This creamy, indulgent Cream Cheese Bacon Chicken Pasta is a skillet full of comfort. It’s easy, only calls for a handful of ingredients, and is the perfect recipe for those busy weeknights.
I often refer to easy, quick weeknight meals like this Cream Cheese Bacon Chicken Pasta as the type of recipe you reach for when everyone is running in a hundred different directions. For us, those are usually school nights, but it’s not just when school is in session that we’re looking for easy recipes.
We’re pretty much always looking for things that we can get on the table without a lot of fuss and with ingredients we already have in the house.
You’d think that as a recipe developer my family dinners would be complex and gourmet, but as the old saying goes… “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” And, we are busy just like any other family so quick meals that utilize only one pan, dish, pot, or skillet are perfect!
This chicken pasta recipe is just that – simple, quick, delicious, and minimal dishwashing required. As a matter of fact, the total time it takes to make this delicious complete meal is only 35 minutes.
And fun fact, it makes for great leftovers. Just put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy for lunch the next day with a little heating in the microwave or over the stovetop!
Spaghetti – I much prefer spaghetti pasta for this dish, but you could also use a bowtie or penne pasta. It’s important to remember to only cook the pasta to al dente. It will continue to cook a bit once it’s out of the boiling water and can soften even more once it’s added to the sauce. And, be sure to not rinse your pasta in this recipe. Keeping the starch on the pasta will help the sauce to stick to the spaghetti.
Thick-Cut Bacon – I love adding thick-cut, smoked bacon to this pasta dish. It gives the sauce a noticeable smokiness and tons of flavor. Regular-cut bacon will work, as well. You just might need a few more pieces to get enough fat to cook everything else.
Bacon Fat – You’ll need 2 to 3 tablespoons of bacon grease/fat. Using the rendered fat to sear the chicken helps us carry that flavor throughout the dish.
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – You will want 1 pound of this chicken cut into 1-inch cubes. Be sure not to crowd the pan with the chicken. You want to get a nice sear on the chicken and get it golden brown to add even more flavor.
Minced Garlic – I’m partial to fresh minced garlic. I’ve just never been able to replicate the flavor with a garlic powder or jarred minced garlic.
Chicken Broth – Any brand chicken broth will do. You could even use the low sodium chicken broth if you need that variety but be aware it may affect the flavor a tiny bit.
Milk – I like to use whole milk because it provides richness to the flavor and it helps make the sauce a nice creamy consistency.
Cream Cheese – I recommend cutting your cream cheese into cubes so that it melts more easily into the sauce. And while I normally am a huge fan of using generic or store brands, I really feel like the Philadelphia brand melts the best and gives this dish the best texture.
Grated Parmesan Cheese – Feel free to grab the pre-grated parmesan cheese for this recipe and save yourself a little time on this step.
Salt and Black Pepper – I know some hate the vagueness of the phrase “add salt and pepper to taste,” but it’s really the only way to do it. Different cheeses will have different salt amounts and based on the amount of salt and pepper you put on the chicken, you might not need any more at all. Just taste it.
Cream Cheese Bacon Chicken Pasta
- 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti
- 5 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package instructions, and set aside.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, keeping the bacon drippings in the pan. Crumble and set aside.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the bacon grease over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 2 to 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Work in batches if necessary to prevent crowding the pan. Remove chicken from pan using tongs or a slotted spoon to allow bacon grease to remain in the pan. Place chicken on a plate. Set aside.
- Lower the heat to low and add the minced garlic. Cook in the bacon grease until fragrant – just about 1 minute – being cautious not to burn the garlic. Add the chicken broth and milk. Stir to combine. Add the cream cheese and cover the pan. Cook for a few minutes or until cream cheese is nearly melted. Use a whisk to combine the sauce. Finally, add parmesan cheese to the pan and whisk together. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken and crumbled bacon to the pan along with the pasta and toss together. Serve immediately.
* If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. The values do not include optional ingredients or when ingredients are added to taste. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.