Under 15 minutes Kid Friendly Broccoli Pasta Recipe
A cheesy broccoli pasta recipe that includes a creamy garlic parmesan sauce made with melted butter, fresh grated parmesan cheese, milk, and fresh garlic. This kid friendly dish cooks in about 15 minutes and has a cheese sauce that can’t be beat. It mimics an alfredo sauce with milk, which makes this guilt free right?
If you don’t hover over your child to see if they finish this parmesan cheese sauce meal, because you want the leftovers, then I will be questioning your tastebuds. Seriously. There is something so comforting about a cheesy pasta mixed with broccoli that hits the soul in a different way. No joke- my parmesan garlic sauce recipe is very versatile and can be used with or without broccoli. Try it for yourself and tell me its not the best parmesan cream sauce you’ve ever had.
Broccoli Pasta with Parmesan Sauce
How this broccoli pasta recipe came about
I know I know, you don’t care… You just want the recipe. But, what kind of a blogger would I be if I didn’t give you the history on how I milked my first cow-joking y’all-joking!!! I need you to know how much my easy garlic parmesan sauce recipe is loved by my kids (and husband). Really… You must know! If you ask my youngest daughter what she wants to eat for lunch or dinner, 9/10 times she will say broccoli pasta. Which is exactly what this creamy pasta recipe is. A kid friendly, toddler loving, drool-worthy cheesy broccoli pasta recipe that is way past due for me to share.
I started making mac and cheese from scratch after I got married and the base of this sauce is similar to mac and cheese with a parmesan twist ;).
See, was that so hard to read? Now the helpful stuff-haha…
Mac and Cheese vs Garlic Parmesan Sauce
Mac and cheese usually has a sharp cheddar cheese included in the sauce whereas a parmesan sauce has freshly grated parmesan cheese. Trust me, it makes a world of a difference with parmesan cheese. The two recipes are completely different because of this one ingredient.
Is broccoli pasta kid friendly?
Yes! Broccoli pasta is very kid friendly. In fact, it is not only kid friendly but loved by almost all beings out there. A quick to make garlic parmesan sauce that is paired with chewy pasta and then mixed with steamed broccoli. Give it a try at your next family gathering with a side of Trader Joe’s Chili Oil. Also, the broccoli helps increase the nutrition of the dish which makes it semi healthy right? In fact, since this dish is made with butter and cream/milk it is a great recipe to make for kids under 2. The more fat the better for brain development and this pasta with broccoli and garlic parmesan sauce is a recipe to keep on repeat.
What shape of pasta to use?
Try any of the following shapes made with a flour that meets your family’s dietary needs. Brown rice, lentil, grain free, or semolina pasta are great options.
- elbow macaroni
Is garlic parmesan sauce keto-friendly?
Yes! Make it with heavy cream and you have a delicious sauce that pairs well with spaghetti squash. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for chicken wings and vegetables.
What else can you use garlic parmesan sauce for
Pair it with some warm bread as a dipping sauce just like Olive Garden. You will not be disappointed. Interested in other dipping sauces? Check out my herbed dipping oil recipe which uses more complex ingredients than this recipe.
- chicken wings
- crusty bread
- spaghetti squash
- zuchinni noodles
Ingredients for pasta with broccoli and garlic parmesan sauce
8 ingredients! With an option to add spice for those who live chili peppers like me! I add Trader Joe’s Chili Oil to this recipe and it always elevates the flavors.
- flour (if using milk)
- fresh parmesan cheese
- bouillon cubes/paste/powder
- fresh garlic (optional if cooking for kids)
Add extra veggies if you like! Carrots are a great addition according to my toddler. which is another favorite vegetable of hers.
Alfredo sauce with milk recipe
This cheesy parmesan sauce mimics alfredo sauce and can be made using milk instead of cream. But when there is a substitution there is another substitution right? Alfredo with milk details can be found in the recipe below.
