casserole dish with penne pasta in tomato sauce with fresh basil

CHICKEN PARM PASTA BAKE

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This Chicken Parm Pasta Bake combines two beloved things – chicken parmesan and pasta! It’s loaded with tender chunks of chicken, fresh tomato sauce and two kinds of ooey, gooey cheese. What could be better?!

I know you’ll agree with me when I say that good ol’ classic Italian chicken parmesan is a dish that many people around the world share a love for. It’s satisfying in every which way from the crispy breading, the fresh tomato sauce and the perfectly melted cheese. It’s comfort food at its finest and definitely capable of being its own damn star on any plate. Serve it up with some homemade bread or garlic bread, a nice side salad or some mashed potatoes or polenta and you’ve got yourself a 10/10 home cooked meal. But the perfect pairing for any good chicken parmesan and one that those same many people around the world share a love for, is, of course, PASTA. Cause pasta just makes everything better. Am I right?!

plate of penne pasta with tomato sauce next to a casserole dish with more, fork on the plate, fresh basil on both

Now, now. We all love pasta all on its own in all the different kinds of sauces and ways imaginable. And yes, if you’re a lover of chicken parm or pasta (or both!), then I’m sure you would agree that each are a match made in Heaven for the other. Pasta really does make the perfect side dish for chicken parmesan. But what if we just simply combined the two together and made one dish instead of two separate ones? What if we took the same great flavours you know and crave in chicken parmesan and tossed them in some cooked pasta, threw the whole thing a baking dish covered with breadcrumbs and cheese and then baked it to crispy perfection? THIS CHICKEN PARM PASTA BAKE. That’s what!

I looooove this chicken parm pasta for its simplicity and convenience. I mean, you don’t have to stand around and bread a million individual chicken cutlets while your kids are going haywire in the background. That’s right, I gotchu. It makes the perfect family dinner, is as comforting as is gets and freezes well so even future you is already thanking you. It’s two great dishes combined into one because sometimes, you want quick and easy without having to compromise on taste or flavour. Win-win.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE CHICKEN PARM PASTA

ingredients for chicken parm pasta - penne, tomato sauce, parmesan, mozzarella, breadcrumbs, oregano, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, chicken
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Classic chicken parmesan ingredients come together to create this simple yet satisfying chicken pasta bake. The ingredients may be simple but don’t underestimate the magic they work when they come together. Let’s discuss each one in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Penne Pasta: A type of pasta that has a tube shape with small ridges. It’s a common pasta in Italian cuisine and works well for baked dishes like this one because its shape helps hold the sauce. However, you can use a different kind of pasta instead if you prefer. Rotini, ziti or rigatoni all make great alternatives.
  • Tomato/Marinara Sauce: Adds flavour and moisture to the dish. Store bought or homemade works well in this recipe.
  • Chicken: Well, duh! You can’t have a chicken parm pasta bake without chicken! It provides protein and substance to the dish. You can use leftover cooked chicken or cook chicken specifically for this recipe. I used diced chicken breast for this recipe, however, shredded chicken will work great, too!
  • Parmesan Cheese: Adds a rich, nutty and salty flavour to this baked pasta dish. It also adds a savoury element and helps create a flavourful crust when baked in the oven. Freshly grated parmesan cheese (that you grate yourself) works best in this recipe.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: A soft and creamy cheese that melts beautifully when baked. It adds gooeyness and richness to the dish. In this recipe for chicken parmesan pasta, you sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the pasta layers to create a cheesy topping. Therefore, freshly grated mozzarella cheese (that you grate yourself) works best in this recipe.
  • Breadcrumbs: Add texture and crunch to the dish as they go on top of the cheese layer before baking. You can use plain breadcrumbs or seasoned breadcrumbs for extra flavour.
  • Olive Oil: Used to sauté the garlic and cook the chicken. It adds richness and flavour to the dish. As always, good quality and extra virgin works best in this recipe. However, you can use a different kind of oil (such as avocado) instead, if you prefer.
  • Garlic: A staple ingredient in Italian cooking and adds aromatic flavour to the dish. Sautéeing it in olive oil before adding the chicken and marinara sauce adds an extra layer of flavour. Fresh minced garlic works best in this recipe.
  • Dried Basil and Oregano: Add depth of flavour to the dish. Oregano and basil are common herbs in Italian cuisine and complement the tomato-based marinara sauce. If you don’t have these on hand, you can use Italian seasoning instead.
  • Salt and Pepper: Used to season the dish, enhancing the flavours of the other ingredients.
  • Fresh Basil Leaves (optional): Optional but you can use it as a garnish for added freshness and flavour. You can tear or chop up the leaves and sprinkle them over the top of the dish before serving.
chicken parm pasta with fresh basil on a plate with a fork, more in the background

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN PARM PASTA (KEY TIPS)

wooden spatula with chicken penne pasta in tomato sauce on it over a plate and dish with the rest of it

You can find full instructions for how to make this cheesy chicken pasta bake in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t overcook the pasta. Be sure to cook the pasta just until al dente, which means it’s cooked until it’s still slightly firm to the bite. The pasta will continue cooking in the oven and overcooked pasta can become mushy when baked.
  • Taste as you go. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the chicken and marinara sauce mixture before assembling the dish. This ensures that the flavours are well-balanced and delicious. Once you assemble the dish, you won’t be able to add any more seasoning to the layers.
  • Use fresh and good quality cheese that you grate yourself for best results. Pre-grated cheese that come in a package at the grocery store contain anti-caking agents which prevent them from becoming nice and bubbly when melted. Cheese is an important part of this dish (OBVZ) and you don’t want to chince on it!
  • Take care to layer the pasta bake properly. When layering the pasta and chicken mixture in the baking dish, ensure an even distribution of ingredients. This helps to ensure that each serving has a good balance of pasta, chicken, sauce and cheese. EXTRA TIP: On the same note, make sure to evenly distribute the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the layers of pasta. This ensures that every bite is cheesy and delicious. EXTRA EXTRA TIP: Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top layer of cheese. This helps create a golden and crispy topping when baked.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil during the initial baking time to prevent the cheese from burning. Remove the foil during the last few minutes of baking to allow the cheese to become golden and bubbly.
  • Allow the baked pasta to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven before slicing/serving. This allows the dish to set slightly, making it easier to serve and enhancing the flavours. EXTRA TIP: Garnish the baked pasta with fresh basil leaves or chopped parsley for a pop of coloUr and freshness before serving.
casserole dish with penne pasta in tomato sauce with fresh basil
FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHICKEN PARMIGIANA AND CHICKEN PARMESAN?

The terms “Chicken Parmigiana” and “Chicken Parmesan” are often used interchangeably, and they generally refer to the same dish. However, there might be slight differences in their origins and usage. “Chicken Parmigiana” likely derives its name from the Italian region of Parma, renowned for its Parmesan cheese, which is a key ingredient in the dish. On the other hand, “Chicken Parmesan” reflects the Americanized pronunciation and spelling of the dish.

WHY IS IT CALLED CHICKEN PARMESAN IF IT HAS MOZZARELLA?

The name “Chicken Parmesan” can be a bit misleading in terms of its cheese component. The dish typically features melted mozzarella cheese as a topping rather than Parmesan cheese, despite the name. However, the term “Parmesan” in Chicken Parmesan likely refers to the use of Parmesan cheese in the breading or as a garnish rather than in the melted cheese topping.

The use of mozzarella cheese in Chicken Parmesan likely stems from its melting properties and creamy texture, which make it ideal for creating that signature gooey and stretchy cheese layer on top of the chicken. Additionally, mozzarella’s mild flavour complements the tangy tomato sauce and savoury chicken without overpowering the dish.

The name “Chicken Parmesan” may have evolved over time as the dish became popularized outside of Italy, particularly in the United States. In American cuisine, the term “Parmesan” is often associated with Italian-style dishes and cheese, so it’s possible that “Chicken Parmesan” was simply adopted as a catchier and more recognizable name for the dish.

Despite the name discrepancy, Chicken Parmesan remains a beloved classic in Italian-American cuisine, cherished for its crispy chicken, flavourful tomato sauce, and melty cheese topping, whether you make it with mozzarella or Parmesan—or both!

IS CHICKEN PARM SERVED WITH PASTA IN ITALY?

In Italy, it’s not uncommon to serve Chicken Parmesan, or “Pollo alla Parmigiana,” as a standalone dish rather than paired with pasta. The classic Chicken Parmesan consists of breaded and fried chicken cutlets topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese, often Parmesan or mozzarella. While pasta is a staple in Italian cuisine, you’ll often see it as a separate course or dish rather than alongside Chicken Parmesan. Pasta dishes in Italy often serve as a first course, known as “primo piatto,” followed by the main course, or “secondo piatto,” which might include meat or poultry dishes like Chicken Parmesan. However, variations and interpretations of dishes can vary, and you may find Chicken Parmesan served with pasta in some Italian-American or other international adaptations of the cuisine.

chicken parm pasta with fresh basil on a plate, another one in the background
casserole dish with penne pasta in tomato sauce with fresh basil

CHICKEN PARM PASTA

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This Chicken Parm Pasta Bake combines two beloved things - chicken parmesan and pasta! It's loaded with tender chunks of chicken, fresh tomato sauce and two kinds of ooey, gooey cheese. What could be better?!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (454g) of Pasta such as Penne or Rotini
  • 2 cups Marinara Sauce*
  • 2 cups Chicken Breast, diced*
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Basil Leaves, optional, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Drain if necessary and then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
    raw chicken chunks cooking in a wok
    chunks of chicken cooking in a wok
    cooked chicken chunks in a wok with fresh minced garlic on top
  4. Stir in the marinara sauce. Season with dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
    cooked chicken chunks in a wok topped with tomato sauce and spiced
    chicken chunks in a wok with tomato sauce
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the chicken and marinara mixture. Mix well.
    cooked penne pasta with chicken chunks and tomato sauce in a bowl
  6. Transfer half of the pasta mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese over the pasta.
    cooked penne in tomato sauce with chicken chunks in a rectangular baking dish
    mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top of penne in tomato sauce in a rectangular baking dish
  7. Add the remaining pasta mixture on top, followed by the rest of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the cheese layer.
    cooked penne in tomato sauce in a rectangular baking dish over another layer of pasta and cheese
    breadcrumbs on top of a chicken parm pasta bake in a rectangular baking dish
  8. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired, and serve hot.
    casserole dish with penne pasta in tomato sauce with fresh basil

Notes

Try making your own homemade tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes to use in this recipe.

Leftover chicken or shredded chicken also works great in this recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 920mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 29g

Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

Did you make this recipe? I love seeing your creations!

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