An easy and cheesy chicken and broccoli pasta bake with a crispy breadcrumb topping.
Perfect for busy weeknights, I guarantee the whole family will love this chicken broccoli pasta recipe!
My kids love pasta bakes. There's something just so comforting about gooey cheesy pasta, especially during the colder months when the evenings are dark and chilly and you want a hug-in-a bowl type dish.
Loaded with tender chicken, fresh broccoli, and plenty of gooey cheese, this dish is the perfect way to feed a hungry crowd or simply enjoy a cosy evening in.
Like pasta bakes? Try my chicken fajita pasta bake too!
✔️ Why should you try it?
- This recipe is simple and straightforward, making it perfect for busy weeknights when you don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
- Whether you're feeding a family or hosting a dinner party, this pasta bake is sure to be a hit with everyone who tries it.
- With tender chicken and nutritious broccoli, this dish is a great source of protein to help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- You can easily customise this recipe to suit your tastes by adding in your favourite herbs, spices, or veggies.
- There's nothing quite like a warm and cheesy pasta bake to make you feel cozy and content, and this recipe delivers on both fronts!
- Penne Pasta - a great shape for pasta bakes because it holds cheese sauces well.
- Chicken Breasts - you'll need 1 large chicken breast cut into small chunks.
- Bacon - smoked bacon rashers add a depth of flavour to the pasta bake.
- Garlic - a great flavour enhancer.
- Broccoli - increases the nutritional value of the dish and adds texture.
- Butter - the base of the cheese sauce. I usually use salted butter for cheese sauces.
- Flour - plain flour helps to thicken the sauce.
- Milk - use semi-skimmed milk to keep the calories down.
- Cheese - grated extra mature cheddar is best for flavour.
- Pesto - helps give the cheese sauce a herby boost.
- Mustard - brings the cheesy flavour out.
- Panko Breadcrumbs - for the crispy breadcrumb topping
- Parmesan - adds flavour to the crunchy topping.
- Dried Thyme - adds a lovely subtle herby flavour to the dish.
- Salt & Pepper - for seasoning.
The recipe card with ingredient quantities and detailed instructions can be found at the bottom of the post
Making the chicken and broccoli pasta bake is so easy!
One: Boil the pasta and add the broccoli florets 3 minutes before the end of cooking. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan and add the garlic, bacon, and chicken. Fry for a few minutes until the chicken changes colour. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes, then gradually stir in the milk (keep stirring to prevent lumps forming). Simmer until the sauce thickens.
Two: Take the sauce off the heat and add the grated cheddar, pesto, and mustard. Give it a good stir until the cheese is melted.
Three: Mix in the cooked pasta and broccoli.
Four: Pour the pasta into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and dried thyme. Bake in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.
💭 Top tips
- Continually stir the white sauce whilst it simmers, to help prevent lumps forming. It will only take a few minutes to thicken.
- Be sure to cook the pasta until it's just tender but still has a bit of bite to it. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and affect the texture of the dish.
- Place your ovenproof dish on a baking sheet in case the cheese sauce bubbles over when baking it.
🍴 Serving suggestions
- Up the vegetables by adding peas and sweetcorn to the chicken pasta bake. Just add a handful of each into the cheese sauce at the same time as you add the cooked pasta and broccoli.
- Vary the cheeses. Crumbled blue cheese in the sauce makes a more adult version of the pasta bake, or use half cheddar and half blue cheese.
- Make it vegetarian friendly by using Quorn pieces instead of the chicken breasts and vegetarian bacon. Omit the grated Parmesan from the topping and use vegetarian hard cheese.
- A handful of chopped parsley and basil added to the cheese sauce, gives it a lovely herby flavour.
- Smoky chorizo instead of bacon is another delicious ingredient substitution. I love the paprika flavours it injects into a dish, like in my chorizo mac and cheese recipe.
Store - if you have any leftovers, allow the pasta bake to cool down to room temperature before covering it with foil or cling film. You can then store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Reheat - to reheat the pasta bake, you can use the microwave or oven.
🧊 Suitable for freezing?
You can also freeze the pasta bake for later use. Allow the dish to cool down completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Frozen broccoli can be used in the pasta bake. Just add it to the pasta at the same time as you would the fresh broccoli.
Yes, you can use fusilli, rigatoni, farfalle, or macaroni pasta instead.
Some more baked pasta recipes you might like:
- Chorizo Mac and Cheese - add smoky chorizo to your mac and cheese, for a Spanish style twist on this family favourite pasta dish.
- Easy Lasagne - a quick and easy lasagne recipe made with a cheat’s white sauce, ready in just 45 minutes! Delicious comfort food the whole family will love.
- Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake - pizza in pasta form!
- Chorizo and Pepper Pasta - smoky, tasty and made in just 30 minutes!
- Smoky Meatball Pasta Bake - made with store-bought meatballs and flavoured with smoked paprika.
🍽️ More family-friendly recipes
Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
- 50 g Butter
- 2 Garlic Cloves chopped
- 1 Chicken Breast chopped
- 3 Bacon Rashers chopped (I use smoked bacon)
- 50 g Plain Flour
- 600 ml Milk
- 200 g Cheddar grated
- 1 teaspoon Mustard
- 1 tablespoon Pesto
- 200 g Pasta
- 1 Broccoli broken into florets
- Salt and Pepper
For the topping
- 4 tablespoon Panko Breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon Parmesan grated
- 1 teaspoon Thyme dried
- Preheat the oven to 200°c (180 fan/ 400F/ Gas 6).
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Add the broccoli florets for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside.200 g Pasta, 1 Broccoli
- In a large pan melt the butter, then add the garlic, bacon and chicken and fry for a couple of minutes until the chicken changes colour. Stir in the flour and cook out for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens. You will need to stir the sauce continuously to prevent it from becoming lumpy.50 g Butter, 2 Garlic Cloves, 1 Chicken Breast, 3 Bacon Rashers, 50 g Plain Flour, 600 ml Milk
- Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the grated cheddar, pesto and mustard, along with some salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli to the sauce and mix everything together.200 g Cheddar, 1 teaspoon Mustard, 1 tablespoon Pesto, Salt and Pepper
- Pour the pasta mix into an ovenproof dish.
- Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the pasta bake.4 tablespoon Panko Breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoon Parmesan, 1 teaspoon Thyme
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling.