Home Dinner Chicken Crack Chicken Penne

Crack Chicken Penne

Crack chicken penne might sound scandalous, but it’s the best kind of addictive!

This one-pot wonder is loaded with tender chicken, crispy bacon, and a creamy, cheesy sauce. I can’t resist it!

The best part? It’s so easy to make and is guaranteed to satisfy. I made it last week, and my family devoured it!

It’s the kind of dish that makes you feel like a culinary rockstar, even if you’re just a beginner in the kitchen.

Creamy crack chicken penne pasta served in a white plate.
WANT TO SAVE THIS RECIPE?
Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

Why You’ll Love This Crack Chicken Penne

Here’s why you’ll be addicted to this dish:

  • One-Pot Wonder: This dish is a true one-pot meal. You spend less time on cleanup and more time enjoying it.
  • Flavor Bomb: The combination of smoky bacon, tangy ranch seasoning, and creamy cheese creates the most amazing flavor.
  • Family Favorite: It appeals to all ages, so it’s perfect for busy families. Kids love the creamy, cheesy pasta, while adults appreciate the depth of flavor from the bacon and ranch seasoning.
  • Leftover-Friendly: Leftovers reheat beautifully for lunch the next day.
Cheesy and saucy crack chicken penne pasta in a cast iron skillet.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need for this irresistible dish:

  • Chicken Breasts: The star of the show to soak up all the delicious flavors.
  • Smoked Bacon: It’s crispy, smoky, and impossible to resist.
  • Yellow Onion: It adds a subtle sweetness and slight crunch.
  • Ranch Seasoning Mix: This secret ingredient gives it the signature “crack” flavor.
  • Chicken Broth: The savory liquid base brings everything together and ensures the pasta cooks to perfection.
  • Penne Pasta: Sturdy and satisfying, the ridges capture the luscious sauce in every bite.
  • Cream of Chicken Soup: It makes the sauce velvety smooth and oh-so-comforting.
  • Cream Cheese: It melts into the sauce for an extra layer of indulgence.
  • Colby Jack Cheese: It offers a perfect balance of sharpness and creaminess.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: The dynamic duo of seasonings enhances all the flavors.
  • Fresh Parsley: To add a pop of freshness and color!
Penne pasta in cheesy and creamy sauce, bacon and chicken, tossed in a cast iron skillet with a wooden ladle.

How to Make Crack Chicken Penne

Making this dish couldn’t be easier:

  1. Cook the bacon. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until crispy, about 9-11 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish. Drain all but 2 tbsp bacon grease from the skillet.
  2. Brown the chicken. Season the cubed chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet with the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. The chicken may not be fully cooked through.
  3. Add the seasonings and pasta. Stir in the ranch seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then add the penne pasta. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pasta is al dente, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Make it creamy. Remove the lid and stir in the cream cheese and cream of chicken soup until fully combined. Mix in the shredded Colby jack, cooked bacon pieces, and parsley.
  5. Melt the cheese and serve. Top with the remaining Colby Jack and cover until cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and garnish with the reserved bacon and parsley. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Method

Want a more hands-off dinner? Try this easy slow cooker method:

  1. Add the chicken, onion, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of broth to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, then shred the chicken.
  3. Add the pasta, ranch, cream cheese, soup, and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well and cook on HIGH for 30-40 minutes (stir well halfway).
  4. While that cooks, fry the bacon until crispy.
  5. Stir the mix again, top with the remaining cheese, pop the lid on, and let it melt. Then serve with the bacon and chopped fresh parsley.

If the pot looks dry after cooking the chicken, add 1/2 cup of water with the pasta.

Cheesy Crack penne pasta served in a plate garnished with fried bacon.

Tips For the Best Crack Chicken Penne

This recipe is so easy, it’s hard to mess it up, but these tips make it truly shine!

  • Be careful with the browning. Only sear the chicken in the bacon fat. Do not cook it all the way through, as it will finish cooking with the pasta. Fully cooking the chicken in the beginning will make it dry and overcooked.
  • Keep a watchful eye. Set a timer once you add the penne so you don’t overcook it. Check the pasta about 1 to 2 minutes before it should be done according to package directions.
  • Get shredding! Use freshly shredded cheese instead of pre-shredded packaged cheese. Pre-shredded has additives to prevent clumping and doesn’t melt as smoothly.
  • Try a bacon hack. Place the bacon in the freezer for about an hour to firm it up. This makes it much easier to dice into small pieces.
  • Get rid of the grease. Depending on the fat content of your bacon, you may need to remove some of the excess grease. Leave bout 1 tablespoon in the pot to cook the chicken.
  • Spice it up. For a kick, add red chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or diced jalapeños to the ranch seasoning.
Penne pasta in cheesy and creamy sauce with chicken breast and fried bacon in a cast iron skillet.

How to Store

If you have leftover chicken pasta, follow these steps to enjoy it a second time around:

To Store: Keep leftover chicken penne in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let the pasta cool completely before storing.

