Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake


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If you like chicken parmesan, you’ll love this simplified baked version that comes together in an 8×8 pan. Full of melty mozzarella, tender chicken, classic marinara sauce, and topped with crunchy garlic-herb breadcrumbs, this Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake is a meal the whole family will love.

overhead image of Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake in a square white baking dish

Remember those Garlic Bread Hawaiian Rolls? Pair them with this pasta bake and you’ve got a homemade dinner that make your house smell like the best of red sauce Italian restaurants. Warm, cheesy, and with a flavor-packed crunchy topping, this dish is easy to pull off. This is all it takes…

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a spoonful of Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake Ingredients

  • Pasta – Be sure to grab a fun shape for this dish. My kids are big fans of elbows / macaroni, so that’s my go-to in this dish. For something that feels a little more elevated, try it with cavatappi which has a great twisty shape for holding pasta sauce. Penne would be great as well and feels classic.
  • Marinara Sauce – I tested this recipe with a classic homemade marinara sauce, but at the end of the day, I wanted this to be a dish that you (and I) can throw together on a weeknight without much fuss or too many dishes. In the end, a good quality store-bought marinara just felt right with the simplicity of this dish. If you have a great homemade marinara recipe, use that! Otherwise, a high quality store-bought jar of sauce will give you a delicious dish.
  • Cooked and Chopped Chicken – This is a great place for rotisserie chicken or just pan sear chicken breast or thighs until cooked through and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • Mozzarella – Tiny and adorable fresh mozzarella “pearls” make it easy to distribute cheese evenly throughout the entire dish. You can also chop a larger ball of fresh mozzarella into small pieces and use that. Pre-shredded mozzarella cheese will work, but it doesn’t melt as well (or have the same rich flavor) as the fresh variety.
  • Topping – Just as with classic chicken parmesan, a crisp, crunchy, golden crust is the key to the dish. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and more crunchy than Italian breadcrumbs, so I highly recommend them here. Combine them with olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

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a container of mozzarella pearls on a white table

Recipe Tips

  • Al Dente Pasta – Keep a close eye on the pasta while it’s boiling. Because pasta bakes require that the pasta is “baked” again after boiling, you want the pasta to be boiled just until it is tender and still has a tiny bit of chew. Draining the pasta before it is super tender gives it a little bit of room to keep cooking as the dish bakes.
  • Use Enough Sauce – The pasta should be thoroughly coated in sauce. When mixing everything together, add some more sauce if it looks at all dry. Using even more sauce than you typically would with a plate of pasta keeps the dish moist while baking.
  • Fresh Mozzarella – As mentioned above, it’s worth using fresh mozzarella. Pre-shredded mozzarella often contains additives to prevent it from clumping. Those additives mess with its ability to melt, so fresh mozzarella always melts better and gives you a creamier, cheesier result. 
pouring marinara over cooked pasta

Possible Variations

  • Make it Vegetarian – It’s easy to make this a vegetarian dish. Omit the chicken completely. If you want to add some protein back in, this would be great with chickpeas or white beans.
  • Add vegetables – Fold in some steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets for some added vegetables. (You may need to use a larger baking dish and increase the amount of sauce to accommodate the veggies.)
  • Change the Cheese – Mozzarella is classic here, but the dish would work well with many other types of cheese. Try provolone or Havarti for a creamier, tangy result. Both of those cheeses melt even better than mozzarella, so you’ll get an extra cheesy dish.
overhead image of Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake topped with mozzarella pearls

Printable Freezer Label

Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!

Print Freezer Label
stirring topping for casserole

How to Deliver This Meal To Someone Else

This would be a fun meal to deliver to someone who could use a little extra TLC. They can serve it immediately or freeze it for later. 

Deliver with:

  • Caesar Salad Kit
  • Panko topping (in a separate bag or jar)
Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake, salad and topping on a white table

More delicious pasta recipes

shredded parmesan and a box grater on a table

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a spoonful of Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake
4.54 from 13 votes

Chicken Parmesan Pasta Bake

If you like chicken parmesan, you’ll love this simplified baked pasta version that comes together in an 8×8 pan. Full of melty mozzarella, tender chicken, classic marinara sauce, and topped with crunchy garlic-herb breadcrumbs, this is a weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 8×8 baking dish
  • Stockpot
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Box Grater


Pasta Bake

  • 8 ounces pasta (use any fun shape like macaroni / elbows, cavatappi, or penne)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or use a high-quality store-bought version)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
  • 8 ounces fresh Mozzarella pearls (sub any fresh mozzarella, chopped into small pieces)


  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Spray an 8” x 8” baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. (Be sure to pull the pasta out of the water right when it is tender but still has a bit of a chewy texture; you don’t want it to be overcooked.) Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Combine cooked pasta, marinara sauce, and chicken in a large bowl. If the pasta looks at all dry, add 1/2 cup of additional marinara sauce. (Some pasta shapes seem to soak up the sauce more than others, so if in doubt, add the additional sauce.)
  • Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. (See note below about disposable aluminum baking pans.) Scatter half of the mozzarella pearls over top. Add remaining pasta and then top with remaining mozzarella pearls, pressing them gently into the top of the pasta.
  • Cover pasta bake with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake until the pasta is warmed through and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
  • While pasta bakes, make topping by combining panko, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, and parmesan cheese.
  • After the initial bake time, remove pasta from oven and remove foil from the top. Turn on the oven’s broiler (use the low setting if available).
  • Scatter topping evenly over the pasta.
  • Return pasta to the oven and broil, uncovered, until topping is light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.


Look for panko breadcrumbs in the Asian / international aisle. These are larger and crunchier than Italian-style breadcrumbs.
Most 8” x 8” baking dishes have taller sides than the disposable aluminum baking dishes shown in the photos above that you might use to take this meal to someone else. If using a disposable aluminum baking dish, you may need to divide the pasta bake between two pans or just fill one to the top and reserve the remaining pasta to eat later.
This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen before baking. (Combine the topping ingredients and keep them in a separate container.)


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 525kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 1137mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 419mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.50
Calories: 525
Keyword: chicken dinner, Chicken Recipe, easy chicken recipe, easy freezer meal, easy, weeknight-friendly, kid-friendly recipe
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

4.54 from 13 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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  1. 4 stars
    Made this tonight with chicken sausage. It was super easy and tasted great. I pressed the garlic for the topping through my garlic press and there were some bites that were really spicy on the garlic. Probably because it wasn’t distributed well. Next time I’ll use granulated garlic. Also, my pasta sauce was refrigerated so I had to add an extra 10 minutes to the baking time to get it to bubble up. Wish I made the garlic bread Hawaiian rolls to go with.

    1. Awesome – thanks so much for the note Lauren! I bet that’s right about the garlic – possibly the garlic press didn’t break it up into small enough pieces, but granulated would work well. Love the idea to use chicken sausage!!