This cheesy ham and broccoli pasta is a grown up take on macaroni and cheese that the whole family will love. A luscious cheese sauce smothers rotini pasta, salty ham pieces, and tender broccoli. Better yet? This whole pasta recipe comes together in 30 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknight.
Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love it in any variety. I’m a huge fan of this copycat Panera macaroni and cheese, but sometimes I want something that has a little more to it. Something like this cheesy ham and broccoli pasta.
With the extra ham and broccoli, somehow it just feels like more of a complete meal and less of a side dish than plain mac and cheese.
Although if I’m being completely honest, plain mac and cheese is definitely a meal in and of itself too. But you know, mom guilt.
I feel like I should at least be attempting to get more protein and a vegetable or two into my growing boys from time to time.
This cheesy ham and broccoli pasta is so yummy no one in my house complains about the addition of the broccoli. It’s all about the cheese sauce.
This velvety cheese sauce makes everything extra delicious. It’s thick and creamy. Plus a hint of garlic powder and onion powder give it loads of flavor that make it so addicting.
How to Make the Cheese Sauce for Ham & Broccoli Pasta:
This cheesy ham and broccoli pasta is really all about that cheese sauce. Making it is not difficult. But if you’ve never made a cheese sauce before you might feel a bit intimidated. First, you need to make a roux.
A roux is a basic combination of equal parts fat, in this case butter, and flour. I melt the butter in a medium pot and then add the flour. Then I keep stirring, until the flour is well combined into the butter. The mixture will turn golden and take on a paste like consistency when it’s ready.
How To Make The Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Pasta
- After I make the roux, I slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time. Whisking is key to a smooth sauce. If you skip the whisking, you may wind up with a lumpy cheese sauce, and that’s just not as satisfying.
- When all the milk is added, I add the garlic and the onion powder.
- After I add the seasonings, I turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a bubble. I whisk the whole time, to make sure the sauce stays creamy.
- Once the mixture bubbles, I remove the pot from the heat and stir in my grated cheddar cheese. Then I keep stirring until the cheese is melted and incorporated fully into the sauce.
- To finish, stir the cooked rotini, broccoli, and ham into the cheese sauce.
Then I serve up this delicious cheesy ham and broccoli pasta with crusty bread so I can savor every last bit of the cheese sauce. You won’t want to leave a drop behind, and it saves you any judgement from licking the plate clean. A piece of bread is the polite, socially acceptable way to clean your plate.
Make this cheesy pasta a family-friendly, filling meal by rounding it out with a side salad.
TIPS & TRICKS for making the best cheesy pasta with broccoli & ham:
- Use a smaller pasta. I suggest rotini because of all their grooves. Grooves are perfect for sauce to adhere to. If you don’t have rotini, I suggest radiatore, shells, or cellatini for this recipes. Elbow noodles will work in a pinch.
- Shredded cheddar works best in this recipe, but we’ve also swapped that for both colby jack & a fiesta blend with great success. We’ve even used Swiss at the last minute. This recipe is really forgiving, and very cheese friendly.
- Don’t have fresh broccoli? You can sub frozen, but you need to thaw it completely in a strainer so all the excess moisture drains away. Nobody likes water cheese sauce.
- The recipe, as written, calls for milk- but you can easily sub half & half, or cream.
I can’t wait for you to give this cheesy pasta with ham and broccoli a try. I specifically hoard my leftover ham after the holidays just for this dinner dish. It’s easy, cheesy, creamy, and there’s a meat & veggies stirred right in. It pretty much checks every box our family requires.
OTHER CHEESY BROCCOLI COMBINATIONS:
- One Pot Cheesy Chicken Broccoli & Rice
- Cheesy Spinach Rice & Orzo Recipe
- Grandma’s Broccoli Souffle Casserole
If you’ve tried this CHEESY HAM & BROCCOLI PASTA or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Pasta
- 1 1/2 cups dry rotini pasta
- 1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups chopped ham
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Stir in the pasta, and cook it according to the package directions- up until the last 3-4 minutes of cook time for the pasta.
- When the pasta has 3-4 minutes left to cook, stir in the broccoli. When the pasta's cooked, drain both in a strainer. Set aside.
- Set the same pot over medium heat, and add the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour until the roux is formed and smooth. Let the mixture cook for a full minute, whisking constantly, to cook out any floury taste.
- Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until a smooth thickened sauce base has formed. Stir in the seasonings to evenly incorporate.
- Raise the heat to bring the mixture to a bubble. Continue to whisk, until the mixture's bubbling and thickened. Remove the skillet from heat.
- Add the cheese, stirring until it's completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the ham, pasta, & broccoli to the pot. Stir everything together until evenly combined.
- Serve immediately, and enjoy!
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