Chicken baked ziti has tender chicken and pasta, melted mozzarella, and homemade marinara sauce, all topped with Parmesan cheese—an easy Italian comfort food.
Great Italian that will make your day and warm you to the bone. Great for an easy weeknight dinner.
Easy to make with step-by-step photo instructions. This chicken baked ziti has a wonderful homemade sauce, much better than jar sauce. But it does make a large amount but freezes well and is easy to make smaller with the instructions below.
Check out some other great Italian dishes like Baked Chicken Spaghetti, Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage, Spicy Sausage Pasta, Parmesan Chicken Alfredo, and Crock Pot Chicken Baked Ziti.
- Chicken—skinless boneless chicken breasts
- Aromatics—garlic and onion
- Tomatoes—crushed, diced, and paste
- Pasta—ziti, penne, or other dry pasta
- Cheese—mozzarella and Parmesan
- Pantry Ingredients—olive oil, basil, crushed red peppers(optional), salt and black pepper
👨🍳How to make baked ziti with chicken
- Trim skinless boneless chicken breasts and onion.
- Saute the chicken with onion and garlic.
- Add the spices and tomato products and simmer.
- Remove from heat and mix in al denta cooked pasta and mozzarella cubes.
- Pour into a 9X13 casserole dish or 12-inch round pan.
- Top with Parmesan and refrigerate or bake at this point.
- Bake until bubbling and browning—about 30-40 minutes.
- You use precooked rotisserie chicken. Cook the onion and then add the rotisserie chicken with the pasta. Use 3-4 cups.
- Other meat, like Italian sausage, ground beef, ground chicken, or ground turkey, can be used.
- While you can use a jar sauce, you will love the easy homemade sauce. You will need 7 cups of sauce for the full recipe.
- While this is called baked ziti, many people use penne pasta which is smaller and angle cut. Other pasta likc farfalle or rigatoni can be used.
- Add a touch of heat with the optional red pepper flakes. Or leave it out for kids.
♨️What is Baked Ziti?
Baked ziti is a baked casserole dish made with cook macaroni and combined with tomato sauce and cheese. It may include meat, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and other things. There are variations, but that is it.
⬇️How to make this a "for two" friendlier recipe
The full recipe makes about 8 large servings. A half recipe fits nicely in a 6X9 baking dish for 4 servings.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings from 8 to 4.
- Use the amount of each ingredient in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes until bubbling. Use the broiler if you need for more browning.
Yes. You need about 3-4 cups of shredded chicken, but anywhere between 2-4 cups will do.
Saute the onion until clearing, and add the garlic for the last minute of cooking. Add the chicken with the tomato products.
Yes. You can make ahead, and instead of baking, cover well and refrigerate for a day.
You can also freeze for up to 3 months, cover with plastic wrap, then double wrap with foil. To cook, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Baking time will be about 10 minutes longer for a cold casserole.
🍽️Serving and leftovers
Serve with a garden salad and a nice bread like Stand Mixer Bread—Basic White, Stand Mixer Peasant Bread, or Julia Child's French Bread.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days or frozen for months.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim and dice 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts into approximately ½ inch cubes. Chop 1 medium onion.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When shimmering, add the chicken. Saute for 3 minutes, then add onion and continue to saute for 5-6 minutes more until onion is clearing and chicken is 165°. Add 4-6 cloves crushed or minced garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Add 1 tablespoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional), ½ teaspoon black pepper, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 14 oz diced tomatoes, 6 oz tomato paste, and 6 oz water. Simmer on low while cooking pasta and cubing mozzarella.
Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Cube mozzarella cheese into ½ inch cubes or use shredded cheese.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the pasta and mozzarella.
Pour into a prepared baking dish, 9X13 or 12-inch round, and top with ¼ cup Parmesan and refrigerate or bake at this point.
Place in a preheated 375° convection oven until bubbling and browning—about 30-40 minutes.
Chicken Baked Ziti
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 1 pound dry pasta
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese - shredded
- 1 pound mozzarella - cubed or shredded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion - medium
- 4-6 cloves garlic - crushed
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper - optional
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 14 oz diced tomatoes
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 6 oz water
- Trim and dice 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts into approximately ½ inch cubes. Chop 1 medium onion.
- Chop one medium onion.
- In a large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When shimmering, add the chicken. Saute for 3 minutes, then add onion and continue to saute for 5-6 minutes more until onion is clearing and chicken is 165°. Add 4-6 cloves crushed or minced garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon basil, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional), ½ teaspoon black pepper, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 14 oz diced tomatoes, 6 oz tomato paste, and 6 oz water. Simmer on low while cooking pasta and cubing mozzarella.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Cube mozzarella cheese into ½ inch cubes or use shredded cheese.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the pasta and mozzarella.
- Pour into a prepared baking dish, 9X13 or 12-inch round, and top with ¼ cup Parmesan and refrigerate or bake at this point.
- Place in a preheated 375° convection oven until bubbling and browning—about 30-40 minutes.
Your Own Private Notes
- This is an easy recipe to cut in half. Adjust the ingredients in the servings area of the recipe card. It will change the ingredients but not the instructions. You will need to adjust those yourself.
- Use a 12-inch round or 13X9 casserole dish for a full recipe. Use a 9X6 for a half recipe.
- Use the pasta of your choice. I prefer smaller pasta, so I use penna.
- Adjust your red pepper to taste.
- You can save a lot of time using jarred sauce, but you really don't want to do that.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published May 13, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
I called it 8 servings. This is one of the "with lots of left overs" recipe. I will usually make this on a Sunday and use the left overs for quick weeknight suppers.
Just made for the second time.. Very good but have to say that this IS NOT a 2 person serving. More like 6. Would like to see more scaled down recipes.