This budget friendly, easy creamy chicken ziti, will quickly become a family favorite. Full of flavor and ready in only 15 minutes, you can’t get anymore family friendly then that!
If you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, you really cannot go wrong with this five ingredient recipe. If you want to add spices and seasonings to kick it up a notch, go right ahead!
Why You’ll Love This Creamy Chicken Ziti
What makes this budget friendly?
Let’s face it, the word “budget” is subjective and is going to be different for everyone. So why is this budget friendly?
We all know food costs are going up everywhere on lots of different items. Depending on the food costs where you live, this entire Creamy Chicken Ziti meal will cost you roughly about $10 and serves 4-6. This comes out to be less than $2.50 a serving.
Can I make this up ahead? Can I double/triple/etc. the Recipe?
Yes, this can be made ahead and frozen. We do this and we store them in these cool reusable pans. We purchased the 4 pack but you can get a 2 pack to try them out. We did that and wound up purchasing the 4 pack the next month so we have 6 now and we use them every single week.
But you can also use these disposable pans that are perfect for a larger batch!
These are the ones we use when we are doing big batch cooking for the month. They are the most cost effective on amazon. They stack easily and can easily be lifted out of a deep freeze if you use one.
Yes, this recipe can be doubled or tripled to do a whole lot of freezer cooking at a time.
Follow the recipe and instead of serving, simply pour the pasta into the baking dish, allow to cool completely, cover with a lid and just pop in the freezer.
How do I reheat a frozen casserole?
If you remember, thaw the casserole ahead of time. We take ours out of the freezer the night before and thaw on the counter, covered overnight.
Put in the refrigerator first thing in the morning.
When you’re ready to bake a thawed casserole, remove the lid and cover the casserole loosely with a piece of tin foil.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center reads 160 degrees F.
If you forgot to thaw, it’s okay… it will just take a little longer. Remove from freezer, remove lid and cover loosely with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45-60 minutes.
A good rule of thumb is to remove the casserole at the 45 minute mark and stir. When the center of the casserole reads 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer it is ready.
Return to oven and continue cooking if not completely heated through.
What do you need to make Easy Creamy Chicken Ziti?
You really only need 4 simple ingredients. Read on for more.
Shredded Chicken – You can purchase chicken breasts, cook them up and shred them yourself. We do this a lot with leftovers. But, another easy and very budget friendly solution is to purchased canned shredded chicken.
Ziti Pasta – You don’t absolutely have to use Ziti pasta, but we have found that the simple ziti noodle allows the creamy flavor to really shine.
Pasta Sauce– We typically use a jarred alfredo sauce, but truthfully you could make your own sauce. I have a delicious Homemade Alfredo Sauce that is perfect with this. But honestly, for quick and easy, stick to a jar.
Salsa – This can be mild, medium, hot, chunky or smooth. Any type, any brand, any flavors, you just need a jar of salsa.
Ingredients, Substitutions and Add On Ideas
Ingredients: pasta, white sauce, salsa and shredded chicken.
Substitutions: You can use homemade ingredients for anything in this recipe, but we just buy it all pre-made from the store.
Add On Ideas:
- Veggies – we suggest broccoli as an excellent addition to this pasta dish, but roasted peppers, tomatoes and other veggies work just as well.
- Bacon – chopped bacon adds a lot of flavor to this already delicious dish.
- Cheese – We enjoy adding fresh parmesan, shredded mozzarella or cheddar or pretty much any other kind of cheese.
- Herbs – for more flavor try adding basil or oregano.
- Seasonings – Add garlic powder, cajun seasoning, tajin or any other seasoning you enjoy to kick this up a notch.
- Sauce – instead of just buying a white pasta sauce, try to find one with garlic or cheeses already in the sauce for more flavor.
Leftovers and Storage
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator but about 5 days.
To reheat in the microwave, add a few drops of water and heat for about 2 minutes. Stir and then add 30 seconds or so, if needed.
To reheat on the stovetop, pour the leftovers into a cookpot, add a little milk or water to the bottom, stir and heat until warm.
What goes well with Creamy Chicken Ziti?
Well, obviously if you’re sticking to a budget friendly meal plan, we want to keep our sides to the same basic premise.
- Grilled Corn with Garlic Herb Butter
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
- Easy Cheesy Creamed Spinach
- Grilled Asparagus
More Easy Weeknight Dinners
Easy Creamy Chicken Ziti
- 16 oz Ziti pasta
- 15 oz alfredo sauce
- 1/2 cup salsa plus more for topping
- 12.5 ounces canned chicken drained
- Parsley for garnish
- Boil your pasta according to package directions.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the shredded Chicken and salsa together.
- If you wish to add garlic or herbs, go ahead and toss them in at this time. Heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add your jar of sauce and continue heating for another 5 minutes or until it’s all hot.
- Once your pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot.
- Add the sauce.
- Toss and Serve.
- Add a small scoop of salsa to the top of the pasta to be mixed in, if desired.