This Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is creamy, cheesy, comfort food at its finest – your whole family will request it again and again!
This Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is the family friendly, meal prep friendly, cozy comfort food you didn’t know you needed, but now you can’t live without! Because juicy chicken + salty bacon + tangy ranch + creamy cheesy sauce = a slam dunk every time! This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta can be made with whatever veggies you like, served from the skillet or baked, and is an ideal crowd-pleasing, make-and-take dish or great for leftovers. Serve this pasta casserole with garlic bread and fresh tomato cucumber salad for a complete meal the whole family will love!
If you love pasta, look no further! This Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole joins my Cajun Chicken Pasta Alfredo, Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Penne, Classic Lasagna, Cheesy Tortellini Al Forno and Cheesy Taco Pasta Bake as a richly satisfying and decadently delicious pasta bakes that will be on repeat!
HOW TO MAKE chicken bacon ranch casserole VIDEo
Ingredients in Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
This Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe is creamy, cheesy, and incredibly hearty! Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients needed for this recipe (full measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
THE PASTA AND ADD-INS
How to Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Casserole will be a favorite new addition to your weeknight lineup – with everyone cleaning their plates from adults to kids alike! Before starting this recipe, you’ll need to cook the bacon (I recommend doing so in the oven!) and also cook and shred the chicken if you didn’t buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Once those tasks are done, the rest of the Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole comes together quickly!
- Step 1: Cook the broccoli. Add the broccoli to a pot of boiling water that’s been generously salted. Cook the broccoli for 3-5 minutes, depending on how tender you like your broccoli. Remove using a slotted spoon or fine mesh sieve, then rinse with very cold water before transferring to a plate so it doesn’t continue to cook.
- Step 2: Cook the pasta. In the same pot you cooked the broccoli in, proceed to cook the pasta until al dente, rinse and drain.
- Step 3: Make the cheesy ranch sauce. Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in a mixture of melted butter and olive oil. Add the flour, then cook to get rid of the raw flour taste and smell. Gently whisk in the half and half, broth, and all of the spices (including the dry ranch seasoning mix). Simmer until thickened, then stir in the cheddar, mozzarella, and sour cream.
- Step 4: Assemble the pasta casserole. To the ranch sauce, stir in the chicken, broccoli and half of the bacon until evenly coated, followed by pasta.
- Step 5: Dig in or bake. At this point, you can serve the pasta straight from the skillet or proceed to make it a casserole. For the latter, transfer the pasta mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover with additional shredded cheddar before baking. I like to add an additional sprinkle of crumbled bacon at the halfway point for an extra pop of salty flavor.
possible recipe variations
This Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta can be made with different pasta, veggies, etc., here are a few ideas:
- Skip the baking and extra cheese. This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Casserole doesn’t have to be baked! It can be served straight out of the skillet without the added cheddar on top.
- Swap protein. Swap the shredded chicken for ground chicken, chicken sausage, lean ground beef, ground sausage or even tuna. Cook these proteins completely before adding to the pasta.
- Skip the protein. You can instantly turn this pasta casserole into a side dish by omitting the chicken. Don’t skip the bacon, as it adds tons of flavor!
- Swap veggies. Other possible veggie substitutions include petite peas, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, etc. You will want to sauté or steam the veggies before adding to the pasta.
- Add panko topping. There are two ways to add panko: 1) sprinkle panko over the top of your casserole and spray lightly with cooking spray; bake according to directions and then broil; 2) for the CRUNCHIEST panko topping, I recommend toasting it in a skillet first – life changing. To do this, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Add ¾ cup panko and stir and cook until the panko becomes golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Casserole and bake according to directions.
- Make casserole gluten-free. To make this recipe gluten free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour.
