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…
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).
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).
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).
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?
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?!
How to make Chicken Pasta Bake (Full Recipe & Video)
Chicken Pasta Bake
- 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):
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
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!