Best Lemon Chicken Pasta recipe is creamy, garlicky, zesty, flavorful and simple to make without wine, in under 30 minutes for an easy family friendly weeknight dinner.
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Best Lemon Chicken Pasta
A simple, restaurant worthy meal - Amazing combination of creamy, savory and tangy, along with the juicy seasoned chicken and al dente pasta. Ready in under 30 minutes with pantry friendly ingredients and perfect for meal prep.
A Luscious creamy Alfredo sauce that is packed with so much flavor from loads of garlic, lemon zest, juice, Italian seasoning and a hint of spice. The freshly squeezed juice at the end adds tons of complex flavors.
Why this recipe works?
- Flavorful - The chicken is seared first with salt and pepper, forming a golden crust on all sides and then the pan is deglazed. All the brown bits adds layers of flavor. The onion, garlic, stock, parmesan, lemon juice and zest also adds brings in loads of flavor.
- No wine - This makes it safe for kids and whole family can enjoy for dinner.
- Use any type of noodle - We have used penne, but any type of noodle you have on hand will work.
- Simple straight forward ingredients - All basic pantry ingredients that it makes it easily approachable on a weeknight.
What kind of pasta to use?
We used penne, however this alfredo is delicious made with any other shape like linguini, fettuccini, bow tie, spaghetti, fusilli or ziti.
How to guarantee tender cooked chicken?
Begin with boneless, skinless thighs! It cooks moist, juicy, tender and almost impossible to overcook when compared to breasts. Sear the meat in high heat, just until golden brown on both sides and then immediately transfer to a bowl, without cooking it through. This step ensures that the meat stays juicy, especially when cooked along with the sauce.
(See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities)
- Chicken – Boneless skinless breasts or thighs work well for the recipe.
- Stock – We used 33% reduced sodium stock. If you are using no sodium or regular sodium stock, then adjust salt accordingly.
- Pasta – We used penne, but you can use any kind of noodle that you have on hand.
- Heavy cream - Half and half may be used instead.
- Seasonings - Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Lemon - Both lemon juice and finely grated zest is used for a lemony punch.
- Garlic - Use freshly chopped garlic cloves.
- Cheese - Use freshly grated parmesan cheese if possible.
Use only fresh ingredients
Lemon juice - Use only freshly squeezed lemon juice and not the bottled kind. It makes a huge difference.
Parmesan Cheese: Freshly shredded parmesan melts better and gives a silky smooth consistence to the lemon garlic sauce. The powdered stuff or pre-shredded parmesan cheese doesn’t have the same great flavor and texture as freshly shredded parmesan.
Pro tips for success
- Chicken - Use boneless skinless breasts, thighs or tenderloins.
- Don't overcrowd the pan - Be sure to cook your meat in a single layer so it gets a golden brown crust. If you overcrowd the pan, it might steam instead. It’s best to work in batches if your pan is not large enough to fit everything at once.
- Pasta - Use your favorite noodle shape instead of penne.
- Protein - If you prefer not to use chicken, you can use any other protein. Shrimp would be another great option.
- Use fresh Lemons - This is a prominent flavor, so use fresh lemon if possible. Lime may be substituted instead.
- Cream - Replace heavy cream with half & half to reduce calories, but we do not recommend milk (it makes it too watery).
- Pat dry - Make sure to defrost and pat dry chicken before searing.
What to add to the pasta?
- Broccoli - Blanched for couple of minutes along with pasta or sautéed in olive oil before proceeding with the recipe.
- Peas - Add frozen peas along with stock and cream.
- Spinach - Add baby spinach leaves when sauce is almost done simmering, and stir to wilt.
- Zucchini - Saute diced zucchini in olive oil, until partially cooked. Transfer to another bowl and continue with the recipe. Toss it back into the simmering alfredo sauce.
- Add asparagus – Cut trimmed asparagus into 1-inch pieces and saute along with onion and garlic in the recipe.
- Make is meat free – Skip chicken (but we recommend using chicken stock).
- Use leftover rotisserie chicken instead.
- Use shrimp instead.
How to make?
(See recipe card below this post for ingredients and full instructions)
It involves 3 simple steps-
Cook pasta - Cook penne until aldente, drain.
Cook chicken, aromatics - Cook diced chicken in some olive oil, until half cooked. Add chopped onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until translucent.
Finish lemon garlic sauce - Stir in cream, chicken stock, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook, until thickened slightly (scrapping the brown bits from the pan, which adds additional layer of flavor) and then stir in cooked penne, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest. Serve hot.
How long will these keep?
This dish will keep well for 2-3 days in your fridge. When it comes to re heating anything with cream sauce, we recommend adding a splash of water or stock to pasta before heating in microwave. Stir halfway through microwave time.
Can this be frozen?
We don’t recommend freezing creamy sauces as they change textures to grainy when frozen. Also, the pasta can become mushy when it’s frozen and reheated with a creamy sauce.
What to serve along with this recipe?
Frequently asked questions
Al dente means “to the tooth” in Italian, is where pasta tastes and feels chewy but firm, holding its whole shape in whatever sauce you put it in.
This recipe is delicious made with any other shape like penne linguini, fettuccini, bow tie, spaghetti, fusilli or ziti.
More Chicken Pasta Recipes to try-
- Spicy Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Vodka Sauce
- Broccoli Alfredo Bake
- Butter Chicken Pasta <— Indian style
- Instant Pot Alfredo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( or less )
- 1 cup chicken stock (we used 33% reduced sodium)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 8 ounces penne pasta, cooked
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 to 2 tablepoons unsalted butter (optional)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Toss chicken with some salt and pepper and then add in a single layer, cook stirring occasionally until half cooked.
- Reduce heat to medium, add chopped onion, garlic and red pepper flakes, Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 2 minutes). Add all group-1 ingredients (along with remaining salt and pepper), mix well, increase heat, continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce comes to a gentle boil and has thickened slightly to coat the back of a spoon (3 to 5 minutes).
- Stir in all group-2 ingredients, stir well and immediately remove pan from heat. Serve pasta after 5 to 10 minutes (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).
Chicken stock - We used 33% reduced sodium chicken stock. If using regular sodium or no sodium stock, then adjust salt accordingly.
Chicken - Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be used instead.
To cook pasta - Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt and stir pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente and drain.
Use as much as red pepper flakes you like.
Replace heavy cream with half & half to reduce calories, but we do not recommend milk (it makes it too watery).
Use other pasta shapes like linguini, fettuccini, bow tie, spaghetti, fusilli or ziti.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 795Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 1207mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 39g
I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. The information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com, although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health and ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate.
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