Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Penne

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Penne

Looking for an easy, comforting, and delicious meal to make during busy weeknights? This Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Penne recipe is your answer! With tender chicken breasts, a creamy sauce, and lots of melted cheese, this dish is sure to become a family favorite. Just set it in your slow cooker and let it work its magic while you go about your day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 21 oz cream of chicken soup (two 10.5 oz cans, do not add water)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried leaf tarragon (or substitute oregano, thyme, or Italian seasoning)
  • 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked according to package directions on the stovetop

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Sauce:
    • Add the cream of chicken soup and chicken broth to the slow cooker, stirring until smooth.
    • Mix in the tarragon, pepper, mushrooms, and onions.
  2. Add Chicken:
    • Place the chicken breasts into the mixture in the slow cooker.
  3. Slow Cook:
    • Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  4. Cook Pasta:
    • When the cooking time is almost up, cook the penne pasta to al dente according to the package directions on the stovetop. Do not overcook!
  5. Shred Chicken:
    • Once the chicken is cooked, shred the chicken breasts with two forks.
  6. Combine Ingredients:
    • Add the sour cream and half of the shredded cheese to the slow cooker, stirring to combine.
    • Add the cooked and drained pasta, stirring again to mix everything well.
  7. Final Touch:
    • Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Cover the slow cooker and cook for an additional 20 minutes on LOW until the cheese is melted and everything is heated through.
  8. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Serve hot and enjoy this hearty and cheesy slow cooker meal with your family.

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 6 hours 20 minutes | Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes | Servings: 8

Serving and Storage Tips:

Serving Tips:

  • Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or basil for a pop of color and fresh flavor.
  • Pair with a Salad: Serve alongside a crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette.
  • Add a Side of Bread: Garlic bread or a crusty baguette pairs perfectly to soak up the creamy sauce.
  • Vegetable Side: Serve with steamed broccoli, green beans, or roasted vegetables for added nutrition.
  • Wine Pairing: A chilled glass of white wine, like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, complements the creamy sauce nicely.

Storage Tips:

  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: This dish can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Reheat: Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, adding a splash of chicken broth or milk to maintain the creamy texture.

 Variations:

  • Spicy Kick: Add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños for a spicy version.
  • Veggie Packed: Include vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, or zucchini.
  • Mushroom Swap: Use cremini or portobello mushrooms instead of button mushrooms.
  • Herb Variations: Substitute tarragon with rosemary, thyme, or Italian seasoning.
  • Cheese Swap: Try mozzarella, provolone, or a cheese blend for different flavors.
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup: Replace cream of chicken soup with cream of mushroom soup.
  • Pasta Choices: Substitute penne with rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle.
  • Add Bacon: Stir in cooked and crumbled bacon for a smoky flavor.
  • Lemon Zest: Add a touch of lemon zest for a fresh, tangy twist.
  • Chicken Thighs: Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a richer flavor.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta and soup for a gluten-free version.
  • Low-Fat: Use low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat cheese.
  • Broth Variation: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Cajun Style: Add Cajun seasoning for a Southern twist.
  • Tomato Addition: Stir in a can of diced tomatoes for a hint of acidity.
  • Garlic Lovers: Add minced garlic for extra flavor.
  • Cream Cheese: Mix in cream cheese for an even creamier sauce.
  • Pesto: Stir in a few tablespoons of pesto for a basil-flavored variation.
  • Olive Addition: Add sliced black or green olives for a Mediterranean touch.
  • Seafood Twist: Substitute chicken with shrimp or a combination of seafood.
  • BBQ Flavor: Add BBQ sauce for a tangy, smoky twist.
  • Buffalo Style: Stir in buffalo sauce and top with blue cheese crumbles.
  • Mexican Flair: Add taco seasoning and top with jalapeños and cilantro.
  • Ham and Cheese: Add diced ham and Swiss cheese for a cordon bleu twist.
  • Italian Sausage: Use sliced Italian sausage instead of chicken.
  • Four Cheese: Mix in a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, and gouda.
  • Pumpkin: Add pumpkin puree and nutmeg for a fall-inspired dish.
  • Spicy Kick: Add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños for a spicy version.
  • Veggie Packed: Include vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, or zucchini.
  • Mushroom Swap: Use cremini or portobello mushrooms instead of button mushrooms.
  • Herb Variations: Substitute tarragon with rosemary, thyme, or Italian seasoning.
  • Cheese Swap: Try mozzarella, provolone, or a cheese blend for different flavors.
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup: Replace cream of chicken soup with cream of mushroom soup.
  • Pasta Choices: Substitute penne with rigatoni, fusilli, or farfalle.
  • Add Bacon: Stir in cooked and crumbled bacon for a smoky flavor.
  • Lemon Zest: Add a touch of lemon zest for a fresh, tangy twist.
  • Chicken Thighs: Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for a richer flavor.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta and soup for a gluten-free version.
  • Low-Fat: Use low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat cheese.
  • Broth Variation: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Cajun Style: Add Cajun seasoning for a Southern twist.
  • Tomato Addition: Stir in a can of diced tomatoes for a hint of acidity.
  • Garlic Lovers: Add minced garlic for extra flavor.
  • Cream Cheese: Mix in cream cheese for an even creamier sauce.

FAQs:

  1. Can I use frozen chicken breasts?
    • Yes, but adjust the cooking time to ensure they are fully cooked.
  2. Can I cook on HIGH instead of LOW?
    • Yes, cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours instead of LOW for 6 hours.
  3. What if I don’t have a slow cooker?
    • You can cook this in an oven-safe dish covered with foil at 325°F for about 2 hours, checking for doneness.
  4. Can I make this dish ahead of time?
    • Yes, prepare the dish and refrigerate it before the final cooking step. Reheat and add cheese before serving.
  5. How can I make this dish dairy-free?
    • Use dairy-free cream soup, sour cream, and cheese substitutes.
  6. Is it possible to add vegetables directly to the slow cooker?
    • Yes, adding vegetables like carrots, peas, or spinach can enhance the dish.
  7. Can I use pre-cooked chicken?
    • Yes, add pre-cooked shredded chicken in the last hour of cooking to warm through.
  8. What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?
    • Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave with a splash of chicken broth or milk.
  9. Can I omit the mushrooms?
    • Yes, simply leave them out or replace them with another vegetable.
  10. How can I make this spicier?
    • Add more black pepper, red pepper flakes, or a dash of hot sauce.

This Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Penne is the ultimate comfort food that’s easy to prepare and deliciously satisfying. Perfect for any night of the week, it’s a dish that brings the family together with its rich flavors and creamy texture. Try this recipe today and watch it become a staple in your weekly meal rotation!