Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta Bake — Depth of flavor galore in this juicy baked chicken with crispy skin and tender pasta! The sauce is a mixture of melted feta cheese and crushed tomatoes, red peppers, kalamata olives, white wine, garlic, and more! You’ll be sure to IMPRESS everyone with this next-level tasting recipe that’s EASY to make!
Table of contents
- Mediterranean Baked Chicken Pasta Recipe
- Recipe Tip
- Ingredients in Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta Bake
- How to Make Chicken Feta Pasta Bake
- Recipe Tip
- What Kind of Chicken is Best?
- Using Chicken Without Skin?
- What to Serve with This Recipe
- Storing Leftover Baked Feta and Chicken Pasta
- Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta FAQs
- Tips for the Best Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Bake
- More Easy Pasta Bakes:
Mediterranean Baked Chicken Pasta Recipe
This Mediterranean-inspired baked chicken recipe features moist and juicy chicken thighs with perfectly crispy skin and tender bowtie pasta.
Everything simmers in sauce made with every fabulous Mediterranean themed ingredient I can think of including feta cheese, kalamata olives, red peppers, tomatoes, lemon juice, white wine, garlic, and more!
We are talking layers and layers of briney, savory goodness.
Despite a semi-long list of ingredients and directions, I promise this is a very do-able and approachable weeknight recipe that you can have ready in 45 minutes.
Or if you want to serve this at your next get together with your friends or another couple, I promise everyone will be very impressed!
It serves 4 perfectly, although you can double the recipe if you’re cooking for a bigger group.
Make sure to plan ahead and mix up the spice rub and let that sit on your chicken for at least 2 hours for the most optimal tasting results.
Ingredients in Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta Bake
For this Mediterranean-inspired recipe with crispy chicken skin, pasta sauce, and bowtie pasta, you’ll need the following easy-to-find and common fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:
- Chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
- Olive oil
- White or yellow onion
- Red pepper
- Serrano chile pepper, optional
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Dried thyme
- Reduced sodium chicken broth
- Dry white wine, optional but recommended
- Feta cheese
- Whole cherry tomatoes
- Pitted kalamata olives
- Bowtie pasta
- Reserved pasta water
- Fresh parsley, optional for garnishing
Note:All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make Chicken Feta Pasta Bake
Making these saucy pasta and crispy skin juicy chicken isn’t difficult in the least!
However, make sure you read the recipe over at least once in entirety before beginning so you have a mental map of where you’re going and what comes next.
Let’s make crispy chicken with a Mediterranean twist! Follow these straightforward steps.
Step 1: In a small bowl, stir to combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, and smoked paprika.
Step 2: Score the skin-side of the chicken.
Step 3: Press and rub the dry spice rub over the skin side of the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Step 4: Remove the chicken from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before you plan to sear it.
Step 5: Add olive oil to a large oven-safe pot such as a Dutch oven or braising pan, add the chicken skin side down, and sear for 2 to 3 minutes over medium high heat. Do not move it or disturb it – just let it be!
Remove it and set it aside after it’s browned.
Step 6: Add more olive oil, add the onions, red pepper, optional serrano, and saute for 3 minutes before adding the garlic and sauteeing another minute.
Step 7: Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, thyme, broth, wine, and stir to combine.
Step 8: Add the chicken back into the pan and then add the feta, cherry tomatoes, olives, and bake for 20 minutes.
Step 9: While the chicken bakes, boil the pasta. Reserve some pasta water in case you need to thin out the sauce.
Step 10: After chicken is done, remove it from the pan, and using a fork or potato masher, mash the feta, tomatoes, and vegetables together to form a sauce. If it’s thicker than you like, add some pasta water to thin it.
Step 11: Add the pasta and toss to combine before adding the chicken.
Step 12: Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes to warm through.
Step 13: Optionally garnish with parsley and serve immediately!
What Kind of Chicken is Best?
The key to having crispy baked chicken skin along with tender meat is to use chicken thighs with the skin on. I also use bone-in thighs for chicken that’s even more moist and tender.
If you don’t like crispy chicken skin, you can remove it before serving. However, that crispy, golden brown skin really is wonderful.
Boneless chicken thighs with the skin on will also work.
Chicken breasts – either with or without the bone and the skin – are also fine.
However, chicken breasts are a leaner cut than chicken thighs so they won’t be quite as flavorful and you’ll want to bake them a few minutes less so they don’t dry out.
Using Chicken Without Skin?
If you are using a skinless chicken thighs or skinless chicken breasts, you can still sear them for a couple minutes just like I instruct to do if you’re searing chicken thighs or breast with skin.
Allow them to brown for 2 to 3 minutes, undisturbed, in your hot skillet. There’s nothing to really “crisp up” since there’s no skin, but searing helps to seal in the moisture.
What to Serve with This Recipe
This easy Mediterranean-inspired dinner is really a complete meal in itself!
