Crack Chicken Penne


Crack Chicken Penne has taken the culinary world by storm, blending the creamy richness of cheese with the savory punch of bacon and tender chicken. This dish, known for its addictive flavor profile, is a modern twist on traditional pasta dishes, offering a hearty meal that promises satisfaction in every bite. The term “Crack Chicken” itself speaks volumes about the dish’s irresistible appeal, suggesting a level of deliciousness that keeps you coming back for more.

The origins of Crack Chicken can be traced back to the American South, where comfort food reigns supreme. It’s a testament to the creativity of home cooks who aimed to craft a dish that was not only easy to prepare but also packed with flavor. The combination of chicken, bacon, and ranch seasoning creates a symphony of flavors that perfectly complements the penne pasta. The dish’s popularity has soared, making it a favorite in households and on social media, where it’s celebrated for its simplicity and mouth-watering taste.

Preparing Crack Chicken Penne is a delightful journey through a blend of textures and tastes. The dish starts with perfectly cooked penne pasta, which serves as the base for the creamy, cheesy sauce enriched with cream cheese and sharp cheddar. The sauce is then elevated with the addition of shredded chicken and crispy bacon, offering a smoky depth that balances the creaminess. For those interested in the pasta’s background, a quick look at the history of Penne Pasta reveals its versatility and why it’s the perfect choice for holding rich sauces. This dish is not just a meal; it’s an experience that brings together the best of comfort food, making it a must-try for anyone looking to indulge in a truly decadent pasta dish.

Ingredients Breakdown :

The Crack Chicken Penne recipe is a harmonious blend of simple yet flavorful ingredients, each contributing to the dish’s overall decadence. Understanding the role of each component can help you appreciate the complexity of flavors and possibly inspire variations to suit your taste. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

  • Penne Pasta: The backbone of the dish, penne’s tubular shape and ridges are perfect for clinging to the creamy sauce, ensuring each bite is as flavorful as the last. Its firm texture complements the softness of the chicken and the richness of the sauce.
  • Shredded Cooked Chicken: The star protein, chicken adds a lean, tender element that absorbs the sauce’s flavors beautifully. Opting for shredded chicken ensures it melds well with the other ingredients, creating a cohesive dish.
  • Ranch Seasoning Mix: This blend of herbs and spices is the secret weapon that gives Crack Chicken Penne its distinctive taste. It introduces a tangy, slightly spicy flavor that cuts through the creaminess of the sauce.
  • Cream Cheese: The base of the sauce, cream cheese contributes a velvety texture and a rich, tangy flavor that enhances the overall creaminess of the dish.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Known for its pronounced flavor, sharp cheddar adds depth and a slight bite, balancing the dish’s richness with its mature taste.
  • Bacon: Cooked and chopped, bacon introduces a smoky, salty crunch that contrasts beautifully with the dish’s creamy elements, adding a layer of complexity.
  • Chicken Broth: A liquid base that thins the sauce to the perfect consistency, chicken broth also infuses the dish with additional savory notes.
  • Heavy Cream: It enriches the sauce, lending it a luxurious, silky texture and a subtle sweetness that complements the savory flavors.
  • Olive Oil, Onion, and Garlic: These foundational ingredients are sautéed together to create a fragrant base that infuses the entire dish with aromatic depth.
  • Salt and Pepper: Essential for seasoning, they enhance the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Fresh Parsley: Used as a garnish, parsley adds a burst of color and a fresh, herbal note that brightens the dish’s rich profile.

For those interested in exploring variations, consider incorporating vegetables like spinach or mushrooms for added nutrition and texture. Additionally, exploring the culinary uses of bacon can inspire ways to integrate it into the dish for those looking to deepen its smoky flavor.

This ingredient breakdown not only highlights the simplicity and accessibility of Crack Chicken Penne but also its versatility. Whether sticking to the classic recipe or experimenting with substitutions, the result is sure to be a comforting, crowd-pleasing meal.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide :

Creating the perfect Crack Chicken Penne requires a blend of simple cooking techniques that together, create a dish bursting with flavor. Here’s a detailed guide to ensure every step is clear and manageable, even for novice cooks.

  1. Cook the Penne Pasta: Begin by boiling the penne pasta in salted water according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside, keeping it slightly undercooked as it will continue to soften when mixed with the sauce.
  2. Prepare the Sauce Base: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, sautéing until they are translucent and fragrant. This foundational step is crucial for building the dish’s flavor profile.
  3. Incorporate Cream Cheese and Seasonings: Reduce the heat to low and add the softened cream cheese and ranch seasoning mix to the skillet. Stir continuously until the cream cheese is melted and smoothly combines with the onion and garlic.
  4. Add Liquids: Gradually pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream, stirring constantly. This mixture should simmer gently, thickening slightly to create a rich, creamy sauce.
  5. Combine with Chicken, Bacon, and Cheese: To the sauce, add the shredded cooked chicken, half of the cooked and chopped bacon, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese has melted and the ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Mix in the Cooked Penne: Add the cooked penne pasta to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to ensure each piece is evenly coated. The pasta’s ridges and hollows are perfect for capturing the creamy sauce, making every bite delicious.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Finally, garnish the dish with the remaining bacon and freshly chopped parsley. This not only adds a pop of color but also introduces a fresh, herbal note that complements the rich flavors.

