Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
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This Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is a comforting casserole recipe that’s loaded with flavor. It’s sure to be a hit on your dinner table!
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
With pasta, bacon, broccoli and cheese, this chicken bacon ranch casserole is the ultimate comfort food. There’s so much to love about this chicken casserole recipe:
- Each bite is packed with flavor.
- This hearty casserole feeds a crowd.
- It’s make-ahead friendly. See my make ahead tips below.
This chicken bacon ranch casserole is a homemade version of this popular chicken casserole. Instead of using bottled ranch dressing and store-bought alfredo sauce, this recipe uses a homemade ranch seasoning mix and an easy homemade cream sauce. These simple steps give this casserole its impossible-to-resist flavor that will have you adding this recipe to your regular dinner rotation.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Bacon: You can cook the bacon in the oven or make air fryer bacon.
- Penne Pasta: I used whole wheat penne to sneak in some extra fiber and nutrition. Regular penne can also be used.
- Broccoli: You’ll need one pound of fresh broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets.
- Butter and Olive Oil: For sautéing the onion and also to create the base of the creamy sauce. I use a combination of both butter and olive oil for a balance of richness and flavors.
- Onion and Garlic: These aromatic ingredients add lots of flavor.
- Flour: All-purpose flour thickens the sauce.
- Chicken Broth and Milk: For the base of the creamy sauce. Whole milk provides richness and chicken broth keeps the sauce from being too heavy.
- Seasonings: The ranch seasoning is a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill, salt and pepper. Paired with fresh chives, it adds the best flavor to this chicken bacon ranch casserole.
- Cooked Chicken Breast: You can shred or chop the chicken for the casserole. Rotisserie chicken works well and helps to cut down on prep time. You can also use leftover cooked chicken, Poached Chicken, Instant Pot Shredded Chicken or Crockpot Shredded Chicken.
- Cheddar Cheese: I recommend sharp cheddar cheese for the most flavor.
- Fresh Chives: To garnish the casserole when serving. The fresh chives really bring out the ranch flavors in the casserole.
How to Make Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- Cook the bacon. Once cool, chop the bacon.
- Boil the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Add the broccoli florets to the pot during the last 1-2 minutes of cook time. Drain and rinse under cold water. Return to the empty pot.
- In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened.
- Add the garlic and flour. Cook and stir for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the chicken broth, milk and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce just comes to a simmer and thickens slightly.
- Combine the pasta, broccoli, cooked chicken, half of the shredded cheddar cheese, 2/3 of the bacon and the sauce. Stir together and then transfer to a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Top with the remaining cheese and bacon.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake 5-10 more minutes, until the cheese is melty and the casserole is hot throughout.
- Top with chopped fresh chives and serve.
Make Ahead Tips
You can assemble the casserole up to one day ahead of when you wish to bake it. If baking a casserole cold from the refrigerator, add 15-20 minutes to the covered bake time.
Alternatively, you can prep some of the ingredients ahead of time and then assemble the casserole right before baking it:
- Cook and shred/chop the chicken up to 1 day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Cook the bacon up to 2 days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Chop the broccoli and onion up to 1 day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Shred the cheese up to 2 days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Measure out the seasonings and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Here are a few side dishes that go well with this chicken bacon ranch casserole:
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
- 6 slices bacon
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta, or white penne, or other short pasta shape
- 1 pound fresh broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken breast
- 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 2 cups, divided
- chopped fresh chives, for serving
Cook the Bacon
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and fold the edges of the foil up a bit to contain the bacon grease.
- Lay the bacon slices in a single layer on the foil. Bake for 12-20 minutes, until cooked through.
- Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess grease. Then chop the bacon. Set aside.
Prepare the Casserole
- Reduce oven temperature to 350° F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente, adding the broccoli florets to the pot during the last 1-2 minutes of the cook time. Drain the pasta and broccoli into a colander, rinse under cold water, drain. Put the cooked pasta and broccoli back into the empty cooking pot. Set aside.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and flour and cook for 30 seconds, stirring.
- Stir in the chicken broth, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, dried dill, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture just comes to a simmer and thickens slightly. Remove pan from the heat.
- To the pot with the pasta and broccoli, add the shredded cooked chicken, half of the shredded cheese, ⅔ of the chopped cooked bacon and the sauce from the skillet. Stir to combine and then transfer the mixture to a 13×9-inch baking dish.
- Top casserole with the remaining shredded cheese and remaining chopped bacon. Cover with foil (spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray to help prevent the cheese from sticking to it). Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more, until cheese is melted and casserole is hot throughout.
- Serve with chopped fresh chives.
- You can assemble the casserole up to one day ahead of when you wish to bake it. If baking a casserole cold from the refrigerator, add 15-20 minutes to the covered bake time. Alternatively, you can prep some of the ingredients ahead of time and then assemble the casserole right before baking it.