Between the protein from the chicken, the wonderful savory sauce complete with mashed vegetables (onions, red peppers, tomatoes, serrano), and the carbs in the pasta, this is a one-stop-shopping kind of dinner recipe.
However, if you’d still like to serve it with a side, I recommend the following:
- French bread or garlic bread
- Your favorite green salad. I like this Green Edamame Salad or a Kale Caesar Salad.
- Roasted vegetables such as Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Cheesy Asparagus, or Rainbow Roasted Carrots.
Storing Leftover Baked Feta and Chicken Pasta
This comfort food baked chicken recipe with pasta will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in your freezer for up to 4 months.
The pasta may continue to absorb some of the red pepper-based sauce so it may appear you have less sauce when you open your container of leftovers! Pasta has a way of doing that. And if it happens, the pasta will be on the softer side, rather than al dente.
Mediterranean Chicken Feta Pasta FAQs
Can I use a different kind of pasta?
I used bowtie pasta but you can use other small shape pasta such as ziti, rotini, penne, or fusilli.
You can also use long pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine. I wouldn’t use anything too thin like angel hair or capellini as it won’t stand up very well to the sauce and will get mushy.
What kind of wine should I use for mediterranean-inspired chicken and pasta?
I recommend using a dry white wine such as chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or something similar. Do not use a sweet wine!
DO I have to use wine?
The 1/2 cup of white wine in the sauce adds such a great depth of flavor and richness to the overall dish. The alcohol content burns off in the cooking and baking process, and what you’re left with is an elegant and wonderful tasting sauce.
However, if you don’t want to use wine, you can omit it. And instead use an additional 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth.
Is the mediterranean crispy chicken and pasta bake spicy?
For us, this pasta bake recipe isn’t overtly spicy but there’s definitely lots of robust flavor going on! Between the feta, olives, chili powder, and smoked paprika, this is a big and bold dish in the flavor department.
I do call for a serrano chili pepper that’s deseeded. Serranos are spicier than jalapenos. However, you’re flavoring a hefty quantity of chicken, pasta, and sauce so the flavor is diluted and dispersed. However, if you’re concerned about the dish reading spicy, use half of a serrano chile, or simply omit it.
Do I need to mash the feta, olives, and red peppers?
The chicken bakes together in your skillet with cubed feta, cherry tomatoes, whole kalamata olives, red peppers, onions, serrano chiles, and garlic. After baking for 20 minutes the feta melts and the vegetables will be soft and you can mash them together easily to create this easy sauce-in-a-pan. This sauce then serves to coat the pasta.
However, I suppose if you don’t want to mash them and want to keep them as soft-but-intact, that’s fine too. Although note that the pasta won’t have much sauce to be coated with and you may want to drizzle additional olive oil over the finished dish.
Tips for the Best Mediterranean Chicken Pasta Bake
Please read the above FAQ section for answers to the most frequent questions about this comfort food pasta and chicken recipe that marries Italian, Greek, and Mediterranean elements.
Additionally, I’ve got a few more tips and tricks to make this recipe as easy and successful as possible.
Chicken – As I mentioned above, I like using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Although you can use other combinations of bone in or out, skin on or off, and breasts versus thighs, based on your personal preferences.
Spice Rub – I like to rub the spice mixture on the chicken for at least 2 hours before I begin the rest of this chicken and pasta recipe. You can also do this overnight for maximum flavor!
Either way, store your chicken with dry rub in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
And then take your chicken out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before you plan to sear it for best results.
Wine – As I mentioned in the FAQs, wine isn’t essential but I highly recommend it for flavor development.
Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth – I always use reduced sodium broth rather than regular because I can always add more salt at the end if I feel like it needs it.
As the chicken bakes, and the broth evaporates and concentrates, it will taste saltier which is another reason I opt for lower sodium chicken broth to begin with.
Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice – Always zest your lemon before your juice it. And make sure to only take off and us the outermost lemon peel. Do not use the white pith because it’s bitter.
Kalamata Olives – If you’re not an olive person, this may not be the recipe for you. I highly recommend using black kalamata olives because they add an essential unami, briney flavor and really put the Mediterranean in this Mediterranean Baked Crispy Chicken with Pasta! So don’t omit them.
Make sure you buy pitted olives so you don’t have to pit them before using them in the dish.
I have never tried using green olives but black kalamata are my go-to.
If you’re not into black olives or olives in general, please see my other easy pasta recipes below the recipe card for ideas and olive-free suggestions.
Tomatoes – Cherry or grape tomatoes are my recommendation but if you have Roma tomatoes on hand, they will be fine. I would use two tomatoes, cubed into large bite-sized chunks.
Feta Cheese – Use full fat feta cheese rather than reduced fat or fat free feta because full fat melts much better.
I use feta that I cube, but I suppose full fat feta crumbles will also work since you’re stirring this together in the end anyway!
