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Baked Ziti with Chicken

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close up shot of a plate of chicken baked ziti garnished with basil
This baked ziti with chicken recipe is an easy to put together pasta casserole that the whole family can enjoy!
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Table of Contents
  1. Baked Ziti with Chicken Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Baked Ziti With Chicken Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

This baked ziti with chicken is so easy, versatile, and delicious. Tender pasta and chicken are mixed with a flavorful tomato sauce and lots of cheese for an amazing meal that is ideal for busy weeknights.

close up shot of a baking dish of chicken baked ziti garnished with basil and a spoonful being picked up

Baked Ziti with Chicken Ingredients

You’ll need:

  • 1 (16-ounce) box of ziti noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or make your own)
  • 1 (0.5-ounce) package of fresh basil, chopped (about ⅓ cup)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided into two ½-cup portions
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided into two 1-cup portions

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

SPICE: If you like your dishes spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes when you stir in the basil.

MEAT: You could switch up the protein in your pasta dish. Italian sausage, ground beef, ground chicken, or ground pork would all be great options.

PASTA: You could choose a different type of pasta as a substitute for the ziti pasta. Rotini, farfalle, rigatoni, shells, or penne pasta would all be excellent substitutes.

SAUCE: You can also use alfredo sauce — it’s also really tasty! Or do a mix of marinara sauce and Alfredo sauce if you’re a pink sauce fan. 

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How To Make This Baked Ziti With Chicken Recipe

STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

STEP TWO: Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente, drain it well, and return pasta to the pan.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

Don’t forget to add salt to the water. It adds flavor to the pasta while cooking.

Al dente is the ideal consistency for pasta. The pasta will be tender and will still have a slightly firm texture when you bite into it.

STEP THREE: Prepare the uncooked chicken by generously seasoning it with salt and black pepper.

STEP FOUR: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add your small pieces of chicken and cook it until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

diced chicken breast being cooked on a skillet

STEP FIVE: When the chicken is done, add the 2 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant.

STEP SIX: Stir the tomato sauce, chicken, and basil into your pasta in the pan, making sure everything is evenly coated.

sauce and basil added to the skillet of chicken baked ziti

STEP SEVEN: Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top the first half with ½ cup parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. Then, pour the remaining half of the pasta mixture on top. Don’t add the rest of the cheese quite yet!

pasta mixture and cheeses added to a baking dish

STEP EIGHT: Cover the pasta casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes.

STEP NINE: After 20 minutes, uncover the dish and top it with the remaining ½ cup parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for another 8 minutes.

PRO TIP:

If you want to brown your cheese slightly, you can turn your broiler on for the last minute of melting the cheese. Make sure to keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

chicken baked ziti after being baked in a baking dish

STEP TEN: When finished, you can top the ziti bake with additional chopped basil if desired.

How To Serve

I usually serve a big, fresh Caesar salad with this easy chicken and pasta dish. It’s perfect for adding in veggies and greens, and I think a salad is always a nice complement to a pasta dish.

We also can’t have pasta without mentioning bread, can we? I love to have garlic toast, cheesy pull-apart bread, or a baguette of some kind with this dish.

Your entire family will definitely enjoy this easy pasta recipe and, for a meatless version, try our easy baked ziti recipe. For another great baked pasta dish, try our baked tortellini.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: This chicken-baked ziti can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave.

IN THE FREEZER: This dish freezes so well and makes it very easy to have on a later date. Make sure that it has completely cooled down before putting it in the freezer. Leave the dish sitting out at room temperature for about a half-hour, then cover with foil and throw it in the freezer! Best if eaten within about 3 months.

REHEATING: Reheating is easy with this one as well. You can put it in the oven for an hour, covered and then uncover and bake it for another 10 minutes.

close up shot of a plate of chicken baked ziti garnished with basil

I am a sucker for any sort of pasta dish, but I especially love the cheesiness of this chicken parmesan baked ziti pasta dish. It’s very versatile. The addition of chicken is delicious and gives it protein.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I know when my pasta is al dente?

To test your pasta for al dente, take a bite of the pasta a minute or two before the package instructions indicate it should be done. When you bite into it, and your teeth feel some resistance, but the pasta is still tender, your pasta is al dente.

Can I freeze this pasta dish?

You can freeze the leftovers of this pasta dish. This pasta dish is great to make ahead and freeze to bake later as well. It will last up to three months in the freezer.

Why is my baked ziti dry?

There are a few reasons your baked pasta dish is dry. First, there may not be enough sauce in the dish. Second, the noodles aren’t cooked until just al dente and end up overcooking while baking. Third, the noodles aren’t thoroughly and evenly coated with sauce. Finally, the edges of the noodles are exposed and may dry out.

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close up shot of a plate of chicken baked ziti garnished with basil

Baked Ziti with Chicken

5 from 4 votes
This baked ziti with chicken recipe is an easy to put together pasta casserole that the whole family can enjoy!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces ziti noodles
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces of your favorite pasta sauce, or make your own
  • 0.5 ounces fresh basil, chopped (about ⅓ cup)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided into two ½-cup portions
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided into two 1-cup portions

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Cook pasta to al dente, drain well and return to pan.
  • Generously season chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
  • When the chicken is done, add two cloves of minced garlic to the skillet and cook another minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Stir the sauce, chicken, and basil into your pasta, making sure everything is evenly coated.
  • Pour half of your pasta mixture into the baking dish. Top with ½ cup of parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella. Pour the remaining pasta on top.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, top with ½ cup parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella, and bake, uncovered, for 8 minutes.
  • Top with additional chopped basil, if desired.

Video

Notes

  • Don’t forget to add salt to the water. It adds flavor to the pasta while cooking.
  • Al dente is the ideal consistency for pasta. The pasta will be tender and will still have a slightly firm texture when you bite into it.
  • If you want to brown your cheese slightly, you can turn your broiler on for the last minute of melting the cheese. Make sure to keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 780mg | Potassium: 589mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 832IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 256mg | Iron: 2mg
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  1. Treena says

    5 stars
    Great dish for a pot luck! I’ve made this with both chicken and hamburger and more were yummy!