Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

Do you ever look at your life and wonder just how you came to be where you are today?

I had one of those moments in the kitchen this past week when I was making this chicken parmesan baked ziti.

Granted, any baked pasta dish always brings me back to my college days when my roommates and I basically lived on pasta bakes night after night after glorious night.  I can distinctly remember my 20-year-old self, standing over a boiling pot of water, carefully reading the instructions on the back of that $1 package of cheap ziti, setting the oven timer for however many minutes the package prescribed, not having a clue what “al dente” actually meant.  But whenever that timer went off, I would dutifully drain the pasta and toss it whatever jarred spaghetti sauce we had in the pantry and a bag of mozzarella shredded cheese, and pop it in the oven to bake.

Oh yes.  Back then, this is what I considered a fancy home-cooked meal.

Well, if we really felt like going fancy and had a few dollars to spare, my roommates and I might toss in some pepperoni or maybe some of the powdered Parmesan we kept in the fridge.  But most nights, it was simple pasta + sauce + cheese, and that was a big step up from what was being served in the cafeteria.  And once it came out of the oven, you’d better believe that friends and roommates appeared out of nowhere to come help with the leftovers.  :)

Fast forward a decade later, and I’m still making old-school pasta bakes, but I’ve learned a few things since.  I can’t remember the last time I needed to look at the instructions for how long to cook a bag of pasta, but I do look nowadays at the labels to see if there are clean ingredients inside.  I’m also not anxious about trying to replicate the exact recipe, and instead feel confident tossing in whatever extra ingredients I might have on hand.  I also now know the value of generously salting your pasta water, and the wonder of adding in some fresh basil.  But a decade later, the motivation behind cooking remains the same — I love to make food and share it with people I love.  Even if it’s super simple, and perhaps no longer quite what I would consider “fancy”.  Good food is good food, and it is meant to be shared.

So today I’m sharing with you a modern recipe mashup I made for some friends.  It’s all of the goodness of chicken parmesan, turned into a baked ziti dish.  I call it…(prepare yourself for the brilliance of the name)…

…Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti.

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

The inspiration for this actually came from everyone’s reaction to this Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti recipe that I posted last month.   Oh my goodness, you guys, this recipe skyrocked to the top of this blog’s statistics and has stayed there ever since.  I forgot how much the world loves baked ziti!

In my mind, this will always be called a simple college-style “pasta bake”.  But when you use ziti, I guess the classic name is apropos.  ;)

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

So for a slightly different twist on the classic, I thought it would be fun to use one of my favorite Pomodoro Fresco tomato sauces from DeLallo and make a “chicken parmesan”-inspired version of baked ziti.  Many of you know that I love to make homemade marinara sauce, but when I’m pressed for time, I always turn to this delicious line of sauces from DeLallo.  By contrast to many sauces at the grocery store, DeLallo’s sauces are made from whole, all-natural ingredients.  And they actually tastes fresh and goodnot processed and overly sweetened.  Just good.  On just about anything.  :)

I went with DeLallo’s Pomodoro Fresco Tomato Basil Sauce for this recipe, but any of their pasta sauces would be great (especially my other favorite, the Spicy Arrabiatta Sauce).

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti 4

To make the baked ziti, I cooked up a batch of penne ziti and then tossed it with the sauce.  Then for the “chicken parmesan” twist, I added in some shredded cooked chicken, chopped fresh basil, and lots of grated Parmesan.

I know that traditional chicken parmesan requires you to bread and pan-fry the chicken.  But I thought the dish already had plenty of flavor and texture without adding the extra fat/calories.  And hey, true to the name, we’re including lots of chicken and lots of Parmesan.  So I’m sticking with it.

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti 6

True to college dorm-room form, I did still add in quite a bit of mozzarella cheese, which makes everything ooey and gooey and wonderful.

So basically, you layer it all up and then pop your dish in the oven…

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

…and 20 minutes later, this deliciously cheesy dish is ready to go.  Just top it with some extra Parmesan and fresh basil, and serve!

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

It definitely feels wild that a decade has passed and I have somehow learned my way confidently around a kitchen in the time since.  And — yes — now am even a full-time food blogger.  (That job wasn’t even invented when I was back in college!)  But I love that dishes like these are still a part of my life, and are just as comforting today as they were ten years ago.  Because I definitely hope to still be making this one tens years form now, and ten years after that, and after that….

