This Chicken Parmesan Pasta is hot, saucy, cheesy comfort food at its most addictive and a must have recipe for your easy dinner arsenal! Juicy, seasoned chicken is sautéed then simmered WITH pasta, crushed tomatoes, and Italian seasonings all in one pot, so the pasta soaks up tons of flavor then is loaded with nutty Parmesan and pools of buttery mozzarella. This Chicken Parmesan Pasta is fabulous as is, or you can add zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli etc. and even swap the chicken for sausage or ground beef. Serve this Chicken Parmesan Pasta recipe with Parmesan asparagus and garlic bread or garlic breadsticks for an easy, cheesy weeknight dinner win with little cleanup and TONS of YUM!
16ouncesuncooked short pastasuch as rotini or penne
1/2cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese
1cupfreshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/2cupheavy creamsee notes
While the chicken is still on the cutting board, pat it dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook just until the outside is opaque (it will not be cooked through); transfer to a plate.
To the now empty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a strong simmer. Add chicken back to skillet along with pasta and stir to combine.
Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid, just until the pasta is al dente. Taste pasta often as reaches the end of cooking to ensure you don’t overcook your pasta.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese until melted, followed by the heavy cream. Evenly top the pasta with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
Tips and Tricks
Use the correct pot: I recommend cooking this recipe in a Dutch oven or stock pot as opposed to a deep skillet/saucepan so you can stir without worrying about splashing sauce all over. I cooked this recipe in my Dutch oven and took the photos in the shallower pan to showcase it better.
Pastas: some good pasta options include rotini (pictured) radiatori, rigatoni, penne, fusilli, penne or cavatappi. I would stay away from more delicate pastas such macaroni, smooth pastas such as ziti.
Chicken: can be swapped for shredded rotisserie chicken, ground chicken, chicken sausage, lean ground beef or Italian sausage.
Add veggies. Add mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, green beans, or spinach to the sauce. You can also stir roasted veggies such asroasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower or zucchini into the sauce at the end of cooking.
Sofrito: you can chop the onions, carrots and celery in your food processor to save time.
Fire roasted tomatoes: boast a complex sweet smokiness and are far less acidic than traditional tomatoes. You can use plain diced tomatoes if you can’t locate fire roasted.
Chicken Bouillon: you can use granulated chicken bouillon, better than bouillon or bouillon cubes. For the cubes, crush them then add them directly to the pot without dissolving in water.
Sugar: the amount of sugar will vary (even between the times you make it), depending on personal taste and the acidity of the tomatoes.
Heavy cream: tones down the acidity and adds a splash of swanky creaminess. The pasta will be too acidic without it unless you use store-bought marinara instead of crushed tomatoes (see section below). You may also try and level the acidity with additional sugar, sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese instead of heavy cream.
Cheeses: Always avoid pre-shredded bagged cheeses because the cheese is coated in anti-clumping chemicals used to prevent the strands from clumping together in the bag. These same chemicals inhibit the cheese from melting beautifully.
Don’t overcook pasta! There are several factors when it comes to the pasta doneness so make sure to check the pasta early so it doesn’t overcook.
Stir pasta. Stir the Chicken Parmesan Pasta more frequently at the end of cooking so the bottom doesn’t stick and burn.
Add additional water if needed. If the water is evaporating too quickly before the pasta is done, simply add additional water as needed.
Shortcut Chicken Parmesan Pasta. If you’re in need of a zero-chop dinner, skip the sofrito, swap the onion and garlic for 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 teaspoon onion powder, and substitute quality store-bought marinara for the crushed tomatoes. You will need less sugar when using store-bought marinara.
To use jarred marinara
Swap the crushed tomatoes with a 24 oz. jar quality marinara sauce such as Rao's. You will still want to amp up the store-bought sauce with the all of the herbs and seasonings listed in the recipe but you may not need quite as much. You will likely need less sugar as well. The sofrito isn’t as crucial if using jarred marinara, but will definitely elevate the recipe if you decide to add it.
HOW TO ADD CRISPY PANKO TOPPING
This Chicken Parmesan Pasta is fabulous as is or you can add the CRUNCH reminiscent of chicken parmesan with a simple panko topping:
Directions: Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over Chicken Parmesan Pasta after the mozzarella has melted.
Prepare the recipe through adding the heavy cream, taking extra care the pasta is cooked al dente so it doesn't become mushy when reheated. When ready to reheat, warm over medium-low on the stove, stirring the pasta occasionally, adding additional water if needed. Top with mozzarella and cover to melt.
HOW to store, freeze and REHEAT
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Chicken Parmesan Pasta is best fresh, but can still be frozen, just take are the pasta is al dente. Cool pasta to room temperature, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Microwave: Microwave small portions for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
Stove: For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove, stirring occasionally.