Creamy Chicken Pasta is a quick dinner meant to please even the pickiest eaters. Ready in only 20 minutes! Chicken with garlic powder and paprika is mixed with spinach and ziti, then tossed with a mouth-watering creamy Parmesan and Asiago white sauce. Make it kid-friendly for super-picky eaters by leaving out the spinach.
Pasta is always a winning dinner in my house. When I don't want leftovers or don't want to hear "I don't like this" or "I'm not hungry", pasta for dinner it is.
I try not to use store bought sauces as much as possible. DIY versions are cheaper and healthier, and most of the time, so simple!
I love making this creamy white sauce for pasta, but prefer to make it as healthy as a cream sauce can be, so I use milk instead of heavy cream.
This creamy chicken pasta is made with a similar sauce, except it uses a mix of parmesan and asiago cheeses. Ziti (or your favorite pasta) is tossed with the flavorful sauce and the topped with pan-fried spiced chicken and spinach.
The entire meal is quick and easy, ready in just 20 minutes for those extra busy nights.
It's also easy to adjust to your family's taste and diet preferences.
For a meatless Monday dinner, leave out the chicken.
Add extra spinach for extra nutrients.
If your kids won't eat spinach, replace it with broccoli or grated carrots. Or leave out the vegetables entirely.
To make creamy chicken pasta, you need:
- Ziti: substitute with any short pasta, like bowties, penne, rigatoni, or shells
- Spinach: fresh hand-torn spinach is the best
- Chicken breasts: I either use 1 thick breast or 2 thinner breasts
Plus salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder.
To make the cream sauce, you need milk, salt, pepper, and a combination of shredded Parmesan Asiago cheese.
You can also use shredded parmesan and shredded asiago separately.
First, cook the ziti in boiling water for 8 minutes. While the ziti cooks, cut the chicken into small strips or pieces. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and pan fry for about 8 minutes.
Turn the chicken half way through. Make sure not to turn the chicken much more than this so each side becomes a nice golden brown.
While the chicken and ziti cook, prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute. Make a roux by adding the flour and whisking until the flour and butter/garlic are combined.
Slowly pour the milk into the roux while whisking constantly. Make sure to do this immediately after the roux is formed so that you don't burn it.
The sauce will thicken quickly. Once thickened, add salt, pepper, and the cheese.
Add the cheese slowly to prevent clumping. While clumping is inevitable, it will be minimal if you add the cheese about ¼ cup at a time and whisk while it melts.
Once the cheese is mostly melted, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. Combine the chicken, ziti, and sauce and serve warm.
🧒🏼 Kid-Friendly Tips
For picky kids who won't eat greens, reserve their chicken before adding the spinach to the pan. Then serve them only the chicken and ziti tossed in the sauce.
Creamy Chicken Pasta
For the White Cream Sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¾ cup parmesan and asiago shredded cheese mix
For the Chicken & Ziti
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- 12 oz ziti
Make Chicken & Ziti
- Cook the ziti in boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain.
- White pasta cooks, cut chicken into ½ inch pieces. Spray a pan with cooking oil, set to high heat, and add the chicken.
- Sprinkle all sides of chicken with paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Cook for 8 minutes, tossing occasionally. (while chicken cooks, prepare the sauce)
- Add the spinach and remove from heat. Allow spinach to crisp on the hot pain for a few minutes.
- Add the chicken & spinach to the ziti and toss with the cream sauce. Serve with additional paprika and Parmesan if desired.
To Make White Cream Sauce
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the flour and whisk continuously until a paste, called a roux, is formed, about 1 minute.
- Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously to incorporate the roux. Continue stirring until think, about 1 minute more.
- Add salt, pepper, and cheeses. Whisk until cheese is melted and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Use any short pasta, such as penne, rigatoni, shells, or bowties
- You can make the sauce using all Parmesan cheese if desired
- For a meatless meal, eliminate the chicken and add extra spinach
🍲 Serving and Storing
Creamy chicken pasta pairs nicely with a garden salad or homemade garlic bread. This recipe serves about 3 people.
This meal will keep well for about 5 days in the fridge.
If you plan to freeze it, keep the pasta separate until serving. The chicken and sauce are freezer friendly for around 6 months. Pasta does not freeze well, so you should plan to make fresh pasta when ready to eat it.
Yes! This meal can be reheated in the microwave without issue.
If you made this recipe please let me know what you thought in the comments below. I'd love to hear what you thought!