Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake is made with chopped chicken and bites of bacon, with sweet caramelized onions, in a creamy Gruyere sauce.

cheesy Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Friends, this Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake a recipe with BAM (thank you Emerile Lagasse). The enticing combination of rich, sweet onions, and smoky flavors in each forkful, and the nice crisp bacon just makes the best pasta bake around.

taking a spoonful of Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Perfect for a cozy season, but more importantly this makes the best potluck dish. Basically, you take this casserole dish, packed with flavor, and bake it for a party of eight. Maybe or maybe not, you will have leftovers.

Serve it with your favorite side salad and hot crunchy bread. Here’s another quick Bacon Mushroom Ragu Pasta Recipe to try!

serving of Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Pasta Bake Ingredients:

  • Caramelized Onions
  • Bacon
  • Garlic
  • Chicken boullion paste
  • Flour
  • Milk + heavy cream
  • Radiatori pasta (we use Delallo)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spinach
  • Chicken (we use rotisserie)

baker of Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta

Bacon Pasta Bake Comfort Food

Any kind of potluck calls for a delicious homemade comfort dish. For example, take casseroles and pasta bakes: You can jam-pack your favorite, delicious ingredients into a single dish, bake it, and end up with a meal for eight people (or lots of leftovers!)

This pasta bake is garlicky, sweet, cheesy, savory, bacon-y, and will, in fact, put you to bed early.

close up of Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta

TIPS and substitutions:

  • You can use a rotisserie chicken (chopped or shredded) to save time.
  • Make the carmelized onions ahead of time. If you’re making this easy caramelized onion crostini, double the recipe so you have the portion you need for this recipe.
  • I don’t know, there’s just something about chicken, bacon, and pasta that rings true to my ears.
  • Swap out the radiatori pasta for angel hair for a more elegant dish.
  • Add in fresh herbs, like basil, parsley. or thyme.
  • Swiss cheese can be substituted for Gruyère in this recipe.
  • The pasta mixture can also be baked in a 8×4-inch loaf pan for 18 to 22 minutes.

Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Why we love Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

We love the cheesy Mornay sauce with bacon, and adding the caramelized onions? A match made in heaven.

  • You can also make ahead and reheat in the oven.
  • It’s a great “pot of love” to bring to a party or potluck.
  • The dish is delicious for dinner the next night (we love leftovers).
  • I like to look in my pantry and grab a different kind of pasta every time we make this.

The whole family LOVES this dish!

a serving of Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

How to caramelize the onions:

Grab the full recipe below!

  1. Begin by caramelizing your onions over medium heat until they are tender and sticky. Don’t rush this step. Plan on this taking thirty minutes or more.
  2. Place the onions in large pot over medium-high heat, with butter and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the butter melts into the onions and steam begins to come off. Reduce heat to low. To ensure and expedite softening, I cover the onions with a lid to build steam and keep the moisture in, and stir.
  3. Once you remove the lid, cook and stir a few more times. Then add the white wine and allow it to cook off. Continue cooking until the onions have reached your desired level of caramelization.

While onions are caramelizing, prepare your bacon by crisping it in a skillet. I like to chop the bacon prior to cooking, as it seems to help it crisp more evenly. Once crisp, remove the bacon from the grease and set it aside.

hot, cheesy Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

What is Mornay sauce made of?

Mornay sauce is a cheesy variation of béchamel sauce. It features a base of flour, milk, egg, and butter, kept warm enough to melt a mix of freshly grated Mozzarella and Gruyère, producing a thick, cheesy white sauce.

9x13 Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake with cheese

Cooking family meals brings contentment

We’ve been hosting a bit, even in our tiny cabin home we’re living in right now. For me personally, the more I have people into my home, and connect with friends and family, the happier I am. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but there is a sense of fulfillment inside when I’m preparing, giving out, and loving the people in my life. I think most women who practice hospitality are pretty content and happy and satisfied, especially when you have good boundaries (you do not overdo, you are organized, you take care of yourself first, before giving out to others), and you give your very best!

I read a study that Good Housekeeping shared that said: The more often that women have dinner with their families, the more satisfied they are on the whole. And those who see friends and entertain at least every few months are more content in general.

This recipe today is the perfect comfort food!

Enjoy!

Here are a few more pasta bake recipes to try:

Caprese Pasta Bake Recipe

Turkey Pasta Bake

Mexican Ground Turkey Olive Pasta Bake

Easy Mexican Spaghetti Bake

cheesy Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake
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Caramelized Onion Bacon Pasta Bake

Swiss cheese can be substituted for Gruyère in this recipe. The pasta mixture can also be baked in an 8x4-inch loaf pan for 18 to 22 minutes. Make ahead the caramelized onions if you have time.

Ingredients

Mornay Sauce

  • 8 strips center cut bacon, roughly chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chicken boullion paste
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 c whole milk, warmed
  • 1 ½ c heavy cream, warmed
  • 1 package radiatori pasta, cooked very al dente (3 1/2 minutes), or another pasta cooked el dente (cooking time will vary for other varieties)
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella
  • 2 c Gruyere cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Caramelize onions

  • 2 large white onions, cut into 1/2 inch half moons
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
  • Kosher salt to season
  • ½ c white wine, optional

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 6 cups spinach
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked, or about 4 c rotisserie chicken, roughly chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 deep casserole dish, or a similar sized vessel, with cooking spray. Set aside.

Make the Garlic Mornay Sauce:

  • In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp—10-12 minutes. Remove bacon and transfer to a bowl. Remove all but 2 Tbsp of fat from the pan before adding the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden, then add the chicken bouillon paste and cook for another 1 minute. Add flour and stir into the garlic; cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the warmed milk. Bring garlic béchamel to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about one third—2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened and reduced by about a quarter, 2-4 minutes.

How to caramelize the onions:

  • Place the onions in large pot over medium-high heat, with butter and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the butter melts into the onions and steam begins to come off. Reduce heat to low. To ensure and expedite softening, I cover the onions for about 35 minutes with a lid to build steam and keep the moisture in, stirring every 12-15 minutes. Once you remove the lid, cook for 20 minutes, stirring a few times. During the last 20 minutes, add the white wine and allow it to cook off. Continue cooking until the onions have reached your desired level of caramelization.

Make the pasta bake:

  • As the sauce reduces, make the pasta—for radiatori, cook in heavily salted water for about 3 1/2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then immediately drain and place into a large mixing bowl—one large enough to fit all of the ingredients. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so it should be al dente post boil.
  • When the sauce has reduced, remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella and 1 cup Gruyere cheese. Stir until smooth; taste for additional salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • In a small pot or pan with a lid, add your spinach and 1-2 Tbsp of water: bring heat to medium-low and cover with a lid. Wilt the spinach for 2-4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly before chopping and squeezing out excess liquid. Add spinach to the large mixing bowl with the pasta.
  • Add the 1 cup of caramelized onions, bacon, and chicken to the bowl, then pour in the garlic cheese Mornay sauce and carefully stir until combined.
  • Transfer to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cover with a piece of parchment and foil. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • Finally, leaving the pasta on the center rack, turn the broiler on high. Brown the cheese on top for 2-4 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve hot.
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Caramelized Onion with Bacon Pasta

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