Copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe


This decadent dish with roasted chicken, shrimp, smoked prosciutto, and pasta in a creamy parmesan sauce tastes almost identical to Macaroni Grill’s famous Penne Rustica.

Copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe

What is Penne Rustica?

Penne Rustica is a signature dish that is trademarked by Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It is a rich, robust pasta dish with roasted chicken, shrimp, smoked prosciutto, and a rich rosemary parmesan cream sauce (gratinata). 

My friend and cousin Angela from Nashville, TN, was raving about a copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica recipe a few weeks ago, so I decided to try it out over the Christmas holidays. Oh. My. Glory! It is literally one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever put in my mouth! We had friends over for dinner when I served this, and they literally raved!

Penne Rustica is the most popular menu item (and my personal favorite dish) at Macaroni Grill. I slightly adapted this recipe to make the version below that everyone raved about during our Christmas party dining.

copycat macaroni grill penne rustica recipe

How to Make Penne Rustica Ahead of Time

The chicken, gratinata sauce, and pasta can be made up to one day ahead and refrigerated until just before assembling and baking the dish. Once the dish is assembled, you can store it in the fridge several hours before finishing it in the oven.

Helpful Tools for Making This Dish

  • A good pasta pot boils pasta and has a lid to pour off water (and eliminate the need for a drainer). I love this one with the glass lid.
  • These oval au gratin baking dishes on amazon are replicas of the Macaroni Grill dishes and a fun way to serve this entree in individual portions.
  • A 12-inch sauté skillet is helpful for sautéing the shrimp and for whisking the gratinata sauce.

If you try this copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica recipe, please leave your thoughts and comments! I love hearing from readers and welcome any feedback!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by my site. Have a blessed, joyful, and savvy day!!!

Copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe

Copycat Macaroni Grill Penne Rustica Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 3 TB butter
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 TB marsala wine (or high quality balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp minced thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 12 oz penne or ziti pasta
  • 12 medium shrimp
  • 2 TB butter (may use 1 TB butter + 1 TB EVOO)
  • 1 lb grilled/smoked chicken strips
  • 2 oz. thick-sliced smoked prosciutto, chopped
  • 3 TB grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika


Gratinata Sauce

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add the garlic and shallot; saute over low heat 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the marsala wine or balsamic vinegar; simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining sauce ingredients; whisk well until smooth.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisk continually until sauce thickens.*
  6. Remove sauce from heat; set aside or refrigerate until ready to make the dish.

Pasta Layer:

  1. Boil pasta until al dente; drain, drizzle with EVOO; set aside.
  2. Spray large baking dish with EVOO or avocado oil spray.
  3. Saute shrimp n butter and/or EVOO until no longer transluscent.
  4. Cut shrimp into bite size pieces; set aside.
  5. Combine 3 TB parmesan with 1 1/2 tsp paprika; set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  7. Pour pasta into large bowl; add chicken, shrimp and prosciutto.
  8. Pour gratinata sauce over; mix with a spoon until well coated.
  9. Pour pasta into baking dish; pour gratinata sauce over all, using large spoon to mix well.
  10. Sprinkle parmesan/paprika mixture on top.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes or until top begins to brown and dish begins to bubble at the edges.


*The sauce takes roughly 10 minutes to thicken.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 677Total Fat 45gSaturated Fat 26gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 190mgSodium 1625mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 2gSugar 5gProtein 34g

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *