When you want everyone in your family to cheer when you tell them what’s for dinner, say the magic words: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta.
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Maybe it’s because I grew up on chicken bacon ranch Subway sandwiches or because I dipped my pizza in ranch dressing as a kid, but the phrase “chicken bacon ranch” makes my heart flutter.
Add “pasta” into the equation, and I am a goner! (Same story with these Chicken Bacon Ranch Fries.)
This stovetop chicken bacon ranch pasta is the fast-cooking cousin of my Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole.
Better yet, it cooks in ONE POT.
How to Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Whether you serve it to your picky kids or discerning boss, this pasta will be met with clean plates and requests for seconds.
Its wide appeal stems from a masterful combination of comforting, universally-adored ingredients—bacon, gooey cheese—with light, wholesome ones that balance the dish and bring it to life: vegetables, lean protein, and whole wheat pasta.
This is a healthy chicken bacon ranch casserole, compared to most you find online.
- In addition to the whole grains and vegetables, this chicken bacon ranch casserole uses no alfredo sauce from a jar.
- Simple, from-scratch ingredients give you better results and this pasta isn’t difficult at all (did I mention ONE POT?!).
- Pasta. I recommend trying chicken bacon pasta shells or orecchiette. I adore the way the veggies and bits of bacon nestle into these shapes and how the creamy sauce clings to the pasta’s lightly ridged exterior. Every forkful guarantees tasty morsels.
- Bacon. With its undeniably delicious savory flavor, bacon is the ultimate crowd-pleasing ingredient.
- Chicken. You can’t have chicken bacon ranch without the chicken. Chicken breasts are a healthy and delicious addition to this pasta.
Cut this recipe time even further by swapping in precooked chicken or leftover chicken made with one of these easy methods (or use store-bought rotisserie chicken):
- Milk. I made this chicken bacon ranch pasta with milk instead of cream to keep things lighter.
- Flour. Flour helps thicken the sauce, making it luscious and creamy.
- Spices. To create that beloved ranch-like flavor, I used a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill weed, salt, pepper, and cayenne (you’ll see the same mix in my Creamy Ranch Dip).
- Greek Yogurt. Adds creaminess and tang to the sauce. Plus, Greek yogurt is rich in protein.
- Cheeses. This recipe uses a magical blend of Mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and Parmesan. It’s the perfect trio of melty goodness and distinct, cheesy flavor.
- Frozen Peas. Using frozen peas is a quick and easy way to sneak in extra veggies.
- Cook and drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Whisk the milk and flour together.
- Cook the bacon.
- Sauté the onion, then add the chicken. Remove both to the plate with bacon.
- Whisk the spices in the pot. Pour in the milk mixture, whisking until smooth.
- Add the remaining milk. Let simmer.
- Remove the pot from the stovetop. Once cool, stir in the yogurt and cheeses.
- Add the pasta, chicken, onions, bacon, and peas.
- Stir in pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate pasta in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze pasta in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, cut the bacon, chicken, and onion. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
If you’re grating your own cheese (good job!), you can do that up to 1 week in advance as well.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. Perfect for making chicken bacon ranch pasta.
- Small Whisk. A small whisk like this one is easier to handle than larger whisks.
- Measuring Spoons. This set of magnetic measuring spoons will stay neat in your drawer.
Whether you need a fast supper for tonight or a winning meal to serve friends over the weekend, you can rely on this healthy chicken bacon ranch pasta to be your delectable partner in dinner crime!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! To make this recipe gluten free, use a gluten free pasta and swap the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten free flour.
If you’d like to bulk up the veggies a bit more, I think chopped spinach, mushrooms, or broccoli would be delicious in this dish.
Yes, you can make this recipe using chickpea or lentil pasta. However, you may want to rinse the pasta before adding it to the recipe to keep it from becoming soggy; refer to your package for tips.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- 8 ounces whole wheat shells pasta or similar short shape such as orecchiette, penne, or fusilli
- 2 cups milk divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 slices bacon cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into bite-size pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 2% or whole milk; fat free may curdle
- 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup frozen peas no need to thaw
- Chopped fresh parsley or chives optional for serving
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiled salted water until al dente. RESERVE 1 CUP OF THE COOKING LIQUID (don't forget!). Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, using a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk and the flour. Keep near the stove.
- Heat a Dutch oven or other large, sturdy pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and let cook until it is crisp and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium high. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add the chicken. Sauté until the onion is beginning to soften and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove to the plate with the bacon (get all of the chicken out of the pot, but don’t worry if there is some onion still in the bottom).
- Reduce the pot heat to medium. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, black pepper, and cayenne. Whisk the spices to heat them, then immediately pour in the milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 30 seconds, until the mixture looks a little golden and is smooth.
- Slowly add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer and let cook, whisking very frequently, until thickened and creamy, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let cool a minute or two. Stir in the Greek yogurt, Mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan.
- To the pot, add the cooked pasta, the reserved chicken, onions, bacon, and peas.
- If the pasta sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen it. Serve hot, sprinkled with herbs as desired.
- Adapted from my Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze pasta in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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