Instant Pot Crack Chicken Pasta – cheesy ranch perfection
So good it’s almost “addicting,” Instant Pot crack chicken pasta is an easy one pan pasta dinner that your family will love!
What’s so great about this pasta? Well, when you combine bacon, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing with tender chicken and pasta, you can’t go wrong.
And crack chicken pasta is made in just one pan, your Instant Pot. Easy cleanup, fast (less than thirty minutes!), and addictively good — okay, maybe you’re getting the idea. This recipe is really a winner!
What you need
- Chicken: We use boneless skinless chicken breasts, but boneless skinless chicken thighs would also work if you prefer dark meat.
- Pasta: Choose a short pasta so that you can get a balanced fork-full of pasta and chicken. Penne, rigatoni, ziti, or rotini are all good choices for this recipe.
- Ranch Seasoning Mix: Homemade or store-bought will work! You’ll need 2 tablespoons, or one of the 1 ounce packages.
- Chicken Broth: We suggest using unsalted or reduced sodium broth, especially if you’re using store-bought ranch seasoning. Using reduced sodium broth allows you to control the level of salt in the final product.
- Heavy Cream: We recommend not making any substitutions here. Using half-and-half or milk will result in the recipe not turning out. Due to their lower fat content, they’ll curdle with the heat of the Instant Pot.
- Cream Cheese: Since you’re stirring this in after the pasta is done cooking, you can use full-fat or reduced fat. We never recommend fat-free, but it will also probably work in this recipe if that’s what you prefer to use. Make sure to cut it up into cubes so it melts quickly and easily.
- Cheddar Cheese: Grate your own for the best melting results, and to save money!
- Bacon and Green Onions: These garnishes make such a difference in this recipe! I love the freshness that the green onions add.
How to make it
My mom and I differ on whether to brown the chicken first or not. I do, she doesn’t. I’m going to leave it up to you. I will admit that her way is faster so if you’re looking for quicker and easier, simply cut the chicken in bite sized pieces and add it to the pot uncooked.
Add the pasta, ranch seasoning mix, broth, and heavy cream to the pot, and put the chicken on top. Don’t substitute something else for the heavy cream because anything lower in fat will curdle during the cooking time.
Put the lid on, and set the timer for just five minutes on High Pressure. Yes, you read correctly, just five measly minutes! It’s hard to believe that everything will be perfectly cooked in five minutes but it is. (Even the chicken, according to my mom.)
When the timer goes off, quick release the pressure and stir in the cream cheese and cheddar until everything’s all melted and creamy. Yum!
Garnish with lots of crumbled bacon and sliced green onions.
What to serve with this recipe
The pasta itself is very rich and decadent, so it pairs well with something more fresh and light to brighten things up and round out the meal. Serve with a simple salad like classic arugula salad or citrus salad with mint, honey and lime.
How to make pasta your own
- Make it a casserole: Brown chicken in skillet, and cook pasta, as directed on package. Mix remaining ingredients (omitting broth), then stir in chicken and pasta. Spoon into greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 30-35 minutes. Garnish as desired.
- Add veggie power: Stir in chopped spinach, green peas, cooked green beans, or corn after stirring in cheese.
- Don’t have cheddar? Substitute another good melting cheese, such as Swiss, Mexican blend, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack.
- Instead of ranch seasoning, try another seasoning mix, such as chili seasoning.
- Looking for a crack chicken sandwich filling? Try this slow cooker recipe by Dinner Then Dessert.
Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days.
Reheat over medium-low heat on the stove, or in the microwave in 30-45 second intervals, stirring between each interval.
Tip: Add a bit of water, broth, or milk leftovers to thin sauce and add moisture, if necessary.
More Instant Pot Pasta Recipes
I just love cooking pasta in my Instant Pot! It almost seems miraculous. One pot pasta dishes are wonderful time savers. Try:
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Minestrone Soup Recipe
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage, Spinach, and Tomatoes
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Instant Pot Pasta Primavera by Killing Thyme — can’t wait to try this one!
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- ½ to 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt, to season chicken
- ¼ teaspoon pepper, to season chicken
- 16 ounces uncooked short pasta (penne, ziti, or rigatoni work best)
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 (1 ounce) packet ranch seasoning mix
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Green onions, optional garnish
- Turn on the Instant Pot by pressing the “Saute” button. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When pan is hot, add the oil and chicken (see note).
- Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is white on the outside. It will not be cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to a plate. Add ½ cup broth to pot, boil and scrape bottom to remove all browned bits. Press “Cancel” on the Instant Pot.
- Add the uncooked pasta noodles, followed by the remaining broth, heavy cream, and ranch seasoning mix. DO NOT STIR, but make sure the liquid is covering the noodles. Add the chicken back to the Instant Pot on top of the ranch seasoning mix.
- Close the lid, ensure the valve is turned to the seal position, and set for 5 minutes at High Pressure.
- When timer goes off, quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, and add cream cheese and cheddar cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and creamy. If desired, stir in bacon, or reserve the bacon for garnish.
- Serve hot with your choice of garnishes. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Skip browning the chicken if you want. Just skip to step #3, adding the raw chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper, on top of the ranch seasoning, as directed.
- If desired, stir in chopped spinach, green peas, cooked green beans, or corn after stirring in cheese.
- Oven Directions: Brown chicken in skillet, and cook pasta, as directed on package. Mix remaining ingredients (omitting broth), then stir in chicken and pasta. Spoon into greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake in preheated 375°F oven for 30-35 minutes. Garnish as desired.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 459Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 966mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 33g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.