Make this recipe in under 15 minutes?
Start by boiling water and cooking the pasta – which is the longest part of this dish. While the pasta cooks, you can make the cheesy garlic parmesan sauce or try my One-Pot Method.
One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta Tips
You have seen me make this recipe one too many times which means I have made it even quicker and easier. Once the pasta and broccoli is cooked, strain the water and all all of the cream sauce ingredients to the pot. I use Knorr Chicken Bouillon Powder so there is no dissolving needed. If you are using cubes, then they will need to be dissolved.
Mix and continue to cook on low heat while letting the sauce thicken. This one pot method for garlic parmesan sauce makes the recipe so much easier, no? Works like a charm!
How to make pasta with broccoli
Cook your choice of pasta until it meets your desired texture. I personally prefer to over cook the pasta for my kids, but you can cook it to your family’s preference. A few minutes before the pasta finishes cooking, add broccoli to the pot. Strain and set it aside or immediately toss with the garlic parmesan sauce.
How to make garlic parmesan sauce
Melt butter in a pan and cook the fresh grated garlic for a few seconds. I skip using garlic when cooking for my kids, but you are welcome to add it for yours if they love garlic. Avoid browning the garlic to the best of your ability. Add cream and bouillon. Let it come to a boil and them turn off the heat. Add the fresh grated parmesan cheese and whisk until the cheese sauce has formed. Mix with the cooked pasta and steamed broccoli.
Step by Step Instructions
What type of bouillon to use
A low sodium version that I always recommend is by Rapunzel Brand, normally found at health food stores. It has cleaner ingredients and tastes similar to my favorite knorr brand bouillon. However, since Covid happened we have been using a lot more Knorr Brand Bouillon which obviously is my favorite tasting version. It is amazing! Find a quality that meets your family’s needs and be sure to stock up because this broccoli pasta recipe will be on repeat once you try it!
Cooking with Bouillon
If you have noticed, I cook with bouillon often. I personally like to think this is the southern in me coming out because it so commonly used in traditional southern dishes. I learned how to make many of these recipes through old friends and coworkers in Arkansas, where I was born and raised. It has only increased my love for it as the years passed by and I can’t live without it in my kitchen.
Recipe for Pasta with Broccoli and Garlic Parmesan Sauce
A quick 15 minute kid friendly recipe made with a few simple ingredients that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
- 16 oz dry pasta, cooked with no salt or oil
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1.5 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (can buy pre-shredded)
- 3 bouillon cubes
- 1 cup cream (can substitute with milk mixed with 1 tbsp flour) see notes
- 2 cups broccoli florets (and stems if preferred), fresh is recommended
- 4-5 cloves garlic, fresh and grated (can skip for kids)
- salt (add after a final taste test)
- water (if needed to loosen the cheese sauce)
Cook the pasta with no salt or oil.
Add the broccoli to the pasta pot the last few minutes of the cooking process. Alternatively, steam the broccoli on the side.
Strain and set it aside or immediately mix with the garlic parmesan sauce.
While the pasta cooks make the cheesy garlic parmesan sauce by heating butter in a sauce pan on medium heat.
Add the fresh garlic and cook for a few seconds. Try not to brown the garlic.
Add the cream/milk and the bouillon. Allow it to come to a boil.
Whisk until the bouillon is fully mixed with the cream/milk.
Once the cream/milk reaches a boil and the bouillon is mixed in, turn off the heat.
Add the parmesan cheese and continue to whisk until a cheese sauce has formed.
Mix in the pasta with the cheese sauce. Combine it together and add a little bit of water if needed. I like to keep the sauce thick so it clings to the pasta.
Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on very low heat. Taste and add salt accordingly (if needed).
Healthy high fat foods are recommended for brain development in children under the age of 2. For that reason, cream and butter are recommended for this recipe.
Want to make this recipe using only one pot and under 15 minutes? See the notes in the blog post and thank me later :).