A good pasta bake is all about that golden brown melted cheese on top. A bonus when you find pockets of creamy soft cheeses on the inside. This chicken and chorizo pasta bake not only tick both those boxes, it's also satisfyingly tasty! Think chorizo, sweet paprika, creamy tomato sauce, cheese and... I'll just let you see the ingredients list.
Yum factor tip: make sure to saute the chorizo till golden to maximise its amazing flavours!
Look at just how delicious this cheesy, creamy chicken pasta bake is!
Another reason why I love this weeknight-friendly pasta bake is the contrasting textures and flavours. There are bits that are soft and then bits that are a little crunchy (from the golden cheese). Then you have the smooth ricotta cheese contrasted with the chorizo that's just packed with flavour!
YUMMM. Alright, I could keep going on about why this is so awesome but that'll get boring real quick so let's get to..!
- Chorizo are cured pork sausages packed with lots of paprika and other spices. They come in either soft or hard in texture. Generally speaking, soft chorizo would need to be cooked before eating whereas the hard types can be eaten (in slices) without cooking. For this recipe, go for the soft variety.
- Paprika any type of paprika will work great with this dish. I used sweet paprika but feel free to use whatever you've got on hand - smoked or hot. Tip: if you like things on the hot side, add a tsp of cayenne pepper for added heat!
- Chicken either breasts or thighs. Both are good.
- Ricotta cheese is used for extra creaminess and it's lovely mild flavour. Feel free to use other soft cheese you like such as cottage cheese.
- Mozzarella cheese for stringy cheesy factor and it crisps/goes golden nicely in the oven.
- Thickened/double cream is preferred over light or pouring cream. The higher fat content will prevent the sauce from splitting.
Step by step instructions
It's actually really simple and thus it's a fantastic weeknight meal. Hands-on cooking is about 15 minutes and the rest is done by the magic of the oven.
You want to simmer the creamy pasta sauce on low heat for about 5 minutes to help it develop flavour. And since we're using thickened/double cream, there's no need to worry about the sauce splitting!
How long do you boil pasta before baking
Cook pasta according to packet instructions but take them out when al dente. So if it takes 11 minutes to cook, take the pasta out after 9 minutes. Al dente just means pasta is still a little firm to the bite. Being al dente, the pasta will have room to soak up all that creamy pasta sauce when baking!
The white chunks in step #9 above are dollops of ricotta cheese. This will add extra creaminess into the final dish!
Optional but highly recommended: grate some parmesan cheese on top just before baking for a stronger cheese flavour!
Depending on how many calories you want to consume - if you're feeling generous, the more cheese the better! A good to know: each serving (albeit, quite generous) in this recipe has about 630 calories.
Types of cheese for this pasta bake
This recipe uses a mix of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan (optional) cheeses. Both ricotta and mozzarella are rather mild in taste. Nonetheless, they bring creaminess, smoothness and the beloved stretch factor that we all love! They work really well with the contrasting parmesan cheese which has a stronger, sharp cheese flavour.
Feel free to swap out and use whatever you have in the fridge - tasty, cottage, cheddar, etc.
This recipe makes 6 portions and is freezer friendly - they keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Tips for super yum chicken and chorizo pasta bake
- Brown the chorizo and chicken before adding liquids. The secret to all foods great. Browning brings flavour (colour = flavour). Sauteing the chorizo will release its fats and those fats will then add more flavour to the chicken!
- For a stronger cheese taste, add grated parmesan cheese (highly recommended!)
- Use double/thickened cream and take the cream out of the fridge 10 - 15 minutes before cooking will help bring it up to room temperature. This way the cream will be even less likely to split once poured into the tomato-based sauce.
- Cook pasta to al dente then bake will give the pasta room to soak up the yummy creamy pasta sauce.
- Season the pasta cooking water with salt! Seasoning is key to avoid any disappointed faces from any bland bites.
Extra cheese is always a good idea.
Side dish suggestions
Being a rich, carby dish (yes, please!), serve with a refreshing salad such as my Red cabbage salad or simple steamed greens such as broccoli or sauteed beans.
Other pasta dishes you might like
- Spaghetti and meatballs - super yum Italian meatballs!
- Easy garlic prawn pasta - dinner done in 15 minutes, perfect quick and easy meal
- Vegetarian bolognese ft. roast pumpkins - something to think about for your next meat-free meal
- Healthy-ish chicken and broccoli pasta - for those that are calorie conscious but loves FLAVOUR
- Creamy chicken and mushroom pasta - comfort food at it's finest
Thank you for checking out my recipes! Let me know what you think and/or if you have any questions, thoughts, drop me a note in the comments section below. 🙂
Chicken and chorizo pasta bake
- 500 g /1.1lbs penne pasta or other pasta shapes preferred
- 500 g /1.1lbs chicken breast cut into chunks, chicken breast is best, I used thighs
- 1 chorizo chopped, about 100g/3.5oz
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic fined diced/minced
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika or any other varieties of paprika
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 400g/14oz
- 1 cup passata
- ½ cup heavy/thickened cream or double cream (note 1)
- ½ cup ricotta or any other soft cheese preferred
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (note 2)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions with salted water and to al dente. (note 3)
Making the creamy pasta sauce
- Whilst pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet/non-stick frying pan, add oil and onions. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes or until onions soften.
- Add chorizo and paprika and saute on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the fat starts rendering and chorizo starts to brown.
- Add chicken, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes or until chicken browns. (note 4)
- Add crushed tomatoes, passata and cream. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Taste to adjust for seasoning.
Making the pasta bake
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- In a large ovenproof dish (I used a rectangular 30x25cm/12x10inch), combine cooked pasta and pasta sauce. Mix thoroughly with a spatula.
- Top pasta with dollops of ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese.
- Optional: top with shredded parmesan cheese for stronger cheese flavour.
- Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese starts to turn golden.
- Serve immediately, optional: extra parmesan cheese to serve.