BBQ Bacon Chicken Casserole has tender pasta, chicken, bacon, cheese and tomatoes in a creamy BBQ sauce. It’s kid friendly, easy to whip up and can be made a day ahead of time.
Chicken Casseroles are a great way to feed your family without a lot of fuss. Just throw together a quick Garden Salad on the side and you’ve got a whole meal ready to go! Casseroles are great when you don’t feel like pulling off a full course meal or when you need to feed a crowd. Try some of our other favorites like Mexican Chicken Casserole and the best Tuna Casserole.
There is a sandwich I used to get all the time at Carl’s Jr. It had a grilled chicken breast, bbq sauce, lettuce and tomatoes, and I always added bacon because we all know that bacon makes everything better. I was itching for a new casserole recipe for dinner one night, and that sandwich popped into my head. What is is about bbq sauce, bacon and chicken that go so good together?
Recipe and Ingredients Overview
The ingredients in the casserole are super simple, and don’t require a ton of prep.
Start with some diced, cooked chicken. I like to use diced baked chicken breast rather than shredded chicken in casserole; it just gives a better texture. The easiest way to go is to pull the meat off a rotisserie chicken. I always grab two at Costco – one to feed my family dinner, and one to dice up and freeze to use later.
Cook your pasta to just before al dente. About a minute before the package instructs, drain the pasta and set it aside. It will still have a slight bite to it but that’s fine, it will cook a little more in the casserole.
Make the sauce with one part BBQ sauce and one part sour cream. Add some seasoning and mix it all up. It’s thick – you can thin it out a little with some milk or chicken broth if you want.
Combine the chicken, pasta and sauce with some crispy bacon, diced tomatoes, onions and shredded cheddar. Save some bacon and cheddar for the topping, then bake the bbq bacon chicken casserole uncovered until bubbly.
Recipe Notes and Tips
Storing and reheating leftovers: To reheat for a meal, cover the chicken casserole with foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until warmed through. For individual portions, reheat in the microwave. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Make Ahead: Wrap the unbaked casserole tightly with plastic wrap, pressed against the top of the casserole. Wrap the whole dish with foil and label. Freeze for up to 4 months, thaw in the fridge and heat as directed. For a baked chicken casserole, let cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and foil. Keep frozen up to 2 months.
If you don’t have cheddar cheese, Jack is a great option, or a cheddar-jack blend or even pepper jack. Anything that has a mild to medium flavor profile that melts well will work.
For texture, add some crispy fried onions to the top. They add flavor and a nice crunch.
Add more sliced chives or fresh minced for color just before serving.
12ouncessmall pastacooked to al dente (Rotini or Farfalle)
½poundbaconcooked crisp and crumbled, divided
15ouncecan petite or fire roasted diced tomatoesdrained
2 ½ cupsgrated Cheddar-Jack cheesedivided
2green onionsthinly sliced
Fresh minced cilantro or parsleyfor garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 13x9-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine barbecue sauce, sour cream, garlic powder and black pepper. Stir in chicken, pasta, bacon (reserve 2 tablespoons for topping), tomatoes, red onion and half of the cheddar-jack cheese until well combined. Pour into the prepared casserole dish and spread evenly. Top evenly with remaining cheddar-jack cheese, sliced green onions and reserved bacon.
Bake casserole in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Top should be melty and golden and the sauce should be bubbly.
Let rest for about 5 minutes, then garnish with fresh minced parsley or cilantro and serve warm.
This recipe is pretty forgiving when it comes to swaps. Make it easy on yourself and use a rotisserie chicken. Use your favorite cheese and omit the bacon if you wish.
Let us know how it was by leaving a review or sharing on Instagram with the tag #yellowblissroad
Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.