This Sun-Dried Tomatoes Baked Chicken Penne Pasta is made with an easy alfredo sauce recipe. It's flavored with sun-dried tomatoes, a hearty scoop of pesto and baked under a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. This is one of the best pasta dinner recipes!
Easy Alfredo Sauce--Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Ingredients:
- Cream: Heavy whipping cream works best
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: I used jarred for this recipe but dried works too as long as your blender can handle it.
- Chicken Broth
- Parmesan Cheese: (Shredded or grated, whatever you have or a mixture of the 2 is great too)
- Garlic Salt: any brand is great
- Nutmeg: This will intensify all the flavors.
- Pepper: Optional but adds another layer of flavor.
Instructions for Making Alfredo Sauce with Sun-Dried Tomatoes:
In a large pot on the stove, bring the cream to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes. (You are boiling some of the liquid out of the cream so it will be a little thicker)
In a blender, blend together the chicken broth and the sun-dried tomatoes.
Add the sun-dried tomato mixture to the cream and add the parmesan cheese, garlic salt, nutmeg, and the pepper.
Bring the mixture back up to a boil stirring constantly. Boil for 1-2 more minutes or until the alfredo is thick.
If you're feeling ambitious and want to make your own pesto, here are the instructions. If you're looking for a pre-made pesto, there are a lot of options.
I like to buy mine at Costco. It stays fresh for a long time and has amazing flavor. Trader Joe's pesto is great and Pesto Walmart works great too.
If you're going through the trouble of making homemade pesto, do yourself a favor and double the batch. It's such a game-changer and is so good drizzled on pasta bakes, in grilled cheese sandwiches or in just about any chicken and pasta bake recipe.
Fresh Basil: 2 big handfuls will do. (or about 4 ounces)
Nuts: Pine nuts are traditionally used here but just about any nut will do. (if you have a nut allergy in your house, I've also made this without nuts and it's still loaded with flavor and works perfectly in this pasta bake. )
Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan Cheese works best in pesto recipes.
Garlic Cloves: One large or 2 med/small cloves will do.
Salt: about a half teaspoon of kosher salt is great.
Olive Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil works best in this recipe. You will need a ¼ cup (if you didn't add nuts) to ½ cup (if your "handfuls" of basil are on the large side)
Lemon Juice: Just about a Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice really brightens up this Pasta dinner.
How to Make Homemade Pesto:
You can use a food processor or what I like to make is Vitamix Pesto. It's so easy and only takes a few minutes to mix together. If you've ever wondered what's in pesto sauce, here ya go!
- Add the basil, parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, salt, and nuts into the food processor or the Vitamix.
- Process or blend until the ingredients are finely chopped stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed.
Stream in the olive oil. With the motor running, stream in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher and continue blending as needed until the olive oil is emulsified into the basil and the pesto looks uniform. Add enough olive oil that the mixture is turning smoothly and the ingredients are runnier than a paste but not liquid.
Taste and adjust. Taste the pesto and add more salt, garlic, nuts, or cheese as needed. Enjoy!
This pasta dinner recipe is easy, delicious and can be whipped together in 20 or 30 minutes. It has large, hearty chunks of chicken, loads of delicious cheeses and a creamy sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce your family will love.
Tips for Making The Best Pasta Dinner Bake:
- I blend my Sun-dried tomatoes up in the blender with a little chicken broth to avoid meltdowns from my picky eaters. I'm currently in the phase of life where chunky food isn't allowed.
- The sun-dried tomatoes are deliciously sliced thinly and stirred into the alfredo sauce. (that's definitely the preferred method unless you have picky eaters who don't like "chunks."
- You can use bottled sun-dried tomatoes or the dry sun-dried tomatoes that come in a zipped pouch
- If you use the zipped pouch kind, just soak them in some warm water for a few minutes while you're making your alfredo sauce and cooking the chicken.
- You can use just about any type of noodle. The mini bow tie pasta is really cute! I used the "Casa Recce" brand from Costco. I love this brand of pasta because it's so chewy and holds sauce really well.
- Be sure to drain the pasta when it is al dente. You will be adding it to the alfredo sauce and baking it for about 15 minutes so it will have some time to finish cooking.
- This doesn't freeze super well. It tends to get a little dry. If you need it to sit in the fridge for a day or two or you end up needing to freeze it, be sure to make about a third more alfredo sauce otherwise the noodles will soak up the alfredo sauce and it will be a little dry.
- I used some store-bought pesto for this dish but I love to make it with homemade pesto when my basil is fresh from the garden.
Sun Dried Tomatoes Baked Chicken Penne Pasta
Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream Heavy whipping cream works best
- 2 Tablespoons Sun-Dried Tomatoes you can use dried or jarred ( I used jarred for this recipe)
- 1 ½ Cup Chicken Broth
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Salt
- dash Pepper
- 2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1.5 Lbs. Chicken cut into ½" Pieces
- 2 Tablespoons Avocado or Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
- 1 17.6 ounce package of noodles (8-9 Servings)
- ¼ Cup Pesto Homemade or pre-made is fine
- 2 ½ Cups Mozerella Cheese
- ¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
- In a large pot on the stove, bring the cream to a boil. Boil for 1.5 minutes. (You are boiling some of the liquid out of the cream so it will be a little thicker)
- In a blender, blend together the chicken broth and the sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add the sun-dried tomato mixture to the cream and add 2 cups parmesan cheese, garlic salt, nutmeg, and the pepper.
- Bring the mixture back up to a boil stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes or until the alfredo thickens.
- Cook noodles according to package. (Make sure to only cook them till al dente) Set Aside.
Assembling Sun Dried Tomatoes Baked Chicken Penne Pasta
- Cut the raw chicken into 1" bites. Add to a frying pan with 2 Tablespoons of Avocado oil. Saute the chicken until golden. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is translucent. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside
- Combine the chicken, alfredo sauce, and pasta. Stir till mixed throughly. Add 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese and mix again. Pour into a 9 by 13 baking dish.
- Top the pasta with 1 cup mozzerella cheese, ¼ cup parmesan, and drizzle the pasta with pesto sauce.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Enjoy!
Here are some more of the Best Pasta Dinner Recipes:
FAQ for Sun Dried Tomatoes Baked Chicken Penne Pasta:
- What kind of Pasta should I use? You can use just about any kind of pasta. As long as the servings are about 8 servings, your pasta to sauce ratio will be just right in this pasta bake recipe.
- Can I use a different type of pasta? You bet. You can use bow-tie pasta, penne, rigatoni, or just about any type of pasta in this recipe.
- Can I use Classico Alfredo Sauce? You bet. You'll need about a jar and a half if you want to substitute it for the homemade alfredo. It's great with jarred alfredo too.
- What if I use different types of Pasta Sauce? Classico and Barilla are the most popular alfredo sauces but use your favorite one!
- Can I use Trader Joe's Pasta? You bet. Trader Joes Pasta is really fun to use. They have had some unusual pasta that will work great too.
- How to Thicken Alfredo Sauce? Boil the Alfredo Sauce and add some Parmesan Cheese. Boiling it will remove some of the liquid to make it thicker and adding parmesan cheese will do that too.
This sun-dried tomato pasta bake has a rich creamy alfredo sauce with a pesto drizzle and layers of delicious cheese. It's a family favorite and perfect for dinner any day of the week.