This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!
Chipotle peppers. They pack quite a punch in terms of both flavor and spice. If you’ve ever wondered what a chipotle pepper is, then you’re not alone! You won’t find chipotle pepper plants at your local garden center. That’s because chipotle peppers are actually jalapeno peppers that have been dried and smoked. We are huge fans of jalapenos, and we always plant a couple of jalapeno plants in our garden each year. We have a short growing season here in upstate New York, but we still get a solid 20-30 jalapenos off those plants each year. (I usually just dice and seed ’em, and then store them in the freezer until needed.) But now I kinda want to smoke those jalapenos to make chipotles!
Ok, maybe smoking jalapenos isn’t on my to-do list. I love pulling out the smoker, but apparently it takes several days of smoking to turn a jalapeno into a chipotle. I’m all about fun foodie projects, but several days of smoking might test even my limits! Plus, chipotles are cheap and easy to find in the store. We typically use the cans of chipotles in adobo sauce.
Have you guys ever used a can of chipotles in adobo sauce? Delicious and easy, yes. But there’s way more in a can than we could ever possibly use in a single recipe! Heck, I only used 3 tablespoons of the sauce in this Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake, and it was definitely spicy! Tip: Just dump the leftover chipotles + sauce into a small freezer bag. Then freeze it and just cut off however much you need for future recipes. We’ve always got a bag of frozen chipotles stuck in the corner of our freezer waiting for another round of this Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake.
Pasta bakes are one of our favorite cool weather comfort foods around here. They’re hearty and delicious, and you can adapt ’em with whatever flavors you like. A good Italian-themed pasta bake is definitely up there on our list, but I went with a southwestern slant for this Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake. Think delicious chicken soft tacos…but without the soft tacos and mixed into pasta instead.
The adobo sauce definitely brings quite a punch here, so use it sparingly. I used 3 full tablespoons in this recipe, and it was noticeably spicy but still good. Feel free to dial it back to anywhere between 1-3 (or more!?) tablespoons of adobo sauce depending on your spice preferences. I also used a bit of chipotle powder here, too. You know, to really boost that smoky, spicy flavor! If you don’t happen to have chipotle powder in your pantry, you can use smoked paprika with a bit of cayenne pepper. But, honestly, chipotle powder has a unique flavor, so I recommend just grabbing some at the store. It’s a fun spice to keep on hand for things like stews, chilies…and of course pasta bakes!
And the beauty of this Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is that it can be made in less than 30 minutes! I grabbed a rotisserie chicken from the store and had the meat ready to go. Then while the pasta was cooking, I just mixed all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cooked pasta, transfer it into a large casserole dish, and bake it until the cheese gets all melty. (Mmm…melty cheese!)
As I noted above, the adobo sauce packs a punch, but the sour cream and milder Colby Jack cheese (I used Cabot’s Colby Jack) help balance the spiciness. All together, this Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake makes for one delicious dinner on a cool Fall or Winter evening. (And depending on how many people are eating, you’ll likely have leftovers. Bonus win!) Enjoy, my friends!