Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake

Are you craving something cheesy, spicy, and utterly comforting? Look no further than this mouth-watering Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake. It combines the zesty punch of buffalo wings with the creamy, hearty goodness of a pasta bake. Perfect for family dinners, game nights, or when you just need a little comfort food, this dish is sure to impress. Read on to discover how to make this tantalizing dish that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded (great for leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 8 oz penne pasta (cooked according to package instructions and drained)
  • 1 cup buffalo wing sauce (choose your favorite brand)
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional, but recommended for true buffalo wing fans)
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Butter or cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • 9×13 inch baking dish
  • Aluminum foil
  • Preheated oven at 375°F (190°C)

Preparation Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease your baking dish with butter or cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  2. Mix sauces and seasonings: In a large mixing bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce, ranch dressing, cream cheese, and chicken broth. Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
  3. Combine the chicken and pasta: Add the cooked, shredded chicken and cooked penne pasta to the sauce mixture. Toss everything together until the pasta and chicken are well-coated with the sauce.
  4. Layer it up: Pour half of the pasta and chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over the top. Repeat with the remaining pasta mixture and cheeses.
  5. Add the final touches: Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles and chopped green onions on top for that extra burst of flavor.
  6. Bake to perfection: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.
  7. Serving: Let the dish cool for a few minutes before serving. This allows the cheeses to set slightly, making it easier to serve.

Why You’ll Love This Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake

This Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake isn’t just a meal; it’s an experience. The heat from the buffalo sauce pairs beautifully with the creamy textures of the melted cheeses and cream cheese. The addition of ranch dressing smooths out the spiciness, making each bite perfectly balanced.

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Furthermore, this recipe is a great way to use up leftover chicken and transform it into a new and exciting dish. It’s also incredibly versatile – you can adjust the level of spiciness by choosing different types of buffalo wing sauce, or add more cheeses and toppings according to your preferences.

Whether you’re looking to spice up your dinner routine or need a satisfying dish for your next gathering, this Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake is sure to become a favorite. It’s easy to prepare, loaded with flavor, and perfect for any occasion.

Enjoy the perfect blend of heat, creaminess, and cheesy goodness all in one dish. Try making this Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake tonight and turn your dinner into a special event!

Serving and Storage Tips for Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake

After you’ve mastered the recipe for the Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake, knowing how to serve and store it can make your experience even better. Here are essential tips to help you make the most out of this delicious dish.

Serving Tips:

  1. Let It Rest: Allow the pasta bake to rest for about 5-10 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This resting period helps the layers to set and makes serving easier.
  2. Serve Warm: This dish is best enjoyed warm. The cheeses are melty and the sauce is at its most flavorful when heated.
  3. Accompaniments: To balance the spicy, rich flavors of the buffalo chicken pasta, consider serving it with a side of celery sticks, carrot sticks, or a light green salad. These add a nice crunch and freshness to the meal. Additionally, a dollop of blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side can be a perfect dip for those who enjoy extra creaminess and flavor.
  4. Garnish: Right before serving, a final garnish of freshly chopped green onions or parsley can add a bright, fresh touch to the dish.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigerating Leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the pasta bake will last for 3-4 days. Make sure to let the pasta cool to room temperature before sealing and chilling it to prevent moisture buildup inside the container.
  2. Freezing: For longer storage, Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake freezes well. Portion the cooled pasta bake into meal-sized servings and place in freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. This way, you can thaw exactly what you need for future meals. Frozen pasta bake will be good for up to 2 months. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  3. Reheating: To reheat, place the pasta bake in an oven-safe dish, cover with aluminum foil, and warm in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) until heated through (about 20 minutes). Alternatively, you can microwave individual servings for 1-2 minutes or until heated thoroughly. If the pasta seems a little dry after storage, adding a splash of chicken broth or a bit more buffalo sauce before reheating can help revive its creamy texture.
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By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake remains delicious and satisfying, whether it’s fresh out of the oven or enjoyed as a leftover. Enjoy your meal prep and the ease of having a hearty, flavorful dish ready to go!

1. Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can substitute penne with other pasta shapes that hold sauce well, such as rotini, fusilli, or rigatoni. The key is to choose a pasta that has nooks and crannies to capture the creamy, spicy sauce, enhancing the flavor in every bite.

2. What can I do if the dish is too spicy for my taste?
If you find the buffalo sauce too spicy, you can tone down the heat by increasing the amount of ranch dressing or cream cheese in the recipe. These ingredients help balance the spiciness with their creamy texture and mild flavor. Alternatively, choose a milder buffalo sauce or mix a little bit of a milder hot sauce into your preferred buffalo sauce to adjust the heat level.

3. Is there a vegetarian option for this pasta bake?
Absolutely! To make a vegetarian version of this dish, you can replace the chicken with cooked cauliflower florets or canned chickpeas. Both options will add texture and absorb the flavors of the buffalo sauce well, making for a satisfying vegetarian meal.

4. How can I make this dish healthier?
For a healthier version of Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake, you can make a few simple swaps:

  • Use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta to increase fiber content.
  • Opt for low-fat cream cheese, ranch dressing, and cheeses to reduce calorie intake.
  • Incorporate more vegetables by adding spinach, diced bell peppers, or tomatoes into the bake for added nutrients and fiber.

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