Use leftover grilled chicken and feed a crowd on a budget! This bacon ranch chicken casserole recipe is delish, easy to make and consists of your favorite flavors!
The best part about this recipe is that you probably already have most of the ingredients. Pull that leftover chicken, frozen package of bacon and chicken bullion from your inventory—then combine all those half used bottles of ranch dressing that have collected on the shelves in your fridge.
You can even make this casserole in advance then freeze it for later. Just wrap the uncooked casserole (in the dish) tightly with aluminum foil and freeze for up to two months. When ready to make it, defrost overnight in the fridge and bake according to recipe. Presto! Dinner is served!
Bacon Ranch Chicken Casserole
what you'll need
- 1 lb penne pasta or rigatoni pasta
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 lb thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 - 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1 cup original ranch dressing using light will alter the taste-we don't recommend it
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup Mexican cheese blend shredded, plus additional for topping
let's do it
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush a 9" x 13" casserole dish with butter then set aside.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat. Add pasta and salt then cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally (the pasta will not be cooked all the way through). Drain and set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add diced bacon. Cook bacon, stirring often until crispy, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate to drain then set aside.
- Add diced chicken to skillet with bacon drippings and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the chicken for about 6 minutes until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from skillet, place on the plate with the bacon bits then set aside
- Next, drain the drippings from the skillet and melt the butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes then add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Once the onions have softened and become translucent, stir in the milk, cream cheese and bouillon. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, stirring constantly to melt the cream cheese. Once the cream cheese is completely melted, add the ranch dressing and seasonings. Stir to combine.
- When the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and add 1 cup of shredded cheese, ½ cup at a time. Stir after each addition until completely melted before adding the next. Once all of the cheese is incorporated, add the pasta, bacon and chicken to the mixture. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with a bit more cheese then bake 25 minutes, or until the cheese on the top browns and the filling is bubbly.
- Remove casserole from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!