Chicken and Broccoli Shells and Cheese

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal!

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal! Get the recipe at LoveGrowsWild.com

We’re serving up some good, ‘ol mac and cheese today! Only this version feels a little more grown up than the Spongebob-shaped stuff my kids try to sneak in the shopping cart.  I’ve rounded out the dish with a helping of tender chicken and fresh broccoli to make it a full-blown meal vs. just a side item, and I promise you… there won’t be any leftovers!

Start by boiling your pasta… I like to use classic shells for mine, but go crazy with whatever shape you like! During the last few minutes of cooking time, toss the chopped broccoli into the boiling water.

While the pasta and veg are doing their thing, whip up a quick and easy cheese sauce. Good grief, is there anything more beautiful than a bright yellow, super melty, cheddar cheesy sauce? Mmm Mmmmm. This may look like the processed cheese-in-a-box stuff you get from the store, but it’s not! This cheesy goodness is homemade and about 1000x tastier too. Butter, flour, milk, chicken broth, cheddar cheese, and a little bit of seasoning turns into liquid gold right before your eyes.

Once the pasta is done cooking and drained and the cheese sauce is finished, it’s time to mix everything together. Wait… where does the chicken come into play??  I don’t know about you, but on busy nights when I can barely get a meal on the table before it’s time to fly out the door to baseball games or football practice, I don’t have time to mess around with raw chicken. Maybe I’m a total weirdo, but it just seems like dirtying a cutting board with raw meat and cooking it is just too much effort every single night. #lazy

A few months ago, I shared my recipe for making perfect shredded chicken in the slow cooker, and I like to make big batches of it to keep in the freezer for meals just like this. I pull a bag of the pre-cooked chicken out of the freezer the night before to thaw and toss it into the cheese sauce to let it warm through. It saves a ton of time and effort, which is something I’m sure all of you can appreciate!

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal! Get the recipe at LoveGrowsWild.com

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal! Get the recipe at LoveGrowsWild.com

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal! Get the recipe at LoveGrowsWild.com

Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal! Get the recipe at LoveGrowsWild.com

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Chicken and Broccoli Shells and Cheese
 
Perfectly creamy homemade shells and cheese made with chicken and broccoli. Everyone loves this easy weeknight meal!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces medium shell pasta
  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (see recipe here)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli during last 2-3 minutes of cook time. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cooking, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and chicken broth and season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.
  3. Add the drained pasta, broccoli, and chicken and stir to combine. If sauce becomes too thick, add milk as needed to thin.

 

– adapted from Diethood and Cooking Classy


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Comments

  1. I’m totally making this for dinner tonight.

  2. This looks oh so yummy! How many servings is this recipe above?

  3. That sauce looks seriously incredible.. so creamy and I bet delicious. You definitely have got me craving a good bowlful of this pasta right now.

  4. Looks perfect for a light lunch!

  5. Looks so delicious. I`ll try it this weekend. My husband’s parents will come to visit, and I think this recipe will save me. Thank you for sharing it !

  6. Made this tonight for supper and it was loved by all. Caught my 61 year old husband scraping his plate!!

    This is definitely going on my ‘go to’ list. Thank you, Liz.

  7. How about frying the chicken on pan – without using any oil or grease (do i need?)? Id love to prepare this dish, but i dont own a “slow cooker” .. Can i fry the chicken on pan ?

  8. What a lovely recipe! Can you substitute cheddar with some other type of melting cheese?

  9. ethel brown says:

    I found this recipe to be bland and makes a small amount. I did not add chicken. Serves four adults. I added freshly grated parmesan cheese.

  10. Holy cow this was the cheesiest and most heavenly meal I’ve made in a while! Thanks for the recipe! I added some left over cooked bacon, and it was an awesome bonus! Loved!!!

  11. Wow! This chicken pasta meal looks amazing!! Your pictures are absolutely mouthwatering – I need to make this soon!!
    I have a similar recipe (my pictures aren’t anywhere near as delicious looking as yours) and I have added a few extra veggies.
    http://doubletherecipe.com/2016/03/30/creamy-chicken-broccoli-pasta/

    Thanks for sharing a great recipe!

  12. This was so incredibly easy and delicious. We got four servings out of it, but one of those is a growing teenage boy so he probably had half of it (and loved it).

  13. Loved it! Going to try this with Daiya cheese too.

  14. Made this last night for the first time. My husband and toddler LOVED it! (I even snuck in a little chicken into my picky toddler’s plate!) I wish I had brought leftovers for my lunch.

  15. My 5 year old approves! That means it is a good diner!!

  16. I made this for a family of 5 for dinner and it was a hit. Really easy to make and tastes amazing. Thank – you absolutely delicious.

  17. I taste and go when I cook and after adding one-half of the cheese I thought it was too cheesy, so I saved the other half. I added a bit of white wine. I’m taking this to a friends so I will find out how they like this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  18. I made this for supper tonight !! It was fantastic !

  19. The recipe doesn’t say when to cook the chicken.

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