Chicken Broccoli Stuffed Shells are filled with shredded chicken, broccoli, cheese and topped with my homemade Cheddar Cheese Sauce to make this recipe a win for any night of the week! Another chicken and broccoli favorite around here is my Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon and Broccoli.
Chicken Broccoli Stuffed Shells
I have to say that I do like broccoli. As a kid, however, it was sometimes tough to get it down. But, with a little (or a lot of) cheese, the broccoli seemed much more edible. In this recipe, you get the protein from the chicken, a dose of vegetables from the broccoli and lots of cheese! It’s a well-rounded meal in one dish!
Chicken Broccoli Stuffed Shells Ingredients
Pasta: 1 box (12 ounces) of jumbo shells work the best for this recipe.
Cheese Sauce: I doubled my homemade cheddar cheese sauce for this recipe. It is the perfect sauce for that classic broccoli cheddar flavor!
Chicken: You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken for this recipe. Or, if you are feeling ambitious you could even make your own rotisserie chicken!
How to Blanch Broccoli
Blanching is a method to cook vegetables so they end up being crisp and bright in color. All it takes to blanch broccoli is a pot of salted boiling water and a bowl of ice water nearby. When the water gets to a boil, put in the broccoli florets and let them cook for 2-3 minutes. They should be bright green after a couple of minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli into the ice water immediately. This ‘shocking’ will stop the broccoli from cooking any longer. When the broccoli has cooled completely, drain it from the ice water and pat it down with a paper towel.
Alternatives to Ricotta Cheese
Sometimes I hear that people just do not like Ricotta Cheese. It seems like it doesn’t taste like a traditional “cheese”. I tend to like it in small doses myself. If you are one of these people, don’t fret…I have you covered. Although this recipe only uses a cup of ricotta cheese, there are some substitutes you could use.
Adjust the Ratios: You can reduce the amount of ricotta by half and increase the mozzarella by the same amount. That way you will still get the necessary moisture that makes this dish amazing, but it won’t have the overwhelming flavor and texture of ricotta.
Substitutions: There are several options when it comes to Ricotta substitutions. They will all alter the flavor of the dish slightly but they will probably be better if you are against the aforementioned cheese in the first place.
- Cottage Cheese – It has a mild taste, similar to ricotta but it is less creamy. Cottage cheese is also low in fat and calories, so it is a healthier option too.
- Goat Cheese – Fresh goat cheese (not aged goat cheese) is rich and creamy, with a mild but slightly tart flavor.
- Queso Fresco – This fresh Mexican cheese has a mild, salty, and milky flavor. The main difference is that queso fresco is drier than Ricotta, but it can be grated or crumbled in lieu of Ricotta cheese.
- Cream Cheese – Both have a soft, creamy texture but cream cheese is higher in fat than Ricotta cheese.
Can I Make These Stuffed Shells Ahead of Time?
Yes! The shells can be made ahead and frozen. To do that, add the chicken mixture to the cooked shells and place on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Set in the freezer. Once fully frozen, the stuffed shells can be placed in a ziptop bag and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to cook them, take the shells out of the freezer and bring to room temperature. Follow the rest of the steps as instructed. You may need to adjust cooking time to ensure the shells are completely cooked through.
Chicken Broccoli Stuffed Shells
- 12 ounces (340 g) jumbo pasta shells, cooked al dente according to package instructions
- 3 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 2 cups broccoli, blanched
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups whole milk, room temperature, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⅓ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken, broccoli, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together ½ cup of milk and the flour.
- Pour in the remaining milk and salt, bringing it to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will start to thicken.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and pepper until the cheese melts.
- Stuff each jumbo shell with the chicken and broccoli mixture and place them in the prepared baking dish.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the stuffed shells and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly.
Did you make this recipe?
You can tag me at @iamhomesteader.