Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

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DELICIOUS SKINNY CHICKEN ALFREDO- A delicious and rich chicken broccoli Alfredo with bacon that is secretly lightened-up. Half the calories, all the great flavors! Recipe from chelseasmessyapron.com

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is a rich and filling dinner with tender pasta, crisp bacon, succulent chicken, and crisp-tender broccoli. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love with a fraction of the calories!

Pair this Chicken Broccoli Alfredo with a simple side salad like this Olive Garden salad or this easy corn salad.

Overhead image of the chicken broccoli Alfredo with tongs scooping some up

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Most of the dinners I make for my family are nutritious, fairly healthy, and loaded with lots of veggies. That said, we occasionally have meals that are about the furthest thing from healthy, and there a lot of dishes somewhere in between. I’m a huge believer in balance.

I’m also a believer that every now and again, you need a creamy pasta dish with heavy cream, cream cheese, and all the Parmesan cheese. But for those other times when you’re hoping for the same great flavors, but something a little lighter, well, that’s where this recipe comes in. 

This Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is just as good as a heavy cream and cheese-laden pasta dish, but with a fraction of the calories. You’ll enjoy every bite, but also feel great afterwards, instead of that “too-full, heavy” feeling after a typical Alfredo dish.

Process shots: Heat olive oil, butter and garlic; saute; add flour; cook several minutes; stir in chicken broth; whisk to thicken; gradually whisk in milk; stir until thickened and smooth.

There is chicken, broccoli, and even bacon in this Alfredo. Everything is prepared to have maximum flavor without all the extra fat.

But the real wizardry here is the sauce, because it is less than half the calories of a full-fat Alfredo sauce and to be totally honest with you, we like it even better. So, let’s talk about the sauce ingredients.

Lightened Alfredo sauce

  • Olive oil and butter: just a little of each gets the sauce started.
  • Minced garlic: Freshly minced garlic contributes maximum flavor in this dish.
  • Flour: Flour binds with the oil and butter to make a roux; this will thicken up our sauce nicely.
  • Chicken broth: Instead of using all heavy cream, we replace it with milk and chicken broth; this cuts so many calories and infuses the sauce with a nice chicken flavor.
  • 1% milk: This is the lowest-fat milk I found to work in this sauce; 2% or whole will work (but increases the calorie count). I don’t recommend milk alternatives (almond, soy, oat, etc.).
  • Seasonings: Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg give depth to the sauce. Feel free to increase any of these seasonings to personal preference, making sure to add the salt slowly so you don’t end up with an overly salted dish.
  • Neufchâtel cheese: This is also sometimes labeled “1/3 less fat cream cheese.” Cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese are extremely similar.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese: The Parmesan will make a big difference to overall flavor. Avoid canned Parmesans and go for the blocks of Parmesan. We love Parmigiano Reggiano cheese best in this Alfredo. If you’re a cheese lover, I highly recommend this cheese. (While a bit spendy, a little goes a long way and it lasts a good amount of time, plus it is so good!)

Process shots: boil pasta and add broccoli at the end; drain; cook bacon; chop; add cream cheese, seasonings and Parmesan cheese to sauce; mix until smooth; add pasta, broccoli bacon and chicken to the sauce; mix and enjoy.

Let’s talk chicken

There are three ways to prepare the chicken for this Chicken Broccoli Alfredo:

  • Grilled: We prepare this grilled chicken frequently, so we always have leftovers of I can throw into something else (like this dish). If you’re planning on grilling, add a few extra breasts or thighs to the grill to use in this dish later on in the week.
  • Rotisserie chicken: Again, since this recipe only needs 1 and 1/2 cups, you can use a rotisserie chicken for a different recipe (I’d recommend these chicken tinga tacos) and use the leftovers in Chicken Broccoli Alfredo. For an even quicker prep time, you can purchase rotisserie chicken already pulled from the bones.
  • Pan-seared: This route will take a little extra time, but adds additional flavor to the dish. Here’s the process:
    • Pat dry 1-2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound total) with paper towel. Cut chicken into small, 1-inch sized pieces.
    • Sprinkle pieces generously with salt, pepper, and a chicken seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash’s® or this seasoning blend)
    • Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large non-stick skillet and brown the chicken pieces until cooked through (6-10 minutes; chicken juices should run clear or read 165 degrees F on a thermometer). 
    • Once cooked, transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
    • No need to wipe out the skillet, there will be bits of flavor left by the chicken! Proceed with preparing the sauce in the same skillet.

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo tips

To save dishes, time, (and calories) in Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, the broccoli is cooked with the pasta. About 2 minutes before the pasta will be done, add the broccoli to the pot. Drain both together and done! 

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to season the water with plenty of salt before adding in the pasta and broccoli; otherwise the entire dish will taste under-seasoned. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt per 4 cups of water.

And last up, the bacon. We’re saving tons of calories by using turkey bacon. Of course, regular bacon can be used too if you don’t mind the extra calories or prefer regular bacon 🙂 

If you’re in a rush or don’t want the mess of cooking bacon in a skillet, you could bake bacon in the oven or use already-cooked bacon. If preferred, the bacon can be left out entirely from Chicken Broccoli Alfredo.