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

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Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti

This Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti only requires 6 ingredients and is totally delicious and comforting.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces DeLallo penne ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 (25 ounce) jar DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco Tomato-Basil Sauce (pasta sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% low fat)
  • 1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of generously-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and tomato sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. Pour half of the pasta into a greased 11×7-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese and half of the basil. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and sprinkle immediately with the remaining Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve warm.
All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

This is a sponsored post in partnership with DeLallo.  All opinions are my own as always.  I do genuinely adore this brand and the family and team behind it, and use their food in my home constantly.  Many thanks for supporting brands like them that help make this site possible.

Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti -- all you need are 6 simple ingredients for this comforting and delicious dish! | gimmesomeoven.com

For another delicious meal idea using DeLallo’s Pomodoro Fresco sauces, check out my friend Maria’s Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini over at Two Peas and Their Pod.  And if you’d like to try a creamier version of this pasta, check out this delicious Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti (pictured below).

Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti | gimmesomeoven.com #italian #recipe

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160 comments on “Chicken Parmesan Baked Ziti”

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  20. This a meal it’s simple and everyone can enjoy it. 

  21. Recommendations for freezing this dish?

  22. Not enough sauce for my taste but overall wonderful

  23. We made this last week and it was delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

  24. Hi.. I want to make this recipe tomorrow evening .. How is the best way you cook your chicken , so that you can shred it? Thanks 

    • Hey Marilena! I usually just boil the chicken, let it cool, and then shred it with two forks. You can place your chicken breasts into a saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Then bring to a boil, and then simmer until the chicken is no longer pink, 10 to 12 minutes.
      Transfer the chicken to a bowl, allow to cool, and then shred the meat with 2 forks. Here’s a tutorial video you can check out as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeVfdYJtdoU I hope you enjoy!

  25. Hi.. Can you tell me how you cook your chicken to shred?
    Thanks

  26. I really enjoyed this recipe and will be adding this to my recipe box.
    And your photos are elevating this humble dish.

  27. I’m making this tonight, my husband is so excited!

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  29. Made this tonight and it was fantastic! However I made a change to the chicken. Instead of shredding it, I diced it up, topped it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan and minced onions and fried it. Gave the chicken a wonderful flavor. Then added it to the pan of sauce and noodles and followed the rest! Thanks for the easy weeknight family dinner!

  30. This recipe is awesome. This is gonna be a staple in my house now. Me being a newlywed, I’m looking for great recipes that I will keep with me all through my life. These beginning years, I plan on trying out recipes and finding ones that I like and work for me. Also, need more practice!

    Here are my notes to share with ya’ll:

    I sweated some sliced portabella mushrooms (2 packs) and half a chopped onion and spinach with garlic powder/italian spices/salt pepper, then added it to the mixture as well. Don’t cook them all the way! Don’t want them to loose their texture. I used one medium bag of spinach. I think I will do one large bag next time. I like the spinach with it.

    I added a little more chicken so each portion would have a better protein to carb ratio. I chopped the chicken, not shredded. Much less work. Cooked it half of the way with the same seasonings as the vegetables.

    I cooked the noodles about 4 minutes less than package suggested so it would keep it’s texture while continue cooking in the oven.Also contemplating to drizzle some olive oil on top of noodles and/or covering with foil so that I don’t get dried out noodles. That’s what happened to me. Not enough moisture on the top layer.

  31. Quick easy and excellent !! Made it for a surprise dinner, she Loved it . Thank you 

  32. Hi! I’m planning on making this for a family gathering on Mother’s Day. I am just wondering how big the serving sizes are (like, cup wise) for this recipe? My family are very hearty eaters and just want to ensure enough food. This looks so good and can’t wait for everyone to try it!

  33. Do you know the calorie amount for these dishes?

    • Hey Terri! I’m sorry but we currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site. The nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. But many of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. I hope that helps!

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  39. I absolutely love this recipe and have used it multiple times. I am currently planning to feature it on my blog as a favorite recipe with you being mentioned and quoted directly (hope that is okay!). 

    Love this – and thank you so much for sharing! 

    Lesh
    http://www.LivingLesh.com

    • Thank you, Lesha, we’re so glad you love it! And of course, that’s completely fine! Thank you for asking, and thank you for giving the recipe a try!

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  44. Love this. Added a twist by seasoning the chicken with lemon pepper. Also, I didn’t have zitti so I used broken fettachini. YUM. I love the basil, I added extra of course. Thank you! My hubby has wanted something like this for a while.

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  49. Can I use prego sauce instead ? 

  50. Can I use prego sauce ?