Chicken Pasta Bake (simple, delicious dinner)

Chicken pasta bake is a simple and delicious dinner that will please even the pickiest eaters.

chicken pasta bake in a white casserole dish closeup

We make this often in our house. I usually make some extra chicken breasts for a different meal, earlier in the week. This is a great way to use chicken breasts, and a great way to get maximum mileage for your effort in the kitchen.

You can use Instant Pot chicken breasts, oven baked chicken breasts, or even store-bought ones.

I am using my Air Fryer chicken breasts in this recipe, and they are what is seen in these photos. I diced them up into bite-sized cubes.

chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces on a wood cutting board

Choose quality ingredients

As always, this chicken pasta bake will taste best if you choose high quality ingredients.

penne pasta, jarred pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese on a marble counter

Yes, I am using store-bought pasta sauce. No shame in my game, people!๐Ÿ’๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ There are some really great ones out there. Feel free to use your favorite! A couple of our favorites are this Aldi organic marinara (pictured) and Trader Joeโ€™s organic marinara.

Also, we love penne pasta in this recipe. But you can use your favorite cut of pasta. Farfalle pasta (bow ties) works great in this recipe, and so does rotini (spirals).

We also love, love, love the ButcherBox organic free range chicken breasts. All of their meats are top notch quality and are the best we have ever tasted! Side note: You can get 2 pounds of ground beef FREE for life when you sign up through my affiliate link here.

Okay, back to the chicken pasta bake recipe!

Assembling chicken pasta bake

Here is how I assemble chicken pasta bake.

After I cook the pasta and drain it, I return it to the cooking pot (removed from heat), and I toss it with the pasta sauce. Then I add half of the pasta to a casserole dish. I am using a 2.5 quart oval Corningware casserole dish from this set. We got that set as a wedding present thirteen years ago, and it is still going strong!๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป A 9 x 13 casserole dish would also work great.

Once half the pasta is in there, I add a ricotta parmesan filling. This filling is optional, and we make this recipe without it if we are super busy, and it is still good. But the filling really makes it extra cheesy, delicious and satisfying. Just spoon it on in little globs like this.

spooning ricotta mixture onto pasta

Then use the back of your spoon to kind of spread it around. Add the other half of the pasta on top. Then add the chicken on top of that.

adding chicken on top of penne pasta to make chicken pasta bake

Next sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

sprinkling mozzarella on top of chicken pasta bake

Sometimes I sprinkle with dried oregano, which gives it extra flavor. Sometimes I forget. ๐Ÿ˜œ No worries, itโ€™ll still be good! Bake it until that cheese gets all melty and just as it starts to turn brown, about 15 to 17 minutes.

And welcome to dinner time heaven, people. That cheese, tho!๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

spooning chicken pasta bake out of casserole dish

Modifications

You can totally substitute gluten free pasta. My only suggestion would be to cook it al dente, with a good amount of bite left to it. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven. In my experience, gluten free pasta tends to fall apart a little easier than traditional pasta. So cooking it a minute or so less than package instructions should do the trick.

We also make chicken pasta bake all the time without the ricotta parmesan filling. It makes it even quicker and easier.

chicken pasta bake overhead with salad and bread

Chicken pasta bake recipe

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spooning chicken pasta bake out of casserole dish

Chicken Pasta Bake

Chicken pasta bake is a simple and delicious dinner that will please even the pickiest eaters.

Author Marjorie @APinchOfHealthy

Ingredients

Casserole ingredients

  • 1
    pound
    penne pasta
    cooked and drained to package instructions in well-salted water
  • 1
    pound
    chicken
    cooked, and diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 25
    ounces
    Marinara sauce
    (I am using a jar of Aldi organic Marinara)
  • 1 1/2
    cups
    shredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    oregano
  • 2
    Tablespoons
    chopped fresh parsley
    (optional, fresh basil would also be fantastic!)

Ricotta parmesan filling (optional)

  • 1
    pound
    part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/3
    cup
    parmesan cheese
    grated
  • 1
    teaspoon
    parsley
    dried
  • 3/4
    teaspoon
    garlic powder
  • 1/4
    teaspoon
    salt and pepper
    (1/4 teaspoon each)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Mix up the ricotta parmesan filling in a medium bowl, and set aside.

  3. Toss the cooked pasta with the jar of sauce. I do this in the same (empty, removed from heat) pot I cooked the pasta in to dirty up fewer dishes.

  4. Pour half the pasta and sauce in a casserole dish. I am using a Corningware 2.5 quart casseroled dish. A 9 x 13 also works.

  5. Spoon on ricotta filling, and use the back of your spoon to carefully spread it around evenly.

  6. Add the other half of the pasta mixture.

  7. Layer on the bite-sized chicken pieces, making sure to spread them somewhat evenly.

  8. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.

  9. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top of that.

  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees until the cheese melts, about 15 to 17 minutes. See notes for baking pre-prepped refrigerated version.

  11. Remove from oven, and sprinkle on fresh herbs (parsley or basil) to garnish, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional information is approximate and was calculated using a recipe nutrition label generator.

If you want to prep the casserole ahead and refrigerate it, here are my suggestions. Prepare everything, except do not sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top yet. When you get ready to bake it, bake the casserole (without the mozzarella) for 10 minutes first. Then remove from the oven and sprinkle on mozzarella. Cook until cheese melts and just as it starts to brown, about 15 to 17 minutes.

We make this without the ricotta parmesan filling often, and it is still good. The filling makes it more delicious, but sometimes you just need ultra quick and easy.

You can use gluten free pasta in this recipe. Cook to al dente (still with some bite to it), about a minute shy of package instructions. This prevents it from falling apart.

Nutrition Facts

Chicken Pasta Bake

Amount Per Serving

Calories 446
Calories from Fat 99

% Daily Value*

Fat 11g17%

Saturated Fat 6g38%

Cholesterol 70mg23%

Sodium 874mg38%

Potassium 724mg21%

Carbohydrates 51g17%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 6g7%

Protein 34g68%

Vitamin A 836IU17%

Vitamin C 8mg10%

Calcium 395mg40%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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