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Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A family favorite, this recipe makes one baking dish for now and one to freeze for a ready-made dinner when you're pressed for time.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8
Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Source: Everyday Food, 2009


  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

  4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with 1/4 cup Parmesan.

  5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note

To Freeze: Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.

To Bake From Frozen: Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Reviews (61)

  • yedwards 5 Jul, 2015

    I found this recipe to be quite bland. I feel like something was missing, and I could hardly taste the sundried tomato. I followed the recipe exactly, no substitutions. I don't think I would make it again. My 13 month old loved it, so I'm glad that instead of freezing one large casserole, I froze in small foil containers (enough for 1 adult and 1 toddler in each).

  • kay goodman 2 Feb, 2015

    This was a tasty recipe. It took a lot longer to throw it together than I expected after reading the recipe. I added about a teaspoon of red pepper flake, and it could have taken a little more to intensify the flavors. When I reheated some for lunch the next day, I decided that some coarsely chopped kalamata olives would brighten it up. And, I would cut back on the amount of flour to 1/3 cup or less, it became very thick and gummy with all the cheeses. With a few tweaks, it could be great.

  • strudell 29 Dec, 2014

    I made this as the recipe stated, and thought it was great. Maybe if all you people who thought it bland would have followed the recipe, instead of substituting half the ingredients, it would have been a bit tastier!

  • kanntavroh 4 Mar, 2015

    I know, right!

  • mattafer 20 Nov, 2013

    This is a family favorite- however we don't like mushrooms, so omit them. I love sundried tomatoes, but the kids don't love hunks of them- so I used to chop them up- BUT I have a new method- sun dried tomato paste- add it in without chunks but still adds the flavor. Of course not the same as actual ones- but more kid friendly. A friend said to me- this tastes like something you'd get at Olive Garden! I am not a fan of that place, but I took it as a complement- :)

  • jSINay 20 Nov, 2013

    Great recipe! It reminded me of Fetucinni Alfredo however so much lighter and less rich. It was delicious. I doubled the tomatoes and added Rosemary, Thyme, Basil & Oregano.

  • thethons 19 Nov, 2013

    I made this after reading reviews...mostly stating it was bland. I decided to add fresh chopped basil and use smoked chicken that we smoked ourselves (if you can't smoke one, Whole Foods has a smoked whole chicken you could purchase and debone) to amp up the flavor. The only other things I would change after making this.....1st, the sauce as WAY too tight ( I like saucy) ....I would use much less flour...2nd, use more salt...3rd, add toasted pine nuts. Tweak and it should be a winner!!

  • kinseycr 9 Nov, 2013

    I tried this. My husband thought it was really tasty. I thought it was bland. I do not like and did not use the tomatoes. I added bacon, 2% milk with 1/2 cup half and half (what I had on hand), and added a little mozzerella, a pinch of nutmeg, pinch of cracked red pepper, half a package of tiny shrimp usually for salad. We thought it could use more chicken next time. I would also add more mushrooms and some spinach. Even with the extra additions, still bland. Love that it makes 2.

  • dmom1d 6 Oct, 2013

    Made this for a girls' Wine & Dine party, and it was a HUGE hit! Not only with my girls but with my picky family! The provolone was the perfect flavor for this dish! Next time I may add a touch of nutmeg and a little more sundried tomatoes. Will for sure make this again! OH! Apple pie with a nice vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with carmel was a perfect dessert after that tasty dinner :)

  • thebarefootmom 28 Aug, 2013

    I have been making this recipe for a couple of years now. Because it makes a double batch, I end up freezing half. It has saved me many a school night! I usually have one in the freezer and can take to a sick friend, new mom or for last minute guests.

  • gaga0999 3 Jun, 2013

    i agree that the recipe was bland when i saw it so i added a chopped onion and a green chilli at the beginning with the butter and allowed that to cook as well before adding the milk. i also marinaded the chicken breast before hand with some seasonings and it was a huge hit with my family. i have to make it once a week and there are never any leftovers.

  • quintessential 20 Mar, 2013

    My wife made this as a special birthday dinner. She should have read the reviews. It was super bland. I had to add my a lot more seasoning to make it worth while (more oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and other Italian seasonings). Not exactly what you would expect for an exquisite gourmet Italian dish.

