Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

This Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese offers a leaner twist on the classic comfort food. Studded with baked chicken and broccoli, it transforms the traditional side dish into a main dish everyone will love.

A bowl of Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese with a fork in it

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2023 Update: This recipe was originally shared in December 2014. I have simplified this recipe. The post has been updated to include new photos, as well as more tips and tricks. I hope you love them!

Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese Recipe

Look, I’m not gonna tell y’all that this dish is healthy. It’s not. Not really.

But! Instead of adding tons of butter and even more cheese (because, you know, a pound isn’t quite enough), I’ve added broccoli and chicken.

The combination of cheesy, gooey mac ‘n cheese with broccoli and chicken is divine. It’s comforting without being an over-the-top, full-to-the-brim, can’t-eat-for-at-least-a-full-day kind of meal.

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    Macaroni and cheese with broccoli might not be a health food per se, but it is a little lighter. It’s certainly a darn good indulgence every once in a while.

    And if nothing else, you can tell yourself you’re eating some good veggies while also consuming all the “less good” stuff!

    This recipe uses two of my favorite shortcuts: rotisserie chicken from the store and frozen broccoli. They make this easy dinner so much easier.

    Rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite hacks because it’s pre-cooked and ready to shred. I love using this for my Rotisserie Chicken Salad and my Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup. Frozen veggies are great because I can have them on hand at all times!

    Why I love this recipe:

    This Broccoli and Chicken Mac and Cheese is going to be one of your new favorite recipes for a few reasons:

    • This super thick mac & cheese is easy peasy and made with two great shortcuts: frozen broccoli and shredded rotisserie chicken!
    • The cheese sauce is so divine and you’re going to want to put it on everything.
    • You can feel good about having mac & cheese for dinner when it has veggies and protein!

    More chicken recipes to try: Chicken & Dumplings | Baked Gnocchi with Chicken | Chicken Pesto Pasta | Chicken Spinach Salad | Oven Fried Chicken

    Ingredients to make homemade Mac ’n cheese with broccoli and chicken in bowls on a blue countertop

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Shredded chicken – you can use a rotisserie chicken from the store (we use both chicken breast and thighs), a homemade whole roasted chicken or cuts of your favorite part of chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked and shredded!
    • Elbow macaroni – feel free to use your favorite shape of pasta instead. Rotini and penne are both fun twists for macaroni and cheese.
    • Frozen broccoli florets – you can use leftover broccoli instead, but make sure it’s cut into small pieces. You can also prepare your own boiled or steamed broccoli to use in this recipe.
    • Extra virgin olive oil – you can use any neutral-tasting oil like avocado oil instead.
    • Flour – we like to use unbleached AP flour in our household, but the regular kind works, too. I have not tried this with a gluten free flour blend, so I do not recommend making that swap.
    • Whole milk – for a creamier mac & cheese, use half & half or heavy cream. I don’t recommend using anything less than 2% milk, or the sauce won’t be thick enough.
    • Dijon mustard – regular mustard will work if you don’t have dijon. But dijon has a great taste that I love in this recipe.
    • Egg – this works as a binder. There is no substitute. Trust me here.
    • White pepper – freshly-cracked is my go to, but regular ground pepper is fine. Black pepper can be substituted
    • Kosher salt – a similarly sized (medium-grain) sea salt also works but I don’t recommend table salt.
    • Salt-free Creole Seasoning  my favorite is Tony’s, which you can find at most grocery stores or order online. It should have a blend of herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary and paprika. Use your favorite! Most Creole seasonings contain salt. If yours is salt-free, you should add some kosher salt to taste. You can also make it yourself.
    • Extra sharp white cheddar – I like white cheddar, but you can also use a sharp yellow cheddar. Just make sure it’s shredded!

    Customizations and substitutions

    It’s fun to try this pasta dish with other shapes of pasta. Macaroni is the name for elbow noodles, but you can use other tubular noodles like cavatappi, penne or ziti. Shells or rotini are also perfect.

    You can use other herby seasonings like Italian seasoning instead of the Creole if you like.

    Add a few shakes of hot sauce for a kick.

    If you need a dairy-free version, check out my friend Melissa’s dairy-free mac & cheese, then mix in the broccoli and rotisserie chicken.

    This recipe stands up on its own, so feel free to make it without the broccoli and chicken if you want! Or replace the chicken with crispy bacon.

    How to make Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese

    First, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Prepare all your ingredients for mise en place, because this recipe moves kinda fast. At the very least, make sure you crack your egg into a bowl (that you can whisk it in) ahead of time.

    Get out a large pasta pot and cook the pasta and frozen broccoli until the pasta is tender and the broccoli is cooked through. Drain and set aside. (Toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to keep it from sticking.)

    Pro tip!

    I recommend cooking it to al dente so that when the mac ‘n cheese bakes in the oven, it doesn’t get too soft. Set a timer when you drop the pasta in the boiling water so you don’t forget!

    Most elbow macaroni will cook in about 8-10 minutes, but al dente would be the shorter end of that window. For other shapes of pasta, check out this pasta guide and err on less time to get al dente texture.

    Then warm the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.

    When the oil is hot, add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until the mixture has darkened slightly into a blonde roux.


