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This baked ziti with chicken is so easy, versatile, and delicious. It’s one of my family’s favorite casseroles, and I love how quickly I can throw it together or just pull it out of the freezer. 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.
Your entire family will definitely enjoy this easy pasta recipe and for a meatless version, try our easy baked ziti recipe. For other great baked pasta dishes, try our baked spaghetti and meatballs, baked tortellini or our easy lasagna casserole. They are all great options for potlucks, family dinners or parties.
BAKED ZITI WITH CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
- 1 16-ounce box of ziti noodles
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 28-ounce jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or make your own)
- 0.5-ounce package of fresh basil, chopped (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 cup grated parmesan, divided into two ½ cups
- 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 a great option.
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.
HOW TO MAKE THIS BAKED ZITI WITH CHICKEN RECIPE
STEP ONE: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Next, prepare a 9 × 13-inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
STEP TWO: Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente, drain it well and return pasta to the pan.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to add salt to the water. It adds flavor to the pasta while cooking.
PRO TIP: 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. When the chicken is done, add the 2 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet and cook for another 30-60 seconds, or until the garlic is fragrant.
STEP FIVE: Stir the tomato sauce, chicken and basil into your pasta in the pan, making sure everything is evenly coated.
STEP SIX: 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!
STEP SEVEN: Cover the pasta casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake it for 20 minutes.
STEP EIGHT: After 20 minutes, uncover the dish and top it with the remaining ½ cup parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Then, 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.
STEP NINE: 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. If I’m honest, I think I get just as excited about garlic bread as I do about the pasta itself! Anyone else with me on that one?
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: That is another reason why I absolutely love baked ziti with chicken. It freezes so well and makes it very easy to have on a later date. The most important aspect of freezing this dish is to make sure that it has completely cooled down before putting it in the freezer. Leave them sitting out at room temperature for about a half-hour. Then, cover them with foil and throw them in the freezer! They are 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.
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. There are so many pasta dishes that feature ground beef, so it’s nice to switch it up and use chicken in this one.
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.
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.
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 overcook 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.
MORE RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE
- Classic Meatloaf
- Cowboy Casserole— a favorite for kids!
- Simple Lasagna
- Oven Beef Stew – made in a baking pan!!!
- Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Chicken Alfredo Bake
Pair this recipe with:
Baked Ziti with Chicken
- 1 16-ounce box of ziti noodles
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound 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 cups
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella divided into two 1 cup portions
- 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 medium skillet over medium heat. Add 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 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 parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. Pour remaining pasta on top.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake 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.