Golden brown parmesan cheese, lightly charred broccoli and juicy chicken breasts. Perfectly paired with some creamy and super flavourful risoni/orzo. This one-pot baked chicken and broccoli risoni is a fantastic, simple weeknight dinner that can be put together quickly.
Love a good pasta bake? Check out my Chicken and Chorizo Pasta Bake! It's all about that melted golden cheese top and pockets of soft cheese in between.
The fantastic thing about using risoni/orzo is that it's pasta but you don't have to pre-boil like other large pasta shapes before it hits the oven! Everything in one pot/pan. Love a fuss-free meal.
- Chicken breasts are preferred here as it's lean and offsets and balances well with the heavy cream. Otherwise, thighs are good options too!
- Parmesan cheese strong in taste and full of umami-ness (hence why it's so good!). Can swap with cheddar cheese. It's a good general practice to grate your own cheese as opposed to buying pre-shredded cheeses. Shredded cheeses from supermarkets contains additives such as anti-caking agents which means the cheeses won't melt as well and has a gritty texture. Aside from it being a more economical option, grating your own cheese tastes sooo much better and creamier. If you ask me, quality over convenience any day!
- Chicken stock can use vegetable stocks too. I usually just make the stock from powder and highly recommend Massel chicken stock powder (not a sponsored shout-out, I just really like their stock powder). It adds fantastic flavour to any dish and lasts forever! Plus, it's only $2 at Coles and Woolies!
- Risoni aka orzo, rice-shaped pasta but not rice!
This is how you make it
When browning chicken breasts, it is important to not move it much. Similar to cooking steaks, turning it often will cause the chicken's natural juices to release quickly and thus stopping the browning process. The same concept applies to sauteed mushrooms (my Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms shares all the tips you need for perfectly nutty sauteed mushrooms).
Browning adds depth and amazing flavours thus it's a step not to be missed!
The chicken stock also adds another layer of flavour to this easy and creamy baked chicken and broccoli risoni. It also helps deglaze the pan/skillet, making sure we get all that caramelised flavour (from searing chicken and cooking onions) into the risoni!
Golden, caramelised parmesan cheese (a little goes a long way in terms of flavour!) and lightly charred broccoli = match made in heaven.
Don't forget to season with salt and pepper.
Delicious, nutritious and balanced meal
Yes, cream is added but this recipe is not heavy at all. ½ a cup is enough to add creaminess and flavour without making this an overindulgent meal. Just under 500 cal per meal. Packed with lots of lean chicken breasts and oh so good for you broccoli, talk about balance!
Remember, fat is not the enemy! Everything in moderation is key to a sustainable, balanced lifestyle.
All the stock and cream is absorbed by the risoni, making it the star of the dish! Or maybe the charred broccoli with parmesan cheese... I'll let you decide.
Tips for making this great every time
- Brown the chicken breasts to add maximum flavour. Only turning once to get it perfectly golden. 2 minutes per side is enough and the oven will finish off the cooking process.
- Avoid light or low-fat cream and go for the good stuff (heavy cream)! Low-fat cream split easily when boiled which would be such a shame! If you're after a low fat/dairy option, swap the cream out with more chicken stock. It'll still be tasty but just not creamy.
- Make sure the oven is preheated before putting the skillet/pan into the oven. This will ensure the risoni is gently simmering from the stove to the oven with no interruptions.
- Sprinkle black pepper just before transferring the pan to the oven for a little added heat.
Juicy chicken, not dry at all!
Good to know (FAQs)
Not this recipe! First, the chicken breast is seared to golden perfection on the pan, sealing its juices. Second, it's protected by a layer of shredded parmesan cheese. These two combined will protect the chicken from drying out and keeping it juicy!
Even with the above double-shielded protection, unfortunately, the chicken will most likely dry out in the oven. If you don't mind the chicken a little dry, go for it! Keeping the breasts whole will maximise its juiciness here.
Make this gluten-free by substituting it with arborio rice (risotto rice). Otherwise, small shaped pasta like macaroni will work too!
Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Lasts up to 6 months in the freezer.
Made this Baked Chicken and Broccoli Risoni recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
More chicken recipes to check out
Baked Chicken and Broccoli Risoni
- 2 large chicken breasts about 600g/21oz
- 1 head broccoli about 3 cups
- 1 cup risoni/orzo pasta substitute: arborio (risotto rice) (note 1)
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups hot chicken stock or veggie stock
- ½ cup heavy/thickened cream
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (note 2)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Generously season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
- Add olive oil to an ovenproof skillet/pan or pot and sear chicken breasts on high heat until both sides are golden. Only flipping once, about 2 minutes per side.
- Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add onions and reduce heat down to low and sweat onions for about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a further 1 minute.
- Increase heat up to high and add chicken stock, bring it up to boil then add risoni and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat down to low then add heavy cream, mix well then add the chicken back into the pan and scatter broccoli florets. Lightly season broccoli with salt and pepper.
- Shave parmesan cheese all over and transfer pan to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.