Southwestern Cheesy Chicken Pasta


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This Southwestern Cheesy Chicken Pasta recipe combines tender chicken, flavorful spices, and creamy sauce to create a dish that is sure to please the whole family. Take your pasta game to a new level with this easy-to-make dinner recipe.

If you’re looking for other quick and easy meals to try that offer a Southwestern twist, check out my Slow Cooker Tamale Pie and Street Corn Dip.

scooping some southwestern cheesy chicken pasta out of a crockpot.
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Why You Should Try This Southwest Chicken Pasta Recipe

This dump-and-go recipe will instantly take the guesswork out of what to put on the dinner table. Not to mention, it’s a meal you can start in the morning and have it ready to serve nice and hot by dinnertime. The ingredients are simple and you’ll most likely already have much of it on hand.

You will also like how versatile this recipe can be, especially if you have picky eaters. Easily swap the pasta, use taco seasoning instead of homemade Southwest flavors, and add extra seasonings like red pepper flakes for a little heat kick. You may also like my Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce.

Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for slow cooker southwestern cheesy chicken pasta on a table.
  • Ro-tel (2 cans): A blend of diced tomatoes and green chiles, for a burst of flavor and spice.
  • Mexicorn (drained): A blend of corn and peppers, to add a sweet and tangy crunch to the dish. You can also use a can of southwestern corn mix.
  • Olives (drained): Enhance the flavor with sliced olives, adding a slightly briny taste to the mix.
  • Seasonings: Chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper spice things up a bit while offering a touch of herbal flavor.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: Provides some lean protein in a flavorful way.
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese: It’s best to use a block of cheese and shred yourself, as pre-shredded bags of cheese have an anticaking film that prevents it from melting properly.
  • Sour Cream: Adds tanginess and creaminess to the sauce.
  • Pasta Shells: Cooked according to package directions (al dente) and then drained before being added to the crock pot.

Step-by-Step Directions

two images showing how to make southwestern cheesy chicken pasta in a slow cooker.

Step One – Add the Rotel, Mexicorn, olives, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cumin to a 6-quart slow cooker, stir.

Step Two – Add the chicken breast into this mixture. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

six images showing how to make crockpot southwestern cheesy chicken pasta.

Step Three – Towards the end of cooking time, prepare the pasta according to box instructions.

Step Four – Remove the top from the slow cooker.

Step Five – Shred the seasoned chicken with 2 forks right in the slow cooker.

Step Six – Stir in the cheese and sour cream.

Step Seven – Add in the cooked pasta.

Step Eight – Stir everything together until well combined. Serve each serving with a sprinkle of more cheese, and then a sprinkle of green onion. Enjoy!

overhead close-up of southwestern cheesy chicken pasta in a slow cooker.

How to Serve

  • This shredded chicken dish pairs perfectly with a light Caesar salad, a bit of dressing, and croutons.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro, fresh tomatoes, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese for an extra burst of flavor and color. Pair with warm garlic bread or crusty rolls to soak up the delicious sauce.
  • For a creative twist, spoon the cheesy chicken pasta into hollowed-out bell peppers, either halved or whole, and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. Bake in the oven until the peppers are tender and the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  • Often we just pile this pasta in bowls and eat alone! It’s a perfect rounded meal in one bowl!
plate of slow cooker southwestern cheesy chicken pasta in front of a crockpot.

Recipe FAQs

How can I make this less spicy?

Use Mild Rotel if you can find it. If you can’t find mild Rotel, use 2 small jars of mild salsa.

Can I prepare this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can assemble the ingredients ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. You can even prepare the dish completely and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Simply reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving, adding a splash of chicken broth or water to loosen the sauce if needed.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! You can easily adapt this recipe to be vegetarian or vegan by making a few substitutions. Instead of chicken, you can use plant-based chicken substitutes, such as tofu or seitan, or simply omit the meat altogether and add extra beans or vegetables for protein. For a vegan version, substitute dairy cheese with vegan cheese alternatives and use vegan sour cream or a cashew cream sauce.

How do I store leftovers?

To store leftovers, transfer any remaining pasta into an airtight container once it has cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate the leftovers for 3-4 days, ensuring to reheat thoroughly before serving.

overhead shot of serving of slow cooker southwestern cheesy chicken pasta.

More pasta recipes to try next:

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overhead close-up of southwestern cheesy chicken pasta in a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Southwestern Cheesy Chicken Pasta

4.50 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Chicken, veggies and pasta in a southwestern style sauce.

Ingredients 
 

  • 20 oz. Ro-tel, (2 cans)
  • 11 oz. can Mexicorn (or a can of southwestern corn mix), drained
  • 3.8 oz. can olives, drained
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 2 lbs. boneless skin-less chicken breasts
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 16 oz. sour cream
  • 1 lb. medium-sized shell pasta,, cooked according to package directions, drained

For Serving

  • Additional shredded cheese
  • Sliced green onions

Instructions 

  • Add the Rotel, Mexicorn, olives, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper and cumin to a 6-quart slow cooker, stir. Add the chicken into this mixture.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  • Shred the chicken with 2 forks right in the slow cooker.
  • Stir in the cheese and sour cream, then stir in the cooked and drained pasta.
  • Serve each serving with a sprinkle of more cheese, and then a sprinkle of green onion.
  • Enjoy!

How to Video

Sarah’s Notes

How can I make this less spicy?
  • Use Mild Rotel if you can find it.
  • If you can’t find mild Rotel, use 2 small jars of mild salsa.
To store leftovers, transfer any remaining pasta into an airtight container once it has cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate the leftovers for 3-4 days, ensuring to reheat thoroughly before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 628kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 808mg | Potassium: 877mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1020IU | Vitamin C: 11.6mg | Calcium: 323mg | Iron: 2.7mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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Recipe Rating




48 Comments

  1. Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says:

    Oh, now this is right up my alley! Definitely adding this to my weekly meal plan soon. 🙂

  2. Food Done Light (@FoodDoneLight) says:

    Sounds like perfect comfort food to me and I love the sauce it makes

  3. peter @feedyoursoultoo says:

    You had me at Southwestern. Then, you had me at cheesy. Then, you bowled me over with pasta. Looks great.

  4. Ritz_Chef says:

    Has anyone actually made this recipe? So far all I have read were comments on how good the pictures look.

    1. Lacy says:

      5 stars
      I made it tonight & it was awesome! Be sure you drain the mexicorn & pasta well though because mine was a little soupy.

  5. pattyanderson54 says:

    Well glad to hear you are doing the blogging full time – that alone is time consuming. This is a great weeknight meal!

  6. Shelby says:

    This one I definitely have to make, the flavors are right up my alley! Looks yummy too!

  7. Kim Babcock says:

    I meant is Rotel refried beans?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Hi Kim! Rotel is a spiced diced tomato mix. You can find it on the canned tomato aisle. 🙂

    2. Anonymous says:

      No it’s diced tomatoes in a can with alil kick to it

  8. Grandma Kc says:

    Sounds even better than it looks! I am always trying to find something new to do with chicken! Thank you!

  9. Catherine says:

    Oh boy does that look good!! Sounds like a delicious meal. xo, Catherine

  10. Sandra Shaffer says:

    This looks super good, Sarah! I think you would make the pasta company proud with this recipe! Sooo glad you are enjoying your stay at home mommy duties as well as blogging in your pj’s 🙂 Haha! I would be!