Looking for a comforting and delicious meal that’s perfect for any night of the week? This White Cheddar Chicken Pasta recipe combines tender chicken, creamy white cheddar cheese sauce, and perfectly cooked pasta to create a satisfying and flavorful dish. Let’s get started on making this scrumptious, family-friendly meal!
Ingredients for White Cheddar Chicken Pasta
- 12 ounces pasta (such as penne, fusilli, or rotini)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
White cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Preparing the Ingredients
Cooking the pasta
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Cooking the chicken
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside.
Preparing the white cheddar cheese
Shred the white cheddar cheese and set it aside. Alternatively, you can use pre-shredded white cheddar cheese.
Making the White Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Creating a roux
In the same skillet used for the chicken, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the all-purpose flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to create a smooth, golden roux.
Adding milk and cheese
Gradually whisk in the whole milk, making sure to incorporate the roux and avoid any lumps. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
Seasoning the sauce
Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then, gradually add the shredded white cheddar cheese, stirring until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Assembling the White Cheddar Chicken Pasta
Combining pasta, chicken, and sauce
Add the cooked pasta and chicken to the skillet with the white cheddar cheese sauce. Stir gently until the pasta and chicken are well-coated with the sauce.
Adding optional toppings
If desired, you can add optional toppings to the pasta, such as sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, or crumbled bacon.
Serve your White Cheddar Chicken Pasta with a side salad, steamed vegetables, or garlic bread to complete the meal.
Garnish the pasta with fresh herbs, such as chopped parsley or basil, or add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.
Variations of White Cheddar Chicken Pasta
Experiment with different types of cheese to create new flavors in the pasta, such as Gouda, Fontina, or smoked cheddar.
Feel free to add other ingredients to the pasta, like spinach, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers, to create your own unique variation.
Making the Recipe Ahead of Time
Prepping and storing
You can prepare the pasta and chicken ahead of time and store them separately in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to make the dish, simply reheat the pasta and chicken before adding them to the cheese sauce.
To reheat the pasta, place it in a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on medium power for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until heated through.
This White Cheddar Chicken Pasta is a rich and indulgent dish, so it’s best enjoyed in moderation. For a lighter version, consider using whole wheat pasta, skinless chicken thighs, or a reduced-fat cheese.
This recipe contains gluten, dairy, and wheat. To make the dish gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and a gluten-free flour alternative. For a dairy-free version, use dairy-free cheese and a dairy-free milk alternative.
Vegetarian and Vegan Alternatives
For a vegetarian version, replace the chicken with a plant-based protein, such as tofu, tempeh, or chickpeas. For a vegan casserole, use vegan cheese, a plant-based protein, and a dairy-free milk alternative.
To make the pasta more kid-friendly, consider using fun pasta shapes, such as bowties or animal shapes. You can also add kid-friendly veggies like peas or corn.
Pairing the White Cheddar Chicken Pasta with Beverages
Serve this hearty pasta dish with a refreshing beverage, such as iced tea, lemonade, or a light white wine.
Storing and Freezing Leftovers
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To freeze the pasta, place individual portions in airtight containers or freezer bags. Frozen leftovers can be stored for up to 3 months.
This White Cheddar Chicken Pasta recipe is a comforting and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any night of the week. With its rich, creamy cheese sauce and tender chicken, it’s sure to become a family favorite. Enjoy it with a side salad or steamed veggies for a complete and delicious dinner.
- Can I use a different type of pasta?
Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, or even stuffed pasta like tortellini.
- Can I make this dish with leftover cooked chicken?
Absolutely! If you have leftover cooked chicken, simply dice or shred it and add it to the pasta and cheese sauce. This is a great way to use up leftovers from a rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken breasts.
- What can I substitute for white cheddar cheese?
You can substitute white cheddar cheese with other types of cheese that melt well, such as Gouda, Fontina, or Monterey Jack.
- How can I make this recipe gluten-free?
To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch.
- Can I make this recipe dairy-free?
To make this recipe dairy-free, use dairy-free cheese, a dairy-free milk alternative, and a dairy-free butter substitute. Keep in mind that the taste and texture may differ slightly from the original recipe.