Layers of chicken, cheese, bacon, and more cheese mean you are going to have one heckuva dinner!
BAKED CHICKEN RIGATONI
This Baked Chicken Rigatoni is so addictive, you won’t be able to have just one plate! Moist shredded chicken is paired with thick-cut crispy pieces of bacon and a creamy and cheesy ranch mixture on a bed of rigatoni noodles for an amazing finish.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED CHICKEN RIGATONI
There are two main steps to this recipe: the cheese sauce and the baking. If you prepare ahead of time, these steps can be quick and simple and mean that dinner is on the table fast!
- Shredded Chicken: You can buy your chicken cooked and pre-shredded but I prefer to make it ahead. Use this easy shredded chicken recipe for perfectly cooked and moist chicken every single time.
- Bacon: You can also buy pre-cooked bacon at the store but again, there is nothing better than the taste and crunch of perfectly cooked and crispy bacon. I always bake mine in the oven. Start by lining a large baking dish with tin foil and lay out the individual pieces of bacon.
- Bake them in the oven at 415° F for 18-20 minutes. Cook times will vary based on your oven heat.
HOW TO MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE
You will need:
- Ranch Seasoning
- Cream Cheese
- Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
In a large pot on the stove on medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and stir in flour with a whisk. The mixture will be thick!
Now, gradually stir in milk, beating with the whisk as you do so. The mixture will begin to form a thick paste, gradually getting thinner as you add more milk. Once you reach a smoother consistency, stir in the dry ranch seasoning. Now add in condensed cream of chicken soup and cream cheese, mix until fully combined. This takes a little elbow grease! 🙂 Finally, stir in 3 cups of cheddar cheese until melted and the mixture is smooth and thick.
In the next step, all of the ingredients will come together.
In a large bowl combine the cooked rigatoni noodles, shredded chicken, and cheese sauce. Stir well (I laugh every time I make this at the funny sounds it makes while you are stirring 😂) to combine and then transfer everything into an 11×15-inch baking dish. I don’t recommend a smaller dish as it might get too thick and be undercooked in the center while the edges are brown.
Top with the cooked bacon and 1 cup shredded cheese (yes, more cheese!). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is fully melted.
As I mentioned, I prefer very crispy bacon in this dish, but you can feel free to prepare the bacon to your liking. Just don’t leave it out!
VARIATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE
Noodles – You can use whatever noodle you have on hand, although we do prefer a noodle that can stand up well to the thick, cheesy sauce.
Vegetables – I have to chuckle at this because this dish is so far from healthy, adding vegetables seems like a lost cause. However, adding in cooked, chopped asparagus, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas or corn might all work well.
Cheese – I opted for cheddar, but you can use your favorite cheese. A sharp white cheddar could be amazing, as well as mozzarella.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 package dry ranch seasoning
- 1 package 8ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can 10 3/4 ounces condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 package 16 ounces rigatoni noodles, cooked
- 12 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
- 2 cups shredded chicken
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- In a large skillet, on medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and stir in flour with whisk. Mixture will be thick.
- Gradually stir in milk, beating with the whisk. Mixture will begin to form a thick paste, gradually getting thinner as you add more milk.
- Stir in the dry ranch seasoning.
- Stir in condensed cream of chicken soup and cream cheese, mix until fully combined.
- Stir in 3 cups of cheddar cheese until melted. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl combine rigatoni noodles, shredded chicken, and cheese sauce. Stir well to combine and transfer to a 11×15-inch baking dish.
- Top with the cooked bacon and 1 cup shredded cheese.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and cheese is fully melted.
- Serve and enjoy!
TO STORE LEFTOVERS: Leftover chicken rigatoni can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. Best if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.