Few dishes embody comfort food as perfectly as a creamy, cheesy pasta bake. And when it comes to creamy pasta, Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne stands out as a true crowd-pleaser. In this blog post, we’ll explore the art of crafting a dish that brings together perfectly cooked penne, succulent chicken, and a velvety Alfredo sauce, all baked to golden perfection. Join us on a journey through the world of pasta and creamy sauces as we guide you through the steps to create a memorable Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne that’s sure to become a family favorite.
The combination of tender chicken, al dente pasta, and a luscious Alfredo sauce is a match made in heaven. This recipe elevates the classic Chicken Alfredo by adding a baked, cheesy layer on top, creating a textural contrast that’s simply irresistible. Whether you’re a pasta enthusiast or just someone looking for a comforting, satisfying meal, this Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne won’t disappoint.
For the Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne:
12 ounces of penne pasta: A classic choice for pasta bakes, known for its ability to hold the creamy sauce.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts: To provide a hearty, protein-rich component.
2 tablespoons olive oil: For sautéing and adding flavor to the chicken.
2 cloves of garlic, minced: To infuse the dish with a subtle garlic aroma.
Salt and black pepper: For seasoning the chicken.
2 cups of heavy cream: The base of the luscious Alfredo sauce.
1/2 cup unsalted butter: Adds richness and creaminess to the sauce.
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese: To create the signature Alfredo sauce.
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese: For a melty, cheesy topping.
Fresh parsley, for garnish: Adds a touch of freshness and color.
Cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish.
For Serving (Optional):
Additional grated Parmesan cheese for garnish.
A sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat.
Instructions (Approx. 1500 words):
Step 1: Prepare the Chicken
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat it until it shimmers. Season the chicken breasts with salt and black pepper.
Sear the chicken in the hot skillet for about 6-7 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes. Once rested, slice it into thin strips.
Step 2: Cook the Penne and Prepare the Sauce
While the chicken is resting, cook the penne in the boiling salted water until it’s just shy of al dente. Drain it and set it aside.
In the same skillet used for the chicken, add the minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the butter. Once it’s melted, pour in the heavy cream, stirring gently.
Gradually whisk in the grated Parmesan cheese until the sauce is smooth, thick, and creamy.
Season the Alfredo sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Assemble and Bake
Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Spread half of the cooked penne in the dish, followed by half of the sliced chicken.
Pour half of the Alfredo sauce over the pasta and chicken.
Add the remaining penne, chicken, and sauce.
Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the top.
Step 4: Bake and Serve
Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Once out of the oven, garnish the Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne with fresh parsley and, if desired, additional grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Serve the piping hot pasta bake, and enjoy the creamy, cheesy goodness.
For a variation with added freshness, consider tossing in some sautéed spinach or steamed broccoli florets before baking. The greens will provide a delightful contrast to the creamy pasta and chicken.
This dish also pairs wonderfully with a side salad or some crusty garlic bread.
Seafood Alfredo Baked Penne
To create a seafood twist on this dish, replace the chicken with cooked shrimp, crab, or a combination of both. Seafood Alfredo Baked Penne is a luxurious alternative that brings the flavors of the sea to your dinner table. Ensure your seafood is cooked before adding it to the bake.
Vegetable Alfredo Baked Penne
For a vegetarian option, leave out the meat altogether. Instead, load up your Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne with an assortment of sautéed vegetables. Bell peppers, mushrooms, and asparagus work wonderfully. You can also incorporate sun-dried tomatoes for an extra burst of flavor.
Keto and Low-Carb Versions
If you’re following a keto or low-carb diet, you can still enjoy the essence of Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne by making a few substitutions.
Substitute the penne with cauliflower florets or zucchini noodles.
Use almond flour or coconut flour as a thickening agent for the Alfredo sauce instead of all-purpose flour.
Ensure your Alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream and keto-friendly Parmesan cheese. Skip the butter.
Opt for whole wheat or whole-grain penne if you’d like to reduce your carbohydrate intake without going full keto.
Use less pasta and increase the amount of chicken and vegetables to lower the carb content per serving.
Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne is the epitome of creamy, cheesy, and comforting cuisine. With tender pieces of chicken, perfectly cooked pasta, and a rich, luscious Alfredo sauce, this dish is a favorite for both family dinners and special occasions. Its adaptability, whether in the form of seafood, veggies, or keto and low-carb versions, ensures that everyone can savor its delectable flavors.
So, the next time you’re craving the warmth of a home-cooked, cheesy pasta bake, look no further than this Chicken Alfredo Baked Penne recipe. The combination of flavors and textures is simply irresistible, and you’ll find yourself returning for seconds. Whether you’re a skilled home chef or just starting your culinary journey, this recipe is a must-try, and it’s sure to make its way into your regular meal rotation. Enjoy!