  • andrea m dwyer 20 Feb, 2013

    This was good, but somewhat different than what I expected - thought it would taste more like mac 'n cheese + chicken and sun-dried tomatoes - the cheese didn't come through as much though. Very garlicky. I thought I would really notice the sun-dried tomatoes - put in the whole jar, but they weren't as prominent as I would have liked - will add more next time. I froze one casserole as suggested too, will review again when defrosted. Watch cooking time - 30 min. = very browned (from fridge).

  • sauertieg 20 Jan, 2013

    Wonderful recipe, especially because I wanted something to portion out to send back to college with my son that he could quickly reheat. Used mozzarella instead of provolone and substituted 2 cups of chicken broth for 2 cups of the milk. Also used skim and it thickened up just fine. Not necessarily figure-friendly but it can be adapted and still taste yummy.

  • corrielynn75 3 Oct, 2012

    This recipe was a hit with my husband and kids (ages 2 & 5). The only substitution I made was I used mozzarella instead of provalone, because that's what I had on hand. Be sure not to undersalt; if the sauce tastes bland, it may just be a matter of needing more salt. Next time I would add more chicken, and maybe more mushrooms and tomatoes, to make a more substantial main dish. To bake from frozen, I put the fully cooked, frozen casserole (covered with foil) in the oven at 350 for 1 hr 15 min.

  • m_kass 14 Sep, 2012

    I made this tonight and was very disappointed when I just followed the recipe! SUPER bland! It's a good base but needed some serious help. I didn't have provolone so I used parm and old cheddar in the sauce. Maybe that's the issue - but I doubt it. I added quite a bit of salt to the sauce and some cayenne. Added basil, parsley and tiny bit of oregano. I almost doubled the sundried tomatoes and I added some spinach and bacon bits I had on hand. THEN it was delicious!

  • michele l vig 23 Aug, 2012

    Anyone know the cooking instructions for cooking this dish from frozen?

  • jwhitwell2 15 Aug, 2012

    I made this last night. My very picky family not only loved it, but had seconds!! Froze the second dish to enjoy later. Five stars from me!!

  • gibbjane54 7 Aug, 2012

    Delicious! A bit time consuming but worth the effort especially since recipe makes two casseroles. I used sharp provolone and it was a very flavorful sauce. Will probably leave the chicken out next time and increase the mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes to make a vegetarian meal.

  • instyle33 29 Jan, 2012

    Martha Stewart's recipes have yet to dissapoint me or my family. This recipe turned me into a rockstar in my household. It feeds a lot of people especially when you double it as I did for the holidays. I even tried it w/o the chicken and added shrimp, just to mix it up since it has become a monthly staple in my house. I used sun dried tomatoes not packed in oil and it was still awesome. I also have omitted the mushrooms at times. Trust me this recipe will make you a even bigger rock star!

  • Lindafrommonroeny 1 Jan, 2012

    Made this for the new year upon Martha's recommendation & really enjoyed it. Cut the recipe in half in order to make only one dish & substituted one previously roasted chicken breast in place of the boneless type mentioned. This is "healthier comfort food" & I give it five stars!

  • teachermum 4 Nov, 2011

    I LOVE this recipe and often take it for potluck meals. The flavor is great and, along with a spinach/strawberry salad, it's a complete meal.

  • avalonmd 1 Nov, 2011

    This is just SO good. I use Gruyere with the Parm sometimes and it is perfect comfort!

  • connelkr 20 Oct, 2011

    Very good. A little heavy, but would be nice paired with salad. I used 2% milk. Maybe next time I would use a little less flour as the sauce was thicker than I prefer.

  • artemis908 3 Oct, 2011

    I made this recipe last night and it turned out great. I didn't use mushrooms, I used 1% milk and I used reduce fat provolone. This isn't the kind of recipe I'd do on a weekday, it did require a lot of work. I also think I will reduce the amount of sauce next time, it was VERY cheesy, I'll try 4-5 cups instead of 6 next time.

  • miniwagon16 13 Sep, 2011

    It needed a ton of salt to taste interesting. Also, not really healthy to eat for dinner as it's a calorie-carb bomb. More of a lunch thing I think.

  • lyndsey21 28 Aug, 2011

    This recipe is delicious! My husband loved it and he normally doesn't like any casserole-type dish. I had leftover lemon pepper chicken that I used and instead of the provolone, I used shredded cojack I had on hand. I also omitted the mushrooms and parmesan, but it was still WONDERFUL!! I've made it three more times since I initially tried it. This is definitely going in my regular dinner rotation.

  • RobbieSue 21 Aug, 2011

    I loved this recipe. Have made it twice and it has turned out great both times. This time instead of using whole milk I used skim and it still was very creamy.

