This Crack Chicken recipe is an easy meal made with juicy chicken breasts loaded with melty cheese, ranch seasoning, and crispy bacon. This addictive dinner recipe is low-carb AND keto-friendly!
Easy Baked Crack Chicken
Looking for a quick and easy baked chicken breast recipe with HUGE flavor? Allow me to introduce you to my BFF, Crack Chicken.
Cheesy, creamy ranch chicken with bacon is insanely tasty, family-friendly, and perfect to throw in the oven on any given weeknight. This keto crack chicken is low in carbs, too, and so satisfying. It’s exactly what I crave after a long day. And it’s soon to be high on your list of cravings, too!
This ranch chicken recipe is one of my all-time favorite ways to cook chicken breasts but if you’re looking for other ideas too, check out these chicken breast recipes – Baked Chicken Breasts, Oven Baked Chicken Breasts, Air Fryer Chicken Breasts, Instant Pot Chicken Breasts, and Stovetop Chicken Breasts.
Why You’ll Love This Crack Chicken Recipe
This ranch chicken recipe has become a huge hit with the entire family. Here are a few reasons why.
- Quick and easy. All in all, this cheesy baked chicken takes 30 minutes or less from start to finish.
- Creamy and cheesy. It doesn’t get better than juicy, golden-baked chicken topped with ranchy cream cheese, melty cheddar, and crispy bacon.
- Low-carb and keto-friendly. This is the perfect easy dinner if you’re looking for something diet-friendly, with flavor that’s through the roof.
Why Is It Called Cracked Chicken?
So, what the heck is crack chicken, you ask? The story goes that “crack” is actually the term for a combination of ingredients: cream cheese, ranch seasoning, cheddar, and bacon. Together, these ingredients taste so good, it’s seriously addictive (take that as you will). They found their way into this chicken recipe and, understandably, we’re all a little obsessed. You’ll also find crack dip, crack pasta, and even crack soup.
Crack chicken is pure comfort food, a lot like my jalapeño popper baked chicken but without the peppers. And you won’t believe how easy this is to make.
I go over the key ingredients for this cheesy ranch chicken recipe below. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for a full ingredient list and detailed instructions.
- Bacon – I like to buy thick-cut bacon as it dices up nicely. You can make this recipe with turkey bacon if you’d prefer a leaner variety.
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken works best here. I use chicken breasts, but thighs are great, too. If you’re working with larger chicken breasts, pound them to about ¼ inch thick before you start.
- Cream Cheese – You can use full-fat or low-fat cream cheese, but you’ll want to use the cream cheese that comes in blocks, rather than the spreadable kind that comes in tubs. Take your cream cheese out of the fridge so that it can soften.
- Ranch Seasoning – I make my own homemade ranch seasoning with garlic powder, onion powder, dill, and chives. You can also substitute this with a store-bought ranch seasoning mix.
- Cheddar Cheese – Shredded white cheddar, yellow cheddar, or a combination of both.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
Yes, but if you’re using frozen chicken breasts or thighs, make sure that the chicken is completely thawed beforehand. Chicken that’s not defrosted will take longer to bake and can make the dish watery.
How To Make Crack Chicken
One bite of this mouthwatering crack chicken recipe, and you’ll see why it deserves the hype. It’s rich, it’s cheesy, and the best part (my favorite part) is that I can devour this keto chicken guilt-free. Come to momma!
- Cook the bacon. First, you’ll fry up the diced bacon to get it nice and crispy. Remove the bacon but leave the bacon grease in the skillet. Because ~flavor~.
- Prep the chicken. Next, season the chicken breasts and then sear them on both sides until browned, and arrange the chicken in a baking dish.
- Add the “crack” ingredients. Combine the ranch seasoning with cream cheese, then spread the mixture over the chicken breasts. Sprinkle on the cooked crispy bacon and top with shredded cheese.
- Bake. Bake the cracked chicken in the oven at 400ºF for 15 minutes, until the chicken breasts are cooked through and everything is melty and golden. Garnish with fresh parsley or scallions, and serve!
