Baked Ziti With Chicken

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The ultimate BEST EVER baked pasta! Chicken

Creamy and cheesy Baked Ziti With Chicken is a deeply savory and totally indulgent meal the whole family will go crazy for! We’re channeling the flavors of a good chicken cheesesteak into this gooey pasta dish by combining perfectly cooked pasta with sautéed peppers and onions, seasoned chicken, and plenty of melty Provolone cheese.

This  Baked Ziti with Chicken uses an Alfredo-style cream sauce. If you’re craving a tomato-based sauce, you’ve got to try our original Baked Ziti recipe!

Closeup view of Baked Ziti with Chicken

Baked Ziti With Chicken

This spectacular recipe is very slightly adapted from a favorite cookbook — Modern Comfort Food by Lauren Grier. When you’re craving downright delicious and hearty comfort food without using a can of condensed soup, this book delivers! And Lauren’s recipe for Baked Ziti With Chicken is unreal — the ultimate comfort food that still tastes vibrant and fresh.

This casserole is ridiculously delicious–it’s cheesy, flavorsome, and delivers the perfect contrast of textures. If you’ve ever had a Philly cheesesteak (but with chicken), you’ll certainly recognize those flavors being channeled in this casserole.


A few of our other favorite comfort-food meals to put on your list to try next: Sausage Rigatoni, Creamy Beef and Shells, or Chicken Divan.

Process shots: add peppers, onions and salt and pepper; sautee and set aside; add seasoned chicken; cook and set aside.

Baked Ziti With Chicken and Vegetables

There are four components to this recipe: 1. vegetables, 2. chicken, 3. pasta, and 4. the cheesy cream sauce.

The pasta is boiled in a separate pot, but we then cook the vegetables, chicken, and sauce all in the same pan at different times. By cooking each component in the same pan, we’re building and layering flavors, which will enhance the final dish. When the chicken gets removed from the pot, make sure to leave behind all those lovely browned bits. Those will get whisked into the sauce to add an incredible depth of flavor to the final dish.

Process shots: boil and drain the pasta; add to the pan; add in the peppers and onion; add chicken

As mentioned above, there are four parts to this recipe; here’s a quick overview along with a few tips for preparing Baked Ziti With Chicken:

How To Make Baked Ziti With Chicken

  1. Boil pasta. Be sure to boil the pasta in salted water–this is how we actually season the pasta and make sure the entire dish doesn’t taste flat.
  2. Sauté the vegetables. We want a nice char on the veggies which will make them extra flavorful. Achieve maximum char from high heat, ensuring the vegetables have plenty of space, and stirring them only occasionally.
  3. Cook the chicken. To make sure this step goes fairly quick, we cut medium-sized chicken breasts in half widthwise. These thinner filets cook up much quicker!
  4. Prepare the cream sauce. In the same pan, we create a quick roux (butter + flour) and then add milk and later cheese. A quick check to ensure the sauce is thick enough: stir with a wooden spoon and then lift up the spoon. If you can draw a path across the back of a spoon and it stays, the sauce is ready!

Process shots: create the sauce by melting butter and flour; whisk in milk to create a thick base.

Baked Ziti With Chicken Recipe Tips

  • Use ultra-thin sliced Provolone cheese. We’ve tried this recipe with regular Provolone slices and the thin slices. With the thicker slices, the cheese is a bit overwhelming and tends to take over. Use these ultra-thin slices for best results! And if you can’t find them, we’d recommend topping the casserole with freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead.
  • Don’t use pre-shredded cheese in the cream sauce. Pre-shredded packaged cheese has a cellulose coating that keeps it from melting as smoothly. It tends to make the sauce overly gummy.
  • Under-boil the ziti. Since we’ll bake the ziti after it’s been cooked, make sure to drain it 1 minute before the package suggests for al dente. This way, as it bakes it will end up perfectly tender instead of perhaps mushy.
  • Season at every step. Seasoning is very important for this dish and we want to season as we cook (while also keeping in mind that the cheese adds more saltiness to the dish as a whole). I like to salt the pasta water as the ziti cooks (thus seasoning the ziti), seasoning the vegetables, seasoning the chicken, and seasoning the cream sauce. Taste all the elements as you cook and add a dash more if any of the flavors seem flat.

Process shots: add remaining milk to thicken the sauce; add in cheese and stir to melt Process shots: Pour sauce over chicken; stir until well coated

Baked Ziti With Chicken FAQs

1Should I cover the pan when I bake it?

This dish isn’t covered for baking. As long as all the pasta is thoroughly covered in the sauce, there shouldn’t be a problem with it drying out.

2Do you boil ziti before baking?

Boil the pasta first in this recipe. Subtract a minute from boiling time since they will be baking later in the sauce.

3What do you eat with baked ziti?

Baked Ziti With Chicken is quite filling, so the side dishes can be light:

4Can I use penne instead of ziti in this recipe?

Any similar pasta shape to ziti or rigatoni will work in this creamy baked ziti with chicken. Penne is a great substitute.

