This Chicken Parm Pasta Bake features all of the flavors of classic Chicken Parmesan – but in a one-pot version that’s great for weeknight dinners!
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In the words of Peyton Manning, “Chicken parm…you are so good!” Chicken parmesan is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. How can you go wrong with crispy chicken and melted mozzarella cheese served over pasta with a good red sauce? That’s comfort food central right there!
But Chicken Parm has a drawback – it’s a real pain to make. You’ve got 3 individual parts of the recipe (pasta, sauce and fried chicken) to make. And you have to time them to all be done about the same time. Add in the fact that you’ve got a heck of a cleanup job afterwards thanks to the oil for frying the chicken. We do make classic Chicken Parmesan here on occasion, but I just have to be ready for a more involved session in the kitchen.
Chicken Parm Pasta Bake
This Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake lands on the other end of the spectrum. It takes all of the flavors from a classic chicken parm, but it reimagines them in a different way. And by a different way, I mean a much easier way!
This Chicken Parm Pasta Bake is absolutely doable for a weeknight meal. Weeknight meals sometimes get a bad rap. You might feel like you don’t have much time, so you just whip up something easy for dinner. Hey, we’ve done cereal for dinner on particularly busy nights. I get it.
But weeknight meals can still be delicious – take this Chicken Parm Pasta Bake for instance. As long as you have some chopped rotisserie chicken ready to go, then this entire recipe is a breeze to make. And get this – it’s all cooked in one pot. Yup, a one pot meal that’s ready in about 25 minutes. Only one pan to clean and the whole family is gonna love it – that’s a win-win!
Traditionally, a chicken parm recipe calls for thinly sliced chicken breasts or chicken cutlets that get breaded and fried until golden brown. This pasta bake version uses the same concept – but in a much easier way. Plus, there’s no oil to clean up afterwards!
The chicken is simply chopped rotisserie chicken, and then the entire pasta bake gets covered in panko crumbs. That way you still have the crunch and the chicken. (On a side note, we always keep bags of rotisserie chicken in the freezer. They’re so easy to pull out for soups, tacos or recipes like this.)
Mozzarella and Parmesan
Classic Chicken Parmesan calls for both grated Parmesan cheese and melty mozzarella cheese. This version also calls for both cheeses, but the mozzarella is shredded. Half of the shredded mozzarella gets mixed into the pasta (mmmm…cheesy pasta!) and the other half gets mixed into the panko topping. Nice and easy!
This Chicken Parmesan Casserole calls for a can of crushed tomatoes. You could certainly use a large jar of marinara sauce, but I like to go for San Marzano crushed tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are plum tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil near Mt. Vesuvius in southern Italy. They have SO much more flavor than ‘regular’ tomatoes.
The secret about San Marzano tomatoes is out, though, and I’ve seen a lot of brands selling “San Marzano style” tomatoes. Those aren’t the real thing. True San Marzano tomatoes will be labeled with the “DOP” label on the can. The cans will be more expensive than other canned tomatoes (as much 3-4x), but the extra cost is well worth it. After all, canned tomatoes are cheap, so it’s not a huge stretch to splurge on San Marzanos.
One last note on the crushed tomatoes. I typically find canned whole San Marzano tomatoes. This recipe calls for crushed tomatoes. The answer? Dump the can of whole plum tomatoes into a large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and squeeze the tomatoes until they’re all crushed. It’s oddly satisfying.
How to Reheat Leftovers
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, either place pasta in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, or just zap it in the microwave for a minute or two. This recipe makes great leftovers!
All together, this Chicken Parmesan Pasta Casserole is delicious! It definitely fits the ‘comfort food’ category, and it can easily be made on a weeknight. I hope this recipe lands on the regular dinner rotation in your house! Enjoy!
Did you make this Chicken Parm Pasta Bake recipe at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
For the Panko Topping
For the Chicken Parm
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onions
- 1½ tsp minced garlic
- 12 oz. uncooked penne pasta note this is not a full box of pasta
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes (see note)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken see note
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
For the Panko Topping
- Using a small bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients (panko bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, melted butter, garlic and salt); set mixture aside.
For the Chicken Parm
- Using a large Dutch oven, add oil and place over medium heat.
- Once hot, add the onions. Sauté, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, stir and continue sauteing for 1 more minute.
- Add pasta, water, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes; stir until well combined.
- Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 9-11 minutes, or until pasta is tender. (Note: At this point, most of the liquid should have evaporated or been absorbed. If it seems like there is still a lot of liquid left, just continue simmering for another 3-4 minutes.)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and turn on broiler.
- Stir chicken, Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella into the Dutch oven.
- Stir remaining cup of mozzarella with the Panko topping (see above). Sprinkle this mixture evenly on top of the Dutch oven.
- Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until mozzarella has melted and bread crumbs are beginning to brown.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve hot.
Looking for more easy weeknight meals? Check out these other favorites: