Lemon Chicken Pasta

LEMON CHICKEN PASTA IS SUMMER ON A PLATE YOU WILL WANT TO DEVOUR YEAR ROUND!

This Lemon Chicken Pasta is bursting with tender, juicy lemon basil chicken and garlic roasted vegetables tossed with lemon linguine, Parmesan, fresh herbs and garlic infused olive oil.  It’s a dance of bright, fresh lemon, kicking garlic and nutty Parmesan you will crave for days.  This Lemon Chicken Pasta is quick and easy once your chicken has marinated and completely customizable.  You can customize the vegetables, add bacon, more cheese or make it creamy.  The possibilities are endless!

up close top view of lemon chicken pasta with asparagus and Parmesan in a white bowl

Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe

This Lemon Chicken Pasta is a reboot of on old favorite recipe that was in need of some photo TLC.  After blogging for 5 years, there are some AMAZING recipes that get overlooked by readers because the photos don’t do them justice.  So, after making this Lemon Chicken Pasta several times this summer,  I thought I should republish it so YOU can all enjoy it as well. Here are the highlights:

The Veggies

If you love summer veggies, you are in for a treat with this Lemon Chicken Pasta; and if you don’t love them, this recipe is the closest you will get. The zucchini, asparagus and tomatoes are tossed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then roasted until crisp-tender and the tomatoes are juicy, ready-to-burst, sweet perfection. Is there anything better than roasted tomatoes?! You can add them to practically anything and call it a day.

showing how to make lemon chicken pasta by tossing chicken and vegetables with passata

The Pasta

The seasoned vegetables and garlic infused olive oil are then tossed with the linguine (or pasta of choice) along with fresh lemon juice, sautéed red onion, fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and basil.  There is so much fresh, garden flavor going on in this Lemon Chicken Pasta, you will feel bright and light before, during and after eating it!

The Chicken

The roasted vegetables, lemon and herb linguine is all topped with Lemon Basil Marinated Chicken.  Incredibly moist, tender and saturated with lemon basil goodness that with every forkful your eyelids will automatically be drawn shut so you can savor the juicy marinated  flavor.  Dramatic?  No.  Accurate?  Yes!

I love marinating chicken because it is the easiest way to tenderize chicken and infuse otherwise boring chicken with tons of flavor – and in this case, this pasta with tons of flavor.

showing how to make lemon chicken pasta by cooking chicken in a sksillet

Ingredients for Lemon Chicken Pasta

The ingredients for this Lemon Chicken Pasta are very straightforward.  You will need:

  • Chicken: is crazy juicy from an easy marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, garlic, onion, ground mustard and red pepper flakes.  I actually use garlic powder and onion powder in the Lemon Herb Chicken marinade because they are more potent and distribute unevenly
  • Oil:  you will want to use a quality extra virgin olive oil for this Lemon Chicken Pasta because it envelops the pasta and is a major part of the flavor profile.  EVVO is made by grinding olives into a paste then pressing them to extract the oils, resulting in a grassy, peppery, slightly fruity flavor.  Other “olive oils” are neutral in flavor because they are cold-pressed oil blended with a bit of premium EVOO.
  • Garlic:  is another major player in this Lemon Chicken Pasta.  I use 4 garlic cloves but you can use more or less to taste. 
  • Lemon juice:  you can use more or less to taste.  You may want to start with less and add more depending on how strong your lemon juice is and your lemon love. You may also use the lemon zest for even more lemon flavor – but taste first.
  • Veggies:  red onion, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus are a match made in heaven.
  • Salt and Pepper:  elevate all of the flavors. If you feel like the pasts is missing something at the end of cooking – simple season with additional salt and pepper.
  • Pasta: truth be told, I have only made this Lemon Chicken Pasta with linguine and thin spaghetti because I love the twirling al dente texture and how their thinner shapes allow for more surface area to be enveloped in garlicky olive oil bliss but I am assuming it would work with other shapes as well such as cellentani, orecchiette, penne, rigatoni, etc.
  • Herbs:  this Lemon Chicken Pasta is infused with basil, parsley, oregano and thyme.  You may substitute the fresh thyme and oregano for dried because they are small amounts, but I highly suggest fresh parsley and basil. 
  • Parmesan cheese:  use freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor and for its superior melting ability.  The green jar Parmesan has a time and place – and its not in this Lemon Chicken Pasta.  
  • Bacon:  this is optional but I LOVE the crispy addition of bacon in this pasta. If using bacon, I suggest thick cut bacon so its texture holds up in the pasta.
serving bowl of lemon garlic chicken pasta

WHAT CUT OF CHICKEN FOR LEMON HERB CHICKEN?

