Add a touch of spice to liven up brunch, lunch, or dinner with this savory Chicken Broccoli Quiche. Using Mexican street corn seasonings and a cheddar-cotija cheese blend adds a different flavorful twist!
Why this recipe works
- Chicken quiche is hearty enough to serve for brunch, lunch, or dinner
- You can customize the protein, vegetables, and cheeses to use what you have on hand
- The egg custard has an easy recipe ratio that produces great results every time!
When is it ok to have pie for brunch or dinner?
Ok, that's a trick question...it's always ok to have pie. But it's more acceptable if that pie is savory, like a meat pie or quiche, if you want it for a main course. Quiche is also a great way to use leftover cooked proteins and whatever vegetables you have on hand, paired with cheese.
This chicken quiche recipe uses pre-cooked chicken, broccoli, an interesting Mexican seasoning and cheese blend to come up with a Chicken Broccoli Quiche that's great for brunch, lunch, or dinner!
Quiche is a savory custard
At its core, quiche is just a free-standing custard, the crust is merely a holding vessel. Most people might think of custard as a dessert (like Crème Brûlée), but really the only difference is how the custard is flavored. Is it sweetened or filled with savory ingredients? If it's the latter, it's quiche, simple as that.
A free-standing egg custard has a recipe ratio of 2 : 1 liquid to egg (by weight, a kitchen scale comes in handy here). So a quiche containing 2 cups (or 16 ounces) of liquid would contain 4 eggs (or 8 ounces, each egg weighing about 2 ounces).
I keep saying free-standing custard which can hold its shape, like flan. It's a cousin to pastry cream, which contains the same base of eggs and cream but has a 4 : 1 liquid to egg recipe ratio, so it can't stand up on its own.
Also, a free-standing custard is baked to set rather than thickened on the stove with cornstarch, like pudding. I love when things are related like that.
So if it's a savory custard makes it a quiche, how do quiches differ from one another? That's where the fillings become important, You can use any combination of proteins, vegetables, and cheeses you'd like, then choose seasonings and cheeses that complement said fillings. Here are some suggestions:
- Bacon and Swiss Cheese (aka Quiche Lorraine) - a classic combination
- Chicken, Cheddar, Bacon, and Ranch Seasoning
- Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, and Feta - or leave out the sausage for a vegetarian quiche
For the custard, you can use milk, half and half, heavy cream, or a combination of these. Just decide how much milk vs. cream you'd like - the more cream, the richer the custard will be. You can even use a milk substitute or a savory broth instead of dairy. It's the combination of liquid and eggs in the proper ratio that makes it a custard.
Unless you're making a crustless quiche, you'll want a sturdy crust. A homemade or store-bought pie crust works when the quiche will be served in a pie pan. Shortcrust pastry works great for quiches that will be served free-standing, baked in a tart pan with a removable bottom. A sourdough shortcrust pastry works really well with a savory tart, especially if you have sourdough starter discard you'd like to use.
What you need
This chicken quiche uses leftover chicken, red onion, and broccoli, but turkey or ham could work also.
For the seasonings, use your favorite seasoning blends. Here we're using the flavors of Mexican street corn with Trader Joes' Everything but the Elote seasoning blend. It's made up of chile pepper, Parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, cumin, dried cilantro, sea salt, plus some cane sugar and corn flour. You can substitute a good chili powder or taco seasonings if you prefer.
For the cheeses, since street corn is usually served with cotija cheese, a semi-firm white crumbly cheese (similar to feta cheese in texture), that's a good start. Add a Mexican cheese blend (a pre-made blend of shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Queso Blanco) to round out the quiche. You can use your own preferred combinations.
Unless you're making a crustless quiche, you'll want a sturdy crust. Pie crust for quiche works when it's served in a pie pan - use a basic pie crust either homemade or store-bought crust. Shortcrust pastry works great for quiches that will be served free-standing, like a tart. Since this chicken quiche recipe will be savory, a sourdough shortcrust pastry fits the bill nicely.
How to make a chicken quiche
Step 1: Make a shortcrust pastry
Prepare a blind baked sourdough shortcrust pastry using a 10-inch tart pan (photo 1). Blind baking the pastry shell helps to ensure it doesn't get soggy while the custard bakes later. See the Pro Tips below for how to blind bake a shortcrust without pie weights.
Step 2: Cook the filling ingredients
Quiche filling is usually comprised of a pre-cooked protein, frequently bacon or sausage, and a combination of cooked vegetables. This chicken quiche is using leftover chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces and sautéed red onions and broccoli.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onions and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until heated, another 2 to 3 mixtures (photo 2). Remove from heat.
