Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake — A hearty comfort food casserole that includes juicy chicken, pasta, marinara, the BEST crispy buttery breadcrumb topping and TWO types of cheese!! A family favorite big-batch recipe that’s also great for meal prepping!!
Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake Recipe
This chicken parm pasta bake is pure, unadulterated comfort food that’s hearty, cozy, and will put a smile on your face.
Even though there are a few different steps, while one thing is going like boiling the pasta, you can be working on the next step like sautéing the chicken, so that the final dish is ready in 30 minutes.
Juicy bites of chicken are nestled within al dente fusilli pasta and everything is tossed in marinara sauce before being layered with mozzarella cheese and baked until the cheese melts.
There’s also Parmesan cheese and a buttery panko breadcrumb topping which is the best part of the whole dish for me. It’s so crispy and addictively amazing that I wanted to pick it off the whole casserole before anyone else could have it.
And since I’ll never say no to cheese, having two kinds of cheese — both gooey melted mozzarella and slightly crisped-up Parmesan — is heavenly.
Ingredients in Chicken Parmesan Pasta Casserole
For this easy, cheesy pasta bake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Marinara sauce
- Olive oil
- Boneless skinless chicken breast
- Kosher salt
- Italian seasoning, or to taste
- Garlic, finely minced or pressed
- Mozzarella cheese
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil, optional for garnishing
Are Panko Breadcrumbs Necessary?
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-style breadcrumbs and different from traditional breadcrumbs.
And yes, you do have to use them because they’re the secret to having the crispiness that chicken parmesan in known for, minus any battering, frying, or the like.
Regular breadcrumbs just won’t give you the same effect.
They’re crispy little bits of goodness and if you’re wondering what else you can make with them, check out these other recipes using panko breadcrumbs.
How To Make Pasta and Parmesan Chicken Casserole
This cheesy chicken pasta bake recipe is easy and definitely a family favorite!
- Begin by boiling the pasta and after it’s done, toss it in marinara sauce.
- While the pasta boils, sauté seasoned chunks of chicken in olive oil and garlic until it’s done.
- Combine the cooked chicken with the pasta and marinara sauce, turn it out into a casserole dish, top with mozzarella and bake briefly.
- Remove it from the oven, add butter-soaked panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and bake until the top is lightly golden browned and those breadcrumbs have crisped up nicely.
- Garnish with basil and dig right in to this comfort food family dinner!
Can This Recipe Be Made in Advance?
Yes! This is a great meal prep recipe because not only does it make 10 servings, you can freeze them for later. Having a freezer stash can save dinner on those unforeseen really hectic weeknights.
Or make it for your next family dinner, entertaining event, or potluck. I can guarantee your casserole dish will be brought home clean because no one can resist comfort food like this.
It tastes just fine being served at room temp so I wouldn’t worry too much if it sits out for bit and isn’t served super piping hot from the oven. Pasta is good at all temps, right?
Tips for the Best Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake
I used fusilli pasta to make this recipe, but rotini, bowtie, penne, ziti, small shells, or another small-shaped pasta may be substituted.
Only cook the pasta until al dente. It will soak up some of the marinara sauce as it bakes, which softens it further.
Serve the chicken pasta casserole with a side salad or steamed veggies for a full meal.
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- 1 pound fusilli pasta*, cooked according to package directions and drained (rotini, bowtie, penne, ziti, small shells, or a small-shaped pasta may be substituted)
- 25 ounces marinara sauce
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.25 to 1.50 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, or to taste
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
- 2 heaping cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (do not use regular breadcrumbs because they won't get crunchy)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh basil, optional for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 400F, spray a 3 1/2 quart casserole dish (about 9x13-inches) with cooking spray, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, return to pot, and toss with the marinara sauce; set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, to a large skillet add the oil, chicken, generously season with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning (I call for 1 tablespoon not teaspoon because this is ultimately flavoring a big recipe but reduce to taste if desired), and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is done; stir and flip intermittently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant; stir nearly constantly.
- Add the chicken and any cooking juices to the large pot with the pasta and marinara sauce and stir to combine.
- Turn mixture out into prepared casserole dish, evenly sprinkle with the mozzarella, and bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is just beginning to turn light golden brown.
- While cheese is melting, to a small microwave-safe bowl add the butter, and heat on high power for about 1 minute to melt.
- Add the panko* and stir to combine; set aside.
- After 10 minutes, or cheese is light golden brown, remove casserole dish from the oven, evenly sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the buttery-panko breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until cheese and breadcrumbs are as golden browned as desired, optionally garnish with basil, and serve immediately.
*Rotini, bowtie, penne, ziti, small shells, or a small-shaped pasta may be substituted.
*Panko breadcrumbs are necessary; don't use regular breadcrumbs because they won't give you the same crispy and crunchy texture.
Storage: Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months, noting the breadcrumbs will not stay crunchy upon reheating.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 428Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 681mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 32g
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