  • Bluezsistah 3 Aug, 2011

    This recipe will make enough for two pans, one to freeze for later, or as I did, make one HUGE pan for a great large family meal. We added capers to this on a whim and loved it.

  • Kristidc07 30 Jun, 2011

    This recipe is delicous!!! It makes enough to put another dish in the freezer, so my family can enjoy this again next week. The only thing I did different is I used twice the amount of chicken. Perfect.

  • benderpublic 22 May, 2011

    This is a good family meal. There is a little prep work involved but by doubling the recipe and freezing half I had two meals that my family enjoyed.

  • kutest 28 Feb, 2011

    This was really good. Plan ahead as it is time consuming. I made it with 1% milk and added some freshly grated nutmeg as it needed a little something more. Great dish and I love the idea of freezing for another night.

  • jtosi 8 Feb, 2011

    Disappointing! It took me 2 hours to make this dish...not the 35 prep plus cook that it listed. Also, it created a MOUNTAIN of dishes to clean. It was definitely not worth all of that effort! We thought that it was a bit boring and bland. I cooked my pasta for 6 min. which is 3 less than the al dente package directions and my penne was still overcooked once the dish was done. I used double the amount of chicken, garlic and sun dried tomatoes. Used 8 cups of milk and 8 tbsp of butter to sam

  • grumpyfossil 1 Jan, 2011

    I just finished making this and the aroma coming from the oven is amazing! Can't wait to taste it. I used 6 cups of 1% milk, Parmesan Reggiano cheese and Provolone. Added fresh ribbons of basil leaves, too. Doubled the garlic, added an extra breast of chicken and used 2 large Portobello mushrooms. This is going to be good!!!

  • sheryll_rufus 24 Dec, 2010

    I just don't see this as a dinner tonight dish, the day or evening before Christmas. I am making a spinach salad topped with Sockeye Salmon. Way too heavy for me just right now. And for my dressing and marinade, I use white vinegar and Smucker's Seedless Raspberry Jam. Or Apple cider will work, as well as lemon juice.

  • mommybird68 24 Dec, 2010

    What a great recipe and how easy to change to a gluten free and dairy free meal. I think this is going on the menu for next week!

  • Sozmen 31 Oct, 2010

    So much mess!!! But delicious.

  • sarahisayshi 21 Sep, 2010

    I love to make this because it is so freezasble! Make it once, eat twice! I lighten it up with skim milk and just a Tbs of butter. I also substitute part-skim mozzarella for the provolone.

  • katiekeiser 12 Aug, 2010

    This was absolutely delicious -- however, I made some minor changes. I used 1% milk instead of whole milk, and I added probably an extra 1/4 of italian cheese to compensate. I also added 3/4 C ribboned fresh basil and an extra 1/4 C of the sundried tomatoes. I will cook this again and again!!!

  • eac061000 5 Aug, 2010

    With some minor tweaking, this recipe was really yummy! I added parsley and basil and used provolone, mozzarella and asiago cheeses. I also used bread crumbs and asiago to make a crunchy crust. I used 2% milk instead of whole, and used 5 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream. I felt like there wasn't enough chicken, so I will add another breast next time. The directions were kind of confusing. It took me a minute to realize that the recipe as written is for two pans, one for now and one for later.

  • amorrison05 11 Jun, 2010

    This was delicious! I tried the substitution made by jmgilman below to use 1% milk and the provolone/mozz mix, excellent suggestions. Cooking the mushrooms was a good one, too. I added artichoke hearts and a little bit of crushed red pepper as well for some kick. This is so easy, and I did most of the work the night before. My boyfriend loved it, too. I feel like this is an easy recipe to sneak in extra veggies, which is great. Will def be making this again!

  • LakeUnioncook 5 May, 2010

    Fabulous! I added 4T chipotle chilis, and substituted greyere for provolone cheese. To make this even more quick and easy, use Trader Joe's grilled chicken strips, bag of fresh, sliced mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes.

  • swimminginpaper 6 Apr, 2010

    Very good - liked by all. Proportions are insane. 6C milk was too much. I used 4C 1% milk, cooked the pasta closer to al dente (since it won't have all that milk to absorb) and thereby reduced the fat tremendously. 1.5c provolone is $$$; I used 2C mozz/provolone mix by Sargento. Added a tablespoon of dried basil for more flavor. Served with parmesan instead of adding into casserole or over the top before baking, allowing me to use less and still maximize the flavor. Feeds 8 WELL.

