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Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

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This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta is a quick and delicious meal for busy weeknights. Creamy and delicious with a hint of lemon. Yum!

Love Lemon? You will love this quick and easy Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe.

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Pasta dishes make for a simple dinner and are enjoyed by all. This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta is no exception! It is delicious and easy to make.

This simple dinner is an absolute delight to the taste buds. It is creamy, and tangy, and has just the right amount of spices to complement the chicken and the creamy lemon sauce. It’s perfect for family nights, special occasions, or even for meal prep, and it’s guaranteed to become a crowd-pleaser in your household.

To make this dish, you can use fresh chicken or pre-cooked chicken. Real lemons are best, but bottled lemon juice will work too. It is delicious either way!  (Of course, nothing beats fresh lemon, so if you have ’em, use ’em!)

Why you’ll love this dish

  • Easy and Quick: You can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. The diced chicken cooks in a fraction of that time while the pasta is boiling. (And if you use precooked chicken it will take even less time.)
  • Customizable: One of the best things about this dish is that it’s so customizable. If you want more lemon flavor, you can add some zest or more lemon juice to the sauce. Want it spicier? Add additional red pepper flakes. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, you can substitute the chicken with mushrooms or tofu, or just leave it out. This dish can easily adapt to whatever ingredients you have on hand.
  • Perfect for meal prep: You can easily double or triple the recipe. It’s a great option to have in the fridge for busy weekday lunches or for when you want a break from cooking.

Ingredients needed

  • Dried pasta | I love using the Barilla Protein pasta to help meet my protein goals.
  • Chicken Breast | You can use uncooked or precooked chicken in this recipe.
  • Olive oil | For cooking the chicken.
  • 1 lemon | I recommend fresh lemon for the best flavor, but bottled will work too.
  • Spices | garlic cloves, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
  • Half and half or heavy cream | Using heavy cream will create a richer sauce and will allow it to thicken without the help of additional thickeners.
  • Grated Parmesan | For flavor.
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta cooking liquid | Don’t forget to reserve a cup of cooking water. The cooking water adds a bit of salty flavor and helps bind and thicken the sauce and helps to make it extra silky and creamy.
  • Cornstarch | (If needed – If using half and half, you may desire a thicker sauce.)

How to make Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

1 Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking liquid when draining the pasta. Keep pasta warm.

2 Cook the chicken: While the pasta is cooking, season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, chicken, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a saute pan. Cook until the chicken is golden and completely cooked. (If using precooked chicken, saute the garlic and red pepper for about 3 minutes before adding the chicken, then cook a minute or two longer until the chicken is hot and thoroughly coated with spices.)

3 Make the sauce: Add the pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and cream to the chicken mixture. Cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened. (If you want your cream sauce thicker, add a tsp of cornstarch to 2 tablespoons of water and mix into the sauce. Continue cooking until desired thickness is achieved.)

4 Combine and serve: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and turn the heat off. Mix everything together until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Top with dried basil, cracked fresh pepper, and additional Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Tips

  • To keep the pasta from sticking together after cooking, mix in about 1 tsp of olive oil.
  • For a more intense lemon flavor, add some lemon zest to the sauce as it cooks.
  • Use precooked chicken for an even easier and faster dish.

Variations

  • Try swapping the chicken with shrimp or salmon for a seafood twist. If you’re a vegetarian, try using mushrooms or zucchini for a hearty and flavorful filling.
  • Adding peas, broccoli, or asparagus would be a fabulous complement to this dish.
  • You can add greens like spinach, kale, or arugula to the dish for a healthy boost.
  • For a bit of color, add half a diced red bell pepper or a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes to the sauce when cooking.
  • Fresh basil, instead of dried, will add a pretty garnish and a lovely fresh and bright pop of flavor.

Storage Suggestions

Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to four days. You can easily reheat it on the stove or in the microwave for a quick meal when you’re in a hurry. I do not recommend freezing.

Creamy lemon chicken pasta

Can I use bottled lemon juice for this recipe?

Yes, you can use bottled lemon juice, but we recommend using fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.

What pasta is best for this recipe?

I suggest a pasta shape with curves, hollows, and scoopable shapes to fully hold all of the delicious creamy sauce. Farfalle, rigatoni, penne, elbows, fettuccini, or gemelli all work great.