Process shots: Add cheese on top; bake and then serve


Want a spicy Baked Ziti With Chicken? Add some red pepper flakes to the cream sauce — as much or as little as you’d like!

Closeup view of Baked Ziti With Chicken



This  Baked Ziti With Chicken is best enjoyed the minute it comes out of the oven! (As are most pasta dishes!)

Leftovers are still very flavorful, but note the pasta continues to absorb the sauce as it stores, leaving it a bit softer.

Can I freeze Baked Ziti with Chicken? Because of the pasta and dairy in this dish, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing.

More Comfort Food Favorites:

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Baked Ziti With Chicken

5 from 3 votes
Creamy and cheesy Baked Ziti With Chicken is a deeply savory and totally indulgent meal the whole family will go crazy for! We're channeling the flavors of a good chicken cheesesteak into this gooey pasta dish by combining perfectly cooked pasta with sautéed peppers and onions, seasoned chicken, and plenty of melty provolone cheese.
Print Recipe

Baked Ziti With Chicken

5 from 3 votes
Creamy and cheesy Baked Ziti With Chicken is a deeply savory and totally indulgent meal the whole family will go crazy for! We're channeling the flavors of a good chicken cheesesteak into this gooey pasta dish by combining perfectly cooked pasta with sautéed peppers and onions, seasoned chicken, and plenty of melty provolone cheese.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword Baked Ziti With Chicken
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 545kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $12.85


For the Pasta:

  • 8 ounces ziti or rigatoni pasta uncooked (3 cups)

For the Peppers & Onions:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced green pepper
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

For the Chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized (1 lb.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly-sliced in half widthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

For the Provolone Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 pkg (7.6 oz.) ultra-thin sliced provolone separated (or use 1 cup provolone in sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese for topping -- See Note 1)
  • Optional: fresh chopped parsley


  • PREP: Spray a 9x13-inch (33x23-cm) baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside for now. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).

For the Pasta:

  • BOIL: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water (I add 2 teaspoons salt) followed by the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions MINUS 1 minute. Strain the pasta through a colander and dump into prepared 9x13-inch pan.

For the Peppers and Onions:

  • SAUTÉ: Meanwhile, in a large skillet add the butter and heat to medium-high. Once melted, add the onion, red pepper, green pepper, plus salt & pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon of each). Sauté the veggies, stirring occasionally until they are softened and golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar. Pour the peppers and onions right on top of the cooked pasta.

For the Chicken:

  • PREP CHICKEN: Cut the two chicken breasts in half widthwise to make four thinner filets. Use a meat mallet/frying pan/your fist to give each piece a quick pound (don't flatten chicken; we just want all the pieces fairly even in width). Season both sides. (I add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt & pepper to each side and divide the 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning evenly between all pieces on all sides.)
  • COOK CHICKEN: Meanwhile, add oil to the same skillet used for peppers and onions. Heat to high heat. Add the chicken pieces in one layer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through (registers 160 degrees/juices run clear); remove to a plate. Tent with foil. Let rest for 5 mins then chop and add right on top of the peppers/onions. Don't rinse out pan!

For the Provolone sauce:

  • SAUCE: Add the same pan back to medium heat and add in the butter. Let it melt and then whisk in the flour. Keep whisking for one minute, whisking up any browned bits left behind by the chicken. Very gradually, while whisking constantly and vigorously, add the milk. Cook until nicely thickened, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste (I add 1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper). Remove from heat and use a wooden spoon to gently stir in the Provolone cheese until melted (doesn't have to be perfectly melted -- we're baking it!). Pour sauce over the chicken, peppers, and pasta. Gently stir everything until well coated in the sauce and nicely combined.
  • ASSEMBLE: Smooth top in an even layer then top with provolone slices or Parmesan cheese (Note 1). Place the dish into the oven, uncovered. Bake it for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and golden brown. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley if using. Enjoy promptly!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: Provolone: Use a package of ultra-thin sliced Provolone cheese. Take out 6 slices for topping and then dice up the rest into small pieces for the cheese sauce (you should get about 1 cup). If you aren't using the ultra-thin sliced cheese slices, the Provolone is over powering as the topping (it's a bit too much cheese!). Instead I'd recommend adding about 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (grate a block of Parmesan cheese on a microplane or the small holes of the grater for ultra-fine cheese shreds or use finely grated Parmesan cheese.)

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 545kcal | Carbohydrates: 42.6g | Protein: 33.4g | Fat: 26.6g | Cholesterol: 106.8mg | Sodium: 323.8mg | Fiber: 3.1g | Sugar: 8.2g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


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Recipe Rating


    1. So happy to hear it! 🙂 Unfortunately I don’t think this would freeze well, but I haven’t personally tried freezing this dish. Generally white sauces and cheesy dishes don’t freeze and thaw well (sauce separates).

  1. 5 stars
    This is a amazing recipe and will make it again. When I made it tonight I added a few teaspoon of sundried tomatoes and the oil when cooking peppers and onions

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