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Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake

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If you’re looking for a dish that combines all your favorite flavors into one hearty meal, look no further than this Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake. This recipe is packed with creamy Alfredo sauce, tangy ranch dressing, crispy bacon, and tender chicken, all mixed together with penne pasta and topped with gooey mozzarella cheese. Perfect for a family dinner or a potluck, this pasta bake is sure to become a household favorite.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 jar (about 15 ounces) Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1.25 lbs chicken breast, cubed and sautéed
  • 1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Ingredients:

  • Cook the Bacon: Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the skillet and let it drain on paper towels. Once cooled, crumble the bacon and set it aside.
  • Cook the Chicken: In the same skillet, sauté the cubed chicken breast until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • Cook the Pasta: Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

2. Mix the Sauces:

  • Combine Alfredo and Ranch: In a large mixing bowl, combine the Alfredo sauce and ranch dressing. Stir until well mixed.

3. Assemble the Bake:

  • Mix Ingredients: Add the cooked pasta, sautéed chicken, and crumbled bacon to the bowl with the sauce. Mix until everything is well coated with the sauce.
  • Add Cheese: Stir in half of the grated mozzarella cheese into the pasta mixture.

4. Bake:

  • Transfer to Baking Dish: Pour the pasta mixture into a large baking dish.
  • Top with Cheese: Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese evenly over the top of the pasta.
  • Bake: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

5. Serve:

  • Garnish: Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chives if desired.
  • Enjoy: Serve hot and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness!

Cooking Notes and Variations:

Cooking Notes:

  • Chicken: You can use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to save time.
  • Bacon: For a healthier option, you can use turkey bacon.
  • Sauce: If you prefer a less creamy dish, reduce the amount of Alfredo sauce and increase the ranch dressing.

Variations:

  • Vegetables: Add vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or bell peppers for extra nutrition and flavor.
  • Cheese: Substitute or add other types of cheese such as cheddar, Parmesan, or provolone for a different flavor profile.
  • Spicy: Add a dash of hot sauce or red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

Keto and Low-Carb Version:

Keto Pasta:

  • Replace the penne pasta with shirataki noodles or zucchini noodles to keep it low-carb.

Keto Sauce:

  • Use a keto-friendly Alfredo sauce and make your own ranch dressing using keto-approved ingredients.

Keto Cheese:

  • Ensure that the cheese you use is low in carbs. Most hard cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan are keto-friendly.

This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Bake is a perfect blend of creamy, tangy, and savory flavors that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. It’s easy to make and versatile enough to customize to your liking. Whether you’re making it for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this dish is sure to impress. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh herbs for a touch of color and flavor!

FAQs

Q: Can I make this pasta bake ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can prepare the pasta bake ahead of time. Assemble the dish as directed but do not bake it. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, let it come to room temperature and bake as directed.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers?
A: Yes, you can freeze leftovers. Store in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven until warmed through.

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Q: What other proteins can I use?
A: You can use cooked turkey, ham, or even ground beef as an alternative to chicken.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?
A: Yes, you can use any pasta shape you prefer, such as rotini, fusilli, or farfalle.

Q: How can I make it healthier?
A: To make this dish healthier, use whole wheat pasta, low-fat cheese, and a light Alfredo sauce. Add more vegetables to increase the nutritional value