Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce is baked in the oven for the perfect healthier mac and cheese. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down
This Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese is a lightened up version of classic mac and cheese! It still tastes creamy and indulgent but has less than 400 calories per serving.
Macaroni and cheese makes everything better in my opinion. How could it not? Made with two of my (and nearly everyone's) favorite things: carbs and cheese. While generally I have been trying to move into a space where I don't turn to food for comfort, I still find that I use macaroni and cheese that way. It's a hard, hard habit to break.
Plus, as I always say, one step at a time, right? It just so happens though that this lightened-up version makes it the indulgence almost guilt-free (as long as I can stick to one serving).
This dish was created, in part, to learn how to lighten up comfort foods so that no one has to give them up. I like to tinker with various recipes in the kitchen to make things healthier while not sacrificing flavor.
Sometimes, it doesn't always work out, I'll be honest. But when it does, lucky for me, I get to share it with my readers. I hope you'll love this dish as much as I do. And if you have any suggestions as to how to make it even healthier, be sure to let me know in the comments section.
Main Dishes to Serve with Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
This dish is filling enough to be a main course, but it also works great as a side dish. Because let's be honest, it's really really easy to overeat when it comes to mac and cheese.
Don't worry though, it pairs nicely with a lot of other dishes that are just as comforting and delicious — you won't be sad that you can't eat the entire dish of mac n cheese.
- Grilled Salmon with Honey and Lime is my top choice for a main dish that I like to eat with macaroni and cheese. Hearty, flaky, moist, and not a fishy taste to be had, salmon is one of my favorite dishes, hands-down.
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken is another delicious dish that pairs well with just about any carb — plus, there's more cheese!
- Pepperoncini Beef in the slow cooker is just asking to be served alongside mac n cheese. I have been known to sit down with two bowls — one full of beef, and one full of macaroni and cheese and chow down. Don't worry — it's a medium-size bowl.
- Salads pair great with this pasta dish as well. Any simple side salad will do.
- Pork chops complement the carbs as well too, and are easy to bake alongside the pasta.
- Remember succotash? Whip together some frozen lima beans and corn with a little salt and pepper and for some reason this dish just goes so good with macaroni and cheese. It's like eating your childhood all over again.
- Shrimp skewers are another easy-to-make-and-eat protein that goes great with this dish. You can grab and go, too, when your protein is on a skewer.
Ideas for Customizing Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
If you don't like broccoli in your mac that's one thing. If you don't like macaroni and cheese, well, I don't even know what to say to you. I kid (not really…) but there are a lot of ways you can mix this dish up.
- Swap broccoli for another cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower, broccoli rabe, or Brussels sprouts (you might want to pan sear these first before adding as they will need a little more time to cook than broccoli or cauliflower).
- If you don't have high-fiber pasta, then any pasta will do just fine.
- Consider using a pasta alternative like the kind you'd find in the health food section of your grocery store. There is lentil pasta, quinoa pasta, rice pasta — all sorts of pastas made out of different grains for variety and health.
- Skip the veggies all together if you are not a fan of mixing them into your pasta dishes.
- You can't really skip on the butter here as you need it for the roux, but you can add less cheese or try a combination of cheeses — like reduced fat and Parmesan.
- If you don't have chicken broth, you can use vegetable broth instead.
- Also, don't stress it if you don't have whole wheat flour. You do not have to run to the store for three tablespoons of flour — just use white flour if that's what you have.
- If you want to shave off some time from making this dish, many companies now offer pre-cooked pasta that you could just add to the baking dish instead of boiling your own and follow the rest of the directions as-is.
- Add extra flavor by mixing in a can of diced tomatoes. Drain them first and mix them right into the pasta. If you like spice, Rotel tomatoes are really delicious.
- Add protein with chopped cooked chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, or white beans. Sliced chicken or turkey sausage is also tasty.
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- 10 oz high fiber pasta
- 4 cups broccoli
- 1.5 tbsp light butter
- 1/4 cup onion, diced (optional)
- 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1.5 cups skim milk
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1.33 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil the water for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but add the broccoli florets when there are 2 minutes left in the cooking time. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the flour and make a roux by whisking until it just browns.
Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high and add the milk and broth.
Continue to whisk until it comes to a boil. It should be smooth at this point. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper.
Stir in the cheese and stir until it is smooth.
Add the pasta and broccoli to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour the cheese sauce on top and mix everything together. (This can be cooked in a larger baking dish or individual ramekins.)
Bake for 10-15 minutes until top begins to brown. Serve.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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