Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta is a family-friendly meal that’s loaded with flavor! It’s a comfort dish featuring tender pasta, juicy chicken bites, and crispy bacon, all tossed in a creamy three-cheese ranch sauce.
Creamy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta is like mac & cheese plus chicken, bacon, and ranch seasoning. It’s a fun, delicious, family-approved dish that you’re sure to love!
Why You’ll Love This Chicken Bacon Pasta
Here are the top reasons why this dish stands out for our family:
- Pasta, cheese, bacon & ranch! Let’s just cut to the chase. This is the #1 reason why my family loves this meal. It’s packed with crave-worthy flavor and texture, a fabulously fun mac & cheese recipe!
- Hearty and satisfying. There’s plenty of protein from the chicken, bacon, cheese (3 kinds!), and milk, which makes for a very satisfying meal.
- Cozy and comforting. Whether you call it a bake, a casserole, or a hotdish (like we do here in the Midwest), baked pasta dishes with a flavorful cheesy sauce are always a winner when it comes to comfort food recipes.
- Easy to make. To incorporate crispy bacon and flavorful seared ranch chicken, this recipe does include a few steps. But it’s an easy process, I promise, with big-time delicious results!
Check out this list of everything you’ll need for chicken bacon ranch pasta.
Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredient amounts and full instructions.
- Pasta – My family loves cavatappi, but you could use any medium-sized pasta shape that you like. Rigatoni, penne, ziti, and elbow macaroni would all be great.
- Bacon – Bacon adds a salty, crispy bite to the pasta. I like to use thick-cut bacon in this recipe.
- Chicken – I use chicken breasts, but you could use chicken thighs if you prefer.
- Ranch seasoning – This dry seasoning is a great way to give the pasta a punch of delicious ranch flavor. You can find ranch seasoning packets next to the bottled ranch at the grocery store. A 1-ounce ranch seasoning packet equals approximately 3½ tablespoons.
- Onion & garlic – These veggies add delicious earthy flavor to the pasta.
- Flour – A small amount of all-purpose flour thickens the creamy cheese sauce a bit.
- Milk & cream – A combination of whole milk and heavy cream creates a rich alfredo-like sauce for the pasta.
- Mozzarella, Parmesan & cheddar – Three kinds of cheese make for wonderful flavor and texture. Mozzarella offers melty, gooey awesomeness. Parmesan adds a salty, nutty flavor. And cheddar gives more melty texture, plus a deeper cheese flavor.
- Red pepper flakes – Red pepper flakes add a bit of spice. Feel free to add as little or as much as you like – or to eliminate it entirely.
- Green onions – This garnish adds fresh flavor and color right at the end, which is a perfect contrast to the rest of the baked dish.
How to Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Here’s how to make this easy recipe!
- Prep. Preheat the oven to 400° F and lightly grease a 9″ x 13” baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Cook the pasta. Cook the cavatappi in a pot of boiling water, just until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Cook the bacon. Cook the bacon in a large pot for 5-7 minutes, until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the grease in the pan.
- Season and cook the chicken. Season the chicken with ranch seasoning, then sear it in the bacon drippings for 2-3 minutes per side – it won’t be fully cooked, and that is okay! Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Cook the onion & garlic. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pot, then add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and flour, and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the milk & cream. Stir in the milk and cream, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Use a whisk to smooth out any lumps.
- Simmer the sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, until bubbly and lightly thickened.
- Stir in the cheese. Add 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan, all of the cheddar, and the remaining ranch seasoning (and optional red pepper flakes). Stir until the cheeses have melted.
- Add the pasta, chicken & bacon. Remove the pot from the heat and fold in the pasta, chicken, and bacon; transfer to the baking dish.
- Top with cheese. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.
- Bake. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Garnish & serve. Sprinkle with green onions and serve immediately.
Tips and Variation Ideas
Read on for a few tips to ensure this chicken bacon pasta turns out perfectly:
- Cook the pasta to al dente. This means you don’t want to overcook your pasta. While it’s in the oven, the pasta will cook a little bit longer in the sauce so it’s better if it’s slightly firm when it goes in.
- Swap the bacon for sausage. I truly love bacon pasta, but if you want to try something different, substituting diced or crumbled sausage for the bacon would be a nice contrast to the chicken. It would also bring a similar salty, smoky flavor to the finished dish.
- Add some heat. For those who appreciate a little kick in their meals, add some chopped jalapeno along with the onion.
What Goes With Bacon Ranch Pasta?
You can serve bacon ranch pasta all on its own – or add a salad or some vegetables to round out your plate. Here are a few suggestions for accompaniments:
- Add a salad. I love pairing a rich pasta dish with a fresh salad. Some salads that would go well with chicken bacon ranch pasta include my Italian chopped salad or roasted beet salad.
- With bread. A fresh crusty loaf would be perfect to sop up the delectable sauce! Or you could just go all out and make my cheesy homemade garlic bread for the ultimate in cozy carbs.
- Serve with vegetables. Similar to the idea of adding salad, veggies are a great lighter option. Try roasted asparagus or honey garlic carrots.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
To reheat, place a portion of pasta in a microwave-safe bowl and spoon in a little milk or cream to moisten it, if needed. Then place the pasta in the microwave and heat for about 1 minute, depending on the amount, stirring halfway through, until hot.
- 16 ounces uncooked cavatappi
- ½ pound (about 6 slices) thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ½” pieces
- 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning, divided
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (use more if you really like garlic!)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (I recommend whole milk mozzarella)
- 1½ cups grated parmesan, divided
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional and to taste
- 3 tablespoons sliced green onions, optional garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400° F and lightly grease a 9" x 13” baking dish (a 3 or 4 quart pan will work as well) with non-stick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the cavatappi just until al dente, according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes, or until crisp and browned. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon and leave the grease in the pan.
- Season the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of the ranch seasoning. Add the chicken to the pan with the bacon drippings and sear for 2-3 minutes per side, or until the chicken is lightly browned – it won’t be fully cooked yet, that’s okay! Remove the chicken to a plate and set it aside.
- Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings (no need to wash the pan). Add the diced onion to the drippings and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until tender.
- Add the garlic and flour. Cook for an additional minute, stirring often.
- Next stir in the milk and cream, making sure to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Use a whisk to smooth out any lumps.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbly and just barely thickened. It will thicken much more when the cheese is added.
- Add 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella, 1 cup of the grated parmesan, all of the cheddar, and the remaining tablespoon of ranch seasoning (and the red pepper flakes, if using). Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pasta, chicken, and bacon.
- Transfer the pasta to the greased baking dish and then sprinkle over the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 732Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 177mgSodium: 1168mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 51g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
More Easy Pasta Recipes to Try
- Baked Shrimp Mac & Cheese
- Shrimp and Tomato Pasta in Tomato-Chile Cream Sauce
- Spaghetti Hotdish
- Spicy Lasagna Hotdish