Tips for Success
This baked crack chicken is so simple to make, it’s practically guaranteed to come out ahhhmazing. Keep these tips in mind:
- Use skinless, boneless chicken. This cuts down on the fat and makes the dish less greasy.
- Use real bacon. Bacon bits tend to taste artificial and make this recipe overly salty. I mean, what’s more tasty than real bacon?!
- Try a different cheese. In place of cheddar, make it spicy with Pepper Jack, or try another kind of melty cheese like Colby Jack, provolone, or Swiss cheese.
- Don’t overcook. Overcooked chicken will be tough and dry instead of tender and juicy. Make sure that you check the chicken for doneness towards the end of the baking time, as not all ovens bake the same.
- To check that your chicken is done baking, take the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. According to the USDA, chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Double the recipe. Double the recipe and have leftovers on hand for easy lunches and dinners throughout the week. Crack chicken freezes well, too, see below for details.
- Don’t feel like turning on the oven? Try this recipe as Instant Pot crack chicken or slow cooker crack chicken.
The melted cheese may look a bit liquidy when the crack chicken is just out of the oven. If your crack chicken is too watery (i.e., if you use frozen chicken that isn’t 100% thawed, or the chicken was “plumped” with water), feel free to scoop out the excess liquid with a spoon.
For this crack chicken recipe, you’ll want to bake your chicken breasts uncovered. This allows the cheese to melt and brown.
What to Serve With Crack Chicken
Now that your ranch chicken recipe is baked all golden and cheesy, it’s time to pair it with some tasty side dishes! Here are some of my favorite ideas to turn this ranch chicken into a meal:
- Veggies. Serve crack chicken with a side of green vegetables like steamed or roasted broccoli, carrots and green beans, or a baked potato.
- Rice. Dish up your chicken over a bed of fluffy white rice or brown rice (or try a savory rice pilaf). If you’re keeping your meal keto, serve it with cauliflower rice.
- Salad. Round out dinner with a family-sized Caesar salad, a leafy garden salad, or a grilled zucchini salad.
- Bread. Serve keto crack chicken with low-carb keto breadsticks or a side of cloud bread. Fluffy bread is perfect for sopping up the extra melted cheese!
Can I Make Crack Chicken Ahead?
Absolutely. To prepare this crack chicken recipe 1-2 days ahead of time, assemble the chicken and toppings in the baking dish. Cover the unbaked crack chicken and refrigerate it until you’re ready, then bake as directed in the recipe.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
- Fridge. We hardly ever have leftovers in our house! I often make a double batch If you do have crack chicken left over, store it airtight in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- Reheat. Reheat the chicken in the microwave or in the oven at 350ºF until hot throughout.
- Freezer. Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature, and then store it frozen airtight for up to 3 months. Defrost your crack chicken overnight in the fridge before reheating.
More Baked Chicken Recipes
- Juicy Caprese Baked Chicken
- Baked Lemon Chicken
- Baked Pesto Alfredo Chicken
- Cheesy Chicken Spinach Bake
- Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Italian Dressing Chicken
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 (1-pound, total) boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼-inch thickness
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
- chopped fresh parsley
- sliced green scallions
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the diced bacon; cook until crispy.
- Remove bacon from skillet and set aside. Don't discard bacon fat.
- Return skillet to heat and add vegetable oil to the remaining bacon fat.
- Pound chicken breasts to a ¼-inch to ½-inch thickness and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
- Add chicken breasts to the hot oil – you may have to do this in batches if the skillet isn't big enough – and cook chicken breasts for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
- Flip over the chicken breasts, add butter, and continue to cook for 2 more minutes or until browned.
- Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and arrange them in the previously prepared baking dish. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, dill weed, and chives; mix until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly. See notes.
- Top each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture. Spread to coat the surface of each chicken breast.
- Take half of the diced bacon and add on top of the cream cheese over each chicken breast.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the chicken breasts.
- Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and lightly browned.
- Remove from oven.
- Garnish with remaining bacon, fresh parsley, and scallions.
- You can substitute the garlic powder, onion powder, dill weed, and chives with 1 Tablespoon of store-bought ranch seasoning mix.
- Keep leftovers tightly covered and store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.