This is my ridiculously easy, no-pasta, lasagne-style chicken bake, where the chicken is used in place of the pasta.
The only tiny bit of cooking required before it goes into the oven is to make the white sauce. Yep - everything else goes into the pan uncooked, and the oven does all the work.
I'm a big fan of lasagne, but it does take a little work, and sometimes I just want a meal where there's minimal upfront work, but the results are still lip-smackingly tasty.
I've got a couple of other lasagne shortcuts - namely my lasagne soup and my enchilada chicken lasagne (using tortillas instead of lasagne sheets and a white sauce shortcut), and this latest one came to me when I was daydreaming about lasagne, Garfield style.
📋 What do we need?
- Chicken - I'm using 4 chicken breasts in this recipe and slicing them in half. This recipe makes 4 BIG portions, but you can slice each breast into 3 slices if you like (so you have 12 slices altogher) and this will easily serve 6 people.
- Passata - I'm using passata in this recipe for a smooth sauce. If you're in the USA, passata is the same as tomato puree. It's a medium-thick sauce (about the consistency of double/heavy cream) made of 100% tomatoes. If you can't get hold of it you can replace with the same amount of finely chopped or crushed tinned/canned tomatoes - you will just need to simmer the sauce for a few minutes longer.
🔪 How to make this Chicken Bake
***Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.***
- First we make the white sauce - that's the only bit of cooking that requires you to use the hob/stovetop.
- Now here's the unusual part - we're going to add onions, mushrooms, garlic, red bell pepper, a little oil, a crumbled stock cube and a little seasoning into the bottom of a casserole pan and mix it together. We're leaving it raw. No need to soften the onions etc. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but those vegetables cook down beautifully underneath the chicken whilst the dish is in the oven.
- We top the onion mixture with chicken breasts that we've sliced horizontally (to make flat escalope-shaped chicken breasts). Then drizzle on passata, sprinkle on some dried herbs and drizzle on half of that white sauce you made earlier.
- Repeat the chicken, passata, dried herbs and white sauce layers, then top with cheddar cheese and place in the oven until golden and bubbling.
- I like to sprinkle on a pinch of dried parsley before serving.
📺 Watch how to make it
👩🍳PRO TIP If you want to make this dish even quicker, you can use store-bought white sauce (bechamel sauce).
All of those lasagne sauce flavours, with minimal prep.
🍲 More Chicken Bake Recipes
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Lasagne-Style Chicken Bake
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 6 medium mushrooms - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 1 red bell pepper - chopped
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 chicken stock cube - crumbled
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 4 chicken breasts (about 700g/1.5lbs) - , sliced in half to make 8 thin, wide breasts (you can slice each breast into 3 slices, to make 12 slices altogether if you're serving 6 people)
- 500 g (2 ¼ cups) passata* - (tomato puree if you're in the US)
- 1 tsp dried Italian mixed herbs
- 100 g (1 cup) Cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 400 ml (1 and ⅔ cups) milk - (full or half fat)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 25 g (¼ cup) Cheddar cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- First make the white sauce. In a medium sized saucepan, add the butter and melt over a medium heat.
- Once melted and bubbling slightly, add in the flour and stir it into the butter using a whisk (this will form a thick paste called a roux).
- Keep gently stirring the roux over the heat for one minute to cook the flour. Add in a good splash of the milk, turn up the heat and stir with the whisk to incorporate.
- Keep adding in the milk a good splash at a time, and whisking until all the milk is used up (this normally takes me about 3 or 4 minutes and I add the milk in about 5 splashes). Don't worry if you get a few lumps, keep stirring with the whisk and they will disappear as the sauce thickens.
- Keep stirring the sauce with the whisk over the heat until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheddar. Stir together and then turn off the heat.
- Now take a large baking dish or casserole pan.
- Add the chopped onion, mushrooms, garlic, red pepper, olive oil, crumbled chicken stock cube and salt and pepper to the pan and stir together. Note: the pan doesn't need to be on the heat for this. The ingredients go into the oven raw, where they'll cook down together.
- Add half of the slices of chicken in one layer on top of the onion mixture.
- Drizzle over half the passata, sprinkle on half the dried herbs and spoon on half the white sauce.
- Layer the remaining chicken slices on top, followed by the remaining passata, then the remaining dried herbs and the remaining white sauce.
- Sprinkle the grated cheddar on top.
- Place in the oven for 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling.
Cover and refrigerate for up to a day.
When you're ready to cook it, take it out of the fridge about an hour before you plan to cook it - to take off the chill.
Then cook for 40-50 minutes at 200C/400F - until the chicken is piping hot and fully cooked. Can I freeze it? Yes, but it's best to cook the dish first, then cool, cover and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight (ensure it's fully defrosted), then take out of the fridge about an hour before you plan to reheat it - to take off the chill.
Then place in the oven, covered with foil and cook for 40-50 minutes (take the foil off for the last 10 minutes) at 200C/400F - until the chicken is piping hot. How to scale down this recipe You can halve the recipe to serve 2-3 people by halving all of the ingredients and using a smaller casserole dish. The cooking time will stay the same as the original recipe (40 minutes). Nutritional information is per serving (serves 6)
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