Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

This Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta is comfort food at it’s finest. It has a cheesy garlic cream sauce with ranch seasoning, your choice of pasta, and juicy, golden chicken. Your family will want this dinner every week!

It even makes a great casserole recipe that you can prepare up to 2 days ahead of time!

A plate full of spiral pasta in a ranch cream sauce topped with cheese and crispy bacon.

About This Recipe

I have been making Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta since (at least) 2014. It’s a GEM of a dinner recipe that I can promise you’ll love.

It comes together really quickly and I love that it can transform into a make-ahead casserole recipe too.

You can also add vegetables like broccoli or peas to this. I swear, your kids will still eat it.

Let’s go over some quick Q&A and get that bacon frying!

What You’ll Need

  • Cheddar Cheese– shred it yourself from a block at home for creamiest results.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Flour
  • Bacon- Use high quality if at all possible, it makes all the difference. (I like Oscar Meyer.)
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Pasta- Rotini, Bow Tie Pasta, Penne, Rigatoni all work.
  • Garlic- Mince it fresh at home. This garlic twister makes it easy. (Way better than the jarred stuff.)
  • Half and Half- Read on for substitution options.
  • Ranch Seasoning MixI buy mine in bulk.

PRO TIP: Add steamed broccoli to the mix, your family will love it.

Note: Full quantities and recipe instructions are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.


Instructions

  • Cook the bacon on low, using kitchen tongs to flip it occasionally. Once cooked, remove and set aside.
  • Leave 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in the pan. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, and 2 tsp Italian seasoning. Saute on medium-high for about 5 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.
  • Begin boiling water and cook pasta according to package instructions as you continue to prepare the sauce.Bacon cooking in a skillet next to a skillet filled with golden chicken.
  • Add minced garlic to the pan, saute for one minute. Slowly add the half and half.
  • Gradually whisk in the shredded cheddar, stirring as you do so.
  • Reduce heat to medium.

A skillet with diced garlic next to a skillet with half and half with a hand sprinkling cheese in it.

  • Stir in the ranch seasoning. Add the cooked chicken back to the pan.

A cream sauce with ranch seasoning and diced chicken being added.

  • Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing. Once ready to serve, top with bacon.
  • See additional optional step below.

A skillet with cream sauce with pasta being added to make bacon ranch chicken pasta.

Optional:

  • Add 1.5 cups additional cheddar cheese to the top of an oven-safe skillet and bake at 400° F until the cheese melts and begins to crisp.
  • You can also transfer this to a 9 x 13 casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake at 400° F until crispy on top.

Using Milk Instead of Half and Half

  • Anytime you add milk or cream to heat, you run the risk of having it curdle. The extra fat in half and half makes it less likely to curdle.
  • You can also use whole milk in this recipe, or 1/2 evaporated milk 1/2 water. Make sure you whisk it constantly as it cooks and that you don’t increase the heat too high.

Make-Ahead Casserole Method

To make this recipe up to 2 days ahead of time, make these modifications:

  • Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than you normally would.
  • Follow all other instructions as indicated and transfer to a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • Remove from the fridge and let it sit out for 30 minutes. Top with an additional 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese.
  • Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  • Uncover, bake at 400 degrees until the top is crisp. About 5 minutes. Serve!

PRO Tips For This Recipe

  • Shred the chicken from a block at home instead of buying pre-packaged shredded cheese. This will result in better flavor and a much smoother consistency.
  • Let the cheese come to room temperature before adding it to the warm (not too hot) base, is the KEY to a perfectly creamy consistency.
  • High quality cheese & bacon makes a huge difference.
  • I highly recommend topping it with more cheese at the end and baking at 400 until the top is crisp.

Storage

Refrigerator

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freezer

  • I personally love to freeze this pasta for easy lunches, however cream based sauces do change slightly in consistency after being reheated, (but still tastes great).

My Most Popular Recipes-Try These Next!

Spiral pasta with chicken in a white ranch cream sauce on a plate topped with cheese and crispy bacon.

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Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

5 from 7 votes
This Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta is loaded with a flavorful garlicky ranch cream sauce. It's easy to make on the stove top and is a popular family dinner idea!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt/Pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta, rotini, penne, rigatoni, bow tie, all work!
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 cups half and half, can sub whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons dry ranch dressing seasoning mix

Instructions

  • Shred the cheddar cheese and set it aside, allowing it to get to room temperature. This helps it melt so it's nice and creamy.
  • Take out your bacon and let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes prior to frying.
  • Use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon into smaller squares. Heat the it slowly on low heat, turn the it over as it begins to curl for even cooking. Leave 2 Tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan.
  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle with desired amounts of salt and pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, and 2 tsp Italian seasoning. Toss in 3 tablespoons of flour.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside once cooked.
  • Meanwhile, being boiling your pasta water and cook pasta according to package instructions.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and saute for one minute.
  • Temper the half and half by heating in the microwave for 40 seconds. Gradually whisk it into the pan.
  • Slowly whisk in the cheese and ranch seasoning. Stir constantly.
  • Add the chicken back to the pan, and mix in the cooked pasta.
  • Turn heat to low. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing.
  • Crumble the bacon into smaller pieces if desired and sprinkle over the pasta prior to serving.
  • Optional:
    -Add an additional 1.5 cups of cheddar to the top of your oven-safe skillet and bake at 400 degrees until the cheese begins to brown.
    -You can also transfer this to a 9 x 13 casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake at 400° F until crispy on top.

Notes

Make-Ahead Casserole Method

To make this recipe up to 2 days ahead of time, make these modifications:
  • Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than you normally would.
  • Follow all other instructions as indicated and transfer to a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • Remove from the fridge and let it sit out for 30 minutes. Top with an additional 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese.
  • Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 
  • Uncover, bake at 400 degrees until the top is crisp. About 5 minutes. Serve!

Nutrition

Calories: 675kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 43g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Cholesterol: 147mg, Sodium: 1162mg, Potassium: 540mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 870IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 453mg, Iron: 1mg

 

Savory Pasta smothered in a creamy ranch sauce with bites of seared chicken and crispy bacon. | The Cozy Cook | #pasta #bacon #ranch #comfortfood #italian #creamsauce #dinner #main