Cheese/ Chicken/ Hearty Dinners/ Pasta

Chicken Pasta Bake

January 8, 2021 by Chris Collins

This Tomato Chicken Pasta Bake is easy, cheesy and loaded with flavour. It’s 100% family approved!

If you’re looking for a new hearty dinner to add to your rotations look no further. This pasta bake is epic. It’s the perfect way to feed 5 (4 if you’re really hungry) and it’s no fuss all flavour. You’re gonna love it. Follow me…

overhead shot of serving spoon digging into pasta bake in serving dish

Chicken

Alrighty, first things first let’s talk chicken. There’s nothing worse than a yummy pasta bake with chewy/unseasoned chicken. In fact it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it 😢 If you’re wondering ‘how do I cook chicken before adding pasta?‘ here’s what I recommend:

  • Room Temp – You want the chicken close to room temp before you fry it. Frying cold meat straight from the fridge causes it to seize up and go chewy.
  • Butterfly the breast – Slicing each breast in half means you’ll be left with 4 even sized breasts, meaning they’ll cook at a more even rate. It also means they’ll cook quicker too.
  • Season – Don’t skimp the seasoning! For this recipe I use dried basil/parsley, garlic powder and salt & pepper.
  • Rest then slice – Let the chicken rest before slicing, just so it can retain its juices.

Can I make the chicken ahead of time?

Yep! Just allow to cool then tightly cover in the fridge overnight, then slice before needed. It won’t be quite as soft/juicy but for convenience reasons it works just fine!

Can I sub leftover/cooked rotisserie chicken?

If you’ve got chicken that needs using up you can sub that, just add the seasoning for the fresh chicken in with the sauce so there’s no flavour wasted.

Process shots: add seasoning/oil to chicken (photo 1), rub in (photo 2), add to frying pan (photo 3), fry both sides until golden/cooked through (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to fry chicken breasts

Tomato Chicken Pasta

When it comes to the pasta sauce, you could go down the road of a more creamy pasta bake, but I much prefer a tomatoey one. The bulk of the sauce comes from tomato passata (pureed tomatoes) but I also love throwing in some sun dried tomatoes, just for an extra punch of flavour.

Al Dente Pasta

For any pasta bake it’s important to slightly undercook the pasta. You want the pasta to still have a slight chew to it before you combine with the sauce and bake, otherwise it’ll come out soft and mushy on the otherside!

Process shots: fry onion in sun dried tomato oil (photo 1), add garlic & sun dried tomatoes (photo 2), combine and fry (photo 3), pour in passata (photo 4), add parsley, seasoning and chilli flakes (photo 5), stir and simmer (photo 6), add pasta, pasta water, parmesan and chicken (photo 7), stir to combine (photo 8).

8 step by step photos showing how to make chicken pasta

Chicken Pasta Bake

Now here’s where the fun begins. The pasta will taste delicious as it is, but I like to take things up a few notches.

Best cheese for pasta bake?

I like to use a combo of mozzarella and parmesan. The mozzarella gives you that classic gooey cheese pull, whilst the parmesan helps crisp up the top and adds a punch of flavour.

Pasta bake with pesto

My secret weapon for this pasta bake is drizzling basil pesto on top of the pasta and underneath the mozzarella. This adds heaps of flavours and not only goes perfectly with the tomatoey flavour, but also goes perfectly with the mozzarella/parmesan. Don’t skip this!

Process shots: add pasta to baking dish (photo 1), drizzle with pesto (photo 2), top with mozzarella (photo 3), sprinkle with parmesan then bake (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to make chicken pasta bake

Chicken Pasta Bake FAQ

Can I prep this ahead of time?

I tend to make it fresh, but you can prep ahead of time. Make up until baking then tightly cover and store in the fridge. Bring to room temp before baking (more on this in the recipe card).

Can I reheat leftovers?

Sure! Tightly seal leftovers in the fridge and reheat until the chicken is piping hot again.

What can I serve with chicken pasta bake?

Is it even legal to serve pasta bake (or any pasta for that matter) without garlic bread? For a level up consider my cheesy garlic bread and pesto cheesy garlic bread!

serving spoon scooping out pasta from dish with cheese pull

For another easy and delicious chicken pasta recipe check out my Chicken Chorizo Pasta!

