Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken

by Eat Well with Lex

Creamy broccoli mac and cheese with chicken is a quick and easy recipe for families. This dish combines a creamy cheese sauce, broccoli, chicken breast and broccoli into comforting and satisfying meal. With just a handful of ingredients you can whip up this easy stove-top mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli that’s guaranteed to be a hit with the whole family.

Loving this creamy broccoli cheddar mac and cheese recipe? You may also like this One Pan Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi – 30 Minute Dinner.

A close-up of creamy macaroni and cheese with diced chicken and broccoli florets. Creamy broccoli mac and cheese recipe. eatwellwithlex.com

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Why You’ll Love This Broccoli Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • It’s super easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes. With just a few simple ingredients and straightforward cooking process, you can have a wholesome and satisfying meal on the table.
  • Even your kids will love this homemade broccoli cheddar mac and cheese with chicken. It’s a win-win for everyone! Pair the creamy cheese sauce with fun pasta shapes and your kids won’t even notice the veggies.
  • One of the best part of this recipe is its adaptability. Whether you prefer to swap out the chicken for crispy bacon or add a sprinkle of your favorite herbs and spices for extra kick, the possibilities are endless. You can easily tailor this mac and cheese to suit your family.
Homemade broccoli cheddar mac and cheese. eatwellwithlex.com

Ingredients for Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese

This recipe for chicken mac and cheese with broccoli with chicken calls for a handful of simple yet flavorful ingredients. You’ll need:

  • Pasta: Choose your favorite pasta shape, such as cavatappi, shells, or Orecchiette to serve as the base of the dish. Pasta shapes with nooks and crannies are perfect for holding onto the creamy cheesy sauce.
  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast is ideal for this recipe. It adds protein and heartiness to the dish.
  • Broccoli: Fresh broccoli florets bring a pop of color, flavor, and nutrients to the dish. They add crunch and freshness that balances out the richness of the cheese sauce.
  • Cheddar Cheese: Sharp cheddar cheese is the star of the show. Opt for high-quality cheddar for the best results.
  • Milk: Whole milk or half-and-half is used to create the creamy cheese sauce. It helps to achieve the perfect velvety texture and binds all the ingredients together.
  • Butter: Butter adds richness and depth of flavor to the cheese sauce.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour is used as a thickening agent for the cheese sauce.
  • Seasonings: Salt, pepper, nutmeg and any additional seasonings of your choice, such as garlic powder, smoked paprika and mustard powder, are used to enhance the flavor profile of the dish.
Fresh ingredients for broccoli mac and cheese including pasta, chicken breast, broccoli, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Are you a mac and cheese lover? Make sure to check out my Creamy Lobster Mac and Cheese.

How to Make Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Cook the Chicken:

You can use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this recipe. If not, here are quick instructions for cooking the chicken.

Season boneless, skinless chicken breast with salt and pepper or your favorite seasonings. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Once the skillet is hot, add the seasoned chicken breast and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet and let it rest for a few minutes before dicing it into bite-sized pieces for the mac and cheese.

Cook the Broccoli:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets to the pot. Blanch the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, or until it turns bright green and is slightly tender. Drain the broccoli and pat it dry with paper towels before adding it to the mac and cheese.

Prepare the Cheese Sauce:

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes until it begins to turn golden-brownish.

Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the seasonings and cook the mixture for about 1-2 minutes until it comes to a simmer. Make sure to stir frequently.

Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the shredded cheese to the sauce. Continuously stir until melted and smooth. Taste the sauce and add additional seasoning if desired.

Combine the Chicken and Broccoli:

Once the cheese sauce is smooth and creamy, stir in the cooked pasta, diced chicken breast and broccoli florets until everything is evenly coated with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you want the sauce to be more creamy and running, add a splash of chicken broth or milk to the pan and stir well.

Recipe Tips for Success

Use Pre-Cooked Chicken: Save time by using leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Prep Ingredients in Advance: To streamline the cooking process, prep your ingredients ahead of time. Cook and dice the chicken, blanch the broccoli, and shred the cheese before you start making the sauce.

Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta just until al dente according to the package instructions. Overcooked pasta can become mushy when combined with the sauce, so be sure to check it frequently while cooking.

Adjust Cheese Sauce Consistency: If the cheese sauce becomes too thick, you can thin it out by adding a splash of milk until you reach your desired consistency. Likewise, if the sauce is too thin, you can simmer it for a few extra minutes to thicken it up.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese Add-Ins

  • If chicken isn’t your thing, simply omit it from the recipe for a vegetarian broccoli and cheese mac and cheese that’s equally delicious.
  • Want to up the cheesy factor even more? Stir in some shredded mozzarella or Gruyère cheese
  • Add crispy bacon for a smoky and savory flavor that pairs perfectly with the creamy cheese sauce.
  • Add other vegetables like chopped cauliflower, mushrooms, green peas, spinach, onions and even roasted red peppers.
Easy stove-top mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli. A skillet filled with cheesy pasta, chicken pieces, and vibrant green broccoli. eatwellwithlex.com

Storage and Reheating

Storage Instructions:

Allow any leftover mac and cheese to cool completely at room temperature. Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.

Reheating Instructions:

To reheat refrigerated mac and cheese, transfer the desired portion to a microwave-safe bowl or plate. If the sauce has thickened, add a splash of milk to restore creaminess. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until heated through.

More Easy Family Dinners You’ll Love

Chicken Pesto Lasagna Roll Ups

Easy Baked Penne Vodka Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

Rasta Pasta with Jerk Chicken

Creamy skillet broccoli cheddar mac and cheese with chicken. eatwellwithlex.com

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Easy stove-top mac and cheese with chicken and broccoli. A skillet filled with cheesy pasta, chicken pieces, and vibrant green broccoli. eatwellwithlex.com

Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken

Creamy broccoli mac and cheese with chicken is a quick and easy recipe for families. This dish combines a creamy cheese sauce, broccoli, chicken breast and broccoli into comforting and satisfying meal. With just a handful of ingredients you can whip up this mouthwatering chicken broccoli cheddar mac and cheese.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces shell-shaped pasta
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups half and half or whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets cooked
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breast diced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt add gradually to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shell-shaped pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Cook Chicken

  • You can use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken for this recipe. If not, here are quick instructions for cooking the chicken.
  • Season boneless, skinless chicken breast with salt and pepper or your favorite seasonings. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a small amount of oil. Once the skillet is hot, add the seasoned chicken breast and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
  • Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet and let it rest for a few minutes before dicing it into bite-sized pieces for the mac and cheese.

Cook the Broccoli

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the broccoli florets to the pot. Blanch the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, or until it turns bright green and is slightly tender. Drain the broccoli and pat it dry with paper towels before adding it to the mac and cheese.

Prepare the Cheese Sauce

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour to create a roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes until it begins to turn golden.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the dijon mustard and seasonings ( salt, pepper, smoked paprika, onion, garlic powder, and nutmeg) and cook the mixture for about 1-2 minutes until it comes to a simmer. Make sure to stir frequently.
  • Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the shredded cheese to the sauce. Continuously stir until melted and smooth. Taste the sauce and add additional seasoning if desired.

Combine the Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese

  • Once the cheese sauce is smooth and creamy, stir in the cooked pasta, diced chicken breast and broccoli florets until everything is evenly coated with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you want the sauce to be more creamy and running, add a splash of chicken broth or milk to the pan and stir well.

Notes

Recipe Tips:
  • Use Pre-Cooked Chicken: Save time by using leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken.
  • Prep Ingredients in Advance: To streamline the cooking process, cook and dice the chicken, blanch the broccoli, and shred the cheese before you start making the sauce.
  • Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta just until al dente according to the package instructions.
  • Adjust Cheese Sauce Consistency: If the cheese sauce becomes too thick, you can thin it out by adding a splash of milk until you reach your desired consistency. Likewise, if the sauce is too thin, you can simmer it for a few extra minutes to thicken it up.
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