This chicken and spinach pasta makes an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. With tender chicken pieces, al dente pasta and loaded with flavour from parmesan and a touch of pesto, everyone will love this.
Why you’ll love it
There is so much to love about this chicken spinach pasta. Aside from the taste being out of this world its;
- Quick to make – ready in 30 minutes or less, it’s great for weeknights
- Easy – whether you choose to cook the chicken yourself or use shredded rotisserie chicken, this recipe is so simple.
- Flavour – Rich in flavour from parmesan and just a little pesto.
- Rich and comforting – Even with just a small amount of cream, this pasta is rich and is such a cosy dinner.
This creamy chicken pasta dish will be a hit with your family and, with loads of spinach, it’s one you can feel good about feeding your family and perfect for busy weeknights. Try serving it with a side of this pesto garlic bread.
Ingredients you’ll need
You only need a few ingredients which helps to keep this recipe quick and easy.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Chicken: I use boneless skinless chicken breast, finely sliced, then cook it up from scratch. You can just as easily use shredded rotisserie chicken and add it in where you would add the chicken back.
- Pasta: I use penne pasta but feel free to use any that you love. Orecchiette or rigatoni would also work great or you could go for linguine or spaghetti too. The sauce is thick enough that it will cling.
- Garlic: I love the umami garlic gives to this pasta.
- Chicken stock: Use a good quality chicken stock. Different brands have varying amounts of flavour so pick one you know you like.
- Cream: We don’t need a lot of cream here. Just a little will give the dish a creamy flavour and texture.
- Basil pesto: I use my homemade basil pesto here but feel free to use store-bought. It’s also worth noting that, if you prefer tomato pesto, this recipe will work perfectly with that too.
- Parmesan cheese: Use real parmesan and grate it yourself – please don’t use pre-grated (which has additives) or that powdery shelf-stable fake parmesan.
- Baby spinach: While it does cook down to seemingly very little there is about 5 cups of fresh spinach in here adding a huge boost of nutrition, so you can feel good about eating it mid-week.
If you want some added texture, feel free to throw in some toasted pine nuts or make the pangrattato from this butternut squash recipe.
How to make creamy chicken spinach pasta
This recipe is so quick and easy, even if you cook the chicken from scratch, like I most often do but should you want to save even more time, use shredded pre-cooked chicken.
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- Cook the chicken: Slice the raw chicken breast into thin strips, against the grain. Add it to an oiled skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper then cook until turning golden and just cooked through. Transfer to a warm plate.
- Make the sauce: Let the pan cool for a couple of minutes, then over medium heat, add a little more oil followed by the garlic. Let this cook for about a minute. Add the chicken stock, cream and pesto and let it come to a simmer before adding the parmesan. Stir until melted then add the spinach cook until starting to wilt.
- Combine everything: Add the chicken back, along with the cooked pasta and stir it all together. Add a little pasta water and make sure everything is heated through and the sauce has coated everything well.
Tricks and tips
- Feel free to use chicken thighs if you prefer.
- Cook the pasta just until al dente. It should have a little bite to it. Also, don’t rinse the pasta as the starch will thicken the sauce and help it to stick to the pasta. If the pasta is ready before your sauce and sticking together a little, add back a little pasta water to loosen it.
- You can swap the basil pesto for sundried tomato pesto.
- You can make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free pasta.
Pasta water is starchy and flavoured with salt. When added to your pasta sauce, it can thin it without losing any body in the sauce and it will make your sauce silkier. It also has the benefit of making the sauce cling to your pasta better.
This pasta is best eaten fresh. If you do reheat leftovers, add a touch of water as the pasta will have soaked up much of the sauce.
Absolutely, try some mushroom cooked first (before the chicken) and set aside with the chicken. You can also use small florets of broccoli.
If you try this chicken and spinach pasta recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!
More recipes you’ll love
- Creamy Tuscan chicken
- Chicken lasagna with spinach and mushrooms
- Chicken basil pesto pasta
- Oven baked chicken tacos
- Venetian crab linguine
- One pan prawn and chorizo pasta
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Chicken and Spinach Pasta
- 300 g penne pasta (10.5oz)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (notes 2)
- 2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (or 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ½ cup thickened cream (heavy cream)
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto (notes 1)
- ⅔ cup finely grated parmesan (60g)
- 4 big handfuls baby spinach (about 5 cups)
- Large non-stick frying pan or skillet
- FOR THE PASTA: Bring a large pot of salted water (notes) to a boil then add the pasta. Cook per package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- IF USING RAW CHICKEN BREAST: Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the thinly sliced raw chicken, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine, then cook for 4-5 minutes, turning every so often, until just cooked through and starting to turn golden.
- Set aside in a warmed bowl.
- FOR THE SAUCE: Cool the pan for a couple of minutes then, over medium heat add the rest of the oil to the pan. Now add the garlic and cook stirring for 1-2 minutes. Don't let it burn.
- Add the chicken stock, cream and pesto. Mix well and let it come to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add the parmesan and stir until melted through.
- Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until starting to wilt.
- COMBINE EVERYTHING: then add the cooked chicken and pasta. If the sauce is reducing too quickly add a little of the pasta water at a time, only as much as needed to keep a sauce consistency.
- Once everything is added, stir well to combine and only cook for up to another minute or 2 until the sauce is clinging to everything.
- Serve and top it with a sprinkling of black pepper and basil leaves.
- Please take a moment to rate this recipe. I really appreciate it and it helps me create more recipes.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons)
- If your frying pan / skillet is not non-stick you may require additional oil.
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