For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:

Pasta Bake Recipes

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this chicken pasta bake shall we?!

overhead shot of pasta served in white dish with silver fork digging in

How to make Chicken Pasta Bake (Full Recipe & Video)

serving spoon scooping out pasta from dish with cheese pull

Chicken Pasta Bake

This Tomato Chicken Pasta Bake is easy, cheesy and loaded with flavour. It's 100% family approved!
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 5
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Western
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Calories per serving: 871kcal
Cost per serving: £2.50 / $3

Equipment:

  • Large Deep Frying Pan or Pot (for chicken/sauce)
  • Medium/Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
  • 9x13" Baking Dish (or similar size)
  • Tongs (for frying chicken)
  • Wooden Spoon & Serving Spoon
  • Fine Cheese Grater
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board

Ingredients (check list):

Chicken

  • 2x 7-9oz/200-250g Chicken Breasts (brought close to room temp)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp EACH: Dried Parsley, Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Garlic Powder, Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Pasta

  • 12oz / 350g Penne (or other short cut pasta)
  • 4 cups / 1litre/kg Tomato Passata (pureed tomatoes in US)
  • 1 small bunch Fresh Parsley, approx 1/4cup finely diced (can sub fresh basil or mix of both)
  • 1 cup / 125g Sun Dried Tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato Oil (sub olive oil)
  • 1 medium Onion, finely diced
  • 2 fat cloves of Garlic, minced/finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar, or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to spice preference
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Pasta Bake

  • 2x 4.5oz/125g balls of Fresh Mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup Basil Pesto or enough to drizzle over top
  • 2/3 cup / 60g freshly grated Parmesan

Instructions:

  • Prep Chicken: Butterfly chicken breasts right through the centre to make 4 even sized breasts. Coat in olive oil, dried basil & parsley, garlic powder and salt & pepper.
  • Cook Chicken: Place in a frying pan over medium high heat and fry both sides until lightly charred, with the centre white all the way through. Place to one side and allow to rest, then slice into thin strips when needed.
  • Sauce: In the same pan turn heat to a medium and add in sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil). Add diced onion and fry until it softens/begins to brown, then add in sun dried tomatoes & garlic and fry for another couple of minutes. Pour in passata then add parsley, chilli flakes, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer on low heat for 15-20mins until it begins to thicken slightly. This is also important to allow the flavours to marry together.
  • Pasta: Add pasta to a large pot of heavily salted water and cook until al dente. You want it still a little hard as it'll continue cooking in the pasta bake. Scoop out 1/3cup/80ml of the starchy pasta water just before draining.
  • Combine: Add drained pasta to sauce and pour in 1/3/cup/80ml starchy pasta water. Add sliced chicken and 1/3cup/30g parmesan and stir to combine. Pour into a baking dish a level out with a wooden spoon.
  • Pasta Bake: Drizzle over pesto (no need to spread it, just dot it around). Add mozzarella slices to cover then evenly sprinkle over 2/3cup/60g parmesan. Pop in the oven at 200C/390F for 20-25mins or until golden and bubbly.

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Can I use cooked rotisserie chicken? - Yep! Just dice into chunks and stir through the sauce with the pasta. Still use all the chicken seasoning above (basil/parsley/garlic powder) and just place in with the sauce to cook, just so you don't lose out on flavour. 2 packed cups cooked chicken should suffice.
b) Can I prep this ahead of time? - I usually like to make fresh as I find prepping ahead alters the texture slightly. If you are prepping ahead I recommend allowing the sauce and pasta to individually cool before combining, otherwise the pasta continues to cook and soaks up the sauce as it rests. If this happens the pasta comes out mushy and the sauce drys up. Prep up until adding the cheese, tightly cover in the fridge overnight. Bring to room temp before baking (otherwise it won't cook evenly) then bake as instructed.
c) Al Dente Pasta - You'll want to knock off a minute or two from packet guidance. It's important that the pasta is still a teeny bit hard otherwise it'll overcook in the oven and go mushy.
d) Leftovers - Tightly cover and store in the fridge for 2-3days. Reheat in the microwave until the chicken is piping hot again.
e) Calories - Whole recipe divided by 5 using 7oz/200g chicken breasts.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Pasta Bake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 871 Calories from Fat 361
% Daily Value*
Fat 40.06g62%
Saturated Fat 13.452g67%
Trans Fat 0.183g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.938g
Monounsaturated Fat 17.816g
Cholesterol 119mg40%
Sodium 1254mg52%
Potassium 1891mg54%
Carbohydrates 85.97g29%
Fiber 13.4g54%
Sugar 15.87g18%
Protein 47.52g95%
Vitamin A 2319IU46%
Vitamin C 32.4mg39%
Calcium 549mg55%
Iron 6.56mg36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

If you loved this chicken pasta bake recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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