Creamy Broccoli Chicken Shells and Cheese
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.
This Chicken and Broccoli Pasta tastes like a dressed up version of the boxed shells and cheese you grew up eating! It comes together in just 20 minutes and is an easy, quick and filling dinner.
Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
A meal the whole family can agree on can be hard to come by, but this one definitely makes the cut. Better yet, it’s easy to make and if you happen to already have some cooked chicken sitting in the fridge or freezer then you’ve got a meal in no time.
I made this chicken and broccoli pasta much lighter than a traditional mac and cheese by using low-fat milk and no cream, using only a small amount of butter, and using reduced fat cheddar cheese. Plus, I added a bonus of a protein and veggie to make it more of a meal in one, so there’s actually some nutrition in there.
I actually prefer a mac like this versus one with all the fat because it’s not so heavy and I feel fine about eating it. I mean, with 4 1/2 cups broccoli how could it be bad?
If you insist on making this shells and cheese richer, you could use regular fat cheddar and replace a little of the milk with cream (if doing so, I’d reduce the flour by 1 Tbsp).
One more delicious, perfectly creamy and filling dish to add to the rotation. Enjoy!
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Ingredients
For this easy mac and cheese recipe, you’ll need:
- Large shell pasta
- Cooked chicken breasts
- Broccoli florets
- All-purpose flour
- Spices (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper)
- Low-fat milk
- Reduced fat cheddar cheese
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- Boil pasta according to the package instructions. Add the broccoli in during the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking.
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan and stir in the flour.
- Whisk in the milk, followed by the seasonings. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens.
- Stir in the cheese, then the cooked pasta and broccoli.
Can I Make This With Another Type of Pasta?
Yes, any short, sturdy pasta should work for this recipe (like macaroni or rotini). Avoid thinner pastas like spaghetti for this recipe.
Should I Use Fresh or Frozen Broccoli?
I think fresh broccoli is best in this shells and cheese recipe, but if you use frozen I recommend thawing it first and draining it before adding it to the boiling pasta water.
Tips for the Best Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- To add more flavor to this dish, use extra sharp cheddar cheese. You can also increase the amount of cheese you use.
- Feel free to add different veggies to this recipe. Peas and finely diced carrots would work well in this pasta recipe too.
- Reserve some of the pasta water in case you need to thin the cheese sauce.
More Easy Pasta Recipes You’ll Love:
- Lemon-Parmesan Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp
- Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
- Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
- Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Classic Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Follow Cooking Classy
Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- 9 oz large shell pasta , dry (3 1/4 cups)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts , cooked and shredded into small bites size pieces
- 12 oz broccoli florets* , diced into small bite size pieces (4 1/2 cups once diced)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups low-fat milk
- 6 oz 2% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese** , shredded (1 1/2 cups)*
- 1 oz parmesan cheese , finely shredded (1/3 cup)
- Boil pasta according to directions listed on package adding broccoli during last 3 - 4 minutes of boiling, drain well (reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, just in case you want to thin pasta sauce).
- Meanwhile, in a pot melt butter over medium heat then stir in flour. Cook mixture stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- While whisking vigorously, slowly add in milk, then season with onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, cook mixture, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens.
- Remove from heat, allow to cool for 1 minute then add in cheddar and parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add drained pasta and broccoli and chicken and toss to evenly coat. As it sits it will thicken, you can thin it with a few tbsp pasta water if desired.
- *I think fresh broccoli is best in this shells and cheese recipe, but if you use frozen I recommend thawing it first and draining it before adding it to the boiling pasta water.
- **If you want a stronger cheddar cheese flavor, use 8 oz. You can also use extra sharp cheddar.
- Recipe Source: Cooking Classy