My Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake is the ideal meal when you’re short on time but want to enjoy a warm and comforting meal. It is easy and tasty, packed with flavour, and a meal that the whole family will enjoy. Cooked chicken, pasta and broccoli are combined in a creamy, cheesy sauce, turned into a casserole dish and finished with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs which become deliciously crispy when baked.
Why we love this recipe:
When nothing will do but comfort food, my Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake is the dish to turn to. It is very adaptable; you can customise it to suit your taste or what you have on hand. I have used fusilli pasta but if you prefer you could use penne, macaroni or rigatoni. If you don’t like broccoli, use something else. Peas or pumpkin would be good choices.
We love this recipe because:
- The ingredients are all readily available.
- It is a meal which can be prepared on a weeknight and one which the whole family will enjoy. Or serve it to friends for a casual dinner – all will enjoy the relaxed vibe.
- It is a great way to include vegetables in family meals.
- There are infinite ways it can be prepared. Sometimes it will be varied for personal taste, other times it will depend on what we have on hand.
- If you have leftover cooked chicken, this is a great way to use it.
- This recipe can be adapted to gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and the appropriate flour in the sauce.
- You can prepare the Pasta Bake a day in advance, and just put it into the oven when you’re ready.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Dried pasta – I have used fusilli; tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne are also good choices.
Broccoli florets – a great way to include vegetables for the family.
Chicken – I use shredded rotisserie, but poached chicken breast would be fine too. Just shred with a fork to get bite-size pieces.
Garlic – use fresh cloves, not powdered or from a jar. The flavour of fresh garlic is superior.
Spring onions/scallions – include the white bulb and some of the green.
Butter – adds flavour and creaminess to the sauce.
Plain/all-purpose flour – use gluten-free if necessary.
Milk – for the sauce.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste.
Parmesan – use good quality Parmesan, freshly grated. I like Grana Padano; it has great flavour but is not as expensive as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Thyme – for the best flavour, I have used fresh thyme. If you use dried thyme, it is much more concentrated – use about a third.
Panko breadcrumbs and melted butter – add a delicious, crispy topping to the Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake.
Step by step instructions:
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (355 F).
- To a large saucepan of boiling water, add some sea salt. Add the pasta and cook it until it is very al dente.
- One minute before you remove the pasta, add the broccoli. Drain the broccoli and pasta into a colander and set aside.
- In the same saucepan that you cooked the pasta, on a medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and spring onions and cook for 2 minutes, being careful to not let the garlic burn. Add in the flour and stir well. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add half the milk and whisk constantly to avoid lumps forming. Add the remaining milk and increase the heat to medium-high. As the sauce starts to thicken, add the parmesan cheese and thyme. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stir until the sauce resembles pouring cream consistency (takes about 5-7 minutes after increasing the heat.)
- Add the pasta, broccoli and chicken to the sauce. Check that the dish is well seasoned.
- In a small frying pan, melt the remaining butter and then mix through the panko breadcrumbs.
- Grease a 30 x 20 cm baking/casserole dish and add the pasta mixture. Top the pasta with the buttered breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy on top.
Tips for success and FAQs:
One of the most important tips is to ensure that you initially undercook the pasta as it will cook further when baked and you don’t want mushy pasta.
I know you will be keen to enjoy your Chicken and Broccoli Pasta, but it is important to set it aside for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. This will give it time to firm up a little and help it to hold its shape when serving.
For ease of preparation, pick up a barbecue chicken and use it in this delicious Pasta Bake.
Yes, you certainly can. The ability to prepare it in advance is one of the great advantages of this recipe.
I have used fusilli in this recipe as its curly shape attracts and holds the sauce. As well, tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne are also good. Be sure to choose those with ribbed sides so the sauce doesn’t slide off.
You could use cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, peas or baby spinach leaves. They would all be great additions.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
We love a comforting dish that can be prepared in advance. Here are some more of our favourite recipes for you to try:
- Pork Sausage Ragu
- Mediterranean Beef Stew
- Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells
- Mediterranean Chicken Casserole
- Pumpkin and Ricotta Pasta Shells
- Bacon Mac and Cheese
When you want a meal that is easily prepared, with readily available ingredients, you should try my Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake. It is undoubtedly one of the best comfort foods and one which the whole family will enjoy. As well, it is perfect for serving to a crowd; just increase the amounts. It will become a regular addition to your easy-to-make meals as it has for me.
Serve it family-style at the table. It is delicious served with a green salad on the side.
Let me know in the comments below when you have given it a try!
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
For accuracy, when weights are provided, we recommend weighing your ingredients. This will produce the best results.
- 200 g (7 oz) dried fusilli pasta See Note 1
- 300 g (10.5 oz) broccoli florets – cut into bite-size pieces
- 300 g (10.5 oz) shredded cooked chicken See Note 2
- 3 large cloves garlic – minced
- 3 spring onions/scallions – finely sliced (white and some of the green)
- ¼ cup (60 g) butter
- ¼ cup (40 g) plain/all-purpose flour See Note 3
- 3 ½ cups (875 ml) milk
- ¾ cup (70 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese See Note 4
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme – finely chopped See Note 5
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
- 1 cup (90 g) panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup (60 g) butter – melted
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (355 F).
- In a large saucepan of boiling water, add a generous quantitiy of sea salt to season well.Add your pasta and cook it until it is very al dente. – See Note 6One minute before you remove the pasta, add the broccoli florets.Drain the broccoli and pasta in a colander and set aside.
- In the same saucepan that you cooked the pasta, on medium heat, melt the butter.Add the garlic and spring onions and cook for 2 minutes, being careful to not let the garlic burn.
- Add in the flour and stir well with a whisk and cook for 1 minute.
- Add half the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps forming. Add the remaining milk and increase the heat to medium high.
- As the sauce starts to thicken, add in the parmesan cheese and thyme and whisk to combine.Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.Stir until the sauce resembles pouring cream consistency (takes about 5-7 minutes after increasing the heat).
- Add the pasta, broccoli and chicken to the sauce. Check that the dish is well seasoned.
- Grease a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inches) baking/casserole dish and add the pasta mixture to the dish.
- In a small frying pan, melt the remaining butter and once melted, mix through the panko breadcrumbs. Top the pasta with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy on top.Remove from the oven and set the Pasta Bake aside for about 5 minutes. This will give it time to firm up a little and help it to hold its shape when serving.Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if you wish.
- Pasta: use a short pasta of your choice. A tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne, is a good choice as the sauce becomes trapped in the tubes. Be sure to choose those with ribbed sides so the sauce doesn’t slide off.
- Chicken: I have used shredded rotisserie chicken – it has great flavour and makes this recipe so easy. If you prefer, you can use shredded poached chicken breast. If cooking your own chicken breast, I recommend cooking in chicken stock for the best flavour.
- Gluten-free option: for a gluten-free option, use the appropriate flour, pasta and breadcrumbs.
- Parmesan: use good quality, freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padando.
- Thyme: strip the leaves from the stems. If you use dried thyme, use ⅓ the amount and ensure that your dried thyme is fresh, or the flavour will be dull.
- Pasta: it is important to undercook your pasta as it will cook further when baked.
- Seasoning: it is important to adjust the seasoning to your liking – we recommend using freshly ground black pepper and sea salt flakes for the best flavour.
The nutritional information is an estimate only, and is derived from online calculators. For accurate results, we recommend calculating the nutritional information based on the ingredients and brands you use.