Cozy, creamy and comforting! This easy chicken and broccoli pasta bake will be your new favorite casserole! Top with crispy bacon to make it extra delicious!
I knew all my boasting about our warm weather would bite me in the butt. 🙂
It was freezing this weekend! And it looks like it might stick around a bit longer. Boo! I knew we weren’t going to skate through winter without some colder weather but man that warm spell sure was nice!! This weekend we experienced the type of weekend where we could only be outside for a short while, so we were trapped inside and the kids went a little nuts. And now we have a dog….so it was a whole lot of crazy!
So, with all of that in mind, let me introduce you to the latest cozy recipe for this January – a chicken and broccoli pasta bake! There’s something so cozy about the word bake in a recipe, don’t you think?
What is a pasta bake?
This chicken and broccoli pasta bake is basically exactly what it sounds like – chicken, broccoli, and noodles all smothered in a creamy sauce, baked together in the oven to make it warm and bubbly!
The cheesy cream sauce is made completely from scratch, and you can choose your favorite shape of noodle for this!
How do you make this chicken and broccoli pasta bake?
The dish is super simple to make, but it does require a few dishes (worth it).
Start by cooking the chicken in a large frying pan, with a bit of oil. While you’re frying the chicken, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and begin cooking the noodles. When the chicken is done (no longer pink inside), remove it to a plate and cover it to keep it warm. I sometimes just put a plate on top of a plate!
During the last few minutes of cooking time for the noodles, add the broccoli florets and cook everything together for a few minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside while you prepare the sauce!
The sauce is super easy as well! It’s very similar to my cheesy tuna casserole, if you’ve tried that one out. All it takes is a bit of butter, flour, garlic and some chicken stock mixed with milk. Thicken it all up and then chees-ify it with some shredded mozzarella cheese.
Once your sauce is done, the last few steps are a cinch!
Dump the pasta, broccoli and chicken in with the sauce, then pour it into a greased casserole dish.
Top it with some parmesan, extra mozzarella and some buttery Panko crumbs. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top. I like to turn it to broil for the last few minutes.
You can fry up some bacon in the mean time if you want to put it on top of the casserole, but it’s totally optional!
Serve the casserole immediately. It’s best fresh out of the oven, creamy and delicious!
Is this pasta bake freezer friendly?
Yes! This meal is actually one of my favorite meals to make for my mama friends who have just had a baby. I always make it in a disposable aluminum foil casserole dish, so that if they’re not ready to eat it that night, they can pop it in the freezer for another night when they need a break for dinner!
To cook from frozen, place it in the oven directly from the freezer and bake for 45-55 minutes.
Can you make this chicken and broccoli pasta bake dairy-free?
You could absolutely make this dairy-free if you use a milk dairy-free milk – something that does not have a strong flavor. Try unsweetened almond milk or soy milk! Also, be sure to use dairy-free cheese in the sauce and on top of the casserole.
This dish is so delicious! If you’re feeling chilled like I am, you’ll love this pasta bake!!
Some other super cozy dinner recipes from the blog:Print
Cozy, creamy and comforting! This easy chicken and broccoli pasta bake will be your new favorite casserole!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 250g (2 cups) short-cut pasta (rotini, orecchiette)
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup milk*
- pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1/4 cup shaved parmesan
- optional: 4 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (for topping)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9 x 13″ casserole dish or similar sized dish. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the pieces of chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 6-7 minutes.
- While you’re frying the chicken, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and begin cooking the pasta. When the chicken is done, remove it to a plate and cover it to keep it warm. During the last few minutes of cooking time for the noodles, add the broccoli florets and cook together for a few minutes. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set it aside while you prepare the sauce in the same pan that you used to fry the chicken.
- Melt 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, before adding the garlic and cooking an additional minute. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute, before slowly pouring in the broth and milk, followed by a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk continuously until bubbly and thick. Remove the pan from heat and stir in 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, until melted.
Dump the pasta, broccoli and chicken into the pan with the sauce, then pour it all into a greased casserole dish. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and stir in the Panko crumbs. Top the dish with the remaining mozzarella cheese, the parmesan and the buttery Panko crumbs. Bake the casserole for 25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Turn the oven on to broil for the last few minutes of cooking. Serve the casserole immediately, topping it with crispy fried bacon, if desired.
The casserole is best fresh from the oven, but leftovers keep well in an airtight container in the fridge, for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
The pasta bake can be made for the freezer for later. Prepare everything up until the baking instructions. Allow it to cool completely, cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Bake from frozen at 350 F for 45-55 minutes.
*I use 3.25% milk but skim or 2% will also work. See post text regarding dairy-free milk.
- Category: dinner
- Method: oven bake
- Cuisine: American