This creamy lemon chicken pasta is the ultimate comfort food! The pasta and chicken breast are perfectly paired with rich, buttery, and lemony parmesan sauce. It's kid and budget-friendly, a wonderful addition to your pasta recipe collection. You and your family will love it!
If you are looking for a last-minute dinner, make this creamy lemon chicken pasta tonight. This easy chicken pasta with lemon sauce can be ready in about 30 minutes. It's delicious and so addictive.
Ingredients for Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
- Pasta. You can use any kind of pasta you have on hand. In this recipe, I used penne. Spaghetti, Fettucine, bow-tie-shaped pasta, fusilli, or linguini will work as well.
- Lemon. Use the freshest lemon that you can get your hands on. You'll be using both lemon zest and lemon juice to add a refreshing tangy flavor to the pasta.
- Dairy. I used heavy cream to add creaminess to the pasta sauce. Alternatively, you can use whipping cream, milk, or half and half.
- Chicken. You need about 2 pieces of fresh chicken breasts.
- Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano. Always use the fresh cheese block and grate it on your own at home. Freshly grated parmesan cheese will melt beautifully so the sauce has a perfectly creamy texture that will affect the overall dish.
- Seasoning. I used a combination of garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
How to Make Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
The cooking process of this lemon chicken pasta starts with pan-searing the chicken breast, then continues with cooking the pasta, cooking the sauce, and finally combining all of the ingredients.
So here are the three important steps to follow.
1. Cook the Chicken Breast
You have the option to pan-sear or grill the chicken breast.
- Place the chicken breast in a large zip lock. Use a rolling pin to flatten the chicken to an even thickness.
- Drizzle the meat with a small amount of oil then season with Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper.
- Preheat the skillet with a small amount of oil. Cook the chicken breast for about 4 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature register at 165°F.
2. Cook the Pasta
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the product packaging, until al dente.
- Remove the pasta from the pot and drain well.
- Reserve at least ¾ cup of pasta water for later use.
3. Make the Lemon Sauce
- In a skillet, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat.
- Cook the garlic and red chili pepper flakes just until fragrant.
- Add heavy cream and lemon zest. Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Add a small amount of butter at a time then add the pasta water.
- Add a small amount of parmesan cheese at a time then keep stirring until the cheese is melted.
- Add the cooked chicken breast and pasta to the pot. Stir for about a minute or so until they are fully coated by the sauce.
- Stir in the lemon juice and parsley, and continue stirring for about a minute.
- Check the seasoning. Add salt, black pepper, or extra parmesan cheese if necessary.
- Sauce. Do not let the sauce come to a boil. The sauce should stay below a boiling point. Let it simmer to reduce and bring out more of the flavor and to prevent gritty or grainy sauce. Please keep in mind that the sauce will get thicker as it sits.
- Chicken. You can season the chicken with only salt and black pepper or with your favorite spices, such as Italian herbs, thyme, oregano, or lemon pepper seasoning.
- If the lemon parmesan sauce is too thick. You can slowly add a small amount of pasta water to thin it out.
- If the lemon parmesan sauce is too thin. You can bring it to a simmer a bit longer, and add more butter and/or shredded parmesan cheese.
- Vegetables. If you are on a mission to eat more veggies, you can add grilled zucchini, spinach, or kale to the pasta.
- Salted Water. Adding salt to water adds flavor to the pasta. For this recipe, I used about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per 10 cups of water.
- Customize it. If you are tired of chicken, try shrimp or sausages instead!
- Make-ahead. If you are going to make this pasta ahead of time, store the sauce, pasta, and chicken in separate containers.
- Pasta water. Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water for later use (cooking and reheating).
How to Store Leftover Pasta
Discard any cold leftovers that have been left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature or 1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F. You can learn more here.
Here's how to store leftover cooked chicken pasta.
- Let the hot pasta cool down to room temperature before refrigerating.
- Transfer the leftovers to an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last 3-5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
How to Reheat Leftover Pasta
- Place a single serving of pasta in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Drizzle the pasta with a small amount of broth/pasta water/water then cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid.
- Cook for 1 minute at medium heat. Open the door, If the pasta isn't warmed all the way through, stir it, and cook it again in 15-second increments until completely heated.
- Alternatively, place the cooked pasta in a skillet. Add a small amount of water or broth then reheat the pasta over medium-low heat for a few minutes until the pasta is heated through and the liquid is fully absorbed.
Check Out More Pasta Recipes
- Quick Lemon Pasta
- Old Bay Garlic Shrimp Pasta
- Mushroom Broccoli Pasta
- Anchovy Pasta with Capers
- Pasta with Mussels
- Canned Clam Pasta
- Easy Squid Pasta
- Bratwurst Pasta
- Easy Canned Tuna Pasta
- Rotini Pasta with Broccolini and Shrimp
I hope you'll enjoy this recipe and share it with friends! If you try it and don’t mind, please leave me a comment and/or give this recipe a rating.
Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
- a pot
- a deep skillet
- 12 oz dried penne
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons freshly minced parsley leaves
- 2 chicken breasts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, (optional, I used McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil , (divided)
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil, stir in the salt (see notes), then cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve at least ¾ cup of pasta water.
- Put the chicken breast into a ziplock. Using a meat mallet, evenly pound the chicken to ¼-inch thickness. Drizzle the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of oil then season with salt, black pepper, and (optional) Italian seasoning.
- In a large skillet, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, when it is hot, cook the chicken breasts for about 4 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. Transfer to a plate, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing/chopping, and set them aside.
- In a clean skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Cook garlic and red chili pepper just until fragrant.
- Add heavy cream and lemon zest to the pot. Simmer and stir often for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to a medium-low setting, whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time until melted. Reduce the heat to a low setting. Add ¾ cup of pasta water and a small amount of parmesan cheese at a time. Whisking smooth after each addition.
- Add chicken and pasta. Mix to combine. Add lemon juice and parsley, then stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt/black pepper. Remove from the heat and serve with extra parmesan cheese if needed.
This is delicious! Had to comment while eating it for dinner. I added some finely chopped spinach instead of the parsley x always trying to sneak in some extra nutrition where I can, and 1/3 of a micro-diced red pepper for some color pop. It seems to be a Big Hit! Thank you for sharing it!
Hi Laurie, your comment made me laugh I’m always trying to sneak in nutrition too. Love those additions, I’ll have to try that out. Thanks!