Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese Recipe

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Pasta: 1 pound dry elbow macaroni (or a similar shape)
Veggies: 1 large head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
Protein: 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken works great!)

Sauce Base

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk (whole milk is best for creaminess, but you can use lower-fat options)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

Cheese

  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Optional Topping

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Instructions

1. Cook the pasta and broccoli

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, aiming for al dente.
  • In the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets to the pot with the pasta.
  • Drain the pasta and broccoli well and set aside.

2. Make the cheese sauce

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth and has no lumps.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring often.
  • Season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder (if using).
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 2 ½ cups of the cheddar cheese and all of the Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth.

3. Assemble the mac and cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Gently stir the cooked pasta, broccoli, and shredded chicken into the cheese sauce.

4. Bake

  • Pour the mac and cheese mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese evenly over the top.
  • Optional Topping: Combine panko breadcrumbs and melted butter, then sprinkle on top of the cheese.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.

5. Let it rest and serve

  • Let the mac and cheese sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. This helps it firm up a bit.
  • Enjoy!

Tips

Cheese matters: Use a good sharp cheddar for the best flavor.

Customization: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a kick, cooked bacon, or try different pasta shapes.

Make-ahead: Assemble the mac and cheese up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking, and you might need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

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