Step 3: Make the custard
Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, and milk custard ingredients together until frothy, either by hand or using a hand mixer. Stir in the seasoning and salt. (photo 3).
Making sure the custard has some bubbles helps to hold the mix-ins in suspension. That's especially important in a taller quiche or quiche made in a pie pan. This quiche tart isn't that tall so the suspension aspect isn't as crucial.
Step 4: Assemble the quiche
The crust is there to protect the custard from baking too quickly and getting rubbery (replacing what a water bath does for a crème brûlée). Adding the filling components in layers helps to keep everything from settling to the bottom, especially for taller quiches.
Fill the par-baked shortcrust pastry shell with the cooked chicken filling. Sprinkle the cheeses on top (photo 4).
Step 5: Bake the quiche
Allow the quiche to cool slightly, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
A free-standing egg custard has a recipe ratio of 2 : 1 liquid to egg (by weight, a kitchen scale comes in handy here). So a quiche containing 2 cups (or 16 ounces) of liquid would contain 4 eggs (or 8 ounces, an egg weighing about 2 ounces each).
If there's too much liquid in the custard, it won't set well. You'll end up with possibly a very soft or even runny quiche.
Most likely there is too much egg in the custard, resulting in a quiche that's too firm and possibly rubbery. That 2 : 1 liquid to egg recipe ratio is important!
Nobody wants the dreaded soggy bottom in a pie. The best way to prevent this is to blind-bake the pie crust or shortcrust pastry you're using. That allows the moisture in the dough to evaporate and the crust solidifies before you introduce more liquid from the egg custard.
Pro Tip: How to blind bake your shortcrust pastry without pie weights
Here's a trick I learned from Smitten Kitchen to successfully blind bake pie dough and shortcrust pastry. Freeze the crust in its pan tightly covered in foil. You don't need to use pie weights or dried beans using this frozen-foil method.
- Ease the dough into a pie or tart pan and dock with a fork.
- Tear off a piece of foil that fits over the entire pan with overhang (or add extra foil as needed).
- Spray the foil with baking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough.
- Press the foil into the pan and tightly up against the sides. Bring the foil up over the rim and mold it to the sides of the pan.
- Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
- Bake the crust with the foil at 375°F for 20 minutes. At this point the crust is par-baked.
- Carefully remove the foil from the crust. If the crust has puffed up, gently press it back down. Any tears or cracks in the crust can be repaired with dough scraps.
- Return the crust to the oven and bake the crust until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.
There you have it. No more slumping sides or messing around with dried beans. I'm all in for that!
Chicken quiche is perfect for any meal
Savory, spicy (but not too much), salty, and substantial, this Chicken Broccoli Quiche produces a dish with lots of flavor. It's perfect for brunch or lunch. Paired with a Caesar salad (with homemade Caesar salad dressing, of course!), a chicken quiche makes a nice, light dinner.
Have a hankering for pie as a main course? You can turn eggs, your dairy of choice, and some leftovers into a meal. Make yourself a quiche (with a crust or crustless) using whatever filings and seasonings you'd like.
Of course, remember to save room for pie for dessert!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Wondering what to make for dinner? Here are some great suggestions, from savory pies & tarts, to soups and pizza with a sourdough discard crust to get you going to the kitchen! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
I hope you like this recipe! Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know! Or, if you made the recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and rating. Thanks!
Chicken Broccoli Quiche
For the pastry
- 1 recipe sourdough shortcrust pastry, or basic shortcrust pastry, homemade or store-bought
For the filling
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup chicken, cooked and cubed
- 1 cup cotija cheese, crumbled, see Recipe Notes
- 1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded, see Recipe Notes
For the custard
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons Everything but the Elote seasoning blend, or your seasonings of choice, see Recipe Notes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Blind bake the shortcrust: Prepare a sourdough or basic shortcrust pastry using a 10-inch tart pan. Freeze the unbaked, docked crust and wrap tightly with greased aluminum foil. Par-bake the crust for 20 minutes.
- Make the filling: Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onions and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until heated, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Make the custard: Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, and milk custard ingredients together until frothy, either by hand or using a hand mixer. Stir in the seasoning and salt.
- Fill the par-baked shortcrust pastry shell with the cooked chicken filling. Sprinkle the cheeses on top. Pour the custard over the filling, as much as possible without overflowing.
- Place the pan on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper to catch drips. Bake the quiche for 28 to 30 minutes or until the filling is mostly set (it will be slightly jiggly in the middle).
- Allow the quiche to cool slightly, then remove from the pan and serve warm.
- Make-ahead instructions: Allow the quiche to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap (still in the pan, if possible). It will keep for about a week in the refrigerator and up to a month in the freezer. Allow to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, reheat it in a 325 °F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the pan (if it hasn't been already) and serve warm.