This Cheesy Chicken Taco One Pot Pasta is like mac and cheese blended with a flavorful chicken taco! Seasoned chicken and tender pasta cook together in one pan with chicken broth and half and half for a creamy, cheesy chicken pasta that’s simple enough for a busy weeknight dinner.
We all know that tacos are pretty much the best dinner ever right? Especially chicken tacos. But sometimes you just want something that’s super easy, doesn’t require much effort but still tastes incredible. This cheesy chicken taco pasta is your new weeknight winner!
A New Family Favorite
I whipped this one pot pasta up one night when I was playing around with the ingredients in my pantry. One kid was begging for tacos, the other wanted mac and cheese. I figured I could please them both by putting the two together because they loved my ground beef Taco Mac and Cheese! They loved it, and my husband gobbled up the leftovers the next morning.
I put the recipe together while taking little video snippets along the way to share on instagram. My cousin happened to see it and ran out to get the ingredients the next day and made it for her boyfriend. They both loved it, so I knew I had to share it here, too!
My Cheesy Chicken Taco One Pot Pasta quickly became a family favorite and I know your family will love it too.
Chicken Taco One Pot Pasta
One Pot Pastas are great for busy nights because they usually take about 30 minutes from start to finish. Simplicity is key when you’ve got a bunch of hungry mouths to feed! This meal has all you need to feed them a hearty, comforting meal:
- Protein – I used chicken breasts but you could also ground turkey. Thighs would also work, but they would need to be cooked a little longer before adding the pasta and liquid. If you want to keep it really simple, use 2 cups of shredded rotisserie or other pre-cooked shredded chicken. Season the meat with taco seasoning and cook with some chopped onion and garlic. It doesn’t need to be fully cooked, in fact a little pink in the middle is what you want.
- Pasta – I used bowtie (farfalle) pasta because they are roughly the same size as the chunks of chicken. Any small cut pasta will work, like rotini, ziti or even macaroni.
- Liquid – You need 4 cups of liquid to cook the pasta and chicken. I used mostly chicken broth with a little bit of half and half but you could use milk or heavy cream instead. Or, forgo the milk altogether and just use all chicken broth.
- Cheese – Freshly grated cheese that you’ve shredded yourself right off the block is optimal when cooking pasta. Bagged shreds have preservatives that make them not melt as well. I almost always have a big block of Kirkland brand from Costco on hand and it works great. Use a nice sharp cheddar and/or a melty Jack.
How does it work?
In One Pot Pasta recipes, pasta is cooked in liquid, often with veggies or proteins, which forms a sauce as it cooks. Usually cheese is added at the end to thicken the sauce even more and make it creamy.
When pasta cooks, it releases starches that thicken the liquid. Most of the liquid is absorbed into the pasta, so what’s left is a thicker form of the cooking liquid which coats the pasta and other ingredients. You can make it a cheese sauce by adding a few handfuls of shredded cheese.
One Pot Pasta Helpful Tips and FAQs
- What type of pot do you use for one pot pasta? I have a couple of heavy bottomed 5-quart pots from Le Creuset that I absolutely love and use all the time. They are great because they heat evenly and clean up well. A more budget friendly option, Cuisinart has one with great ratings. The other option is a large skillet with high sides, like this Calphalon saute pan.
- What is the best way to reheat pasta? Reheating pasta with a cheesy sauce can be tricky. Add a couple of splashes of milk or cream per serving, then heat in the microwave at 50% power for several minutes, stirring at one minute intervals. This will keep the sauce nice and creamy. There’s nothing worse than a cheese sauce that has become curdled and separates. Heat in a pan on the stove over low heat is also a great option.
- Don’t let it scorch. You want to stir the one pot pasta at least once while it’s cooking. Just a quick stir is fine to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
- Storage. Store leftover chicken taco pasta in an airtight container for 4-5 days in the fridge. Freeze for up to 4 months and thaw in the fridge before reheating.
I like to dice up some fresh tomatoes and green onions to garnish the chicken taco pasta. A dollop of sour cream or some crispy tortilla strips can also be a nice touch or even some fresh homemade salsa.
All you need to complete this meal is a big garden salad with lots of crisp veggies to offset the rich creaminess of this dish. A black bean and corn salad would also compliment the flavors while adding some fresh veggies. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere so feel free to indulge in a classic margarita, too!
Cheesy Chicken Taco Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup diced white onion about half of one medium-sized onion
- 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large) sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 16 ounces bowtie pasta 1 box
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup half and half or any combination of milk and cream
- 2 cups shredded cheddar-jack cheese
- 2 limes
- 2-3 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced
- Fresh minced parsley for garnish or cilantro or green onion
- Heat a large, deep skillet or saute pan (4-5 quart) over medium heat. Add olive oil and when hot, add diced onions. Stir and cook until soft and translucent.
- Coat chicken with taco seasoning and add to the skillet. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, turning once.
- Srit in pasta, chicken broth and half and half. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until pasta is tender. (stir once about halfway through to avoid pasta sticking to the bottom of the pan).
- Stir in shredded cheddar cheese and juice from one lime.
- Garnish with diced tomatoes, sliced green onions and serve with lime wedges.