Thank you to McCormick Grill Mates for sponsoring today’s post! We only partner with brands we know and love, so thank you for supporting us.
One Pan Chicken with Bacon and Acorn Squash is a fall weeknight dream. Tender chicken breasts are seasoned in a sweet and savory rub and baked with McCormick Grill Mates Brown Sugar Bourbon Bacon, plenty of sweet acorn squash, and lots of fresh sage. From start to finish One Pan Chicken takes less than 45 minutes to make, of which, most is hands off.
If there’s one food holiday I can get down with, it’s National Bacon Month. I mean, could there be a better holiday out there? If there’s bacon to be consumed, I’m there in a heartbeat. So I’m super excited to be partnering with McCormick Grill Mates for today’s bacon-themed post.
Annnd if there’s one dinner I think pretty much anyone can appreciate, it’s a sheet pan meal. Not only is everything made on one pan, but there’s less clean up, they usually take under an hour to make, and the possibilities for meal combinations are virtually endless.
The combination of the two is why One Pan Chicken with Bacon and Acorn Squash is probably one of my favorite fall dishes to date. Here’s what’s in our sheet pan meal.
- Sticky brown sugar and paprika-rubbed chicken breasts
- Crispy McCormick Brown Sugar Bourbon Bacon that literally melts in your mouth.
- Sweet acorn squash tossed in brown butter and brown sugar. Hi fall.
- Plenty of fresh, fragrant sage. It’s the one herb which instantly wraps me up in a warm hug.
Ingredients in One Pan Chicken
Chicken. I like to use chicken breasts here, but you can use bone-in chicken thighs as well.
Butter. We use some of the bacon fat to cook the squash, but I also like to use a little bit of brown butter instead of oil or bacon fat to coat the chicken. It adds a lovely nutty flavor to the chicken that’s super subtle, but perfect.
Brown sugar. I love the sweet and savory element brown sugar adds in One Pan Chicken. Since there are already notes of brown sugar in the bacon, it makes sense to add little bit to the rub for the chicken as well.
Dried spices. Parika, garlic powder, onion powder, a touch of cinnamon and of course, plenty of salt. For me, this is the perfect combination of savory, smokey, and sweet. They’re all ingredients most people have on hand in their pantry, so it’s nice that it doesn’t require any additional purchases at the grocery store.
McCormick Brown Sugar Bourbon Bacon.
This is the secret in ingredient in One Pan Chicken. First of all, Mcormick’s new thick-cut brown sugar bacon is DELICIOUS. Even better, they have four different varieties, all of which would work great here. They are:
- Montreal Steak – McCormick’s flagship flavor uses the perfect blend of freshly cracked pepper,
garlic and spices. If you’ve ever used this seasoning on grilled steak, then you know how good it is. Pair it with bacon, and yummm!
- Ultimate Bacon – Even more bacon flavor for all the bacon lovers out there! This
bacon is marinated, and seasoned with extra bacon flavor. And trust me, it’s so good. I love to eat it as is, but it’s also great chopped up in a big salad.
- Smoky Applewood – A sweet, smoky blend of chili pepper, garlic and Applewood
smoke flavor. This would be my second choice to use in One Pan Chicken. The subtle applewood flavor is perfect for fall and pairs really well with chicken and squash.
- Brown Sugar Bourbon – The perfect blend of sweet brown sugar, bourbon, and spices. While I love all the bacon, this sweet and savory version is my FAVORITE. It goes perfectly with the acorn squash and brown sugar paprika rub in the chicken breasts. I also have plans to use it in an upcoming recipe for Bananas Foster French Toast – stay tuned.
You can find the bacon at independent grocery retailers, but if yours doesn’t carry, be sure to ask for it!!
Acorn Squash. I know butternut squash gets all the love during the fall months, but acorn squash has my heart. To me, it’s a bit sweeter than butternut squash, which my kids love. I also love that the skin is edible, so you aren’t spending any extra time peeling the skin, which in an acorn squash, is practically impossible to peel.
If you still prefer to eat acorn squash with the skin off, cook as instructed and then peel off the skin just before eating. It should come off fairly easily.
Sage. Hands down my favorite herb to use this time of year. A little bit goes a long way, and it pairs perfectly with brown butter and fall squash. Such a wonderful combination.
How to make One Pan Chicken
Let the chicken rest.
If you have time, set the chicken out for 30 minutes before you begin cooking. The reason you want to leave the chicken out is because later we toss the chicken in butter. To keep the butter from turning into a solidified state again, you don’t want the chicken to be super cold.
