Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake with Bechamel sauce is easy, cheesy comfort food with a little kick of heat and spice. What makes this chicken pasta bake AMAZING is the warm, luscious Bechamel Sauce (also known as White Sauce) and of course lots of cheese.
This Creamy Pasta with spicy Chicken and white sauce is a delicious and easy meal for any night of the week. In fact, it is a perfect dump-all-leftovers or hide-the-veggies kind of a meal that’s oozing with delicious flavours.
The secret to this pasta bake is the Bechamel Sauce. Over the years I have tried to perfect the recipe for the sauce to make it rich, creamy and cheesy the way I like it. And I am proud to say that this is the best Bechamel sauce ever!
Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake Recipe
When you crave comfort food this is the kind of recipe you want. It is really simple to make, is packed with flavours and the whole family will love it. It is filling, has a wonderful spicy kick and ready in just 30-minutes.
In this recipe, spicy chicken chunks are tossed with veggies and then layered with penne pasta and homemade luscious bechamel sauce, covered in grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese. Then baked till golden and bubbly – Ah perfect!
INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN PASTA BAKE
- The Pasta – I have used Penne Pasta for this recipe because I feel you want something chunky in this pasta bake. You can use Rigatoni or Fusili too. I would not recommend using macaroni because of its small size it will be lost in the sauce and you will miss out on the texture which is important in this recipe.
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions and cook to al dente which means it should be tender but still has a bite to it. Pasta should not be too soft or mushy.
- The Chicken – Cut boneless chicken breasts into bite-size chunks and season with smoked paprika, red chilli flakes, salt, pepper, tandoori chicken masala, olive oil and minced garlic. Keep aside for 15 minutes.
Then in a hot skillet, saute onion in olive oil, when it’s soft add the marinated chicken and cook until it changes colour.
- The Vegetables – I find pasta dishes a great way to sneak in some vegetables. Especially when you have picky eaters around. I used red, yellow and green bell peppers chopped and de-seeded.
You can use any vegetable you or your family likes, mushrooms, carrots, spinach or any other vegetable you know your family would enjoy.
- The Béchamel Sauce – The Bechamel Sauce or white sauce is the star ingredient of this chicken pasta bake. It starts with a roux and gradually turned to Bechamel with the addition of milk.
HOW TO MAKE BECHAMEL SAUCE
I love pasta with creamy sauce and my favourite has to be the bechamel (white) sauce. It is a perfect base sauce for creamy pasta bakes, casseroles and macaroni and cheese.
The basic Bechamel Sauce is made by cooking together butter and flour and then gradually adding milk while stirring consistently as the sauce begins to thicken. To add flavour to the Bechamel Sauce season it with black pepper, and salt.
I also use red chilli flakes and dried oregano. Then to make it rich and creamy, I add cream and cheddar cheese and for an added layer of flavour, some chicken stock. This makes a silky, creamy, cheesy sauce.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY THIS RECIPE?
- It’s a quick and easy, hearty dish – you just layer everything together in a dish once a chicken, pasta and bechamel sauce is cooked
- It is a great dish to hide the vegetables in the pasta bake
- It makes delicious family meal and is a perfect way to use any leftovers
- Easy to customize – you can add in any vegetables you like or make it a completely vegetarian pasta bake by swapping out the chicken and using your favourite vegetables.
More Pasta Recipes to Enjoy
- Rotini with Spicy Meat Sauce
- Crispy Chicken with Creamy Garlic Pasta
- Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne
- Creamy Chicken and Spinach bake
- Spicy Chicken and Mushroom Stroganoff
Creamy Chicken Pasta Bake with Bechamel Sauce
For the Chicken
- 2 large chicken breasts (cut into bitesize chunks)
- 1 tbsp Garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper crushed
- 1 Tbsp Tandoori Chicken Masala (optional)
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped
- 1 ½ Cup red, yellow and green bell pepper (de-seeded and chopped)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 4 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce (or Chili Sauce)
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
For the Bechamel Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 2 ½ Tbsp Plain Flour
- 3 Cups Milk
- ½ Cup Chicken Stock or Pasta Water
- 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- ½ tsp Salt (if needed)
- ¼ tsp Oregano
- ½ Cup Cheddar Cheese grated
- ½ Cup Cream
For the Pasta
- 400 grams Penne Pasta
- 1 tsp Salt
- Oil to drizzle
- Cheddar Cheese grated
- Mozzarella Cheese Grated
- Red Chili Fakes
Prepare the Chicken
- In a bowl add the chicken chunks, minced garlic, smoked paprika, red chili flakes, salt, black pepper, Tandoori Chicken Masala (optional) and olive oil. Mix well and keep aside for 15 minutes.
- Place a skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsp Olive and chopped onion and fry until it begins to soften and turn translucent. Now add the marinated chicken and cook till changes colour, about 3 minutes.
- Now add the chopped bell peppers, tomato puree, Sriracha Sauce, oregano and thyme. Stir and cook until peppers are tender.
- Taste Check and adjust seasoning salt and pepper if required. Keep Aside
Prepare the Pasta
- Bring a big pan of water with salt to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Strain and drizzle oil on it. Retain a cup of starchy pasta water.
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce
- In a pan melt butter over medium heat and add oil. Add flour, mix and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Now gradually add milk while stirring consistently to avoid any lumps. Add seasoning red chilli flakes, black pepper and oregano and mix well.
- Now remove the pan away from heat and add cream and cheddar cheese. Mix and put the pan back on the heat
- When it starts to bubble add ½ cup chicken stock or pasta water and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste check and add salt if needed.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius
- In an ovenproof dish spread a layer of bechamel sauce. Next, add a layer of pasta
- Then a layer of the Chicken Mix. Cover the layer with more bechamel sauce and top it with grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese
- Repeat the process the layering process of adding pasta layer, then chicken layer and cover it with bechamel sauce completely.
- Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and chilli flakes.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 -20 minutes until golden and bubbly.
- Serve warm.
- I have used cheddar and mozzarella cheese as topping, you can swap it for parmesan cheese
- Make this pasta bake vegetarian by swapping chicken out with your favourite vegetables. Or make a seafood version by swapping chicken with prawns
- If you don’t want too much heat, skip chili flakes completely
- You can add any of your favourite vegetables like carrots, spinach or even mushrooms
- You can easily use any leftover shredded chicken in this pasta bake
- For the perfect pasta always cook pasta 2 minutes less than usual or as directed on package when making pasta bake, because it will cook in the oven too.
- To make the Bechamel sauce less creamy skip cream and cheddar cheese completely
- In the Bechamel sauce add salt only if needed. After adding cheddar cheese and chicken stock taste check and then add salt.
- This tastes best when served warm
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