Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!

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!

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!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.

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!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.

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!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!

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!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!

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!

Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 640kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. penne pasta or any other small pasta
  • 1-3 Tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce depending on preferences for spicy food
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups rotisserie chicken shredded
  • cups broccoli chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • cup red onion diced
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cups colby jack cheese shredded and divided
  • {for garnish} green onions sliced

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. (Tip: Toss cooked pasta in ~2 Tbsp of milk to prevent it from sticking together.)
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, chipotle sauce, salsa, sour cream, chicken, broccoli, bell pepper, onion, chipotle chili powder, salt and ¾ cup of cheese; stir until well combined.
  • Transfer mixture into large baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cheese has fully melted.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • {Optional} Garnish with chopped green onions before serving.

This Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta Bake is the perfect comforting dinner for a cool Fall or Winter evening!

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30 Comments

  1. David, I do the same thing with those cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce I buy – put it in a baggie and store it in the freezer and lop off chunks as needed! I love adding it to soup but it’s back in the high 70s and 80s again here (I’ve wanted to escape to the west coast cos of their warmer, more even keeled temps, but if this keeps going on here in GA, I might stay put!) so not good soup weather – but Lil Shashi LOVES LOVES LOVES pasta bakes – especially when they are jam packed with flavor – like this one most clearly is!
    BTW – hope y’all have a wonderful weekend up there!

    1. Those cans of chipotles in adobo seem small, but man a little bit goes a loooong way! But I do love having some in the freezer for the added flavor and spice. Wait, it’s back to the 70s and 80s down there? It’s supposed to be the 30s (as a high) here later this week/weekend…and that is most definitely soup and comfort food weather! We did indeed have a great weekend up here (my family was visiting), but now I’m ready for another weekend! Haha! Thanks so much, Shashi. I hope my Athens duo is doing well down there. 🙂

  2. Hi David! I am so into pasta bakes right now! It is unseasonably cold here and that’s when my pasta cravings kick in. I always have a couple f cans of chipotles in adobo on hand and I also freeze the leftovers (I do that with tomato paste too). Enjoy your weekend!

    1. Unseasonably cold, eh? I feel like you’re the opposite from us! It’s been unseasonably warm here for a long, long time…but this week is finally breaking down into the cold weather. I think I saw the high on Friday is just above freezing. That’s comfort food weather for sure! I also love a good pasta bake…they’re so easy and so filling! (And not to mention a great way to incorporate leftovers that might be hanging around.) Give this one a shot sometime! I hope you and Gary had a great weekend, my friend!

  3. My problem with freezing chipotles (or tomato paste–same issue) is that I can never find them again in the deep recesses of my freezer. They disappear like socks in the laundry! Not that it stops me from cooking with them. . .I just have to keep my pantry properly stocked. Which means I have chipotles on hand and can make this for dinner tonight :). I looooove a good pasta bake, especially now that it almost feels like fall. Have a great weekend, David!

    1. Ah, yes! This is definitely a problem. I have totally torn apart my freezer looking for that little baggie of frozen chipotles. Now I just stick the bag in the same corner every time. Although if I took everything out of my freezer, I bet I’d find no less than 4 bags of chipotles. Hah! I’m right there with ya on the pasta bakes for Fall. Funny though as it almost feels like winter up here! 🙂 Thanks, Kelsie!

  4. Oh man, I am badly addicted to chipotle flavor, I just add it to everything these days! Only yesterday I made a vegan cheese sauce with chipotle – it was so good! I always have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in my pantry but you are right I can never finish the entire can! I actually love using the chipotle powder these days 😀 Yes peppers are more flavorful but powder works just as well when you don’t want to open a can..haha..next time I will try your tip and freeze them! I bet this pasta tasted amazing because well hello chipotle! 😉

    1. I’m right there with ya on chipotles, Manali! In fact, that’s why I wanted to make chipotle the primary flavor in this pasta bake. But (as I’m sure you know), you’ve gotta be really careful with chipotles. Those things can get spicy fast! And, yes, I am a huge fan of chipotle powder, too. I buy it in bulk actually! This pasta bake is perfect for these early winter/late Fall days…it’s cold outside, and a good pasta bake is the perfect thing to warm you up! 🙂 Thanks so much, Manali!

  5. This is a collection of some of my all-time favorite foods: cheese, broccoli, chipotles…but you know what? I’ve *never* thought to put leftover chipotles in the freezer. I usually just keep them in the fridge until I get so weirded out that they don’t seem to have gone bad (even after several months) that I toss them, out an abundance of caution. I’ll definitely have to try that trick…as well as this pasta bake!

    1. Hahaha! I totally know about keeping things in the fridge until you just get weirded out by them. But chipotles actually freeze quite well! The hardest part is just eyeballing how much to cut off of the frozen block when it comes time to make the next recipe. Also, this pasta bake is really, really good…and perfect for these cold evenings! (I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that your evenings are cold up there in MI right now!) Thanks so much, Mara…I hope your dissertation is going well!

  6. David, apparently, I’m the one who thought chipotle was kind of pepper. Well, I don’t like overly hot varieties of peppers so I never had a point to buy this one, but still I was wondering why I couldn’t find it in our stores, among all these chillies and jalapenos. The truth was always around 🙂 Dried and smoked peppers sound good (Cause I like everything smoked. I need to smoke lavender. Also, don’t your rabbits and chipmunks love jalapenos in your garden?). And this cheesy dreamy pasta with chicken and vegetables is perfect for the autumn mood. I’ll need this in my life…with 1/8 tsp. of Chipotle haha!