To Freeze: You can freeze crack chicken penne for up to 2 months, though it’s not ideal. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Expect the sauce to be slightly less creamy.

To Reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until heated through. Reheat larger amounts in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a splash of milk or broth if needed to restore creaminess.

More Addictive Recipes To Try

Crack Chicken Sliders
Crack Potatoes
Low-Carb Crack Slaw
Crack Chicken Noodle Soup

WANT TO SAVE THIS RECIPE?
Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

Crack Chicken Penne

Course: Main CourseCuisine: American
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

595

kcal

This one-pot crack chicken penne is creamy, cheesy, and loaded with flavor from the bacon, ranch, and tender chicken. You’ll be instantly addicted!

Ingredients

  • 6 slices smoked bacon, diced

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb), cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 (1 ounce) packet ranch seasoning mix

  • 3 cups chicken broth

  • 16 ounces penne pasta, uncooked

  • 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, cubed

  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

  • 2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese, divided

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until crispy, about 9-11 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving 1/4 cup for garnish. Drain all but 2 tbsp bacon grease from the skillet.
  • Season the cubed chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet with the onions and cook until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. The chicken may not be fully cooked through.
  • Stir in the ranch seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then add the penne pasta. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until pasta is al dente, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir in the cream cheese and cream of chicken soup until fully combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups shredded Colby Jack, cooked bacon pieces (except reserved 1/4 cup), and 1 tbsp parsley.
  • Top with remaining 1/2 cup Colby Jack (do not stir) and cover until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and garnish with reserved 1/4 cup bacon and remaining 1 tbsp parsley. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use full-fat cream cheese in a block for the creamiest texture.
  • Shred the cheese yourself for better melting.
  • Add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños for some heat. Or season the chicken with Cajun spices for added oomph!
  • Serve with garlic bread and a side salad for a complete meal.

Did you like the recipe?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 5

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Thanks!

Share on social media:

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

6 thoughts on “Crack Chicken Penne”

  1. Hello! I am a huge fan of anything crack chicken, but I was wondering.... can this be made in a crockpot? I've become addicted to mine and use it as much as I can. lol As a beginner “chef' I would be completely lost on how to convert this to a crockpot meal. So what exactly would the recipe be? THANKS!!

    Reply
    • Hi Sheena,

      Here's how to make this in the slow cooker

      1. Add the chicken, onion, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of broth to a 6-quart slow cooker.

      2. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, then shred the chicken.

      3. Add the pasta, ranch, cream cheese, soup, and 1 cup of cheese. Mix well and cook on HIGH for 30-40 minutes (stir well halfway).

      4. While that cooks, fry the bacon until crispy.

      5. Stir the mix again, top with the remaining cheese, pop the lid on, and let it melt. Then serve with the bacon and chopped fresh parsley.

      If the pot looks dry after cooking the chicken or after 20 minutes with the pasta, add 1/2 cup of water.

      Reply
    • Hi Dani!
      I've amended the recipe to include the onions (they go in with the chicken)
      And I've included “condensed” soup in the recipe description.
      Good call on the garlic! I add it to everything, too 🙂
      Thanks!

      Reply
  2. Kim, generally when I leave a comment, I don't wish to be too critical, I made this for dinner this evening and my Husband thought that it tasted good, which is great because it is just the two of us and we are in our 70's and there are a lot of leftovers. My Husband likes leftovers.
    First let me tell you that on the ingredients list you have 1/2 Cup of minced yellow onion; however, in the instructions the onion is not mentioned.
    I went to the grocery store this afternoon and purchased the ingredients that I did not have on hand. I purchased a pound and a quarter of Purdue cut up skinless boneless chicken breast to save some prep work, a quart container of Swanson Chicken broth which is 4 cups of broth, a pound of Oscar Meyer bacon, only used about 1/3 pound, 8 oz. of Cabot Coulby Jack cheese, grated off the block at home, Campbells Cream of Chicken soup, Philadelphia whipped cream cheese and everything else I had at home already.
    I found that the chicken should have been browned a bit more and the amount of 4 cups of broth was twice as much as needed for consistency. Also with 4 cups of broth the seasoning was extremely watered down even with all the bacon and cheeses I felt it was too bland.

    I have made several of your recipes so far, that turned out much better. Looking forward to trying the Pecan Pie Brownies, my Husband swooned when I showed him the photo.

    The next time I try this recipe I will make changes and let you know if it looks like your photo and is not as bland.

    Reply
    • Hi Pat!
      Thanks for catching the typo in the recipe. I've added the onion to the post and method 🙂

      I've also modified the amount of pasta, as you're right, 4 cups of broth is too much for 8 ounces of pasta. It was supposed to be 16 ounces.
      Though another reason you may have found this thin is the whipped cream cheese.
      When cooking and baking, it's almost always best to use full-fat cream cheese in a block.
      It has more calories, but it's vital to thicken the sauce.

      I hope you try the brownies! I made them last weekend and they didn't last 2 days!

      Reply

Leave a Comment