Reserve Pasta Water – Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water to use in case you need to thin out the mashed red pepper, olive, and feta sauce that you make. Based on how it looks and your preferences, you may or may not need the reserved pasta water.
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Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Additional Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika may be substituted)
- 4 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs*
- 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup white or yellow onion, finely diced
- 1/2 of a medium red pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely minced; optional**
- 3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, optional but recommended***
- 8 ounces full fat feta cheese, cubed (do not use low fat or fat free feta because it doesn't melt well)
- 3/4 cup whole cherry or grape tomatoes (2 Roma tomatoes, diced in large bite-sized pieces may be substituted)
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, no substitutions
- 8 ounces bowtie pasta****
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, for possible use
- Fresh parsley or basil, finely minced; optional for garnishing
- To a small bowl, add the salt, pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, and stir to combine.
- Score the skin side tops of the chicken thighs, making about 6 slits on each piece.
- Evenly distribute the spice rub onto each of the 4 pieces of chicken, and rub it in.
- Place chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if desired.
- About 20 to 30 minutes before you plan to begin cooking the chicken, remove it from the fridge and allow it to sit on the counter to warm up a bit.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- To a large, oven-safe, high-sided skillet, Dutch oven, or similar braising pot, add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the chicken skin-side down, and sear over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Tip - While the chicken is searing, don't move it, disturb it, or check on it. Just let it be. Remove it from the skillet and set aside.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional olive oil, and add the onions, red peppers, optional serranos, and saute over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes; stir frequently.
- Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute; stir continuously.
- Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, chicken broth, white wine, and stir to combine. Caution - The liquids will likely bubble up and steam quite vigorously right after you add them for a second or two. Just be careful so you're not caught off guard with a facefull of very hot steam.
- Add the chicken back into the skillet, and evenly sprinkle in the feta, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, place the skillet in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Tips - Start boiling your pasta (step 12) while chicken bakes! And I recommend checking the temperature with a digital thermometer. Chicken thighs are done with the meat (don't touch the bone) is at an internal temp of 175F. The temp will also continue to rise, off the heat, due to carryover cooking.
- While the chicken is baking, cook your pasta according to package directions, minus 2 minutes, because it will continue to cook more in the sauce and you don't want it to be overcooked. For example - If the directions say boil 11 minutes for al dente, you actually only need to boil it for 9 minutes.
- Drain pasta but reserve 1/2 to 3/4 cup pasta water for your sauce later on should you need the pasta water. Note - I don't rinse pasta, but you can if you think it helps prevent sticking. I personally add a tablespoon of olive oil to my boiling water for anti-sticking.
- After chicken has baked and is done, remove the skillet from the oven, and remove the chicken pieces and set them on a plate.
Mashing to Make the Sauce
- Mash and stir together the remaining ingredients in the skillet - the feta, tomatoes, red peppers, olives, etc. I use a fork but you can use a potato masher.
- Depending on how the sauce looks to you, add some pasta water. Tip - 1/2 cup should be plenty, but you can add a bit more if you think it needs it.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine.
- Add the chicken back in and return the skillet to the oven for 5 minutes, or until everything is nicely warmed through.
- Taste the dish and if you think it needs it, add more salt, pepper, a sprinkling of red chili flakes for heat, etc.
- Optionally (but recommended), garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 4 months in the freezer. Tip - Thepasta may continue to absorb some of the sauceso it may appear you have less sauce when you open your container of leftovers. Pasta has a way of doing this. And if it happens, the pasta will be on the softer side, rather thanal dente.
*I recommend using skin-on chicken thighs. I use bone-in, but you can also use boneless. While you can use chicken breasts rather than thighs, they won't be as flavorful and juicy. If you do opt for breasts rather than thighs, I definitely recommend skin-on. You can always discard it before eating if you don't like chicken skin. This skin is so crispy and delicious though!
**If you want to remove any type of spiciness from this dish, then omit the serrano chile. However, the dish doesn't really read "spicy" unless you're very sensitive to spiciness; rather it's very flavorful. Serranos are spicier than jalapeno peppers. If you're unsure about including it, perhaps only include half of one serrano, seeded, and diced very finely.
***The 1/2 cup of white wine in the sauce adds such a great depth of flavor and richness to the overall dish. The alcohol content burns off in the cooking and baking process, and what you’re left with is an elegant and wonderful tasting sauce.However, if you don’t want to use wine, you can omit it. And instead use an additional 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth.
I recommend using a dry white wine such as chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or something similar. Do not use a sweet wine!
****I used bowtie pasta but you can use other small shape pasta such as ziti, rotini, penne, or fusilli.You can also use long pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine. I wouldn’t use anything too thin like angel hair or capellini as it won’t stand up very well to the sauce and will get mushy.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 483Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 788mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 14g
More Easy Pasta Bakes:
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