    1. So chipotles are a kind of pepper…sorta! But they are quite spicy, so if you’re not into spicy food then you might want to scale the chipotles back a good bit here. Otherwise, you might burn your tongue off! (Although I’ve heard lavender is good for burns. Haha!) Cheesy pasta bakes are the way to roll on those cold winter (late Fall?) nights! Oh, and the critters in the yard leave our jalapenos alone. That’s about the only thing they leave alone, though! I’m thinking they took one nibble at those jalapenos and turned tail. Maybe I should just only grow jalapenos from here on out. Haha!

  7. This is my kind of dish! I love bakes because you’ve got everything you need in one dish! I think you should give smoking your own jalapenos a try. I’d love to know how it turns out and how you make the adobo sauce that goes with chipotles. 🙂

    1. Yes! That’s my exact thought about pasta bakes, too, Kathy! They’re just a dump it all in and go type of recipe…and those are perfect for these cold evenings that have moved in. 🙂 So I have to admit that I’m mildly intrigued by the idea of smoking my own jalapenos. But 3 days!?! Still, I might have to try that sometime. I love random food projects! Thanks for the idea and nudge there, Kathy!

  8. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are something we always have on hand….LOVE ’em! You’re right – they definitely pack a punch in the spice/flavour department. And pasta bakes are one of my favourite things this time of year. Love that this one comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s so cold here today and this would be absolutely perfect – extra chipotle for me please 😉 Have a great week, David!

    1. I feel like chipotles/adobo sauce is one of those required items for your pantry…err, freezer. They’re so tasty! I love the spicy, smokey flavor! Pasta bakes are one of my favorite comfort foods for the winter, and I really enjoyed making the chipotles the primary flavor here. Yum! Thanks so much, Dawn!

  9. I love a good chipotle recipe! And, like you, I always have a bit left in the can, or sometimes most of the can and it ends up (unlabeled) in the back of the freezer. So I buy many cans of this stuff. And I’d have a tough time letting a smoker go for several days. I love this recipe and am always looking for ideas for a pasta dinner! Thanks for the recipe! Pinning it!

    1. Oh my gosh, I probably have 4 little baggies of chipotles in various spots in my freezer! I try to keep them all in the same corner, but I know there are some lurking way in the back. Hah! This pasta dinner is super fun and super easy, Laura…it’s perfect for cold, winter days! 🙂 Plus, you can easily adjust the chipotles based on your spice preference. Hope your week is off to a great start so far, my friend!

  10. I don’t usually bake pasta, but if I decide to do so, it will be this recipe which I’ll use! Seeing your pictures made me think that this must be a really crunchy dish, David! Is it possible to use a combo of red and yellow onions?

    1. So I agree with you that pasta with sauce (creamy or red) is one of our favorite meals, but I’ve gotta say that a good pasta bake is really hard to beat, too! It’s a great way to use up any random leftovers that might be hanging out in your kitchen, too. So the baked pasta doesn’t get that crunchy like you might think (you cook the pasta normally first). The top gets a little crispy, but all together baked pasta is a totally delicious comfort food meal. And a combination of red and yellow onions would totally work here! 🙂 Thanks so much, Agness!!

  11. David, this recipe is absolutely stunning. Amazing pictures that are making me drool and whats more a pasta bake! I love the simplicity of pasta bakes, I’ve quite a few of them on the blog myself. I absolutely agree that they make perfect cool weather comfort foods. You’ve also given me inspiration as to what I can do with all those chillies my brother keeps giving me. He’s got a huge garden so I’m lucky enough to reap the odd benefit off it. I usually just make green chilli sauce for my curries when I get chillies from him, but I think I could dry and smoke them to see if I can make a version of chipotle!

    1. I’m with you all the way on the pasta bakes, Neil! They really are perfect for cold, winter nights. (Heck, they’d be great in the summer, too, but I usually have the grill out all summer long!) I didn’t realize your brother had such a huge garden! Maybe that’ll be inspiration to plant a garden of your own next year? 🙂 I’d love to try smoking peppers, but I dunno…I read that it takes 3 days! That’s a serious dedication, but at the same time, I love trying new ideas like that. Either way, let’s make a pasta bake and continue debating the merits of smoking our own peppers, ok? Haha! Thanks so much, my friend!

    1. I’m right there with ya on the pasta dishes, Dawn! I love anything from a classic pasta + red sauce to these pasta bakes. (Heck, I’ve even fried pasta before to turn it into “chips”!) I totally agree that some years are better for jalapenos. We had a bumper crop this year, and now I have a bunch of chopped jalapenos in the freezer. Hopefully they’ll last me through the winter! 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment, my friend!

  12. Thanks for the freezing tip. A little can of that stuff does go a long way, doesn’t it? I could go for a pasta bake right about now! It’s snowing!

    1. It’s snowing already over there!? That’s definitely pasta bake weather! In fact, the Chicago weatherperson just forecasted a 100% chance of pasta bake for dinner tonight! 🙂 (Wouldn’t that be nice? If pasta bakes just rained from the sky as you were coming home from work…)

    1. Yes to everything here, Karen! I love a good Texas chili (I’m from Texas, too!), and I love Cabot cheese. In fact, chili just isn’t the same without some shredded Cabot on top. We’ve become big fans of their chipotle cheddar…it goes quite well with this chipotle pasta bake, too! 🙂

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