Chicken Broccoli Alfredo recipe elevates your favorite everyday ingredients into a comforting, family-friendly, 30-minute dinner that everyone will swoon over!
Watch: How to make Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
Chicken Broccoli Pasta Ingredients
The star of this Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli is the homemade Alfredo Sauce; store-bought versions don’t even compare. While most Alfredo sauces are made with only 3 ingredients, which means they are lacking in both flavor and texture, this recipe includes extra seasonings, cream cheese and chicken broth to make it ultra-creamy without feeling as heavy – AKA more delicious. Here’s the breakdown of what you’ll need (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
The Chicken, Broccoli and Pasta
THE Alfredo Sauce
How to Make Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
You’ll be amazed at how quickly this Broccoli Chicken Alfredo comes together! The basic steps for this recipe include searing cubed chicken until golden, cooking the pasta al dente, and preparing a simple whisk-together and simmer Alfredo sauce. I’ve given detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s an overview of the recipe:
Step 1: Make the Pasta & Broccoli
- Cook the broccoli florets in a large pot of salted water for 2 minutes. Remove with a sieve/slotted spoon and place the broccoli in an ice bath or run cold water overtop to stop it from cooking.
- Add the pasta to the same boiling pot of water and cook al dente according to package directions.
Step 2: Cook the Chicken
- Cube the chicken, then while it’s still on the cutting board, season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan or braiser (this is the exact one I use) over medium-high heat; cook the chicken until golden and cooked through.
Step 3: Make the Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- Melt the butter in the chicken drippings, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Whisk in the broth/cornstarch mixture, heavy cream, cream cheese, and all of the seasonings. Reduce the heat and cook until melted and smooth.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese a handful at a time, whisking until smooth in between each addition.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and continue to cook until it starts to thicken and the Parmesan is completely melted.
Step 4: Combine and Serve
- Add the chicken and broccoli to the Alfredo sauce, followed by the penne and stir to combine.
- Taste and season with additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo FAQS
This Broccoli Chicken Alfredo is pretty straightforward, but below you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions to satisfy your curiosity and guarantee success:
Yes! You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and treat them just like you would the breasts
If you’re trying to save some calories, you can substitute the heavy cream with 2 cups evaporated milk or half and half whisked with 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
No, this recipe does not freeze well because the creamy sauce can break and become a funny texture. If you want to try freezing, use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and omit the Parmesan.
Heavy cream is a quintessential ingredient to the best homemade Alfredo sauce. But if you would like to cut some calories so you can enjoy Alfredo more often, I get it! To use all milk instead of part heavy cream, make a roux by cooking 1/4 cup all-purpose flour in some butter for 2 minutes before whisking in 2 cups milk and the rest of the ingredients. Keep in mind, that fat = flavor, so all milk won’t create quite as a flavorful, decadent, or creamy, melt in your mouth consistency.
Swap the 2 cups heavy cream with 2 cups half and half whisked with 1 tablespoon cornstarch into the half and half before adding to the saucepan.
You can absolutely make this recipe without cream cheese; you’ll just want to simmer the sauce a little longer to thicken it up more.
You can control the thickness of your Alfredo sauce by how long you simmer the sauce. The less time you simmer the sauce, the thinner it will be. The longer you simmer the sauce, the thicker it will be. If you would still like it thicker after simmering, then make a slurry by whisking 2 tablespoon milk with ½ tablespoon cornstarch, then slowly whisking the slurry into the sauce then simmering until thickened to your desired consistency. If your sauce still isn’t as thick as you’d like, then repeat the slurry.
If at any time the Alfredo sauce gets too thick, just add a little splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
Yes! If you would like to use fresh instead of dried herbs, use three times the amount and toss them in at the very end so they don’t lose potency.
A common problem with Alfredo Sauce is it separating, but it is easy to fix! Here’s how:
Whisk, don’t stir. Instead of stirring the sauce with a spoon/spatula, whisk it together. Whisking helps emulsify the butter and cream.
Don’t overheat the sauce. A gentle simmer over medium-low or low is just fine, but you don’t want to bring the sauce to a boil or the high heat can break the emulsion and the sauce will separate and/or become grainy.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli
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- 1 pound chicken breasts, chopped into large bite size pieces
- 1/2 tsp EACH paprika, salt, pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound penne
- 5 cups broccoli florets (uncooked)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (1 ½ TBS) (may sub 1 tsp ground)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream (or half and half or evaporated milk + 1 TBS cornstarch)
- 2 ounces cream cheese, very soft
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon or better than bouillon
- 1 tsp EACH dried basil, dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper
- 1 1/2 cups FRESHLY grated Parmesan cheese (like powder)
Pasta and Broccoli
- Bring the same pot of water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, then drain. Toss pasta with a drizzle of olive oil if not adding to the Alfredo sauce immediately.
- While the cubed chicken is still on the cutting board, pat it dry and season with ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; toss to coat.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan or braiser (this is the exact one I use) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Add the grated Parmesan cheese a handful at time in batches, whisking until smooth in between each addition. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes or until it starts to thicken and the Parmesan is completely melted. Keep in mind the sauce will continue to thicken once you add the starchy pasta and it's removed from heat.
- Stir in the chicken and broccoli, followed by the pasta (if you're not serving immediately, wait to add the pasta). If at any time the Alfredo sauce gets too thick, just add a little splash of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Taste and season with additional freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste (we like both).
- Parmesan: Use real Parmigiano-Reggiano right off of the block and not any powdered or pre-shredded cheeses. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated with anti-clumping chemicals which prevent them from melting completely, leaving your sauce grainy no matter how long you cook it.
- Chicken bouillon: Use granulated chicken bouillon, bouillon cubes, or better than bouillon. Add the bouillon to the sauce dry, do not dissolve it into water first. If using a cube, crush before adding to the sauce.
- Alfredo lumps: If you think your Alfredo has lumps but it’s been simmering for 5 minutes, it’s probably just the fresh garlic!
- Recipe variations: See post for all sorts of ideas to mix up this recipe.
To Store and Make Ahead
- Storage: Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 five days.
- To reheat the pasta: Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or over medium-low heat on the stove, stirring frequently. You may want to add a splash of milk if the pasta seems dry.
- Make ahead: You can make all of the elements ahead of time and refrigerate separately, or combine the Alfredo sauce, chicken and broccoli (not the pasta) and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready, gently rewarm in a skillet, stir in the penne, then a splash of milk if needed to thin.
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