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This Dump-and-Bake Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a one-dish dinner that’s healthy, easy to prepare, and incredibly family-friendly! Just combine the raw ingredients in a pan and pop it in the oven — no prep work involved. Busy weeknights never tasted so good!

Overhead image of bowl of Healthy Chicken Parmesan Casserole garnished with fresh herbs

You guys!!! This Chicken Parmesan Casserole recipe is the dinnertime trifecta: easy, healthy, and kid-friendly!!!

The lightened-up dish is a perfect example of a simple and healthy supper that brings the family together — even on busy evenings — and keeps you out of the kitchen with very little prep work.

There’s no need to boil the pasta in advance or use pre-cooked chicken. Instead, all of the ingredients mingle, share seasonings, and cook together in one big pan.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole in a blue and white baking dish

How to Make Chicken Parmesan Casserole:

I keep this Chicken Parmesan Casserole healthy because, unlike a traditional Chicken Parmesan recipe, this dish is baked and not fried. It also includes just enough cheese to taste good, without going overboard on the fat and calories. Let’s get right to it…

First, stir together the sauce. You can do this right in your baking dish, or you can mix the ingredients in a separate bowl. You’ll need 1 box of penne pasta (wholegrain is fine if you can find it), 3 cups of marinara sauce, 3 cups of water, and salt.

Pasta and sauce for Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Next, stir in the uncooked chicken breast. I buy the pre-diced chicken for a shortcut, but you can purchase regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts and just dice them on your own at home. Whatever you prefer!

Boneless skinless chicken pieces for Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The raw chicken is combined with the uncooked pasta mixture

Bowl of raw ingredients for Chicken Parmesan Casserole

and then transferred to a large baking dish. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake in a 425-degree F oven for 30 minutes.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole in a dish before baking

Remove the dish from the oven, take off the foil cover, and give the pasta a stir. At this point the pasta will still be firm and there will still be quite a bit of liquid in the dish. That’s fine!

It’s time to add the toppings…

Panko and cheese for Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Sprinkle the top of the casserole with grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese,

Sprinkling mozzarella over top of Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Add a layer of Panko breadcrumbs (whole wheat Panko is great if you can find it), and then finish with Parmesan cheese.

Sprinkling Panko over top of Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The dish goes back in the oven for about 10 more minutes (uncovered), or until the pasta is tender, the sauce has thickened, the chicken is cooked through, and the topping is crispy and golden brown. Perfection!Front view of Chicken Parmesan Casserole in a baking dish with a wooden spoon

COOK’S TIPS — SKINNY CHICKEN PARMESAN CASSEROLE:

  • Dice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces before adding it to the dish. It will cook faster this way, and it will be easier to eat without cutting.
  • Definitely use Panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. It gives the topping a delicious, crispy texture that’s similar to the fried coating on traditional Chicken Parmesan!
  • Use wholegrain penne and whole wheat Panko, if possible, for some added fiber and nutritional value. If you’re like me and you can’t find these wholegrain products in your local grocery store, that’s fine too!
  • Stir in some veggies! If your kids like peas, zucchini, or frozen broccoli, stir that into the dish as well! If you’re using a larger vegetable with a longer cooking time (like broccoli), you may want to steam the vegetables first before adding to the dish. For something small like frozen peas, you can just add them (still frozen) straight to the baking dish towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil for a bright burst of flavor!

Overhead view of bowl of Chicken Parmesan Casserole with a fork and parsley garnish

What to serve with Chicken Parmesan Casserole:

Since this one dish meal includes veggies (in the tomato sauce), lean protein, fat and carbs, I think that it’s perfect on its own! That said, if you’d like to get a few more veggies or sides onto the table, try these:

Long overhead view of baking dish of Chicken Parmesan Casserole

You might also like these dump-and-bake casseroles:

Dump-and-Bake Chicken Parmesan Casserole

4.46 from 24 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 421 kcal
This Dump-and-Bake Chicken Parmesan Casserole is a one-dish dinner that's healthy, easy to prepare, and incredibly family-friendly! Just combine the raw ingredients in a pan and pop it in the oven -- no prep work involved!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked penne pasta (can use whole grain pasta, if preferred)
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ lbs. raw chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Optional: fresh chopped herbs such as basil or parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In the prepared baking dish (or in a separate large bowl), stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, salt and raw chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. You want to make sure that your dish is covered tightly so that none of the moisture escapes (the pasta needs to absorb the liquid as it cooks). Bake the covered dish for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and give the pasta a good stir. At this point the pasta will still be firm and there will still be quite a bit of liquid in the dish. That's fine!
  • Spread mozzarella over the top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 more minutes (or until cheese is melted, top is golden brown, pasta is tender, and chicken is cooked through).
  • Allow the pasta to rest for 5-10 minutes before garnishing with herbs and serving.

