Make this cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta Bake in under an hour, with less than 10 minutes of prep. It's loaded with spicy buffalo sauce and hidden spinach, and comes out cheesy and delicious. An indulgent and easy meal for a weeknight!
Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and season with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika powder and ground black pepper. Sear for 3 minutes, until the chicken is cooked on all sides on the outside. It does not have to be cooked through.
Pour in hot sauce and mix with the chicken. Then add cream cheese and mix well while the cheese is melting. Simmer for 1 minute.
Bring out a baking dish and place the penne pasta in the bottom. Follow with spinach, half the shredded cheese, chicken and the rest of the shredded cheese. Pour over the milk and cream.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, until browned on top. Remove the dish from the oven and top with half of the blue cheese, then place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes, until the blue cheese is melted.
Top with the remaining blue cheese just before serving. Serve on its own or with a green side salad.
Ingredient notes & substitutions
Chicken thigh filets can be swapped for another boneless cut of chicken, but thigh filets tend to have the most flavor. You can also use leftover chicken and store bought rotisserie chicken - if doing so, make the sauce from hot sauce and cream cheese first and then mix with the chicken.
Shredded cheese - use a kind that melts well. I like a mix of mozzarella cheese and cheddar. You can also shred the cheese yourself.
Spinach can be omitted and doesn't affect the taste
Blue cheese can be omitted, but is the perfect pairing for buffalo flavors
Blue cheese can also be switched for blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing drizzled on top just before serving
Penne pasta can be switched for fusilli pasta, or another smaller type of pasta
Tips & tricks
Adjust the level of spiciness by using more or less hot sauce
If it browns too quickly or too much - cover with aluminium foil and/or move it to a lower place in the oven
Top with green onions chopped in small pieces, after baking, for a pop of color and fresh bite
Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container and consume within 4 days
Freeze leftovers to keep for up to 3 months
Reheat leftovers in the microwave in 1 minute increments. Add a dash of milk or cream on top before heating, to avoid it going dry.
Reheat leftovers in the oven, covered tightly with aluminium foil, at 350°F (175°C). The time will depend on how much you're reheating - check after 15 minutes and add more time if needed.
What's the best buffalo sauce to use?
I recommend using Frank's Red Hot or Cholula Hot Sauce. They give just the right buffalo taste!You can also use a buffalo wing sauce like Frank's Buffalo Sauce.
Complete all steps except baking, then refrigerate covered for up to 24 hours.Bake for 50 minutes before dinner, making sure to place it in a preheated oven. Give it 10 minutes extra if baking it straight from the refrigerator.If you want to prep it further ahead of time, you can freeze it before baking. Thaw in the refrigerator and then follow the instructions above.Make ahead:Make it 1-2 days before serving and reheat it in the oven just before serving.To reheat, cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil and bake in an oven preheated to 350°F (175°C) for 30 minutes. Top with blue cheese, and serve!