This step-by-step guide simplifies the cooking process, ensuring that anyone can create a delicious Crack Chicken Penne dish that’s perfect for any occasion, from a cozy family dinner to a special gathering. The key to success lies in the careful layering of flavors, from the sautéed onion and garlic base to the creamy, cheesy sauce enriched with chicken and bacon.

Serving Suggestions :

Serving Crack Chicken Penne is an opportunity to elevate this comforting dish into a complete meal that delights the senses. Here are some suggestions to complement its rich and creamy flavors:

  • Garden Salad: A fresh garden salad with a light vinaigrette dressing can cut through the richness of the pasta, providing a refreshing contrast. Include a variety of greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a sprinkle of feta cheese for added flavor.
  • Garlic Bread: Serve alongside warm, buttery garlic bread. The crisp exterior and soft, flavorful interior of the bread make it perfect for dipping into the creamy sauce, ensuring not a drop goes to waste.
  • Steamed Vegetables: For a healthier side, consider steamed broccoli, green beans, or asparagus. These vegetables add color and a crisp texture to the meal, balancing out the creamy pasta with their natural freshness.
  • Wine Pairing: A glass of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc complements the dish beautifully. The wine’s acidity and fruitiness can enhance the flavors of the sauce and make the dining experience even more enjoyable.

By considering these serving suggestions, you can turn a simple plate of Crack Chicken Penne into a well-rounded, satisfying meal that appeals to a variety of tastes and preferences. Whether you’re dining alone or entertaining guests, these additions are sure to make your meal memorable.

FAQs :

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta for Crack Chicken Penne? A: Absolutely! While penne is ideal for holding the creamy sauce, other pasta shapes such as fusilli, farfalle, or rigatoni can also work well. The key is to choose a pasta that can capture and hold the sauce effectively.

Q: Is there a way to make Crack Chicken Penne healthier? A: Yes, there are several adjustments you can make to lighten the dish. Consider using whole wheat or gluten-free pasta for added fiber, substituting Greek yogurt for some of the cream cheese to reduce fat, and adding vegetables like spinach or bell peppers for extra nutrients.

Q: Can Crack Chicken Penne be made ahead of time? A: This dish is best enjoyed fresh, but you can prepare components of it ahead of time. Cook the pasta and prepare the chicken, bacon, and sauce separately. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce, combine with the pasta and other ingredients, and garnish.

Q: How should leftovers be stored and reheated? A: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove over low heat, adding a splash of milk or chicken broth to loosen the sauce if necessary. Avoid microwaving as it can make the pasta mushy.

Q: Can Crack Chicken Penne be frozen? A: It’s possible to freeze the dish, though the creamy sauce may separate slightly when thawed. Freeze in airtight containers and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Stir well during reheating to recombine the sauce.

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Crack Chicken Penne

  • Author: Easy Recipes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes


Dive into the world of comfort food with this irresistible Crack Chicken Penne recipe, a dish that promises to satisfy your cravings with its creamy, cheesy goodness. Perfectly cooked penne pasta is tossed in a rich sauce made from cream cheese, sharp cheddar, and ranch seasoning, then combined with tender shredded chicken and crispy bacon for a meal that’s bursting with flavor. This dish is a crowd-pleaser, ideal for family dinners, potlucks, or any occasion that calls for a hearty, comforting meal. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this recipe is straightforward and guarantees delicious results that will have everyone asking for seconds.



1 lb penne pasta

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 packet ranch seasoning mix

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Cook penne pasta according to package instructions; drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and minced garlic, sautéing until translucent.
  3. Reduce heat to low, add cream cheese and ranch seasoning mix, stirring until smooth and creamy.
  4. Gradually pour in chicken broth and heavy cream, stirring continuously until the sauce is well combined.
  5. Add shredded chicken, half of the cooked bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese to the skillet, stirring until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Combine the cooked penne with the creamy chicken mixture, mixing thoroughly.
  7. Garnish with the remaining bacon and fresh parsley before serving.


  • Pasta Choice: While penne is recommended for its ability to hold the sauce, feel free to experiment with other pasta shapes. Just ensure the pasta is cooked to al dente to maintain texture after mixing with the sauce.
  • Protein Variations: Chicken is the protein of choice for this recipe, but leftover turkey works well too, especially after holiday meals.
  • Vegetarian Option: For a vegetarian version, omit the chicken and bacon and add roasted vegetables or a plant-based protein.
  • Cheese Substitutions: If sharp cheddar isn’t your preference, try using mozzarella for a milder flavor or a smoked gouda for a deeper taste.
  • Make-Ahead Tips: To save time, cook the pasta and prepare the chicken and bacon in advance. The sauce can also be made ahead and refrigerated. Combine and reheat gently when ready to serve.
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat on the stove with a little added liquid to revive the sauce.
  • Freezing: This dish can be frozen, though the sauce may separate slightly upon thawing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat carefully, stirring well to recombine the sauce.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • Serving Size: 6 servings
  • Calories: 689 kcal

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