Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Lisa Joy Thompson

Looking for an easy dinner your whole family will love? You need to make this Chicken and Broccoli Casserole Recipe!

We love us some broccoli at our house! My teenage son often chooses broccoli over french fries when we got out to dinner. So any recipe that includes broccoli is a good one in our opinion.

And while we love pretty much any recipe that includes broccoli, this cheesy chicken broccoli casserole is pure comfort food. Don’t be surprised if this cheesy casserole with its combination of tender chicken, broccoli, noodles and an amazingly creamy sauce becomes a new family favorite.

This recipe is easy to make and I often change it up based on what I already have at home.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of rotini pasta
  • 12 oz of fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons butter, avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or use 1/2 cup chopped onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (I won’t judge if you use more.)
  • 1 pound diced cooked chicken

How To Make This Easy Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Begin by preheating your oven to 400°F.

Boil pasta in a large pot filled with well-salted water until it reaches an al dente texture. If using fresh or frozen broccoli, add it to the pasta 2-3 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked, thus eliminating the need for an extra pan. {You’re welcome!}

Once cooked, drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside. Worried about overcooking the noodles or undercooking the broccoli? Opt for steam-in-bag broccoli. Easy-peasy!

In a large skillet, melt butter or oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, cooking for another 3 minutes while stirring from time to time.

Sprinkle flour over the onion-garlic mix and stir until well-blended.

Add the Dijon mustard, milk, salt, and pepper, stirring until fully combined.

Allow the sauce to cook until it simmers, then take it off the heat. Mix in 1 cup of shredded cheese until it melts and blends with the sauce.

Place the pasta and broccoli into a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Follow that up with the chicken and cheese sauce. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

If you want to make it look nice and pretty, you can even out the all the ingredients in the casserole.

​​Bake the casserole uncovered for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top, and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Eat up!!!

FAQs {Frequently Asked Questions}

Can I use garlic powder instead of garlic cloves?

While I love using fresh garlic, I’ve also been known to use garlic powder when in a pinch. Just remember that a little garlic powder goes a long way. I would start by substituting 1/8 teaspoon for each clove of garlic.

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

Sure! While I usually use rotini when I make this broccoli chicken casserole, my family also likes it with shells or penne. You could use a thinner noodle like spaghetti or angel hair, but I think a heartier noodle works better in this recipe.

Can I use rice instead of noodles in this recipe?

Sure! You could use white rice or brown rice. You could even use instant rice or minute rice. I would use 2 cups of uncooked rice which will make 6 cups of cooked rice once you add the water. That should give you the right amount of rice if you want to make a cheesy chicken broccoli rice casserole.

Can I use onion powder instead of chopped onion?

Yes, you can, but it will change the texture of the recipe. 1 Tablespoon of onion powder is typically equal to 1 cup of chopped onions, so I would use 1/2 Tablespoon in this recipe.

Can I make this recipe gluten-free?

Sure. You’ll just need to use a gluten free pasta in place of the regular pasta and either use a gluten-free flour or a thickening agent like xanthan gum in place of the flour.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

Sure. Just leave out the chicken and use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. It will still be delicious!

Do I have to use sharp cheddar in this recipe?

Nope, feel free to substitute a different cheese or use a combination of cheeses. It’s also good with Monterey Jack, regular cheddar or Pepperjack. You can use Mozzarella or Mild Cheddar, but it will give you a much milder flavor.

Can I use leftover chicken in this recipe?

Yes. This recipe is perfect for using up leftover chicken. I’ve used fresh chicken, rotisserie chicken, and even frozen grilled chicken. I’ve also used shredded chicken instead of diced chicken when I’ve cooked up boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot and shredded it to use for future meals.

Can I use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli?

Yep. You sure can. Just make sure to microwave or steam your broccoli before adding it to the casserole dish.

Do I have to use chicken broth?

No, you can use vegetable broth or chicken stock. Heck, you could even use beef broth if you were in a pinch, but since I make homemade bone broth every week, we use that chicken broth in most of our recipes.

Can I use heavy cream instead of milk?

Sure. You can substitute 1 cup cream for 1 cup milk, but then I’d add 1/2 cup broth to make up for the other 1/2 cup milk. If you substitute 1 1/2 cups cream for 1 1/2 cups milk, your cheese sauce will be super thick and may be a little heavy.

Can I prepare this casserole in advance and bake it later?

Yep. You sure can. If busy nights keep you from getting dinner on the table, you can make this 24-48 hours ahead of when you bake it. Just cover it with plastic wrap and foil and place it in the refrigerator. Uncover before cooking. Also, please know that your cooking time will increase.

Can I freeze this casserole?

You sure can. If you’re planning on freezing this casserole than baking it in the oven on the night you serve it, leave off the last step of adding the cheese to the top of the casserole. Also make sure you don’t overcook your noodles or you’ll have a mushy mess. I think this casserole tastes best when you let it fully thaw before baking it and serving it. If you want to be able to just microwave this casserole, than go ahead and add the cheese at the end and bake it before wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and covering it with foil.

How do I store the leftovers?

You can store your leftovers in an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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Lisa is the creator, a site that empowers overwhelmed, hot mess moms to create their own fun happy homes. She regularly shares recipes, crafts, printables, parenting tips, and more!

Bonita Springs, FL

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