Alfredo Mac And Cheese
Take a break from traditional fettuccine Alfredo and make this easy Alfredo Mac and Cheese with chicken and broccoli for dinner. Ready in 45 minutes with a homemade Alfredo sauce.
Being able to cook is both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because I can eat good food whenever I want for much less than eating out.
It’s a curse because when I do eat out, I expect the food to be better than I can cook myself.
Sure, if a restaurant is serving homemade pasta, I can get on board because I cook pasta from a box.
However, most restaurants don’t do this, so I often find the menu selection boring.
And although the restaurant dishes are good, if I’m going to spend money, it needs to be better than what I can make and/or a dish I rarely make myself.
It’s why I buy doughnuts and BBQ ribs because those are two items I usually don’t have time for unless it’s the weekend.
One summer my brother ordered chicken Alfredo from an amusement park cafeteria. I get we weren’t at a nice restaurant, but they should still be able to cook decent food, right?
He didn’t finish his plate, so I ate his leftovers. Except I didn’t because it was terrible.
Canned chicken plus watered-down Alfredo sauce is not worth my calories for the sake of not throwing food away.
That incident left me craving real Alfredo, so I went home and a few days later made Alfredo Mac and Cheese for dinner.
Normally it’d be with fettuccine but I also wanted macaroni and cheese, so I tossed my homemade Alfredo sauce with cavatappi, added broccoli because it’s one of my favorite vegetables, and chicken for protein.
You can also substitute shrimp or leave the meat out altogether; use peas instead of broccoli; or use another type of pasta.
After all, when you cook at home and not stuck with subpar cafeteria food, it’s Alfredo mac and cheese done your way.
Ingredients For Alfredo Mac and Cheese
My chicken broccoli alfredo pasta is made of these simple ingredients:
- Pasta: I used cavatappi but you can also use elbow or shells
- Broccoli: Use fresh or frozen
- Vegetable oil: Used to brown the chicken
- Chicken: Use boneless skinless chicken breast if you like light meat or chicken thighs if you like dark meat
- Onion: Aromatic to make your mac and cheese taste delicious.
- Butter: The fat base for your Alfredo sauce
- Garlic: It’s not Italian food without garlic!
- Heavy whipping cream: Used to make the Alfredo sauce. No flour needed as the sauce thickens as the cream reduces.
- Parmesan cheese: Use freshly grated Parmesan, not the stuff from the green can
- Lemon juice: Cuts through the richness of the sauce
Got a little extra time to cook dinner? My Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Shells with Alfredo sauce is also a big hit for dinner!
Can you substitute heavy cream in Alfredo sauce?
Most people freak out and try to make mac and cheese Alfredo healthier, but substituting whole milk for the cream isn’t the same.
Doable but it’d be thinner, which means you’ll likely have to add flour or cornstarch.
You want that extra fat in heavy cream because it’ll help thicken the sauce as it reduces down.
Which pasta to use for broccoli alfredo pasta?
I made cavatappi Alfredo because I really love eating fun-shaped pasta. Except as I was reading the box to spell the name, I realized the brand called it cellentani.
Then I remembered as I was buying said pasta in the store, one brand even called it scoobi doo (what?). Whatever the name, look for the long corkscrew macaroni.
You can also use regular elbow macaroni, shells, or even penne. Or you can resort to traditional fettuccine but mac and cheese with Alfredo is more fun to eat.
How To Make Mac and Cheese with Alfredo Sauce
To make your pasta Alfredo with chicken, first bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a big handful of salt then add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
During the last few minutes of cooking, add the broccoli to the boiling water. That way you don’t have to cook the broccoli in a separate pan.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and onion then cook for 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
Transfer the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.
In the same skillet (no need to clean), melt the butter, scraping up any brown bits left behind from the chicken. Add the garlic.
Slowly whisk in the cream then the cheese. Bring to a boil then cook until thickened, stirring often.
Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning. If it’s not salty enough, add more cheese.
Toss together the pasta, chicken, and sauce then garnish with black pepper.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
Enjoyed this broccoli Alfredo pasta? Here are more pasta recipes to make for dinner:
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) uncooked cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
- 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen broccoli
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast or 2 chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces and lightly salted
- 1/4 cup chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not substitute)
- 1 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not from a green can)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Black pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a big handful of salt then add the pasta. Cook as directed on the package until al dente, about 9-11 minutes. During the last 3-5 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli to the boiling water. Drain into a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken and onion and cook for 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.
- In the same skillet (no need to clean), melt the butter, scraping up any brown bits left behind from the chicken. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the cream then the cheese. Bring to a boil. Cook until it starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.
I like to pull it before it's done because it'll thicken as it cools. If your sauce gets too thick, stir in more cream.
- Remove from the heat then stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning. If it's not salty enough, add more cheese.
- Toss together the pasta, chicken, and sauce then serve with black pepper.