This chicken bacon ranch pasta recipe is the ultimate comfort food made all in one pot for an easy dinner. It combines tender chicken, crispy bacon, and al dente rotini pasta tossed with a creamy ranch sauce.
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This one-pot bacon chicken ranch pasta is loaded with flavor! It’s a hearty meal combining tender rotini, diced chicken, and smokey bacon coated in a creamy ranch sauce. My simple pasta cooking technique saves you time, not washing extra dirty pots. A perfect dinner recipe for those busy weeknights!
Sliced pieces of bacon are cooked until crispy. Then, juicy diced chicken breasts cook in the flavorful drippings. Instead of boiling the pasta in a separate pot, I add it straight to the pan with chicken stock. In just 15 minutes, the pasta will be perfectly al dente. Add cream, cheddar, and homemade ranch seasoning for a luxurious sauce. It’s like macaroni and cheese taken to the next level!
- Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into about ¾ inch pieces. This will quickly sear and brown while staying juicy. Chicken thighs can be used if you prefer dark meat.
- Pasta: Use short pasta like rotini so the spirals trap the sauce. You’ll need 8 ounces or 2 ½ cups of dried pasta. Cook it with unsalted chicken stock or broth to enhance the flavorful taste. Water can be used instead, or a mixture with stock.
- Cream: Add heavy whipping cream to add a rich consistency to the sauce. It contains at least 36% milk fat, creating a creamy texture without needing a roux to thicken.
- Cheese: Add sharp cheddar cheese for a tangier flavor. The shredded cheese melts well in the sauce, adding richness.
- Seasoning: I use my homemade ranch seasoning to add a tangy herbaceous flavor to the sauce. For convenience, you can use the store-bought packets.
Crisp the bacon
You’ll need 8 ounces of bacon, regular or thick cut. Cut the strips into half-inch wide pieces. I find that you can fit more in the pan compared to cooking full strips. I add the pork to the pan before turning on the heat to gently render the fat and prevent splattering.
Saute the pieces until they are crispy, about 5 minutes—reserve 2 tablespoons of the flavorful grease in the pan to cook the chicken and vegetables.
Cook the chicken
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces for quick cooking in the bacon grease. I keep the seasonings simple with salt and pepper since the ranch seasoning is very savory and aromatic.
It only takes about 5 minutes to sear the surface and saute the poultry. Ensure the pieces are fully cooked, then transfer to a clean plate.
Saute the alliums
To add dimension and aromatics, add fresh alliums. Chopped onions and minced garlic mellow out in pungency when sauteed. Cook until they are fragrant; it adds flavor to the sauce.
Cook the pasta
Add the dried rotini to the pot with the vegetables to make this a one-pot meal. Add the chicken stock and salt to season. Boil the pasta just like the traditional cooking method, but instead, stir often until the liquid is absorbed. The process only takes about 15 minutes.
If needed, add ½ cup of water at a time until the noodles are al dente. Leave a little bit of the starchy stock in the pan. It will thicken the pasta once the cream is added.
Make the sauce
Reduce the heat to low so the heavy whipping cream does not curdle. Stir in the cream, two tablespoons of ranch seasoning, and grated cheddar cheese. This creates a creamy cheese sauce that coats the pasta. More cheese can be added, but I didn’t want the dish to become too heavy.
Stir in the cooked chicken and bacon to warm up before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, chives, or sliced green onions.
This bacon ranch chicken pasta is easy to customize! Try these flavorful suggestions for your next pot:
- Cheese: Instead of cheddar, add mozzarella, Monterey Jack, pepperjack, gouda, or smoked gouda. Grated parmesan adds a nutty flavor. Cream cheese will create an even more decadent sauce.
- Hot sauce: Make it spicy with hot sauce, Sriracha, chili pepper, cayenne, or buffalo sauce drizzled on the pasta.
- Vegetables: When cooking the onions, try adding bell peppers or mushrooms. Wilt spinach at the end of cooking or stir in peas.
- Meat: This is the perfect way to use any leftover chicken. Just shred it or dice it up. Turkey or sliced sausage also works well.
- Pasta: Try penne pasta, shells, cavatappi, or farfalle. Because of the different shapes, the volume amount may differ. Weigh out 8 ounces if possible.
- Twice baked potatoes
- Buffalo wings
- Buttermilk biscuits
- Garlic bread
- Fresh green salad with ranch dressing
Frequently asked questions
Gluten-free pasta can be cooked by the absorption method. The noodles may cook quicker or need more liquid depending on the ingredients used to make them, like rice, corn, legumes, or a combination. Adjust the cooking time and add more water as needed until the pasta is al dente.
Mild or sharp cheddar is my top choice for flavor and melt. Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and Gouda also work well. Grated parmesan is more dry, so it will add a nice salty and nutty flavor but not be melty.
The chicken pasta can be made in advance. The noodles will absorb the liquid from the stock and not be as saucy. Add some water to the pan as it’s being reheated, and the sauce will loosen up.
Can I substitute turkey bacon for regular bacon in this recipe?
Turkey bacon can be used instead of regular bacon, but it won’t be as crispy or render enough fat to cook the remaining ingredients. It contains much less fat and doesn’t have the typical marbeling like pork belly. Add 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil to the pan before cooking the chicken.
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- 8 ounces bacon , cut into ½" strips
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup diced onions, ¼" dice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 ounces dried rotini, 2 ½ cups
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock, broth, or water
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, 4 ounces
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, or chives
- Cook the Bacon – Add the bacon pieces to a large, high-sided skillet or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, sauteing until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Turn off the heat and reserve 2 tablespoons of the grease in the pan.
- Prepare the Chicken – Cut the chicken breast into about ¾-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine the pieces with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper.
- Cook the Chicken – Heat the same pan to cook the bacon over medium heat. Add the chicken to a single layer, and cook without moving until the surface is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Saute until fully cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Cook the Aromatics – Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onions and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Cook the Pasta – Add the pasta, chicken stock, and ½ teaspoon salt to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook and stir frequently until the pasta is tender and the stock has mostly evaporated, about 14 to 16 minutes. Add more water if needed, ½ cup at a time, for a softer pasta. Keep a small amount of liquid in the pan to create a light sauce.
- Make the Sauce – Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the heavy cream, ranch seasoning, and cheddar cheese. Stir in the chicken and bacon.
- To Serve – Serve garnished with chopped parsley.
- Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Using Salted Chicken Stock: Omit the ½ teaspoon of salt added to the pasta.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until hot.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use 2 cups of gluten-free penne. The pasta may be al dente a few minutes sooner.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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