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Macro Friendly Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet (Low Cal)

published: February 15, 2023

updated: October 24, 2023

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You can’t go wrong with a bowl of pasta for dinner! Creamy pasta dishes are so tasty, but can be loaded with extra calories and saturated fat. This Healthy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet is a lightened up version of a traditional creamy pasta. It still has all the flavor, without all of the additives! 

This Healthy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet uses minimal ingredients and kitchen tools, making it super simple and quick to make. It’s packed with protein and veggies and is perfect for a busy weeknight healthy meal!

Related recipe: Healthy chicken bacon ranch English muffin pizza


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3 Reasons Why You Will Love This High-Protein Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Recipe

close up of healthy CBR pasta
  1. It’s made in one pan! This skillet recipe is made in one skillet (or large stovetop pan). This even includes cooking the pasta! No strainer or colander needed. This makes for a super simple and quick clean up. You’ll thank me later! 
  2. Not only is this Healthy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet easy to clean up, but this recipe can also be made in under 30 minutes start to finish. If you’d like to make it even faster, you can use some shortcuts, such as buying pre-chopped or frozen broccoli. 
  3. It uses less than 10 ingredients. The ingredients in this recipe are very common and easy to find. You might find you already have some of these ingredients in your fridge, freezer, or pantry!

Ingredients

One of the best parts about this recipe is that it has less than 10 ingredients, a lot of which don’t require much prep work. For this recipe you’ll need:

  • Turkey bacon
  • Chicken breast
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole grain penne pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • Ranch seasoning
  • Water
  • 2% milk (or milk of choice)
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
chicken bacon ranch ingredients cooking

Kitchen Tools Required

This recipe is considered a “skillet meal”, as everything is cooked directly in the skillet (or large stovetop pan). Usually pasta dishes require multiple pots, pans, strainers, etc. This recipe does not require all of those tools and utensils, which makes for a quick and easy cleanup. All you need is a cutting board, knife, and a large skillet/ stovetop pan. 

How to Make High Protein Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Step 1: Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove and set aside.

Step 2: Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the same skillet until no longer pink. Remove and set aside.

Step 3: Cook pasta in water and ranch seasoning in the same skillet until al dente.  

Step 4: Add broccoli to pasta for the last 3-5 minutes.

Step 5: Combine pasta, broccoli, chicken, bacon, milk, and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Step 6: Serve warm and enjoy!

pan and bacon cooking
cooking the chicken in the pan
cooking the pasta in the pan
cooking everything together
chicken and pasta cooking

Swaps or Alternatives

Turkey bacon

Turkey bacon is a great alternative for your traditional bacon. It is lower in saturated fat and calories and is perfect for those who do not eat pork. If you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, feel free to swap this out with a plant-based bacon alternative.

NUTRITION NOTE: Bacon can vary dramatically in sodium content. If you are following a low sodium diet, please be mindful and look at the nutrition facts label prior to purchasing your bacon of choice.

Chicken breast

Although this technically wouldn’t be “chicken bacon ranch” without the chicken, if you are following a vegetarian diet, you can simply omit the chicken. The recipe still tastes great even without this product! 

Broccoli

This recipe is super simple and calls for broccoli as its veggie source. I used fresh broccoli, but frozen would work just fine too. Feel free to experiment with swapping out with your favorite veggie or you can add in additional veggies of your choice. Other great add-ins would be mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, spinach, just to name a few! 

Spices

Salt, pepper, and ranch seasoning. That’s it! Although, if you like some heat, topping with hot sauce is always super tasty.

NOTE: Ranch seasonings can vary in taste depending on the brand. I used Trader Joe’s Ranch Seasoning, which gives it more of a “dill” flavor. Feel free to experiment and find your preferred seasoning of choice! NUTRITION NOTE: Ranch seasonings can vary dramatically in sodium content. If you are following a low sodium diet, please be mindful and look at the nutrition facts label prior to purchasing your ranch seasoning.

Liquids

Cream based pastas usually contain heavy cream and flour, but this lightened up version uses milk and water instead. I used 2% milk, but any milk or cream will work just fine. If you are following a dairy free and/or vegetarian diet, you can simply swap the milk with a dairy free milk. If you use dairy free milk, that may alter the thickness, resulting in a thinner sauce.

Pasta

I used a whole grain penne pasta in this recipe, but feel free to experiment with any pasta of choice. For a lower carb, higher protein alternative, try out a chickpea, lentil, or black bean pasta. For a different texture, try out another shape such as spaghetti or bowtie pasta.

Cheddar cheese

This recipe calls for sharp cheddar, but feel free to experiment with any cheese of choice. If you are following a dairy free recipe, you can simply swap with dairy free cheese or replace with nutritional yeast.

NOTE: Pre-shredded cheese contains a coating to help it not stick in the package. This coating may impact how the cheese melts. Therefore I recommend buying a block of cheese and grating/shredding it yourself. It only takes a few extra minutes and is worth it!

Quick Tip(s)

When starting this recipe, take out your cheese from the refrigerator. It melts better when it isn’t so cold coming right out of the refrigerator. Also, as mentioned above, pre-shredded cheese contains a coating to help it not stick in the package. This coating may impact how the cheese melts. Therefore it is recommended to buy a block of cheese and grating/shredding it yourself. It only takes a few extra minutes and is worth it!

Macros & Nutrition Information

MacrosNutrition
Calories396
Protein35g
Carbs37g
Fat13g

Healthy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet

Chelsea Rice
This Healthy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Skillet uses minimal ingredients and kitchen tools, making it super simple and quick to make. It’s packed with protein and veggies and is perfect for a busy weeknight healthy meal!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 396 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices turkey bacon (I used Applegate)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed into bite size pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz whole grain penne pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • 1-2 tbsp ranch seasoning (I used Trader Joes)*
  • 1-2 cups 2% milk (or milk of choice)*
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*

Instructions
 

  • In a large stovetop skillet or pan, add bacon and cook until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add olive oil to the same skillet along with cubed chicken, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add water, pasta, and ranch seasoning to pan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer to al dente (according to the length listed on pasta package). NOTE: Keep an eye while the pasta is cooking. You may need to stir occasionally and add a small amount of water if the pan is starting to look dry. The water should be mostly absorbed by the time the pasta is cooked.
  • While pasta is cooking, crumble/chop bacon into bite size pieces.
  • When pasta is done cooking, add chicken, bacon, milk, and shredded cheese to the pan. Stir until the cheese has melted and everything is fully incorporated together. Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until everything is warm and sauce has thickened. NOTE: Start with 1 cup of milk and add as needed. For a more saucey pasta dish, add more milk. For a thicker pasta dish, use less milk.
  • Sprinkle with additional ranch seasoning if desired and serve warm. Enjoy!

Notes

  • *Start with 1 tbsp of ranch seasoning and add more as needed for more flavor.
  • *Start with 1 cup of milk and add more as needed until you reach your desired amount. For a more saucey pasta dish, use more milk. For a thicker pasta dish, use less milk.
  • *It is highly recommended to use freshly shredded from a block instead of pre-shredded cheese

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 35gFat: 13g
Keyword chicken bacon ranch, healthy, high protein, pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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About the author, Chelsea Rice

Chelsea is the founder, owner, and content creator at NUWLi, a virtual nutrition private practice. She resides in North Carolina, but strives to connect with women all over the world and provide them with healthy recipes, wellness resources, and nutrition support. As a Registered Dietitian, Chelsea's goal is to not only share simple, satisfying, and healthy recipes, but also provide individualized support for anyone struggling with their nutrition habits.

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