Delicious Crack Chicken Penne Recipe

Introduction and Recipe Overview

Crack Chicken Penne has quickly become a staple in the realm of comfort food. This dish is so named not just for its addictive flavor, but also because it combines ingredients that are famously indulgent and satisfying. The term “Crack Chicken” originally referred to a deliciously addictive chicken dip but has since been adapted into various forms, including this hearty pasta dish.

Appeal of the Dish

  • The allure of Crack Chicken Penne lies in its irresistible combination of flavors and textures. Creamy, cheesy, and punctuated with the savory crispness of bacon, this pasta dish promises a full sensory delight. Its rich and comforting profile makes it a favorite among both adults and children.

Quick Overview of Recipe

This one-pot wonder is distinguished by its simplicity and the use of hearty, flavorful ingredients. Here’s a quick rundown of the cooking method and main components:

  • Main Ingredients: Chicken, bacon, ranch seasoning, penne pasta, and cheeses like cheddar and cream cheese.
  • Cooking Method: The dish is primarily cooked in a single pot, which involves sautéing bacon and chicken, then simmering all the ingredients together to create a thick, rich sauce that clings beautifully to the pasta.

For those interested in enhancing their cooking techniques or exploring variations of the classic ranch seasoning, detailed guides and recipes can be found on sites like Allrecipes, where homemade options offer a personal touch to this indulgent meal.

In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into the ingredients and step-by-step instructions to ensure you can bring this comforting dish to your table with ease.

Nutritional Information and Dietary Modifications

Nutritional Breakdown

Crack Chicken Penne is rich in flavor and hearty in nutrients. A single serving typically contains:

  • Calories: Approximately 700-800 calories
  • Proteins: About 35 grams, primarily from chicken and cheese
  • Fats: Roughly 40 grams, with a significant portion coming from cream cheese and bacon
  • Carbohydrates: Around 50 grams, mostly from penne pasta

This dish also provides a good amount of calcium from the cheese and beneficial fats from the bacon, although it’s higher in sodium, primarily due to the bacon and ranch seasoning.

Dietary Substitutions

For those with specific dietary needs, Crack Chicken Penne can be easily modified:

  • Gluten-Free: Substitute regular penne with a gluten-free variety available at most grocery stores.
  • Low-Fat: Opt for low-fat cream cheese and part-skim cheddar cheese. Use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon to reduce fat content without sacrificing flavor.
  • Vegetarian: Omit bacon and use plant-based chicken alternatives. Vegetable broth can replace chicken broth, and vegan cheeses can substitute for dairy.

For more guidance on gluten-free cooking techniques, including choosing the right pasta for your dishes, consult comprehensive resources like Food Network’s guide to cooking pasta.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions


To balance the richness of Crack Chicken Penne, consider serving it with:

  • Side Dishes: A crisp green salad or steamed vegetables like broccoli or asparagus.
  • Salads: Tomato basil salad or a simple cucumber salad to add a refreshing element to your meal.

Wine Pairing

Selecting the right wine can enhance this creamy pasta dish:

  • White Wines: A Chardonnay with its buttery notes complements the creamy sauce well.
  • Red Wines: For those who prefer red, a lighter Pinot Noir can balance the dish’s richness without overwhelming its flavors.
  • Other Beverages: For a non-alcoholic option, a sparkling water with a slice of lemon offers a refreshing contrast.

Pairing your meal with the right wine or beverage not only enhances the dining experience but can also accentuate the flavors of your meal, making every bite more enjoyable.

Expert Tips and Tricks

Cooking Tips

Achieving the perfect Crack Chicken Penne involves a few key techniques:

  • Prevent Overcooking: Set a timer to ensure the penne is al dente. Overcooked pasta becomes mushy and less appealing.
  • Enhance Flavors: Cook chicken in bacon fat to infuse it with additional richness. Incorporating fresh herbs at the end of cooking will bring a burst of flavor.
  • Cheese Tips: Add cheese off the heat to avoid it becoming grainy. Gentle heat helps the cheese melt into a smooth sauce.

Storage Advice

Proper storage extends the enjoyment of your Crack Chicken Penne:

  • Refrigeration: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • Freezing: Freeze in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags for up to two months.
  • Reheating: Reheat gently in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of milk or broth to loosen the sauce.

For more detailed information on storing and reheating dishes like this, Philadelphia’s cream cheese product page offers additional tips on handling cream-based sauces.


Adapt the Crack Chicken Penne to suit your taste or pantry availability:

  • Spicy Version: Add red chili flakes during cooking to introduce a heat element.
  • Vegetable Add-Ins: Stir in spinach or mushrooms for added nutrition and flavor.
  • Different Proteins: Try using shrimp or turkey as alternatives to chicken for a different flavor profile.


Commonly Asked Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Crack Chicken Penne:

  • Can I use different types of pasta? Yes, fusilli or rigatoni are excellent alternatives that hold sauce well.
  • How can I make this dish creamier? Increase the amount of cream cheese or add a dollop of sour cream.
  • What are the best cheese substitutes? If cheddar isn’t your preference, try using mozzarella or a blended Italian cheese for a different taste.
  • Is there a low-carb option? Substitute regular pasta with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for a lower-carb version.

These tips and answers should help you maximize the enjoyment of your Crack Chicken Penne, making it a dish you’ll want to return to again and again. For additional cooking advice and substitution ideas, visiting culinary resources like Allrecipes can provide further inspiration.

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Delicious Crack Chicken Penne Recipe

  • Author: Sophia
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Crack Chicken Penne combines the rich flavors of creamy cheese sauce, tender chicken, and hearty penne pasta, making it a perfect meal for any family dinner. This dish is not only satisfying but also easy to make, requiring simple ingredients and straightforward steps.


  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Unlock the door to culinary bliss. Start cooking now!

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  1. Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
  3. In the same skillet, add the olive oil and diced chicken breasts. Season the chicken with ranch seasoning mix, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Stir in the cooked penne pasta, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and grated Parmesan cheese. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses are melted and the sauce is thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Crumble the cooked bacon and add it back to the skillet, stirring to combine.
  7. Garnish the crack chicken penne pasta with chopped fresh parsley before serving.


  • For a lighter version, substitute cream cheese with Greek yogurt.
  • Add vegetables like peas or spinach for a nutritional boost.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Calories: 600
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 850mg
  • Fat: 35g
  • Carbohydrates: 50g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Cholesterol: 105mg

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