As we all know, chicken is better when there’s bacon, cheddar, and ranch involved; casseroles are no exception. Diced chicken, thick-cut bacon, pasta, and a creamy, homemade ranch sauce come together to create one serious dinnertime masterpiece — Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole.
This dinner casserole is perfect for sprucing up family dinners and feeding a crowd!
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
You have options when it comes to the chicken for this casserole. You can use store-bought rotisserie chicken or bake the chicken yourself. If you are baking the chicken, try this easy recipe for perfect Baked Chicken Breasts.
What would Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole be without the bacon? Fairly incomplete, we’d say. For these ingredients, it’s best to steer clear of pre-made bacon bits. Instead, grab yourself some thick-cut bacon and get to frying. Note, the grease left behind will be used to build a flavorful and decadent ranch-flavored sauce!
To cut back on the ingredient list, this recipe enlists a little time-saving help in the form of ranch seasoning! One 1-ounce packet of ranch seasoning to be more specific. However, if you’re a DIYer when it comes to seasoning mixes, feel free to make your own ranch seasoning.
To thicken the ranch sauce for the casserole, you’ll need to have all-purpose flour on hand.
The sauce for this Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole is über creamy and crazy decadent. It consists of half-and-half, milk, and sour cream. Sour cream adds just the right amount of zing and lends itself to cultivating that ranch flavor we know and love.
If you want a casserole on the lighter side, you can use whole milk in the place of half-and-half, but note, it will not be quite as thick and creamy.
Penne pasta was our pasta of choice for this recipe, however, you are certainly not limited when it comes to pasta options. You could use farfalle, spaghetti, rigatoni, or really, even rice!
Cheddar, bacon, and ranch is a classic and beloved flavor combination. Therefore, we went Cheddar cheese all the way to top off this masterpiece of a casserole! However, if you have another type of cheese on hand, you can substitute it here. You just want it to be of similar texture (i.e. a semi-firm cheese), such as Monterey Jack or Gouda.
If time allows, nothing beats freshly grated cheese. Both the texture and flavor is superior when compared to that of pre-shredded. However, you may sub in pre-shredded cheese if necessary.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN BACON RANCH CASSEROLE
- Prep – Before you begin cooking the bacon and making the sauce for your Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole, you’ll want to have both the chicken and pasta cooked. It’s also a good time to get the cheese grated.
- Cook the Bacon – Dice the bacon and cook it in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the bacon is cooked through, transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Make the Sauce – Sprinkle the flour over the bacon grease and whisk to combine. Add the half-and-half and milk one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. Simmer for about 5 minutes, just until slightly thickened. Then, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sour cream, ranch seasoning, and pepper.
- Combine Ingredients – Add the cooked chicken, pasta, and half of the bacon to the pan and stir to combine.
- Bake – Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake for 20 minutes (or the edges are bubbly) at 350°F. Garish with the remaining bacon, serve and enjoy!
5 MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
- King Ranch Casserole
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Chicken Taco Casserole
- Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole with diced chicken, thick-cut bacon, pasta, cheese, and a creamy, homemade ranch sauce.
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into a 1/2" dice
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 (1-ounce) packet of ranch seasoning mix
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 cups cooked penne pasta
- 1 pound (about 2 cups) cooked chicken breasts, cut into a 1" dice
- 1 1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready a 9x13" greased casserole dish.
Add the cubed bacon to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often until the bacon is cooked through -- about 8 minutes. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
Remove from the heat and spoon out all but a thin layer of bacon grease, if necessary. You should have about 3 tablespoons left in the pan. Wipe the sides of the pan to ensure there are no drippings, and return to medium-high heat.
Sprinkle the flour over the grease, whisk to combine, and cook for about 1 minute. Then, slowly begin adding the half-and-half one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. Once all of the half-and-half has been added, do the same with the milk. Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking often to keep the dairy from scalding. Reduce the heat if necessary to maintain a simmer.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, ranch seasoning, and pepper. Add the cooked chicken, pasta, and half of the bacon to the pan and stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish, top with cheese, and bake for 20 minutes, or until hot and the edges are bubbly. Garish with the remaining bacon, serve and enjoy!