Creamy chicken pasta with bacon is easy to make weeknight dinner! With only 30 MINUTES of total work, this juicy chicken pasta dinner recipe is simple, fast and delicious! Full of tender chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and bacon!
Easy weeknight dinner
Creamy chicken pasta is one of my favorite things to eat during busy weeknights! It’s quick, easy and contains my favorite protein. Chicken! This simple recipe takes only about 30 minutes to make, yet is very rich and indulgent.
FLEXIBLE RECIPE. I love how easy it is to put this dish together and how flexible it is! For example, you can easily double the chicken pasta if you are feeding a crowd or want extra for later. Or, you can substitute ground chicken for chicken breasts and use turkey bacon instead of the regular bacon.
What’s in a creamy sauce?
DAIRY. I made this Creamy Chicken pasta sauce using butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese. You can substitute heavy cream with half and half, but not with milk.
SEASONINGS. While the bacon and chicken are great together, I simply like to add garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to make the sauce taste even better! You can also add dried oregano, thyme and/or rosemary instead.
Tips and FAQ
WHAT KIND OF PARMESAN CHEESE TO USE. Note that it is best to use freshly grated parmesan cheese right off of the block so that your sauce isn’t grainy. I do not recommend using the “shaker” style container grated cheese for this recipe.
MY SAUCE WON’T THICKEN. The Parmesan will thicken this sauce up. If it isn’t quite thick enough, allow the sauce to stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.
SAUCE IS STILL TOO WATERY. The dish may still be too watery and it’s because of the added fluids in the chicken! You should drain excess liquid after cooking chicken. Depending on the chicken your supermarket carries, it may have added liquid. Unfortunately, this liquid will be released during cooking. But as long as you discard it, it’s fine.
WHY DID MY CHEESE CLUMP UP. To avoid cheese clumps, make sure to reduce heat before adding heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Once you add the cheese, stir on low simmer until smooth.
What kind of skillet to use
LARGE WIDE SKILLET. I like using a solid stainless steel pan, such as this 12 inch pan with a lid. Alternatively, you can also pan sear chicken in a large cast iron skillet, such as this 12 inch cast iron pan.
Both conduct heat very well and are easy to work with. I cooked most of the chicken pasta recipes on this site with one of these two skillets.
TOMATOES. If you don’t like messing around with fresh tomatoes, you can replace them with a can of diced tomatoes.
HERBS. Prefer fresh herbs? Use fresh herbs, such as basil and oregano instead of the dried herbs. And if you so desire, also replace regular bacon with a turkey bacon.
CREAM. Also, if you want to lighten up this recipe, simply use half and half instead of heavy cream.
SPINACH is one of the healthy elements of this tasty chicken pasta dish. Besides, it’s one of my favorite ways to eat it. With pasta in the creamy sauce. Even though I always use fresh spinach in my recipes, I also like the idea of frozen spinach. Because compact frozen spinach may be easier to handle than fresh spinach leaves that cook down significantly.
SPINACH NUTRITION. Overall, in terms of nutrition, frozen spinach compares very favorably with fresh spinach. And if you love spinach, by all means, use more than the recipe indicates. It will shrink when cooking anyways!
Creamy Chicken Pasta recipe in pictures
- First, you will cook bacon.
- Next, remove it onto a separate plate.
- Then cook the chicken breasts in the same pan.
- Once you removed chicken from the skillet, slice it in thick strips. *You can keep it on the same plate with bacon.
Next, you will make the creamy sauce. This is my favorite part!
How to make creamy sauce
- PARMESAN. The first step is to add Parmesan cheese. Make sure to reduce heat before adding heavy cream and Parmesan.
- HEAVY CREAM, especially the one with all the additives (not the one that just has milk fat and milk – that one is fine), might curdle when cooked at boiling temperatures, therefore keeping the heat low should prevent this.
- SIMMER. Once you add the cheese, stir on low-medium simmer until the cheese is incorporated. If the sauce is still runny to your liking, simply add more cheese to thicken up the sauce.
Creamy Chicken Pasta Assembly
- Next, you will add pasta, chicken strips, and sliced bacon. You will want to reheat them in the sauce. Also stir until you fully coat pasta with sauce. You don’t want any dry pasta. Next taste and season with more salt if necessary. Maybe just a bit!
- Finally, you will cover the pan with a lid. This will keep the pasta warm. Serve it with chopped parsley, additional shredded Parmesan and red pepper flakes! By the way, it reheats so well!
How to Reheat Creamy Chicken Pasta
- Creamy pasta dishes will always suffer when reheated. What can we do? Add a little milk or cream to the ready mixed pasta and warm through slowly if reheating on the stovetop.
- If using a microwave add a little of the above liquid, then heat on a low wattage setting, stirring a couple of times in between.
- Preheat the oven! Set your oven to 350F (175C) and wait for it to preheat. This method is gentle on pasta and sauces, but may not be practical for a single serving. Add the pasta to a baking dish and spread it across, because a deep pile of pasta may heat unevenly. Add a splash of milk or extra sauce to keep it moist. The pasta is usually ready in 20 minutes, but check after 15 minutes just in case. The foil should help trap moisture, slowing the drying process.
Hungry for more creamy chicken pasta dishes?
Creamy Chicken Pasta with Bacon
- 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 ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, (more, if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ 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 medium high until tomatoes release their juices. Add fresh spinach and cook until it wilts.
- Reduce the heat and season with paprika, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and salt. Mix.
- Next add heavy cream – you are still cooking on low heat. Once heavy cream is slightly simmering, slowly add Parmesan cheese. Once you add the cheese, stir on low simmer until smooth.
- 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.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only. This information comes from online calculators. Although whatsinthepan.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
Our new favorite chicken pasta recipes include Cajun Chicken and Sausage Penne Pasta dish.
We also love amazing Chicken Spinach and Bacon Alfredo Pasta. You can easily make both recipes for midweek dinners!