I know many of you are going to ask if you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for this Lemon Chicken Pasta – and the answer is yes!  I chose chicken breasts because they are leaner but chicken thighs are inherently juicier and reheat better.  You can also use this lemon herb marinade on shrimp, salmon, pork and steak – it makes EVERYTHING better!

CAN I ADD OTHER VEGGIES TO LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?

I chose tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus for this Lemon Chicken Pasta because they pair beautifully together and also have the same roasting times.  That being said, feel free to customize the veggies with your favs, such as mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, etc. but be aware of cooking times.  If you are using longer cooking veggies such as broccoli, you will want to start roasting them before you add the rest of the veggies.

Other veggie ideas include:

  • bell peppers
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • carrots
  • artichokes
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • spinach
  • kale
  • eggplant
up close of spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta with Italian herbs

DO I HAVE TO USE FRESH LEMON IN THIS LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?

Fresh lemon juice is s always recommend but you can certainly use bottled if that’s what you have on hand.

BENEFITS OF FRESH LEMON JUICE:

  • Fresh lemon juice contains significantly more vitamin C than bottled lemon juice.
  • Boasts a brighter, tangier flavor.
  • You also get lemon zest!  Lemon zest can be used to add a more concentrated flavor or it is great in salad dressings, baked goods, desserts, pasta, veggies, etc.
  • You also get the lemon peel!  Lemon peels can be used to clean sinks, bathtubs and hard water stains on shower doors, to clean stainless steel, remove grease stains, clean coffee pots, and to refresh and sanitize cutting boards. Give me all the lemons!

PRO TIP:

If you have a lot of lemons that are going to spoil before you get to enjoy their juice, juice the lemons and freeze the juice in 1 tablespoon increments in an ice tray.  Once frozen, you can remove the ice cubes to plastic bags, label and store in the freezer.   

lemon garlic chicken pasta with asparagus and Parmesan

HOW TO MAKE LEMON CHICKEN PASTA

STEP 1: MARINATE CHICKEN

  • Place chicken inside a freezer bag and pound chicken thin with a meat mallet or side of a can.
  • Whisk marinade ingredients together and add to chicken.
  • Marinate chicken for 4 hours up to overnight, occasionally flipping bag over.

STEP 2:  ROAST VEGETABLES

  • Add zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to baking sheet and toss to combine. Line vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer. There will be a generous amount of oil – this will transfer to the pasta later.
  • Roast for 12-15 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
showing how to make lemon chicken pasta by

STEP 3: COOK PASTA

  • Cook pasta of choice al dente in generously salted water. This means the pasta still has a little bite. You don’t want mushy pasta!
  • Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
  • Add pasta to a very large mixing bowl or pot so you can easily toss all of the ingredients together.
  • If your pasta is finished cooking before the sauce is complete then toss it with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

STEP 4: COOK CHICKEN

  • You can cook the chicken on the stove or on the grill.  I’ve included instructions for both methods in the chicken recipe.
  • Once the chicken is finished cooking, let it rest 5 minutes before slicing or chopping. 
showing how to make lemon chicken pasta by slicing chicken on a cutting board

STEP 5: ASSEMBLE LEMON CHICKEN PASTA

  • Add red onion to the same skillet chicken was cooked in (add additional olive oil if necessary). Sauté onions over medium heat until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Note: I tried roasting the red onions with the other veggies and they were not soft enough by the time the rest of the veggies were done.
  • Add red onion to the cooked pasta, along with thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, lemon juice, and roasted vegetables. Toss to combine.
  • Add reserved pasta water (a little at a time) to reach desired consistency. Add desired amount of Parmesan (the more  the better!) Taste and add additional salt and pepper, and red pepper if desired.
showing how to make lemon chicken pasta by adding lemon chicken to pasta

LEMON CHICKEN PASTA VARIATIONS

This Lemon Chicken Pasta is fabulous as written, but it also serves as a great spring board for a lot of variations.  In fact, I used it for the springboard for my Caprese Chicken Pasta with Roasted Veggies.

