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Square overhead image of dump and bake chicken parmesan casserole.
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4.80 from 29 votes

Dump-and-Bake Chicken Parmesan Casserole

This easy one-dish dinner is healthy, easy to prepare, and incredibly family-friendly!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken parmesan casserole, chicken parmesan casserole with pasta, healthy chicken parmesan, parmesan chicken casserole
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 421kcal
Author Blair Lonergan

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked penne pasta
  • 3 cups marinara sauce (about 1 24-ounce jar)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ lbs. raw chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
  • 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°F. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the prepared baking dish (or in a separate large bowl), stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, salt, pepper, and raw chicken. Tips: See my suggestions below if you'd like to add even more flavor to the dish (like red wine, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, or crushed red pepper flakes).
    Process shot showing how to make chicken parm casserole.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. 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).
    Bowl of shredded cheese to put on top of casserole.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired. Serve!
    Overhead image of dump and bake chicken parm casserole on a green table with a side salad and bread.

Notes

    • 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.
    • Use Panko bread crumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. They give the topping a delicious, crispy texture that's similar to the fried coating on traditional chicken parmesan!
    • Pick a high-quality, flavorful marinara sauce. A delicious sauce will yield a delicious meal. I like Rao’s brand, but any similar variety will work.
    • Total cooking time will vary depending on the type of pan that you use, your brand of pasta, and your individual oven. Glass or ceramic baking dishes will take longer than metal pans, for instance. To know when your casserole is done, taste a bite of the pasta. The noodles should be al dente and much of the liquid should be absorbed.
    • Be careful not to overbake the casserole or the pasta will become mushy.
    • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or fresh basil for a bright, colorful finishing touch.
    • Don't have penne pasta? You can substitute with other similar short pasta shapes such as rotini, rigatoni, or elbows. Just pick a pasta that has a similar cooking time as the penne (about 11-12 minutes recommended on the package) — otherwise you’ll need to adjust the casserole’s baking time in the oven.
      Jazz up the casserole with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and/or sundried tomatoes.
    • Use chicken tenderloins or boneless skinless chicken thighs as a sub for the chicken breast.
    • Add more flavor to the dish by replacing some of the water with red wine.
    • Stir in some veggies. If your kids like peas, zucchini, sliced mushrooms, 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/8 of the casserole | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1116mg | Potassium: 779mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 545IU | Vitamin C: 7.4mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 2.4mg