Deliciously fresh and ridiculously easy to make, this Creamy Chicken Bacon Ziti can be on the table in just 20 minutes! No doubt, you’ll need seconds of this ziti pasta with tender pieces of chicken and crispy bacon covered in a light, yet creamy parmesan cheese sauce!
ALL THE RIGHT THINGS
There are some ingredients that, when they get together, you know it’s going to work. Chicken pasta with parmesan cream sauce is already a winning recipe- but when you add in the bacon, it’s game over! The whole family with be scraping their plates with this one!
Meat: You’ll need 6 ounces of chicken and 8 ounces of bacon for this meaty pasta recipe. Since the chicken has to be chopped into pieces, I always opt to use chicken breasts.
Pasta: You’ll need 1/2 pound, or 8 ounces, of ziti pasta.
Seasoning: The chicken is seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Sauce: This simple sauce mixes heavy cream, chicken broth, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Garnish: You can and should garnish this pasta with freshly chopped basil, extra freshly grated parmesan, and bacon pieces.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY CHICKEN BACON ZITI
STEP ONE: Start by cooking the ziti pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package directions subtracting 1 minute of cooking time. Drain the pasta and set it aside. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook it until it is almost golden. If you want, at this time, you can remove a portion of the cooked bacon pieces and set them aside for garnish.
STEP TWO: Add the bite-sized chicken pieces to the skillet and cook until they begin to turn white. At this point, season the chicken with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Once seasoned, continue to cook the chicken until all pieces have cooked through.
STEP THREE: Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and grated parmesan cheese to create the sauce. Bring it to a simmer.
STEP FOUR: Add the cooked ziti and bacon to the skillet. Stir Creamy Chicken Bacon Ziti on the stove for 2 minutes until the sauce reduces and begins to thicken. Serve warm pasta immediately, garnished with fresh chopped basil, parmesan, and reserved bacon bits as desired.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Be sure to buy real, fresh parmesan and grate it yourself for the best, creamiest sauce outcome.
- If, when cooking the bacon, you have a lot of excess fat, feel free to drain some out, but don’t completely empty the skillet.
- You can swap the chicken breasts for thighs if you like. I usually grab whatever is on sale, or I have an excess in my freezer.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT CREAMY CHICKEN BACON ZITI
If you have any leftovers, simply store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftover Creamy Chicken Bacon Ziti will keep for up to 3 days. The key to successfully reviving a cream-based pasta is to add a little milk or cream and reheat it slowly. I prefer to reheat it on the stovetop, but the microwave works too. If you use the microwave, use a lower setting and be sure to stir the pasta a couple of times while reheating it.
VARIATIONS ON CREAMY CHICKEN BACON ZITI
This pasta dish is super simple and has a minimal ingredient list, which is one of the things I love most about it! Its simplicity also makes it an excellent recipe to use as a base and experiment with other add-ins! I’ve added fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes to this recipe on more than one occasion and it’s amazing! You can even abandon the chicken entirely and opt for Italian sausage. If you want a kid, sprinkle in some red pepper flakes. You’re guaranteed a delicious meal if you don’t cut out the bacon!
Creamy Chicken Bacon Ziti
- ½ pound ziti pasta
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 ounces bacon chopped
- 6 ounces chicken breast chopped into bite-size pieces
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup chicken broth low sodium
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese fresh grated (not pre-shredded)
- Fresh basil chiffonade, for garnish
- Parmesan cheese shredded, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the ziti and cook according to the package directions MINUS 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook until it's nice and crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (Set some of the bacon aside for garnish if you'd like.)
- Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until it has turned partly white. Sprinkle with garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.
- Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, and parmesan to the skillet. Bring to a simmer. Then add the cooked ziti and bacon. Stir on the stove for 2 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens, coating the pasta.
- Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil, parmesan, and the reserved bacon.