  • Make It Creamy!  This Lemon Chicken Pasta is delicious in its garlic olive oil sauce OR you can it a creamy garlic sauce by adding some heavy cream, ricotta, crème fresh, mascarpone,  sour cream or Greek Yogurt.  I’ve even added leftover Alfredo sauce which was excellent.
  • Different Chicken:  You can swap out the chicken with any other favorite chicken marinades such as balsamic or Greek.
  • Shrimp:  You can use the same lemon herb chicken marinade on shrimp but only marinate 30 minutes.  Don’t marinate any longer or the shrimp can become rubbery. 
  • Salmon: Use the same marinade on salmon and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Turkey Sausage:  Use your favorite turkey sausage but make sure it has flavor!
  • Veggies: Feel free to customize the veggies with your favs, such as mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, etc. but be aware of cooking times. 
  • Non-Pasta: You can serve this Lemon Chicken Pasta with any pasta or NON pasta!  Try zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cauliflower rice, farro, couscous, etc.
side view of lemon parmesan chicken pasta with asparagus and tomatoes

HELPFUL TIPS LEMON CHICKEN PASTA

Lemon Herb Chicken is super easy to make!  But here are a few tips and tricks to ensure the BEST chicken pasta every time:

  • Pound the chicken to an even thickness. This not only helps the chicken cook more evenly but tenderizes it as well.  If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the side of a can.  I place my chicken in the ziploc bag I’m going to marinate it in for convenience.
  • Don’t marinate too long. The marinade for this Lemon Chicken Pasta is highly acidic so the chicken shouldn’t be marinated longer than 12 hours.
  • There will be a generous amount of olive oil. Don’t be worried about what seems like a lot of olive oil for the veggies.  This olive oil gets infused with garlic as it roast the veggies and will all get added to the pasta.    
  • Thicker zucchini. Slice zucchini on the thicker side so it doesn’t cook too quickly.
  • Use asparagus as a gauge. Base the doneness of the vegetables on the asparagus as the tomatoes and zucchini have a wider range in which they are enjoyable whereas overcooked asparagus are sad.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  You always want to let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking.  Room temperature chicken cooks more quickly and evenly so you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior. 
  • Don’t overcook chicken. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I highly recommend a meat thermometer so you can cook your chicken perfectly. Over-cooked chicken means dry chicken.
  • Cream or butter option. Reserved pasta water is used at the end to thin the pasta and to create the garlic olive oil sauce.  If you want to get fun and flirty, you can use a little melted butter or heavy cream instead or in combination with reserved pasta water.
  • Make spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta. I like a little kick to my pasta so I’ll often add additional red pepper flakes at the end of cooking.  Just taste first and make the call.  You can also go less fiery with additional black pepper.
  • Up the lemon flavor. If you would like a stronger lemon flavor, you can either add additional lemon juice or I recommend the zest of one lemon, just make sure to not get the white pith as it is bitter instead of tangy.
  • Extra herb solution. If you have extra fresh herbs, mix them with some softened butter to create a herb butter spread.
  • Half recipe. This Lemon Chicken Pasta makes A LOT. If you don’t like leftovers, you may wish to halve the recipe.
top view of lemon chicken pasta with asparagus in a white bowl

WHAT TO SERVE WITH LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?

This Lemon Chicken Pasta doesn’t need much because it includes a protein, veggies and carbs all in one pot!  Still, it is delicious with:

IS LEMON HERB CHICKEN HEALTHY?

Yes!  This Lemon Herb Chicken uses lean chicken breasts without heavy cream or bad-for-you ingredients – all you get is flavorful chicken and nutritious veggies that’s guilt free!  Of course, if you are watching your carbs, the pasta should be eaten in moderation or you can use low carb pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash.

top view of lemon chicken pasta with asparagus in a white serving bowl with wood sppoons

Want to try this LEMON CHICKEN PASTA RECIPE?

Pin it to your CHICKEN, PASTA or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

top view of lemon chicken pasta with asparagus in a white bowl

Lemon Chicken Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

This Lemon Chicken Pasta is bursting with tender, juicy lemon basil chicken and garlic roasted vegetables tossed with lemon linguine, Parmesan, fresh herbs and garlic infused olive oil. It’s a dance of bright, fresh lemon, kicking garlic and nutty Parmesan you will crave for days. This Lemon Chicken Pasta is quick and easy once your chicken has marinade and completely customizable. You can customize the vegetables, add bacon, more cheese or make it creamy. The possibilities are endless!
Servings: 6 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 12 oz. pkg. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus ends trimmed, cut into 1” pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Linguine

  • 1 pound linguine or thin spaghetti
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water (you will not use all of it)
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
  • crumbled bacon optional

