Love to order Chicken Broccoli Ziti in restaurants? Wondering what the secret is to the perfectly browned chicken and smooth creamy sauce? Stay tuned because today I'm giving the recipe!
This recipe was originally published in 2014 and re-published in 2021. The recipe has not changed; photos & text have been updated.
I have been making this pasta dish for years and years. As a matter of fact, I started making it for friends over 20 years ago. I've tweaked it a tiny bit here and there but overall, it has been the same tried and true chicken broccoli ziti recipe for a long time.
I love recreating restaurant meals at home, copycat recipes if that's what you want to call them for 2 reasons. The Cost & Control of Ingredients.
Cost Of Recipe
I'm not going to break down the exact cost of the recipe because I'm sure we shop in different areas and prices vary. What I am going to tell you is that it is substantially cheaper to prepare this recipe at home. For example, I spent about $15-$20 total to prepare this dish that will feed my entire family with enough leftovers for the next day. The restaurants that are local to me, range from $19 from the so-so places, to about $28 for the better type restaurants for one serving. If you want a catering dish full of it, which is about the size of my recipes, it will run about $65.
I'm not going to list all the ingredients here, skip down to the recipe card if you want for that. I do want to mention a few of the ingredients with specific points about them.
- Butter - The combo of butter and olive oil is magic
- Chicken - I find it easiest to dice up boneless chicken tenders but you can just use boneless chicken breasts if that's what you have on hand
- Heavy Cream - again, don't skip or substitute. I mean, you can but it won't be the same and if you do, don't go leaving me a bad review because it didn't turn out awesome
- Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated is best
- Ziti - this is one ingredient where substitutions are okay. I make this dish with several different tube pastas but have always kept the same name and called it ziti, even though most of the time it's penne or ziti rigate. Sometimes I even use bowties.
And the ingredient that sets this recipe apart from others is :
Cornstarch - this is the magic ingredient that gives chicken the velvety texture and helps it brown perfectly.
Cream Sauce or White Wine Sauce
Typically in restaurants you have two options when it comes to chicken broccoli ziti, white wine garlic sauce or a cream sauce. My version is a little bit of both. We are reducing down some white wine and adding garlic but we're also adding in the heavy cream. I would not call this an alfredo sauce but a cream sauce.
How to reheat leftovers
Add your leftovers to a skillet over medium-low heat with about a quarter of a cup of chicken stock and cover it. Let it cook a few minutes, stir and re-cover. After just another minute or two, remove the cover and add a splash of heavy cream. Cook that on low for just about a minute and then serve. It will be just like new!
I would not recommend just popping it in the microwave, you might end up with dry pasta and uneven re-heating.
How can I cut some of the calories
Sure, this is a calorie-heavy dish. So what? We have to splurge every now and then. As I mentioned before, I would not recommend subbing out the heavy cream. What you can do to save a few calories is skip adding the butter to the end. The butter does finish it off for a velvety smooth finish but I have skipped it on occasion and it doesn't totally take away from the dish.
Love broccoli? Want more? Check out these BROCCOLI RECIPES on Parade.com.
Printable Recipe Card
Printable Recipe Card
Restaurant Style Chicken Broccoli Ziti
- 1.5 pound boneless chicken cut into bite size pieces (breast or tenders)
- 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked
- 3 Tablespoon butter ,divided
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ⅔ Cup heavy cream
- ½ Cup chicken stock
- ½ Cup white wine
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- ½ Cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 pound ziti or other tube pasta
- Bring large pot of water to boil. Season generously with salt and add pasta. During last 4 minutes of cooking, add broccoli to pot. Drain - reserve ½ C cooking water and set aside. Return pasta and broccoli back to pot.
- Season cornstarch with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the cornstarch.
- Heat oil and 1 T butter over medium/high heat. Add chicken (work in batches as to not overcrowd the pan) and cook a few minutes until browned. Turn over and brown the other side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside on a plate. Repeat until chicken is all browned.
- Return pan back to burner. Pour in wine and stock and allow to reduce by about half (should take about 5 minutes). Stir to loosen the brown bits from bottom of pan (they're full of flavor). Add garlic, cook 1-2 minutes.
- Return chicken back to pan and allow the chicken to cook through, another 4-5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and reduce heat to medium low, cook about 2 minutes.
- Pour chicken cream sauce into pot with pasta and broccoli. Stir in cheese. If sauce seems too thick, add reserved cooking water a little at a time. Add remaining 2 T butter and mix well before serving.
- Serve with additional cheese