If you’ve been following my Tasty Tuesday posts, you’ve probably noticed that I love pasta dishes. Although my tastes have changed over the years, my love for pasta has remained constant.
One of the things I love most about pasta is how versatile it is. It can be a comforting plate of spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese. It can combine two very different flavors to make a creative dish (like chicken enchilada pasta or the Creamy French Onion Chicken and Pasta I shared a couple of weeks ago). It can even be elevated to something a little fancier by adding something like lobster or prime rib. (Sorry I don’t have a “fancy” pasta recipe to link to … Yet.)
Because it’s so versatile, you can add pretty much anything to pasta and end up with a delicious meal. The flavor combinations in the recipe I’m sharing today are pretty classic: chicken, bacon, cheddar, and ranch. I knew from the moment I saw the recipe on Cassie Craves that we’d love it. I only made a few very minor changes because it already seemed pretty perfect.
And it did not disappoint. Seriously, if you’re craving pasta and you like meat and cheese, make this dish. You’ll be really glad you did!
Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Adapted ever so slightly from a recipe on Cassie Craves.
- 1 box short pasta (I used a 14.5 oz. box of wheat rotini, but you can use whatever you like)
- 8 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon and the flavor was great, so don’t worry if that’s what you’d usually use or if you want to cut some of the fat and calories)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 1 tbsp low fat margarine or butter (I used low fat margarine)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
- 2 cups milk (I used 1% milk, which is what we usually have on hand)
- 1 1/3 cups cheese, shredded (I used a cheddar Jack blend and would definitely recommend using some type of cheddar cheese or cheddar blend for this recipe)
- 2 tsp garlic salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 4-5 green onions, diced (this is optional, but I highly recommend it since it really enhances the flavor)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. I cooked mine for quite a while because I wanted it to be so crispy that it could easily be crumbled. Even if that’s not how you normally like your bacon (I actually prefer my bacon much less crispy if I’m just eating a slice), you’ll want it to be crumbly for this recipe.
- Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the skillet. (I just placed mine on a paper towel lined plate and set it to the side.) If you’re using turkey bacon, you won’t have much grease left in the skillet so you can just move on to the next step. If you’re using regular bacon, drain all but approximately one tablespoon of the grease.
- Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to melt with the bacon grease.
- Season the chicken with the garlic salt and black pepper and add it to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is slightly brown and no longer pink.
- While the chicken is cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook according to package directions until al dente and drain.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, sprinkle the flour and dry ranch dressing mix over the meat, stirring to coat evenly.
- Add the milk and cook until the sauce is thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally.
- Mix the cheese into the sauce, stirring until it’s completely melted.
- Crumble all of the bacon on the plate. Add approximately half to the chicken and sauce, stirring to combine.
- Pour the drained pasta into the skillet, and stir until evenly coated with sauce. Serve with additional crumbled bacon and diced green onions on top.
This is a pretty quick dinner to throw together, making it great for a busy weeknight. It’s not the healthiest recipe in the world, but it’s delicious (and you can definitely lighten it up a bit like I did with turkey bacon, low fat margarine, and 1% milk). I served this meal with a simple green salad.