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This Chicken Pasta Bake recipe is loaded with tender chicken, crispy bacon, tomatoes and pasta all tossed together in a creamy 3-cheese sauce. It’s simple to make and will be a hit with the entire family!
This creamy chicken pasta bake is ready in only 35 minutes! Serve with a salad and bread for a big family meal.
Table of Contents
Why We Love This Recipe
- 20 Minute Bake Time – It bakes up fast in the oven and the results are perfectly bubbly.
- Filling and Family Friendly – A super filling dinner that kids and adults will love.
- Three Cheese – White Cheddar, Monterey Jack, AND Parmesan cheese
Ingredients For Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake
The ingredients needed are simple (and you may even have them on hand!). I love that it’s a delicious way to use up some leftover cooked chicken.
- Rigatoni Pasta – You can swap in another short noodle like penne or ziti.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Milk – You can use whole, 2%, or nonfat milk.
- Spices – Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Italian Seasoning.
- Cheese – White Cheddar Cheese, Jack Cheese, Parmesan Cheese. All shredded fresh off the block.
- Cooked and Diced Chicken Breast – Leftovers are fine, or use a rotisserie chicken.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes – drained well. A great way to drain them is to set a colander over a bowl, pour the can of tomatoes in the colander and let it sit for 10-15 minutes..
- Cooked and Chopped Bacon – Make sure to cook it until it’s crispy and save some for garnish.
- Fresh Parsley – For a nice garnish.
How To Make A Chicken Pasta Bake
See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Prep – Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and grease a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Cook Pasta – Cook the noodles according to package directions, almost to al dente (a little underdone); they will continue to cook as they bake. Drain well.
- Start Cheese Sauce – In a medium saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat, then add the flour and whisk together. Cook, whisking often, for several minutes or until flour is golden. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional minute, then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper until completely combined. Stir frequently as it bubbles and thickens; about 5 minutes.
- Add Cheese – Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the white cheddar, monterey jack, and half of the parmesan cheese until fully melted, then gently mix in the bacon, tomatoes, and chicken. Gently fold in the cooked pasta until all the pasta is completely coated, then pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan and reserved bacon on top.
- Bake – Bake for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh minced parsley and enjoy!
Yes you can! This is a recipe that can easily be prepped in advance. Assemble fully then allow to cool down before storing in the fridge (covered). When ready to serve, let it sit at room temperature while the oven preheats then bake until hot and bubbly. It may take a few minutes longer since it’s coming from the fridge.
There are a couple key tips to keep a pasta bake moist and creamy. The first is to undercook your pasta. You want the noodles to be just under al dente before baking so they can cook the rest of the way in the oven. The second is to use a creamy sauce, like the 3-cheese sauce in this recipe.
Most pasta bakes require boiling the noodles first so that they can finish cooking in the oven and soak up some of the sauce.
I love that this recipe is a complete filling meal on its own, but adding some sides is a great way to stretch it to feed a crowd! You can’t go wrong with a copycat Olive Garden Salad and some garlic bread.
- Broccoli – For a veggie boost, try folding in cooked broccoli (cooked just until fork tender) with the chicken.
- Individual Servings – Instead of baking in one large casserole dish, it’s fun to divide it up into smaller individual baking dishes. Depending on the dish size, they will bake faster so bake in the oven until hot and bubbly.
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating
Storage – Leftovers can be stored (tightly covered) in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezing – Leftovers can be frozen (tightly covered or in freezer containers) for up to 3 months. I love to freeze in individual servings for quick thawing and reheating.
Reheating – To reheat frozen baked pasta, thaw it in the fridge before reheating in the oven.
- Cook Pasta Until Just Al Dente – The pasta will finish cooking in the oven so it’s important to not overcook it when boiling.
- Crispy Bacon – For an added crispy texture, use bacon that is cooked until crispy not chewy. You can cook the bacon in a skillet on the stove or even in the air fryer.
More Pasta Recipes
- Garlic Parmesan Broccoli Pasta
- Creamy Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
- Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Lemon Butter Pasta
- Pizza Lasagna
Cheesy Chicken Pasta Bake
- 8 ounces rigatoni pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 ounces freshly shredded white cheddar cheese about 1 cup
- 2 ounces freshly shredded jack cheese (about 1 cup
- ¾ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese divided
- 2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast
- 15- ounce canned diced tomatoes drained well
- 6 slices of bacon cooked crisp and chopped, divided, some saved for garnish
- Fresh chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, almost to al dente. Drain well.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then add flour and whisk together. Cook, whisking often, for several minutes or until flour is golden.
- Add minced garlic, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Cook for an additional minute, then whisk in the milk, salt and black pepper until completely combined. Stir frequently as it bubbles and thickens; about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the white cheddar, monterey jack and half of the parmesan until they are fully melted, then gently stir in the bacon, tomatoes and chicken. Gently fold in the cooked pasta until all the pasta is completely coated, then pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle reserved bacon on top.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, until hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh minced parsley if desired.