Chicken and Spinach Pasta with Bacon is a 30-minute recipe with easy and DELICIOUS Creamy Parmesan sauce and crispy golden chicken. Perfect and easy dinner your whole family will enjoy! Best creamy pasta dish for your next comfort food craving!
Alfredo sauce is typically loaded with butter, heavy cream and more butter! I found that using the entire stick of butter in one recipe is not always the best way to make it taste good. Alfredo can be successfully made using only fraction of butter and we don’t have to go overboard on Parmesan either! Basically, moderation is the key! But you know what? You can have something as indulgent as Alfredo sauce without all the extra calories and fat! I will show you how to do it.
WHAT KIND OF CHICKEN TO USE IN THIS ALFREDO PASTA
- Go for boneless and skinless chicken breasts. So easy!
- I like to use thick chicken breasts in my Alfredo pasta. When cooked they retain moisture so much better than thinner ones.
- A few tips about which chicken is best. 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.
TO LIGHTEN UP THIS CHICKEN ALFREDO RECIPE
This is already a lighter version of a typically butter and cream heavy traditional Alfredo recipe. But if you want to go even lighter than this, I have a couple of great suggestions. There you go!
Use Half and half instead of heavy cream
If you can’t find half and half or they don’t sell it where you live, simply mix half whole milk and half heavy cream or double cream.
Use less cheese
Reduce the amount of cheese from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup by adding 1 tablespoon of flour to thicken the sauce.
Use less bacon or replace it with … fried shallots
Yes, I found that if you add enough shallots and give them a good browning – they will impart so much flavor to the chicken Alfredo dish that you won’t even miss the bacon.
Can I make it gluten free?
You can use red lentil penne pasta or brown rice penne pasta instead. My favorite gluten free pasta is this red lentil one. I absolutely recommend it even if you are not gluten free. It’s so delicious and pretty in color too!
Step by Step Photos
Make perfectly crispy bacon
- First preheat oven to 400 F.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Now arrange bacon strips and bake for 15 minutes.
- Next transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter that will absorb extra grease.
- Crumble the bacon once it’s cool enough.
- I prefer the oven method of cooking bacon to the stove top method because it always comes out perfectly crispy.
How to cook perfectly moist chicken
- First things first, paper towel dry the chicken.
- Next heat olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side on medium high heat for a total of 3-4 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 skillet to cut it up in strips.
How to cook spinach and garlic
Very easy. Once your garlic is fragrant, simply add spinach and cook until wilted. About 2 minutes tops.
How to make amazing creamy Alfredo sauce with Parmesan
Add heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Add paprika, reduce to simmer, and slowly add Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy. Then remove from heat. How simple is that?
How to cook perfect pasta
The formula for perfectly cooked pasta is not as obvious as it seems. Is it really just pasta and water? Well, it turns out that you need plenty of water for pasta perfection. Also salt it good for pasta! Don’t just sprinkle a bit, add quite a bit! Like a couple of tablespoons.
And how about pasta that is not stuck together, and is neither mushy nor hard in the center? It’s all about stirring! Stir and stir, and stir once again! At at least two or three times during cooking. Please don’t let those strands clump.
Taste your pasta a couple of minutes before it’s done. How does it feel on your teeth? Does it have a springy bounce to it? That’s what you want.
Finally, you will need to drain it. Place a colander in the kitchen sink and drain your pasta. That’s it!
Add penne pasta to the Alfredo sauce
Add chicken strips and crumbled bacon into your Alfredo sauce first. Then you will add cooked pasta into and mix well. We want to make sure that pasta is coated in sauce. And just like that One Pot Chicken Spinach and Bacon Alfredo Pasta is ready! Delicious! And easy.
If you love creamy chicken and pasta dishes as much as we do, you will definitely enjoy these recipes:
- Creamy Cajun Chicken and Sausage Pasta
- Pasta with Meatballs
- Creamy Garlic Italian Pasta in White Wine Parmesan Sauce
Chicken and Spinach Pasta with Bacon
- 6 bacon strips
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound chicken (boneless and skinless)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning more, if desired
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 10 oz. package of fresh spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1.5 cup Parmesan cheese (grated) (more for garnish)
- 8 oz. penne pasta
- BACON: Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Arrange bacon strips and bake for 15 minutes. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter that will absorb extra grease. Crumble the bacon once it's cool enough.
- CHICKEN: Paper towel dry chicken breasts, season with Italian seasoning and salt and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter to a preheated large deep 12 inch skillet. Add chicken breasts and cook on each side on medium high heat 3-4 minutes until nicely browned (for a total of 6-8 minutes). 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 the pan and cut it into strips.
- GARLIC AND SPINACH: Add 2 more tablespoons of butter to the skillet, add chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and fragrant. Next add fresh spinach and cook until it wilts, about 2 more minutes.
- ALFREDO SAUCE: Add heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Add paprika, salt and pepper; and reduce to simmer. Slowly add Parmesan cheese - until the cheese melts and makes the sauce thicker. Add more cheese to reach desired thickness.
- 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.
- FINAL ASSEMBLY: Add chicken strips and crumbled bacon to the sauce first. Taste the sauce and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Next, add pasta and stir until pasta is fully coated in sauce.
- TO SERVE: Sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan.