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This chicken and bacon pasta bake includes tender chicken breast, lots of smoky bacon bits, lots of cheese, and of course pasta to make it all complete.
A creamy, savory sauce combines with all the other flavors to make for a fairly quick, make-again, one-pot meal the whole family will love.
What You'll Need
8 slices bacon , thick and meaty
1 pound chicken breast , cut into strips
shredded cheddar cheese
pepper Jack cheese, shredded
parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
2 Tbs butter
cream or milk
2 cups broccoli , cut in bite-sized pieces
I LOVE BACON AND CHEESE AND PASTA!
If you've been around my blog for a while, you'll know that I really love bacon. And cheese. And pasta.
So this chicken pasta bake with bacon is no surprise!
A one-pot casserole that includes all the goodness of chicken, bacon, cheese, and pasta is a real winner for most families!
This pasta dish is layered with chicken on the bottom followed by broccoli and bacon.
On the top is the cheesy macaroni with extra cheeses and bacon loaded on top.
The whole mixture is then baked to give a nice browning to the cheesy top.
A creamy, cheesy, bacony, pasta-laden, one-pot dinner for the whole family!
Making Chicken Pasta Bake
You will begin cooking your bacon first in an oven-safe cast iron skillet (I love my Lodge skillet!) You may have to cook the bacon in two batches if you don't have an extra-large skillet.
While your bacon is cooking, you will cook the pasta according to package directions.
I used macaroni pasta, but you can use any type of small pasta you have on hand - like penne, shells, rotini, or bowties.
When the bacon is done and crispy, you will remove it from the skillet to drain and remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Next, preheat your oven to 350 F so it has time to heat up while finishing the next steps of the casserole.
Heat the skillet to low-medium heat and cook the chicken, garlic, and oregano for 5 minutes. Then turn chicken over, add the broccoli, cover, and cook 5 minutes more.
When your pasta is done, drain, add butter, half the cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, all the parmesan cheese, sour cream, and milk.
Stir and let the cheeses melt slightly on low heat for 5 minutes uncovered.
Uncover chicken and broccoli mixture and crumble half of the bacon over top.
Pour macaroni mixture over chicken/broccoli mixture. Top with the rest of the cheese and bacon and bake 15-20 minutes or until browned and melty.
Serve right away with a big leafy salad and/or bread of choice.
FAQs & Tips
Can I use leftover chicken or turkey in this casserole?
Yes, leftover chicken or turkey would work nicely in this dish. You will, however, need to make a change in the recipe slightly.
Since you don't need to cook the chicken, simply add it to the pan once your broccoli is done.
Also, if using uncooked chicken, feel free to cut the chicken into chunks instead of strips if you wish.
What kind of bacon should I use? can I use turkey bacon?
I used just plain pork bacon that was thick and fairly meaty. However, you can use thinner bacon or turkey bacon in this casserole.
Keep in mind that if you bacon is more fatty, more of it will cook away and end up as liquid fat in the pan. If this is the case, you may want to cook up more of it to add to the recipe.
Also, if your bacon is not thick you may want to cook more slices to make up for the amount of the bacon I used (about 1 to 1-½ heaping cups of the crumbles).
Cooking the bacon
Make sure you don't under cook your bacon. It needs to be nice and crispy for best flavor and texture.
Also, don't skimp on the bacon fat you leave behind to cook the chicken in.
If you are using cooked chicken in the recipe, you likely won't need as much of the fat to actually cook the chicken; however, the fat will add lots of flavor.
This bacon fat will deliver lots of flavor to the end casserole dish. Leaving 2 tablespoons should be the perfect amount.
Cooking the pasta
Cook the macaroni only until al dente (according to package directions), as you don't want it over done and mushy. All the pasta pieces should stay intact throughout the whole process.
Which pasta is best for this casserole?
I used macaroni in this pasta bake, but I also love to use rotini. Other small pasta shapes would work well with this recipe as well.
Think penne, bowties, or shells. These would all be great substitutions to the macaroni.
How long do I cook the broccoli?
Don't overcook the broccoli, as it will end up mushy as well. You should aim for fork tender with the ability to still pick it up with a fork without it falling apart.
Cooking the broccoli for 5 minutes (according to the instructions) should be plenty to achieve this level of doneness.
If you cook the broccoli a little less than this, that would be better if you're concerned about the broccoli becoming too soft during baking.
Keep in mind that the cooking time of the broccoli also depends on how large your pieces are. The recipe calls for "bite-sized pieces," and this could mean something different to different people.
To be more specific, my pieces were about ½ inch cubes. If you have larger pieces, you may need to cook longer. If you have smaller shreds, you won't need to cook it more than a minute or two on the stove top.
If you don't want to layer the casserole, feel free to mix all the ingredients together once adding the pasta to the pan.
I do recommend topping with the cheese and bacon, however, as this will add a nice presentation.
Don't forget to pin this recipe for later and share on your favorite social media platforms. Also, let me know if you try it in the comments below!
Other Delicious Recipes to Try:
You may also like my Five Cheese Marinara or my Spaghetti Bolognaise recipe (simple, yet such delicious pasta sauces)!
Tuna and Rice Casserole Recipe (on the stove top)
Corn Potato Chowder (Easy, Hearty & Delicious!)
Baked Mahi Mahi Recipe (Simple & So Flavorful!)
Authentic Jambalaya Recipe (Lots of Spicy Flavors!)
Turkey Ala King (Using Leftover Turkey or Chicken)
London Broil Crock Pot Recipe (with Built-In Gravy)
Chicken and Bacon Pasta Bake
- Iron Skillet
- 8 slices bacon , thick and meaty
- 1 pound chicken breast , cut into strips
- 1-½ cups macaroni, uncooked
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup pepper Jack cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
- 4 ounces sour cream
- 2 Tbs butter
- ½ cup cream or milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
- 2 Tbs garlic, minced
- 2 cups broccoli , cut in bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbs dry oregano
- Cook bacon in iron skillet. May have to do two batches.
- While bacon is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions.
- When bacon is done, remove from pan and drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cook the chicken, garlic, and oregano in the skillet on low-medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn chicken, add broccoli, cover and cook 5 minutes more.
- When pasta is done, drain, add butter, half the cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, all the parmesan cheese, sour cream, and milk. Stir and melt slightly on low heat for 5 minutes uncovered.
- Uncover chicken and broccoli mixture and crumble half of the bacon over top.
- Pour macaroni mixture over chicken/broccoli mixture.
- Top with the rest of the cheese and bacon and bake 15-20 minutes or until browned.
This is such a fantastic Recipe. I love all the cheese in this pasta!
Thanks Crystal! Cheese and pasta (along with bacon) are my favorites!
Comfort food at its finest! Easily has become a new family favorite recipe; hands down delicious!
Thanks Sara! We love it here!
For all the pasta bake lovers out there... definitely the pasta bake recipe to keep handy for that special dinner. The bacon bits must be adding so much flavor to the dish!
Yes, Elaine ... the bacon really does add a lot of flavor! Thanks for stopping by!
Lisa | Garlic & Zest
So, I am now seriously craving your chicken bacon pasta! It looks so scrumptious, like the BEST comfort food. Pass a fork!
Thanks Lisa! The perfect comfort food for us! Hope you love it!
Omg this is comfort food at its best!! It's like mac & cheese taken to the next level!
Yes indeed, Anjali! We love it!
Do you have any recommendations for a substitution for the sour cream? We don’t care for that sour taste from that or cream cheese in macaroni and cheese recipes. Thank you.
Thanks for your question, Shanna. Not sure, really, as I haven't made this recipe without the sour cream. You could try ricotta or cottage cheese, as it would be a milder flavor, but I'm not sure the texture would be the same. Let me know what you come up with.
OMG I am officially drooling over this! Looks amazing
Matthew Raymond Doering
This was quite good. We added more liquids and it was a perfect consistency. Flavor was appreciated by young and old alike
So glad to hear, Matthew!