- Halve the recipe. This casserole is quite filling, so if there’s just a couple of you at home you might want to halve the recipe. To do this, simply halve all of the ingredients by using the sliding scale next to the servings in the recipe card and bake in an 8×8-inch casserole dish.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
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- 1 pound cavatappi, ritoni or penne pasta
- 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled (see notes for baking)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 onion, diced (or ½ teaspoon onion powder)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups half and half (may sub milk whisked with 1 ½ TBS cornstarch)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 (1 oz.) packet dry ranch dressing seasoning mix (2 tablespoons) or use DIY below
- 1 tsp EACH salt, dried basil, ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup sour cream (optional for extra creamy)
- 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 ½ cups shredded rotisserie chicken
DIY Ranch Seasoning (Optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 tsp EACH dried dill, dried chives
- 1 tsp EACH onion powder, garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp EACH pepper, salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add broccoli and cook 3-5 minutes, depending on how tender you like your broccoli. Using a slotted spoon or sieve, remove the broccoli and rinse with very cold water. Strain and remove to a plate. In the same pot, proceed to cook pasta al dente according to package directions (don't overcook because it's going in the oven).
- Sprinkle in the flour and cook, while stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in half and half, chicken broth and all of the seasoning. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Continue to simmer over medium heat, whisking often until thickened (but not overly thick), 5-10 minutes.
- Turn heat to low and whisk in 1 cup shredded cheddar until melted followed by 1 cup shredded mozzarella until melted. Whisk in sour cream until blended.
- Stir in chicken, broccoli and half of the bacon until evenly coated, followed by pasta (Note: If your skillet is too small, combine everything together in a large pot like the one you cooked the pasta in.)
SERVE OR ASSEMBLE AND BAKE
- Taste and season with salt, pepper or cayenne pepper to taste. Serve from the skillet (top with remaining bacon) or proceed to assemble and bake:
- Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 cup remaining freshly shredded cheddar.
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle remaining bacon over top. Return to the oven and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.
tips and tricks
- Ranch seasoning mix: You should NOT prepare the ranch dressing as instructed on the side of the seasoning packet. It gets added to the cheese sauce like any other dry herb or spice blend. You can add more or less ranch mix depending on strong you would like the flavor.
- Half and half: To make your own, combine 1 ½ cups milk and 1 ½ cups heavy cream.
- Flour: You may substitute with gluten-free flour, like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour.
- Sour cream: You can use an equal amount of full-fat plain Greek yogurt. You can also get away with nonfat Greek yogurt but it may separate slightly when baked.
- Thin sauce if needed. The cheesy ranch sauce can become too thick if it’s simmered at too high of heat or for too long. But don’t worry, it’s SO easy to fix! Simply stir in a little milk or chicken broth until it reaches desired consistency. It is important that the sauce isn’t too thick if you are making the casserole for meal prep because it will thicken further in the fridge.
- To cook bacon in the oven: Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil then line bacon down the center. Fold up the foil around the bacon so the grease won’t slide away. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crispy; for thick cut bacon, bake it closer to 30 minutes or until crispy.
- To halve the recipe: Use the sliding scale next to the servings in the recipe card and bake in an 8×8-inch casserole dish.
Meal PrepYou can make and assemble the casserole a day in advance and refrigerate (without baking), then just pop it in the oven when it’s dinner time! To Meal Prep: 1. Take care that your noodles are cooked al dente and are rinsed in cold water so they don’t keep cooking. Take care the ranch sauce isn’t too thick as it will thicken more while sitting in the refrigerator.
3. Assemble the casserole according to directions up until baking.
4. Tightly cover with foil and refrigerate.
5. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
6. Bake according to directions or until completely warmed through.
How to store and reheat
- To store: Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To reheat: Microwave for 1 minute then at 20-second intervals until warmed through or heat in the oven a 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bubbly.
- To freeze: Freeze unbaked by wrapping the casserole dish all the way around with two layers of plastic wrap followed by one layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Do NOT thaw before baking. To bake from frozen, remove plastic wrap and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until hot in the center.
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