  • Armadilloman 2 Apr, 2010

    too much cheese

  • jmd00ley 26 Mar, 2010

    This was a good dish. I accidentally picked up 3 min penne rigate and the noodles were a little mushy when coming out of the oven. But overall the dish was good. Next time I will make sure I get the regular cooking penne. I did freeze one as well. So I cant wait to try that one out.

  • amyb2010 1 Mar, 2010

    Just delishious - I added Artichoke hearts and it really completed it!

  • Krazikaz 5 Feb, 2010

    I made this for the first time a few months ago when some friends came over. It was DELISH!!! I made the amount listed in the recipe not reading ahead that it was really 2 dishes worth, but was glad because I had more to eat later in the week. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!!

  • sbastone 14 Nov, 2009

    This was really good and easy to make. Instead of using just parmesan, I used a three cheese mix of parmesan, fontina, and asiago, which I think added some more flavor. I also added some smoked sundried tomatoes in addition to the oil-packed. Everyone loved it, and it made for great leftovers.

  • violetsmom 13 Mar, 2009

    I really enjoyed this. After reading that other reviewers thought it was bland, I made a few adjustments. I sauteed the mushrooms rather than add them with the milk. I also added a couple teaspoons of herbes de provence and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper. My husband loved it.

  • awh 13 Mar, 2009

    This was great! I made it, froze it, and pulled it out for dinner this week. My husband does not like mushrooms, so I used squash and zucchini, and also used fontina cheese since I had some on hand. Tasty, cheesy comfort food!

  • debdtexas 10 Mar, 2009

    I made this from the Everyday magazine so wasn't able to read comments before I made it. Left out mushrooms, used sun-dried tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and grilled the chicken the night before. We really liked it but next time I will add more tomatoes and may try the artichoke hearts. We really liked it, also had garlic bread and a salad. We will definitely have it again and I passed the recipe on to two of my sisters.

  • debdtexas 10 Mar, 2009

    I made this from the Everyday magazine so wasn't able to read comments before I made it. Left out mushrooms, used sun-dried tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and grilled the chicken the night before. We really liked it but next time I will add more tomatoes and may try the artichoke hearts. We really liked it, also had garlic bread and a salad. We will definitely have it again and I passed the recipe on to two of my sisters.

  • mhines57 8 Mar, 2009

    I also read the comments about the bland complaints and made a few of my own modifications. I substituted red bell pepper for mushrooms and used about 1 1/4 peppers. Then I added almost a whole onion, chopped. Since I don't like dishes that are too rich, I cut back on the sauce and it was still plenty moist and rich-- used 4 cups (1%) milk and 5 1/2 TBS flour, and 4 TBS butter. I used 3-4 chicken breasts. We really enjoyed it!

  • BreeLeeD 7 Mar, 2009

    This was an okay dish. We found it to be bland and really couldn't taste the mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes. I like juliescraps' idea about using artichoke hearts instead of the tomatoes. The cheese sauce was delicious, but this recipe definitely needs some more work.

  • summ3r 6 Mar, 2009

    I had read the comments that it was bland but the basic recipe was what I was looking for so I made it with a few changes. I added an extra chicken breast, 3-4 tablespoons of minced fresh basil (added at the same time as the chicken),

  • GFDFMom 5 Mar, 2009

    WOW! For a gal who loves, but rarely eats Mac-N-Cheese style food, this was pure bliss. I cannot have any gluten or dairy in my diet, so I made several modifications: Smart Balance "butter", sweet rice flour, Tinkyada brown rice penne, hemp and almond milk, rice "mozzarella" and rice "parmesan". I browned the turkey breast and mushrooms well for flavor, and added ~1 t. basil. I used dried tomatoes (not in oil). Excellent.

  • ccmccabe 3 Mar, 2009

    I agree with sweetpea. It was rather bland. It was easy, but with the cost of food these days, my husband said it was a waste of food and money.

  • mikezmom 3 Mar, 2009

    I made this and the whole family loved it. It was so easy.

  • juliescraps 3 Mar, 2009

    I switched the mushrooms for artichoke hearts, and it was DELISH!

  • sweeterpea 2 Mar, 2009

    This recipe was okay. It was a little bland for us. I probably won't make it again.

  • kaycalvary 1 Mar, 2009

    this dish is easy and delicious! after making it just one time, it was an instant favorite of ours!! :) if you make it, you will not be sorry. it will become a family

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