A hearty chicken broccoli pasta bake with plenty of broccoli, chicken, and cheese, all made in one pot! It's ready in less than 35 minutes, with less dishes and no headaches.
If life feels too busy for fussy meals, trust me when I say I feel you! Most days I can hardly find the time to shower, much less to julienne carrots or roast a rack of lamb.
This chicken and broccoli pasta bake is the definition of simple! Everything, including the pasta, is cooked in a large skillet then oven-baked until hot and bubbly. I used leftover shredded chicken, but a rotisserie chicken will do the trick too.
It's quick, simple, and cozy. Oh, and did I mention it's ready in 35 minutes? Miracles do happen, friends. Cheesy, home-baked miracles.
Why you'll love it
- This chicken broccoli pasta casserole is made in one pot! That means less mess and less dishes. Always a plus!
- It's thick and cheesy with tender but crisp broccoli, hearty pasta, and plenty of lean protein.
- Kids devour it quickly, but so do adults. My husband went back for thirds.
- It's made with pantry staples and simple ingredients.
- Shredded chicken - This is a perfect dish for leftovers! I like to make a big bowl of shredded chicken at the beginning of the week and use it in meals all week long. If you don't have or want to make shredded chicken, shred a rotisserie chicken instead.
- Broccoli florets - I like to cut my own, because it's cheaper and I control the size, but you can buy precut florets too. Shoot for smaller florets so they're easy to stir into the pasta bake.
- Cheese - And plenty of it! We need it for the inside and the top. I used an italian cheese blend, but any kind of shredded cheese should work great.
- Onion & garlic - For a depth of flavor you can't achieve without it.
- Chicken broth - Cooks the pasta and makes the base of the cheese sauce. Vegetable broth works great too!
- Whole milk - Adds creaminess to the sauce. If you don't have whole milk, just use what you have on hand.
- Flour - To thicken the milk and broth mixture. If you're gluten-free, just use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
- Italian Cheese - To make the cheesy sauce for the chicken and pasta.
- Kosher salt - Don't forget to season! Salt equals flavor, especially in cheesy dishes. I always cook with kosher salt. If you only have table salt, only use half the amount of salt.
How to Make it
This cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta is super simple! First preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sauté aromatics: In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion & garlic and sweat for a couple minutes until the onion's translucent.
Add liquids to the pot: Add the chicken broth, whole milk, and salt to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
Simmer pasta shells: Add the pasta shells and reduce the heat to medium. Use a spatula to spread around the pasta shells so they're evenly covered by the liquid. Simmer the pasta until just before it's al dente in texture.
Add broccoli: Stir in the broccoli florets.
Make the cheese sauce: Stir in the all-purpose flour, then add the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and mixed in well.
Add the shredded chicken: Stir in the chicken until well distributed.
Top with cheese: Remove the pan from the heat & add more cheese to the top! I topped with more italian cheese and shredded cheddar jack.
Bake & broil: Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Change the temperature to broil and cook until the cheese gets golden brown specks on top. This takes less than a minute. Now's not the time to walk away from the oven!
Enjoy: Serve immediately!
- Use any type of pasta you like for this recipe. Just be sure not to overcook it! It will cook more as you add ingredients and bake it in the oven, so just cook it until it's al dente before you add the cheese.
- Remember the handle will be hot!! Don't accidentally grab the handle without an oven mitt.
- Once you turn on the broiler, watch it like a hawk. Don't walk away from the oven, lest you burn all the cheese!
- Pasta - I used pasta shells, but penne, rotini, elbows, fusilli or any type of small-shaped pasta can be used. I also used chickpea pasta because we like the higher amount of protein, but any type of pasta works. If you use gluten-free pasta, be sure to check it often. Gluten-free pasta gets mushy and gummy when overcooked. I really like Barilla's gluten free pasta line.
- Veggies - Feel free to experiment with veggies. Baby spinach, frozen peas, corn, cauliflower, or diced bell peppers would make great additions!
- Store leftover broccoli pasta bake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Reheat the chicken pasta in a microwave-safe bowl until warmed throughout, or in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until hot.
No problem! Use a rotisserie chicken instead. Start with a warm chicken because it's easier to shred. Remove the meat from the bones and throw the meat into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low speed until the chicken is shredded. If you don't have a stand mixer, shred it with two forks instead.
It already contains veggies, lean protein, and carbs so I just serve it by itself. It would taste delicious with roasted veggies, a simple salad, or garlic bread though.
Absolutely! Just swap the pasta with gluten-free pasta, and use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend in place of regular flour.
More Easy Dinner Recipes
One Pan Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake
- 12 inch Nonstick skillet
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ cup diced onion
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 8 ounces pasta shells
- 3 cups small broccoli florets
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup shredded italian cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion & garlic to the pan, and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the chicken broth and whole milk to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then add the pasta.
- Reduce the heat back to medium and cook the pasta until it's just al dente. Do not cook it all the way or the pasta will be mushy in the end. It should have a slight bite to it.
- Add the broccoli florets and stir well.
- Add the all-purpose flour and stir until incorporated, then add the italian cheese. Stir well until the cheese is mixed into the milk mixture to create a sauce.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded chicken. Top with more shredded cheese.
- Carefully place the skillet into the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler. Watch the casserole carefully so the top doesn't burn. Once you notice a few golden specks dotting the top of the cheese (about 1-2 min), remove from the oven.
- Sprinkle the top with kosher salt & enjoy!