Cook the bacon.
Give the bacon a bit of a head start by rendering a little bit of the fat before adding the chicken and squash. I also like to use a bit of the bacon fat to coat the squash instead of oil. It’s basically a dual ingredient, which I love.
Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces and spread on a large baking sheet. Place in a 375-degree oven and cook for about five minutes until about a tablespoon of fat is rendered. Discard the rest of the fat accumulated.
Brown the butter.
While the bacon gets a head start, brown the bacon. Start by adding a few tablespoons of butter to a small sauté pan. Heat the butter over a medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to melt and turn brown, swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until butter becomes a deep brown color and smells nutty. Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl. Let it cool a little bit.
Toss the chicken in the rub.
Once the butter cools a little bit. Add garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, sage, and cinnamon to the butter. Whisk to combine. Add the room temperature chicken to the rub. Use your hands to massage the rub into the chicken. Season both sides of each chicken breast with lots of salt and pepper. (Again if you have 4 chicken breasts that equal one pound of chicken, I’d use about one teaspoon of salt.
Arrange chicken around the bacon. Add the reserved rendered fat to the bowl you mixed the rub in. Add the squash. Toss the squash with the fat and then toss with remaining salt, sage and a little bit of freshly cracked black pepper.
Bake in the oven until the chicken is cooked through, the squash is soft and the bacon is crisp. If you notice the bacon beginning to burn or get too crispy, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add it back to the pan once everything is cooked.
Can I make this in advance?
Unfortunately no. One pan chicken is best served pretty quickly after it finishes cooking. Obviously bacon doesn’t stay crispy once it’s put in the fridge, so for optimal texture and flavor, I’d recommend serving one pan chicken right away.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Watch your bacon. If it starts to get too crispy or dark, take it out and drain on paper towels. Add it back to the sheet pan when the chicken and squash are also finished cooking.
- Toss the squash halfway through cooking if you want it equally brown on both sides. If you don’t mind one side getting a little darker than the other, leave it alone.
- Swap out acorn squash for butternut or delicata squash. The cooking time should be similar.
- Use chicken thighs in place of breasts.
- A general rule is about one teaspoon of salt per pound of chicken. Alter the amount of salt depending on how big your chicken breasts are.
- With that note, for One Pan Chicken, I actually like to pick out chicken breasts that are relatively small in size. I like to keep portion sizes pretty small, and the smaller they are, the faster they cook.
What to serve with One Pan Chicken
- These Creamy Mashed Potatoes are the perfect base to One Pan Chicken. They’re fluffy, creamy, and perfectly smooth.
- Creamy One Pot Spinach Orzo is just as easy as our One Pan Chicken, so it makes sense to pair the two together. These rice-like pasta noodles are tossed in an easy creamy parmesan sauce and lots of wilted spinach. Healthy and delicious.
- Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes would also be a great side. They’re basically a blank canvas, so they go with everything!
- 5 slices mccormick brown sugar bourbon bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 4 small chicken breasts
- 1/2 large acorn squash, sliced into half moons about 1/4-inch thick
- 1 tbsp chopped sage, plus a 5-6 whole leaves for garnish
- Small skillet
- Large rimmed baking sheet
- Mixing bowl
- 30 minutes before cooking, if you have time, set the chicken out so it can come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread bacon on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the bacon begins to render about 1 tablespoon of fat. While using oven mitts, drain the bacon fat from the corner of the pan. Reserve.
- While the bacon cooks, add butter to a small skillet. Turn the heat on medium-high. Once the butter begins to melt and brown on the edges, swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep brown and smells nutty. Pour into a medium bowl to cool.
- Once the butter has cooled slightly (about 1 minute), add brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cinnamon, and half of the sage to the bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the chicken breasts and use your hands to massage the rub into the breasts. Season the chicken on both sides with about 1 teaspoon of salt and a little bit of freshly cracked black pepper. Place the chicken breasts around the bacon on the sheet pan. Make sure there is no bacon under the chicken, as you want the bacon to crisp up.
- Add the squash to the bowl you tossed the chicken in. Toss the squash with one tablepsoon of the bacon grease and remaining salt, sage, and black pepper. Spread the squash on the baking sheet around the chicken. Use tongs to make sure the bacon isn't being covered by the squash or chicken.
- Bake until chicken is cooked through, squash is roasted, and bacon is crisp, about 30-35 minutes. If the bacon begins to get too crisp or starts to burn, use the tongs to remove the bacon. Add it back to the pan when the chicken and squash are finished cooking. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.