More tips

  • Season as you go. If this dish tastes flat, it’s likely fixed with a sprinkle of salt or some extra chicken bouillon powder. Make sure to season as you cook — season the pasta water, season the chicken, and season the Alfredo sauce.
  • Optional additions. If the sauce tastes too heavy, cut through it with some fresh herbs (we prefer flat leaf Italian parsley) or a drizzle of fresh lemon juice. For some heat, I recommend adding in some red pepper flakes. For additional flavor, I recommend a sprinkle of a this garlic herb seasoning blend.
  • Loosen the sauce. If the sauce ends up too thick at the end, pour in some additional liquid  (~1/2 cup milk or reserved pasta water) to thin it out a bit and get it to nicely coat the noodles.

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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

5 from 1 vote
This Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is a rich and filling dinner with tender pasta, crisp bacon, succulent chicken, and crisp-tender broccoli. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love, but with a fraction of the calories.
Print Recipe

Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

5 from 1 vote
This Chicken Broccoli Alfredo is a rich and filling dinner with tender pasta, crisp bacon, succulent chicken, and crisp-tender broccoli. We swap a few ingredients to bring you all the Alfredo flavors you know and love, but with a fraction of the calories.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 570kcal
Cost $5.12

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (175g) cooked chicken (See Note 1)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon (2 cloves) minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup (30g) white flour
  • 1 cup (235g) chicken broth or stock
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340g) 1% milk (2% or whole will work, not skim)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH: chicken bouillon, fine sea salt, freshly cracked pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg, optional
  • 2 ounces (45g) 1/3 reduced-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (55g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese separated
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (150g) uncooked broccoli
  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 6-8 slices Turkey (or regular) bacon
  • Optional: 1 lemon, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes (for a kick)

Instructions

  • CHICKEN: Prepare the chicken. (See Note 1) Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  • PASTA AND BROCCOLI: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Once water is boiling, generously salt the water (I add 1 teaspoon salt to every 4 cups of water). Add in the linguine and cook according to package directions for al dente. Two minutes before the pasta will be done, add in the broccoli. Drain both together.
  • BACON: While pasta is boiling, add the bacon to a large dry skillet or griddle. Cook and turn strips every 2 to 3 minutes (adjusting heat as necessary) until bacon is browned and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let slightly cool and then chop coarsely.
  • ALFREDO SAUCE: Using the skillet from cooking the chicken (if chicken was pan-seared), heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high; then add in the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the flour and briskly whisk until a thick paste forms. Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat. Slowly and gradually pour in the chicken broth while vigorously whisking. Whisk until completely smooth.
  • SAUCE CONT.: Again, very slowly add in milk, whisking constantly. Whisk until mixture is slightly thickened. Add seasonings: the Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper (adjust salt to personal preference; chicken will be salted, chicken broth is salted, and pasta water is salted). If desired, add in a tiny pinch of nutmeg. Stir in the softened cream cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir until cream cheese is smooth and Parmesan is melted. Taste and adjust sauce to taste preference adding in any additional seasonings if desired. If the sauce tastes too heavy, add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • FINISHING: Add the chicken, pasta, bacon, and broccoli to the Alfredo sauce. With tongs, toss until combined. If desired, add fresh parsley and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Enjoy immediately.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: There are three ways to prepare the chicken for Chicken Broccoli Alfredo:
  • Grilled: We prepare grilled chicken frequently, so we always have leftovers of I can add to something else (like this dish). If you're planning on grilling, add a few extra breasts or thighs to the grill to use in this dish later on in the week.
  • Rotisserie chicken: Again, since this recipe only needs 1 and 1/2 cups, you can use a rotisserie chicken for a different recipe (I'd recommend these chicken tinga tacos) and use the leftovers for this chicken broccoli Alfredo. For an even quicker prep time you can purchase rotisserie chicken already pulled from the bones.
  • Pan-seared: This route will take a little extra time, but adds additional flavor to the dish. Here's the process:
    • Pat dry 1-2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound total) with paper towel. Cut chicken into small, 1-inch sized pieces.
    • Sprinkle pieces generously with salt, pepper, and a chicken seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash's® or this seasoning blend)
    • Add 1 tablespoon oil to a large non-stick skillet and brown the chicken pieces until cooked through (6-10 minutes; chicken juices should run clear or read 165 degrees F on a thermometer). 
    • Once cooked, transfer chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
    • No need to wipe out the skillet; there will be bits of flavor left by the chicken! Proceed with preparing the sauce in the same skillet.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 570kcal | Carbohydrates: 58.8g | Protein: 32.1g | Fat: 22.9g | Cholesterol: 83.1mg | Sodium: 769.8mg | Fiber: 3.5g | Sugar: 8.2g

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9 Comments

  1. I love Alfredo and with this lightened up version it could definitely make dinner appearances more often! I love the use of bacon as well, so good! Your pasta photos are so pretty, I still haven’t gotten the hang of photographing noodles! 🙂

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why not! 🙂 I’ve done wheat flour in other dishes and they’ve done well!

  2. 5 stars
    We made this dish for dinner tonight and it was delicious and easy! One of our new favorites, thanks for sharing.

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