Can I substitute heavy cream with milk?

Technically, you could, but you would need to add cornstarch to thicken the sauce and more parmesan for flavor. (And all that parmesan defeats the point of using a lower-fat milk product.) I have used half and half in the past with good results.

What Does The Pasta Water Do in this dish?

Pasta water adds flavor and helps “glue” the pasta and sauce together; it will also help thicken the sauce and emulsify it into a silky, creamy sauce. Make sure to keep a cup or so when you drain the pasta.

More Easy Chicken Pasta Recipes

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Creamy lemon chicken pasta

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta


Description

This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta is a quick and delicious meal for busy weeknights.  Creamy and delicious with a hint of lemon. Yum!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 oz dried pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into small strips (uncooked or precooked)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried Basil
  • 1 lemon, juiced (or if you use bottled lemon juice, use whatever is equivalent to 1 lemon. )
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta cooking liquid
  • 1 cup of half n half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus a bit more to top the dish after cooking
  • 1 tsp of cornstarch (if needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  When draining the pasta, reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking liquid.  Keep pasta warm. (To keep the pasta from sticking together after cooking, you can mix in about 1 tsp of olive oil.)
  2. While the pasta is cooking, season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, chicken, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a saute pan.
  3. Cook until the chicken is golden and completely cooked. (If using precooked chicken, saute the garlic and red pepper about 3 minutes before adding the chicken, then cook a minute or two longer until the chicken is thoroughly coated and hot.)
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and cream to the chicken mixture.
  5. Cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened.  If you want a little more cream sauce, add the rest of the reserved pasta cooking liquid.  (If you want your cream sauce thicker, add a tsp of corn starch to 2 tablespoons of water and mix into the sauce.  Continue cooking until desired thickness is achieved.)
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and turn the heat off.
  7. Mix everything together until the pasta is thoroughly coated.
  8. Top with dried basil, cracked fresh pepper and additional Parmesan cheese.

Serve and enjoy!


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18 Comments

  1. Sorry you didn't like it! Lemon and creamy pasta do go well together, there are tons of recipes out there to try.

  2. PeruvianChica says:

    Love this recipe!!!! My kids even request it now!!! I also just make the sauce with chicken, add fresh spinach, and put it in a cooked halved spaghetti squash. Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  3. I regularly buy "Realemon" bottled lemon juice (the good old bottle from the supermarket that is green, is sort of bulbous-shaped at the top). Its label states: 3 tablespoons to give equivalent of juice from 1 lemon. So that's what I did and it turned out GREAT. Just the right balance with the creamy ingredients and seasonings.

  4. We loved this! I used a half cup of freshly squeezed lemon and it was perfect. I would love to add some mushrooms, capers and artichokes next time. Yum!

  5. 1/2 cup lemon juice was way too much and we LOVE lemon.

    1. Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom says:

      Yes, I wwould think half a cup of bottled lemon juice would be way too much. Usually the bottle will tell you how much lemon juice to use in place of one lemon. Depending on the brand,it is usually 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. There are 8 tablespoons in half a cup.

  6. Meredith England says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit! Thanks for sharing!

  7. easy and delicious! just the kind of dinner recipes I like!!

  8. Heather Kinnaird says:

    another fantastic recipe – we love out pasta

  9. This looks and sounds so good! I just pinned your yummy recipe! Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

  10. shopannies says:

    sounds so yummy great week night supper

  11. I'm new follower visiting from DIY by design.When I saw "lemon" I had to come check it out,I love lemon!!…This recipe sounds delish,I've got to try!

  12. Artsy VaVa says:

    Sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Claiming Our Space says:

    This looks delicious. I bet with peas and bacon it would be amazing.

  14. Alison @ mommadidit.blogspot.com says:

    Sounds fabulous. Sounds like dinner. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Cathy @ My 1929 Charmer says:

    This sounds so delicious. I'm wishing I had some in front of me right now. I follow you every way possible! Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration with Sunday’s Best – it helped to make make the party a success!

  16. Oh, this looks so good! I think we are going to try it this week… xo

  17. Janiene Bishop says:

    YUM! Pinned it. Thanks for sharing the recipe!