Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake



Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake

Indulge in the comforting embrace of this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Bake, a delightful symphony of creamy, cheesy goodness. Perfect for a cozy dinner at home, this recipe combines tender chicken, rich garlic-infused cream sauce, and perfectly cooked penne pasta, all baked to golden perfection. It’s an easy-to-make dish that feels like a warm hug on a plate, perfect for sharing with loved ones.

Ingredients Overview

  • 8 oz penne pasta: Opt for high-quality penne to hold the sauce beautifully.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds a rich, fruity flavor.
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Cut into bite-sized pieces for even cooking.
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste: Season to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced: Fresh garlic is essential for that aromatic punch.
  • 2 cups heavy cream: Creates a luxuriously creamy sauce.
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty, savory depth.
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese: Melts beautifully for that irresistible cheesy top.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley: Freshens up the dish and adds a pop of color.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish to prevent sticking.
  2. Cook the Penne Pasta: Follow the package instructions to cook the penne until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Prepare the Chicken: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, then add to the skillet. Cook for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Add Garlic: Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Make the Cream Sauce: Pour in the heavy cream, bringing it to a simmer. Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth.
  6. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add the cooked penne to the skillet, tossing to coat evenly in the creamy sauce.
  7. Assemble the Bake: Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
  8. Bake to Perfection: Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  9. Garnish and Serve: Finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley before serving.

Tips for a Seamless Cooking Experience

Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh garlic and parsley make a significant difference in flavor.

Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook the penne just until al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly in the oven.

Season Well: Taste and adjust the seasoning before baking to ensure every bite is flavorful.

Cheese Choice: For a twist, try mixing in some sharp cheddar or Gruyere with the mozzarella.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Storage: Allow the pasta bake to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating: For the best results, reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through. If microwaving, cover with a damp paper towel to retain moisture and avoid drying out the pasta.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can substitute penne with rigatoni, fusilli, or any other short pasta that holds sauce well.

Is there a lighter alternative to heavy cream?

You can use half-and-half or a mixture of milk and Greek yogurt for a lighter sauce, but the texture may be slightly different.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Absolutely! Prepare the dish up to the baking step, then cover and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before placing it in the oven.

What can I serve with this pasta bake?

A fresh green salad or steamed vegetables make excellent side dishes, balancing the richness of the pasta.

Secrets to Culinary Perfection

Balance the Garlic: Ensure the garlic is cooked just enough to release its aroma but not burn, as burnt garlic can taste bitter.

Consistency of the Sauce: If your sauce seems too thick, add a splash of chicken broth or pasta cooking water to loosen it up.

Even Baking: Rotate the baking dish halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning and bubbling of the cheese.

With these tips and this delightful recipe, you’re set to create a memorable meal that will have everyone asking for seconds. Enjoy the soothing process of cooking and the comforting flavors that follow!


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