Are you in the mood for something creamy, indulgent, and filling, but you want to keep things on the lighter side as well?
Usually, it’s tough to have it both ways, but I’m changing that with this incredible Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta.
This easy pasta dish is the ultimate comfort food that the entire family will love, and yet it is secretly packed with a ton of protein.
How much protein, you ask? Each serving contains just 360 calories and contains an impressive 41 grams of protein! I promise: nobody would ever know that this creamy pasta was secretly healthy.
Plus, this dish is incredibly easy to throw together in just 30 minutes total. If you’re somehow still not convinced that this needs to be your dinner tonight, continue reading on and I’ll do my best to convince you.
How To Make Easy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
This pasta dish shines thanks to the crispy bacon, lean chicken breasts, and creamy ranch sauce. When it all comes together, it’s magical.
The magic of this ranch sauce is in the secret ingredient – fat-free cottage cheese. This simple ingredient transforms the sauce into a high-protein, creamy cheese sauce, without the calories of using traditional cream cheese or heavy cream in our sauce.
Mixed up with some sharp cheddar cheese and ranch seasoning, the result is a creamy ranch sauce that’s guaranteed to be a huge hit.
Don’t worry, I actually don’t love cottage cheese, but once it’s blended up smoothly, it creates the perfect base for this delicious meal. You definitely won’t want to substitute it.
To add ranch flavor to this sauce, I used Trader Joe’s ranch seasoning, but any ranch dressing mix or ranch seasoning from the grocery store will work here.
Just mix everything together in a big bowl and set the sauce aside and we can move on to the rest of the prep.
Cook up your pasta based on the package instructions. While the pasta cooks to al dente perfection, you’ll continue with the rest of this easy pasta recipe to make the most of your time. I used Banza Chickpea Pasta as my pasta; it’s a great option for added protein (plus it’s gluten-free), but you can use any pasta you’d like.
I chose rotini pasta for this one because the spiral shapes hold that delicious sauce really well, but penne pasta would also work just fine here.
Dice up some bacon strips and add to a pan or large skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring them around occasionally, until they become super crispy. I love using center cut bacon here – only 50 calories per 2 strips, and the flavor is significantly better than if you opt for something like turkey bacon.
If you’re in a pinch, bacon bits can definitely work here, although you’ll be missing out on the amazing flavor of the bacon grease.
Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and add it to a plate lined with paper towels, but don’t drain the pan! Use that delicious bacon grease to cook the chicken (cut into strips, cubes, or small pieces) until it’s no longer pink.
If you don’t feel like cooking the chicken, you can even use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken if you have it lying around. I dice my chicken up pretty small so it cooks very quickly, generally about 5 minutes or so.
Once the chicken has cooked through, it’s time to put it all together!
Reduce heat to low, add the ranch sauce to the pan, followed by the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, and bacon.
Stir until everything is coated in that creamy ranch sauce, and then you are ready to serve.
Plate your pasta, add green onion or fresh parsley for extra flavor, and dig in. This pasta makes for a great complete meal on its own, but feel free to pair it with a delicious side, like garlic bread, to really win over the whole family.
If meal prep is your style, this pasta dish holds up great as leftovers. Simply store your leftovers in an airtight container and microwave for a quick lunch or easy dinner on a busy weeknight.
More Pasta Recipes To Enjoy
The next time you want an easy meal and feel like switching things up, I’ve got plenty of pasta recipes for you to dive into. You can’t go wrong with any of these:
- Creamy Cajun Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
- Chipotle Chicken Pasta- A Creamy & Spicy Pasta Recipe
- Garlic Ginger Soba Noodle Stir Fry in 20 Minutes
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake For Meal Prep
- 20-Minute Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
- 6 Strips Center Cut Bacon
- 12oz Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- 8oz (1 Box) Rotini Pasta (I used Banza chickpea pasta for added protein)
- 1 Cup (226g) Fat Free Cottage Cheese (Blended)
- 42g (about 1/3 Cup) Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese
- 2 tsp Ranch Seasoning
- 1/4 Cup Milk of Choice (can also use chicken broth)
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- Start by prepping the ranch sauce so it is ready to go. Blend up cottage cheese until smooth (either using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender) and add one cup to a large bowl. Add shredded cheddar cheese, ranch seasoning, milk, and black pepper. Give it a quick mix and set aside.
- Fill a pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. While the pasta cooks, we'll prep the rest of the recipe to make the most of our time.
- Dice up the bacon strips and add to a pan over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is nice and crispy.
- Take your chicken breast and cut it into strips, cubes, or small pieces. I like to cut mine up nice and small (like diced chicken) to help it cook as quickly as possible.
- Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess grease. Do not drain the pan! We're going to use the bacon grease to add a ton of amazing flavor to our dish.
- Add the cut-up chicken directly to the pan with the bacon grease. Stir/flip the chicken occasionally until it is no longer pink, which should only take about 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce the heat to low.
- Add the ranch sauce to the pan and allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes to melt all of the cheese.
- Take the cooked pasta, chicken, and bacon, and stir those into the sauce, being sure to fully coat everything. Allow everything to heat together for a few minutes, then serve!
- Cottage cheese is the star of this sauce, and it's important to blend it up until smooth. Without blending the cottage cheese, your pasta sauce will be chunky, which we do not want.
- I use ranch seasoning from Trader Joe's, but any ranch packet will work great.
- I didn't include any veggies in this pasta dish, but adding onion, pepper, or broccoli would be a great idea.
- This chicken bacon ranch pasta works great for meal prep. Simply store the leftover pasta in an airtight container and microwave it when you need a quick lunch.
- The nutrition facts below were calculated using specific ingredients, like chickpea pasta and center cut bacon. If you change anything up, be sure to calculate your own macros.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of Recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 360Total Fat 9gCarbohydrates 34gFiber 4gProtein 41g