING taste!! So much better than the canned soup method. It’s simple, easy delicious, and pleasant on a plate and.

  50. Really easy and delicious! Love that it’s pretty nutritious as well. Totally recommend!