Notes

COOK'S TIPS:
  • Dice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces before adding it to the dish. It will cook faster this way, and it will be easier to eat without cutting.
  • Definitely use Panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. It gives the topping a delicious, crispy texture that's similar to the fried coating on traditional Chicken Parmesan!
  • Use wholegrain penne and whole wheat Panko, if possible, for some added fiber and nutritional value. If you're like me and you can't find these wholegrain products in your local grocery store, that's fine too!
  • Stir in some veggies! If your kids like peas, zucchini, or frozen broccoli, stir that into the dish as well! If you’re using a larger vegetable with a longer cooking time (like broccoli), you may want to steam the vegetables first before adding to the dish. For something small like frozen peas, you can just add them (still frozen) straight to the baking dish towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil for a bright burst of flavor!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the casseroleCalories: 421kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 33gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1116mgPotassium: 779mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 545IUVitamin C: 7.4mgCalcium: 224mgIron: 2.4mg
Keyword: chicken parmesan casserole, chicken parmesan casserole with pasta, healthy chicken parmesan
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in November, 2015. It was updated in January, 2019.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I made this last night and it is just as easy as the recipe seems. The only complaints I had was that in my opinion, the noodles were slightly gummy, so next time i make it (and there will certainly be a next time), I may pre cook the noodles JUST A SMIDGE. Also, since there’s no other seasonings, which i think you could also add if you wanted to, make sure you don’t skimp on the marinara sauce. Get the REALLY GOOD marinara sauce!

  2. 5 stars
    Made it tonight Excellent recipe,, followed it almost exactly.. I used ziti, 1 can herb/garlic pasta sauce (2cup) and 1can tomato sauce to fill out the 3cups sauce,, mozzarella cheese on top of that and 3/4 cup of panko & parm cheese each.. 40 min enitial cook time and 12 min final cook time.. liquid was not that much and finally just enough to keep the dish moist not dry.. My family DOESN’T like cassaroles so I didn’t mention it and they loved it. Sneaky but I know better ????

  3. 5 stars
    This was a hit! I didnt have any fresh basil so I added some dried to the sauce and water mixture. I also added a bit of marjoram and garlic powder. I used tricolor rotini because that’s what I had on hand. I upped the chicken to 2 lbs. since I was feeding a big family. Everyone loved it. Even my picky eaters 🙂

  4. Somethng went wrong with this dish. I followed the directions but the pasta came out very starchy and pasty. Mayit have been that I used pasta sauce instead of marinara sauce? Everything else was as called for. I did add some garlic poweder, salt and pepper to the chicken before puttng in the pan and added more garlic powder and dried basil on top of mozz, parm and panko. It tasted good but like I said the pasta was not right.

    1. Sounds like maybe the pasta was cooked too long so it had that gummy texture? It might just be a matter of pulling it out of the oven sooner. Sorry about that, Laurie!

  5. 2 stars
    This was really bland, I’m sorry. I don’t want to knock it, but it needs a lot more seasoning beyond what’s in the sauce and from the chicken. Be warned. This recipe seems to simple to be flavorful because it is.

  6. 5 stars
    Fantastic! I made the complete recipe for my mom and niece; then I eliminated the pastas and added 2 cups of broccoli and spinach for me as I’m cutting my carbs. Do you have a Chicken & Rice casserole?

  7. 5 stars
    Excellent! As a mom with very little time who love’s to cook. (and Italian) each bite of this tastes like chicken Parmesan w/Rao’s sauce of course and very little effort! Thank you so much for this

  8. LOVE this recipe. We make it every 2 weeks !Has anyone substituted Eggplant for Chicken? I am looking for a skinny and delicious Eggplant Parm recipe!!

  9. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was very tasty. In place of the bread crumbs I used garlic croutons that I crushed. (tip from Chef John at Food Wishes). I happened to see the Lucini Marinara at the store and used that as it was shown in your recipe. It was a little pricey but on a whole the dinner itself was budget friendly and would feed I think 6-7 people easy. This will be printed and put in our recipe box labeled “Budget friendly and yummy”.

  10. 5 stars
    Ok, I can’t believe how simple and tasty this was. I used homemade marinara sauce, regular pasta, and some homemade flax breadcrumbs (since it was what I had), and it was so delicious and easy. I also halved the recipe and cooked it in a smaller dish, and it made four hearty servings. Thank you!

    1. That’s awesome, Tori! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and made it work with the ingredients you had on hand. 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    This is in my bi-weekly rotation! I LOVE it! I follow the recipe and and some garlic seasoning and Italian seasoning. It’s SO good, and so easy! Thank you!

    1. That’s wonderful to hear, Kaitlyn! I’m so glad that you like it, and I appreciate you letting me know. 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    My husband made this for me tonight. It was pretty good, although I’m not a fan of melty cheese – I like stringy cheese, and I think gruyere or something along those lines would have been fabulous on this; it tends to stay stringy and gooey with reheating (unlike cheddar and mozzarella, which always form a rock upon reheating). But overall, this was good. I think this is nice and simple and should be in every new cook’s cookbook. My husband is learning how to cook and this was a perfect starter dish for him.

  13. 5 stars
    Looks great; going to try it, but wanted to make one as a gift for someone… can you freeze it without the bread crumbs and thaw & bake later?

    1. Hi, Nancy! I honestly don’t know — I haven’t tried freezing the dish with the uncooked pasta and all of that liquid before baking. It might work, but it kind of makes me nervous. It will definitely be best if you assemble all of the ingredients in individual bags or containers, and give your friend instructions for stirring the ingredients together and baking right away. You can even give the individual a disposable foil 9 x 13-inch dish to bake it in. Kind of like a meal kit! 🙂