Instructions

  • Marinate Chicken: Marinate Chicken according to recipe directions.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Preheat oven to 400°F. Add vegetables, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to baking sheet and toss to combine. Line vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer. (There will be a generous amount of oil – this will transfer to the pasta later). Roast for 12-15 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
  • Pasta: Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente in generously salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before you drain pasta. Add drained pasta to a very large mixing bowl or pot.
  • Chicken: Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and proceed to grill chicken or cook indoors by heating 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes or until well browned on one side. Flip chicken over, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook an additional 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (time will depend on chicken thickness). Remove to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  • Assemble: Add red onion to the same skillet chicken was cooked in (add additional olive oil if necessary). Saute onions over medium heat until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add red onion to the cooked pasta, along with thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, lemon juice, and roasted vegetables. Toss to combine. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time to reach desired consistency (you may not use all of it). Add desired amount of Parmesan. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, and red pepper if desired.

Notes

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Use quality extra virgin olive oil.   Olive oil is a major part of the flavor profile of this Lemon Chicken Pasta so you are going to want quality.  EVVO is made by grinding olives into a paste then pressing them to extract the oils, resulting in a grassy, peppery, slightly fruity flavor.  Other “olive oils” are neutral in flavor because they are cold-pressed oil blended with a bit of premium EVOO.
  • Pound the chicken to an even thickness. This not only helps the chicken cook more evenly but tenderizes it as well.  If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the side of a can.  I place my chicken in the ziploc bag I’m going to marinate it in for convenience.
  • Don't marinate too long. The marinade for this Lemon Chicken Pasta is highly acidic so the chicken shouldn’t be marinated longer than 12 hours.
  • There will be a generous amount of olive oil. Don’t be worried about what seems like a lot of olive oil for the veggies.  This olive oil gets infused with garlic as it roast the veggies and will all get added to the pasta.
  • Thicker zucchini. Slice zucchini on the thicker side so it doesn't cook too quickly.
  • Use asparagus as a gauge. Base the doneness of the vegetables on the asparagus as the tomatoes and zucchini have a wider range in which they are enjoyable whereas overcooked asparagus are sad.
  • Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking.  You always want to let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking.  Room temperature chicken cooks more quickly and evenly so you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior.
  • Don't overcook chicken. If you've been following me for long, you know I highly recommend a meat thermometer so you can cook your chicken perfectly. Over-cooked chicken means dry chicken.
  • Cream or butter option. Reserved pasta water is used at the end to thin the pasta and to create the garlic olive oil sauce.  If you want to get fun and flirty, you can use a little melted butter or heavy cream instead or in combination with reserved pasta water.
  • Make spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta. I like a little kick to my pasta so I’ll often add additional red pepper flakes at the end of cooking.  Just taste first and make the call.  You can also go less fiery with additional black pepper.
  • Up the lemon flavor. If you would like a stronger lemon flavor, you can either add additional lemon juice or I recommend the zest of one lemon, just make sure to not get the white pith as it is bitter instead of tangy.
  • Extra herb solution. If you have extra fresh herbs, mix them with some softened butter to create a herb butter spread.
  • Half recipe. This Lemon Chicken Pasta makes A LOT. If you don't like leftovers, you may wish to halve the recipe.

RECIPE VARIATIONS

This Lemon Chicken Pasta is fabulous as written, but it also serves as a great spring board for a lot of variations.  In fact, I used it for the springboard for my Caprese Chicken Pasta with Roasted Veggies.
  • Make It Creamy!  This Lemon Chicken Pasta is delicious in its garlic olive oil sauce OR you can it a creamy garlic sauce by adding some heavy cream, ricotta, crème fresh, mascarpone,  sour cream or Greek Yogurt.  I’ve even added leftover Alfredo sauce which was excellent.
  • Different Chicken:  You can swap out the chicken with any other favorite chicken marinades such as balsamic or Greek.
  • Shrimp:  You can use the same lemon herb chicken marinade on shrimp but only marinate 30 minutes.  Don’t marinate any longer or the shrimp can become rubbery.
  • Salmon: Use the same marinade on salmon and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Turkey Sausage:  Use your favorite turkey sausage but make sure it has flavor!
  • Veggies: Feel free to customize the veggies with your favs, such as mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, etc. but be aware of cooking times.
  • Non-Pasta: You can serve this Lemon Chicken Pasta with any pasta or NON pasta!  Try zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cauliflower rice, farro, couscous, etc.

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23 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says

    I made your Roasted Garlic Vegetable/ Basil Lemon Chicken with thin spaghetti tonight, and it was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! So much for my family if three, I sent a bowl full to my neighbor, and she was equally as enthusiastic, if not more

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy your family AND your neighbor enjoyed it! It does make a lot of pasta so that was so extra kind of you to share! Thanks for making my day Elizabeth!

  2. Sandy says

    Thank you so much for sharing your lemon chicken pasta recipe. Of course, I made minor changes by adding cauliflower to the veggies and angel hair instead of linguine, but it was awesome. My family voted the recipe a “keeper” for sure. I read about you a bit on your site and I am so happy to see that you are doing well. Sending positive thoughts your way! Hugs. Sandy

    • Jen says

      Hi Sandy, you are most welcome! Thank YOU for letting me know your family voted it a keeper – that is the highest compliment! Thank you for your positive thoughts – I know they make a difference! I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy New Year!

  3. Angel says

    I came here via Pinterest, and I was amazed by how many of your recipes I have pinned! You are like my cooking idol now! I have begun making a meal plan for the week and the recipes I’m making are ALL yours! I wish we were neighbors, because I can only imagine backyard bbq’s with you! (might be dangerous…LOL) But I was compelled to leave a comment on your blog, I just had to! You are simply an artist that speaks my language (right to the ears of my belly and taste buds!)

    • Jen says

      Angel – you are such an angel! Thank you so much for your sweet comment and your enthusiasm! I love your writing by the way – I would LOVE to be your neighbor – you sound like so much fun! Thank you so much for trying so many of my recipes – I can’t wait to hear what you like best! xoxo

  4. Codi says

    I have made this Lemon Chicken Pasta twice now and it is such a great dish! I love the flavor of the chicken and the pasta with the veggies is wonderful…just enough lemon to add a zing and freshness. Fantastic recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi Codi, I’m so happy this Lemon Chicken Pasta is a repeat, thank you!!! I hope you find more recipes to enjoy here

  5. Layne says

    I’m such a big fan of the balsamic version so I knew this one would be a winner as well. My younger brother could not stop eating it! Pretty sure Seth thinks I’m a great cook now, haha. Thanks again!

    • Jen says

      haha, yes! And you are a great cook! So happy it was a hit, especially with your brother! Thanks Layne xo

  6. Paddy says

    Hi Jen,
    I think I am missing something from this recipe, I don’t understand the directions at all. I know it must be me but I don’t even see how much chicken to buy, or where the marinade directions are? What am I doing wrong?
    Your friend
    -Paddy

    • Jen says

      Hi Paddy, no worries! The chicken is a separate recipe and that is why you aren’t seeing it here. You have to click “1 Recipe Basil Lemon Chicken” which is the first line under Ingredients and it will take you to that recipe. I hope that helps, enjoy!

      • Paddy says

        oui yoi yoi,
        thanks Jen I knew it was me, thank you for the fast response!
        Paddy

  7. Arabellabb @ Arabic & Western Cuisine says

    Hey dear, Thanks a lot for sharing such great stuff on a delicious lemon chicken pasta recipe. You will be thrilled to hear that we have added this “LEMON CHICKEN PASTA” in our pasta menus at our Arabellabb Restaurant in Malaysia. It has got more 5-star reviews from most of the visitors who have visited our restaurant. We are very grateful to you for this fantastic recipe idea.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for the great honor! I would be honored if you credited me on the menu 😉

  8. Belinda says

    Where is the chicken marinade recipe? Am I missing it?

    • Jen says

      Click on the ingredients under chicken where it says “1 recipe Lemon Basil Chicken”

  9. Cindy says

    Quick question: Can this dish be served at room temperature or is it better hot?
    Many thanks!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Cindy, it can be served at room temperature but I wouldn’t serve it cold, enjoy!

  10. Dawn says

    Hi Jen,

    If I were to make this creamy as you suggested in one of the variations, would it still need to be marinated with the cream? Can’t wait to try it!

    Dawn

    • Jen says

      Hi Dawn! In step 5, I would add the desired amount of heavy creamy, probably around 2 cups, and let it simmer and reduce until thickened. I would still marinate the chicken. Enjoy!

  11. Michelle says

    What suggestions do you have for making ahead? Looking forward to making this, thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Michelle, sorry for my delayed response! Are you talking about prepping ahead or making and reheating?