As a mom, dinnertime can be quite chaotic. It seems like everyone is wound up from the day and the energy is flowing. When they are forced to sit and eat whatever I have served them, attitudes can fly. My kids are actually pretty good eaters, but we still have to handle complaints from time to time.
So, it was quite a miraculous evening the other night. I served my kids, they got to eating, and all I could hear was silence. Perfect silence. You know it’s a good meal when even your kids are quiet! My son even said, “Mom, this rocks!” So, what was I serving? This Chicken Bacon Ranch “Pasta” Bake!
The inspiration for this recipe came from Pinterest. In fact, this was a recipe that I had seen floating around the internet for several years. Prior to macro counting, I never would have made a recipe like this, thinking it was too “unhealthy.” After all, it is made with Alfredo AND bacon AND ranch. A lot of those things were off limits to me. Now that I know that almost nothing is off limits with food, I decided to visit this recipe again. With a few tweaks, this recipe came out so delicious and macro friendly.
First things first, there is a bit of a problem for me with this recipe. A lot of them use jarred Alfredo sauce and ranch dressing. Those are fine for most of the population, but they usually contain egg. If you don’t know already, I am allergic to them, so I knew I had to substitute those items.
I decided to go with a homemade white sauce, or if you want to know the proper name, a bechamel sauce. It might sound intimidating, but it isn’t! It’s just a sauce that you make using a roux (butter and flour mixture) to thicken milk. It hardly takes any time to put together, just some whisking. After thickening the milk with the butter and flour, you stir in Parmesan cheese, some minced garlic, and ranch dressing mix. This creates a sauce that celebrates both the Alfredo and ranch flavors. However, if you are still intimated by making your own sauce, see the tips section for how to use a jarred sauce and skip this step!
From there, you combine cooked spaghetti squash, shredded or chopped chicken (rotisserie would work great, too!), bacon, and the white sauce. Once evenly coated with the sauce, those ingredients get placed inside a baking pan and covered with a generous layer of mozzarella. Then it gets baked to gooey perfection in the oven, and soon you’ll have a dinner the whole family will enjoy!
- If you have family members that aren’t into spaghetti squash, serve spaghetti noodles on the side. You may want to have some additional sauce to go with extra noodles, as this bake isn’t all that saucy.
- Or, make this dish with a protein pasta (like Banza) instead. It will add quite a few carbs to the dish, but some additional protein, too.
- There is a chance with the white sauce that it can get too thick. If this is the case, slowly add in some additional milk, a tablespoon at a time, or until desired consistency is reached. The sauce should be a similar consistency to traditional Alfredo. On the other hand, you can also cook the sauce longer to thicken it if it appears to be too runny.
- If you want to save some time and aren’t allergic to eggs, you can use a jarred Alfredo and skip the sauce steps! You can also use a “light” Alfredo if you desire, but remember you may be sacrificing some taste. Also, please note that the macros will likely change if you use a jarred sauce (they’ll probably be even better if using a light Alfredo!).
- Also, the macros here are for 6 strips of Bar S brand bacon. Mine came out to be around 40 g, crumbled. For most accurate results, I recommend logging the bacon you use, as result can vary quite a bit on the macro count of slices of bacon.
The macro nutrients for 1/6 of this “pasta” bake are 15.9F/15.9C/32.7P, or 347 calories if you use the homemade sauce listed below. This is a fairly generous serving size, and the total amount of servings per recipe are around 6. I understand this may be a little bit higher in fat than you are used to seeing around on my blog, but I promise it is so worth it for the outstanding flavor of this dish! Just remember, quiet kids. HA! That’s worth the fat grams, in my humble opinion.
Chicken Bacon Ranch "Pasta" Bake
For Alfredo Ranch Sauce
- 28 g butter (2 tablespoons)
- 18 g flour (2 tablespoons)
- 420 ml 1% milk, warmed in the microwave until warm to the touch (use 30 second increments) (1 and 3/4 cups)
- 56 g Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 15 g ranch dressing mix (1 and 1/2 tablespoons)
- If not making your own sauce, choose a 15 oz jar of alfredo sauce and then combine it with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons (15 g) of ranch dressing mix.
For the Bake
- 650 g cooked spaghetti squash strands
- 16 oz cooked chicken, shredded or diced
- ~40 g cooked and crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)
- 100 g shredded mozzarella cheese
To cook Spaghetti Squash
- Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees. Wash and rinse a spaghetti squash, cut it in half length wise, and then scoop out the seeds from the center of both halves. Place halves of squash flesh side down in a 9X13 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tender.
- Once spaghetti squash is tender, use a fork to pull out strands of the flesh. Remove as much flesh as possible from both halves and place 650 g in a bowl. Set aside.
To make the Alfredo Ranch Sauce
- In a large pan or skillet, melt 28 g of butter over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle flour over the butter, and then whisk until flour is fully incorporated into the butter. Continue whisking flour for an additional minute to take out any raw taste from the flour.
- Slowly add in half the milk, and vigorously whisk the flour mixture into the milk. Continue doing that until flour is mostly incorporated and then add the other half of milk. Continue whisking over medium heat until the milk mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. You can use the back of the spoon test (sauce should coat the back of a spoon and not drip off).
- Once the mixture has thickened, add in the parmesan cheese, minced garlic, and ranch seasoning. Whisk until completely smooth and the cheese has melted. Turn off heat.
To assemble the dish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2.5 qt dish with cooking spray (a little smaller dish than a 9X13).
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken (shredded or diced), cooked and crumbled bacon, spaghetti squash, and ranch sauce until the sauce evenly coats the ingredients. Once combined, pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Then top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. For the last remaining minutes, place the dish on the highest baking rack and turn on the broiler. Cook under the broiler until the cheese begins to bubble and brown. Watch carefully, however, because it can burn quickly!
- Remove the oven, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, and then serve!