    Pour the milk into the roux, stirring vigorously as it thickens.

    Then stir in the mustard until combined.


    Temper the egg by taking a few tablespoons of the sauce and whisking them into the egg so the egg doesn’t scramble when it hits the heated sauce on the stove.

    You’ll know the egg is tempered when it’s smooth and completely mixed with the sauce without any lumps.

    Once the egg is tempered, pour the egg mixture into the sauce and stir until combined.

    Lower the heat, then season the sauce with salt, Creole seasoning and pepper.


    Remove from the heat, then stir in the shredded cheese.

    Stir constantly until the cheese has melted into the sauce. This might take a few moments, and that’s OK!


    All at once, add the pasta, broccoli and shredded chicken to the sauce mixture.

    Use a large spoon to stir until the ingredients have all melded together.

    Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the greased baking dish. Top with more cheese if you like, or bread crumbs if you like it that way.

    Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned on top, then let cool slightly and serve!

    How to store

    You can enjoy this broccoli mac and cheese as leftovers.

    Simply cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight, food-safe container. Store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

    Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips

    We love this mac ‘n cheese for entertaining because, well, it’s easy and SCRUMPTIOUS for sharing!

    Here are some ideas:

    • Serve this mac and cheese as a weeknight meal or for a dinner party. It works as a side or an entrée.
    • Try another shape of pasta for a new texture. This always gets people talking (especially the kiddos) and it’s fun to learn about new shapes of pasta together.
    • If you’re making it ahead of time for a party, you can keep it warm in a warming drawer if your oven has one or in the oven at 250°F.
    Close up of a baking pan of Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What cheeses go well together for mac and cheese?

    You can use one type of cheese, such as the classic yellow or white sharp cheddar cheese, or you can use a combination of cheeses. Monterey jack, colby, cheddar, gruyere, parmesan and gouda are also delicious for an upgraded mac and cheese.

    This recipe calls for sharp cheddar cheese only.

    What can I add to mac and cheese to make it better?

    Stirring in veggies and protein is a great way to level up regular mac and cheese. Frozen broccoli and shredded rotisserie chicken are a great combination. You can also try frozen peas, crispy bacon or ground beef.

    Three blue bowls holding servings of Broccoli Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

    Quick tips and tricks to making the best mac ‘n cheese

    • Use whole milk to make a super creamy, thick roux. Using 2%, 1% or skim milk will result in a much less thick sauce, which isn’t nice!
    • Grate your own cheese at home for the best flavor. Store-bought shredded cheeses have preservatives in them and don’t melt as beautifully as a grated block of cheese.
    • Temper the egg when you add it to the cheese sauce. This keeps the egg from cooking when you add it to the hot mixture. The egg makes the sauce nice and silky and smooth, so you don’t want to skip this step or you’ll end up with egg chunks in your sauce.

    More Mac ‘n Cheese recipes

    A bowl of Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese with a fork in it
    Yield: 8 servings

    Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese

    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour

    This Chicken Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese offers a leaner twist on the classic comfort food. Studded with baked chicken and broccoli, it transforms the traditional side dish into a main dish everyone will love.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb. shredded rotisserie chicken (or your favorite part of chicken, baked and shredded)
    • 16 oz. elbow macaroni (or your favorite pasta)
    • 16 oz. frozen broccoli florets

    Cheddar Cheese Sauce

    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 ½ cups whole milk
    • 1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon salt-free Creole Seasoning
    • 16 oz. extra sharp white cheddar, shredded

    Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. In a large pasta pot, boil the elbow macaroni and frozen broccoli together until the pasta is tender and the broccoli is cooked through. Drain and set aside. (I like to leave mine very al dente so that when the mac 'n cheese bakes in the oven, it doesn't get too soft. Set a timer when you drop the pasta in the boiling water so you don't forget!)
    3. Warm the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the flour, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the mixture has darkened slightly into a blonde roux.
    4. Pour the milk into the roux, stirring vigorously as it thickens, then add the mustard. Stir until the components are combined.
    5. Temper the egg by taking a few tablespoons of the sauce and whisking them into the egg so the egg doesn't scramble when it hits the heated sauce on the stove. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce once tempered, and stir until combined.
    6. Lower the heat, and season the sauce with salt, the Creole seasoning and pepper.
    7. Add the shredded cheese to the sauce, and remove from the heat. Stir constantly until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
    8. Add the pasta, broccoli and shredded chicken to the sauce mixture. Use a large spoon to stir until the ingredients have all melded together.
    9. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the greased baking dish, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly and slightly browned on top.
    10. Enjoy warm!

    Notes

    This recipe can easily be frozen. When the ingredients are all together, transfer to a freezer-safe dish and freeze for up to 3 months. When it's time to eat, bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes (or longer, depending on your oven) and until the mixture is bubbly.

    If you want to make this extra decadent, top the baking dish off with additional shredded cheese to brown as the mac 'n cheese bakes.

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    8

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 592Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1405mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 36g

    Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    2 Comments

    1. This is totally comfort food to me, and I’d take it any day of the week! I’m intrigued by the addition of the egg to the cheese sauce–I bet it makes it extra rich and yummy!

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