Tender chicken and pasta in an ultra creamy, cheesy homemade alfredo sauce make this Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti an incredibly easy and filling weeknight meal.
My family’s go-to meal is pasta. Pasta with meat sauce, one pan pasta…you name it, and if it’s got pasta in it, we’ll eat it! From penne to rigatoni to spaghetti to fettucine, there are no pasta snobs in this house.
There are all kinds of pasta recipe that are super easy and perfect for those busy weeknights that we all have. Kids in school with homework, sports, scouts, doctors appointments and so many more things going on make live so crazy. Baked pastas like this Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti are perfect for those nights! You can even make it ahead of time and pop it in the oven when you’re getting ready to eat! Kids love it, grown ups love it – it’s a win/win.
How to Make Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti
Like most bakes pastas, this baked ziti does require a little pre work, but it’s still super easy and simple. Here are a few tips for getting that perfect bite every time:
Cook your pasta to about a minute before al dente. Why? Pasta doesn’t stop cooking when you drain the water. The heat keep the pasta softening just a little bit more, and it will cook even more once it’s combined with the sauce and baking in the oven. Remove the pasta from the cooking water about a minute under the recommended time.
Go with the traditional homemade alfredo sauce for a rich flavor, or the “skinny” version if you’re wanting something a little lighter. Traditional Alfredo Sauce consists of 4 ingredients: Cream, butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese. For a lighter sauce that’s not so rich, try making a roux with butter and flour, then use a combination of chicken stock and heavy cream to make the base. Add Parmesan cheese to finish. I will include both options in the recipe below.
Cook your own chicken. I will admit, I love a good shortcut, and rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are a pretty awesome one. However, when it comes to chicken alfredo, I never use rotisserie. I have found that the flavor is just better and less greasy when cutting up fresh chicken breasts that have been seared and caramelized and have tons of flavor. My stovetop chicken breasts (using just salt and pepper) are perfect for this Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti.
The finishing touch on this dish is of course some fresh minced parsley, but basil would be a fantastic addition as well. Give it a try this week – your family will thank you!
2cupsshredded/dicedcooked chicken breast (1 large chicken breast)
1batch Alfredo saucesee options below, or use one jar of premade sauce
1 1/2cupsfresh shredded Mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper
French minced parsleyfor garnish
Lighter Alfredo sauce (see traditional Alfredo in the notes below)
1cuphalf & halfor milk or cream
3/4cupfreshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a medium sized (11"x7" or similar) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Add uncooked ziti to a pot of boiling, salted water. Cook until about 1 minute before al dente. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make alfredo sauce.
In a large bowl or directly in the pan used to make the alfredo sauce, stir in chicken and pasta to coat. Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Layer with half of Mozzarella cheese, remaining pasta mixture, then top with remaining Mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until top is beginning to brown and sauce is bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh minced parsley, if desired.
Lighter Alfredo Sauce
Melt butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden.
Stir in chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring often.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh grated Parmesan cheese until melted.
If you'd prefer to use the traditional Alfredo Sauce, here is that recipe:
½ cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup half and half (or all heavy cream)
¾ cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a 4-quart pot over medium-low heat.
Add garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Stir in half & half and bring to a simmer (do not boil).
Stir in fresh grated Parmesan cheese until melted.
Season sauce with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
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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.