This chicken pasta with spinach and bacon in creamy tomato sauce is simply amazing with Parmesan cheese! The DELICIOUS creamy sauce permeates every single bite of this chicken penne dish. It’s as though all the ingredients here were made for each other. Very flavorful and creamy!
What kind of chicken to use in Chicken and Bacon Pasta
A few tips about which chicken to use in this chicken bacon spinach pasta. When you shop for chicken, the one that works best is without any added water.
But if it’s the kind that has added water (and usually added sodium too) – make sure all water/broth is drained after cooking the chicken. Otherwise the recipe will turn out watery and will need to be thickened by additional cheese or flour.
Substitutions that will work in this recipe
This chicken bacon spinach pasta recipe is very flexible with substitutions. If you don’t like messing around with fresh tomatoes, you can replace them with a can of diced tomatoes.
Prefer fresh herbs? Use fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano instead of the dried herbs. And if desired, you can also replace regular bacon with a turkey bacon.
If you want to lighten up this recipe, simply use half and half instead of heavy cream.
Should you use fresh or frozen spinach?
Spinach is one of the healthy elements of this tasty chicken pasta dish and that’s one of my favorite ways to eat it – with pasta in creamy sauce. I always use fresh spinach in my recipes, but I also know that compact frozen spinach may be easier to handle than fresh spinach leaves that cook down significantly.
In terms of nutrition, frozen spinach compares very favorably with fresh spinach. And if you love spinach, by all means use more than what recipe indicates, since it shrinks when cooking.
Issues you might encounter while making this Chicken Bacon Pasta in Creamy Sauce
My dish is too watery. Make sure to drain excess liquid after cooking chicken. Depending on the chicken your supermarket carries, it may have added liquid that will be released during cooking. This liquid should be discarded.
My cheese clumped up. Make sure to reduce heat before adding Parmesan cheese. Once cheese is added, stir on low-medium simmer until the cheese is incorporated.
How to cook chicken
While the bacon is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add chicken breasts, generously seasoned, and sear on each side on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes on each side (for a total of 8-10 minutes). Resist the urge to move the chicken or check underneath while it’s cooking on each side, otherwise browning process might be messed up.
Check after 4 minutes – if you like what you see, you can flip it to the other side. Add sliced garlic to the same pan only in the last minute of cooking just before the chicken is done just to give it a little browning and flavor.
Remove chicken from the skillet and slice it in thick strips.
How to make Creamy Sauce
To make creamy sauce add heavy cream to tomatoes and spinach and season with paprika, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and salt.
Reduce to simmer.
Adding Parmesan Cheese to the Creamy Sauce
Make sure to reduce heat before adding Parmesan cheese. Once cheese is added, stir on low-medium simmer until the cheese is incorporated. The cheese needs to melt enough to create a creamy texture. You can also add more cheese to thicken up the sauce.
In the meantime bring a large pot of salty water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse.
Add pasta, chicken strips, and sliced bacon and stir until fully coated in sauce. Make sure bacon is reheated in teh sauce and pasta is mixed in. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
Cover with a lid until ready to serve, to keep warm. Serve with chopped parsley, additional shredded Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.
If you liked this chicken bacon spinach pasta, you might also enjoy other popular chicken recipes, such as Balsamic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Apples and Chicken Pasta in Creamy White Wine Parmesan Sauce).
Skillet used in making this Bacon Spinach Pasta Recipe
If you are looking for a well built quality stainless steel skillet used in this recipe – it’s this 12 inch All Clad Stainless Steel Skillet. It’s a bit pricey and is the most expensive skillet I own:), but it’s well worth it. It’s very large at 12 inches, comes with a lid and cooks food perfectly even!
Another great options (and a cheaper one too!) for a large stainless steel skillet is this 12 inch Cuisinart Stainless Steel Skillet . It’s moderately priced, dishwasher safe, oven safe and has a helper handle! It has over 3700 positive reviews on Amazon!
This chicken pasta with spinach and bacon in creamy tomato sauce is simply amazing. The DELICIOUS creamy sauce permeates every single bite of this dish!
- 6 bacon strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken (thick in size, such as chicken breasts)
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 4 small tomatoes (diced)
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (more, if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded (more for garnish)
- 10 oz. penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons Parsley (chopped)
BACON: Add bacon strips to the skillet and cook until crispy. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter that will absorb extra grease. Chop into 1 inch pieces
CHICKEN: Paper towel dry the chicken and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side on medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side (for a total of 8 minutes) until nicely browned. If chicken is still pink in the center, reduce heat to medium and cook covered for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from pan and slice it.
Add butter to the hot pan and once it melts, add chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes on high until tomatoes release their juices. Add fresh spinach and cook until it wilts.
Season with paprika, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Mix.
Next add heavy cream and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce to simmer and slowly add Parmesan cheese - until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy.
PASTA: In the meantime bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook it according to instructions. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse.
Add sliced chicken, bacon and pasta. Next add chopped parsley. Stir until fully coated in sauce. Season with more salt if necessary.
TO SERVE: Serve with additional shredded Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.
Recipe Source: Juliasalbum
Our new favorite chicken pasta recipes include this Cajun Chicken and Sausage Penne Pasta dish. It’s so unbelievably flavorful and I cannot recommend it enough!
and this amazing Chicken Spinach and Bacon Alfredo Pasta. Both recipes are so easy to make and are perfect for midweek dinners!