Creamy Chicken Spinach Pasta made with tender chicken, pasta, and fresh baby spinach! With a touch of pesto, this flavorful and comforting dinner recipe can be on the table in only 30 minutes.
Table of contents
Spinach chicken pasta recipe is easy comfort food and perfect for a busy weeknights! The pasta soaks up the creamy sauce, spinach adds both color and nutrition, and tender thin slices of chicken melt in your mouth.
It will become a family favorite!
Combining flavors from my healthy tuscan chicken pasta and popular healthy pasta with pesto, it’s lightened up and made in one pot, yet retains that same creaminess and comfort food status that we know and love.
This chicken and pasta recipe even be made gluten free, so everyone can enjoy it!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Easy recipe: Ready for the dinner table in 30 minutes!
- Healthier: Made with juicy chicken breasts, nutrient rich baby spinach, and fiber filled whole wheat pasta.
- Flavorful: Minimal ingredients but maximum flavor will make this chicken dinner a weekly pick that the whole family will love!
Ingredients and Notes
Simple, wholesome ingredients are the stars of this healthy chicken spinach pasta recipe, and it’s creamy without any heavy cream making this guilt free, too!
- Chicken breasts: I prefer boneless skinless chicken breast because it is lean meat. Although if you prefer dark meat, boneless skinless chicken thighs can be used. Just trim excess fat so this dish is not greasy.
- Baby spinach: Uncooked fresh spinach and you will need 4 large handfuls which may seem like a lot but spinach shrinks as it wilts in the warm pasta.
- Penne pasta: I prefer whole wheat for the additional fiber boost, but white pasta or gluten free pasta can be used. Use any short pasta like bow ties (farfalle pasta), fusilli etc.
- Whole milk and flour: You can use 2% milk if preferred and your choice of flour for a thickening agent – all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or gluten free flour.
- Cream cheese: Just a small amount to add richness to the dish.
- Pesto: A flavor booster that makes this spinach chicken pasta so good!
- Parmesan and parsley: Freshly grated parmesan and freshly chopped parsley to sprinkle on the dish before serving.
Add some Italian seasoning to your chicken breasts, it’s a great way to add an additional layer of flavor to this pasta with chicken and spinach!
How to Make Chicken Spinach Pasta
This chicken and spinach pasta recipe is so simple to make from scratch and yet it will receive crowd pleasing reviews!
1.Cook pasta: In large pot, as per package instructions undercooking by a few minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Prepare chicken: As your pasta cooks, preheat large Dutch oven or deep large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl oil to coat. Season chicken breasts with salt and black pepper, add to the pot in a single layer and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
Remove onto a cutting board, let rest for a bit and thinly slice your tender chicken pieces. Alternately, cut into 1-inch pieces.
3. Make creamy sauce: In a small bowl, whisk milk and flour. Add to the pot and cook the ‘cream’ sauce until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and pesto, stir and cook until melted.
4. Combine: Now add drained cooked pasta, sliced cooked chicken, and spinach. Stir pasta gently until spinach has wilted. Your creamy spinach chicken pasta is ready for a delicious dinner, yum!
Tips for Best Results
- Leftover chicken: Save time by swapping boneless chicken breasts for leftover rotisserie chicken. I often use Instant Pot whole frozen chicken and crockpot chicken breasts. Adjust salt as needed.
- Milk: I love whole milk for creamy results, but you can use whatever milk you would like, including dairy free. Final taste may differ.
- Gluten free: Swap penne for brown rice penne or your favorite gluten free pasta. Add a nutritional boost with chickpea or lentil pasta. Use gluten free all purpose flour.
- Extra creamy: Reserve some pasta water and add as needed for desired creaminess. Chicken broth or a splash of white wine could also be used.
- Garlic: I think you knew this tip was coming. 🙂 Saute a few minced fresh garlic cloves before adding your sauce ingredients to the pan. You could use garlic powder to season chicken.
- Serving idea: Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, like parsley. Add a few red pepper flakes if you prefer some heat then serve with garlic bread and a healthy caesar salad.
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftovers of this chicken spinach pasta in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 4 days.
Reheat the next day in the microwave or in a small saucepan/skillet with a few tablespoons of water to bring back creaminess.
I don’t recommend to freeze pasta as it becomes mushy when thawed. If you okay with that, though, by all means freeze in an airtight container up to a few months. Thaw and reheat.
Al dente pasta refers to pasta that still has a bite to it. It’s tender yet still firm.
For this warm spinach pasta with chicken you should not rinse the pasta as the starch will help the sauce stick to the pasta better.
Yes! I often purchase organic spinach on sale and store in the freezer. It comes in handy when making this easy chicken pasta and other healthy pasta dishes.
Yes! Mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, or asparagus would all work. Fresh tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes would add some color and sweet taste.
You could, but nutritional information will change. With heavy whipping cream, you may not need to use the flour thickener since it has a higher milk fat percentage.
More Healthy Chicken Recipes
Chicken Spinach Pasta
- 1 lb penne pasta dry
- 1.5 lbs chicken breasts boneless and skinless
- 1 tsp salt plus more for chicken
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 cups milk whole or 2%
- 2 tbsp flour all-purpose, whole wheat or gluten free
- 2-3 tbsp cream cheese
- 3 tbsp pesto
- 4 large handfuls baby spinach
- 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by a few minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat large Dutch oven or deep skillet on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, add to the pot and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove onto a cutting board, let rest for a bit and then thinly slice.
- In a small bowl, whisk milk and flour. Add to the pot and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and pesto, stir and cook until melted.
- Now add drained cooked pasta, sliced chicken and spinach. Give a few gentle stirs until spinach has wilted.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, parsley and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
- Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 4 days.
- Freeze: I don’t recommend to freeze pasta.
- Pasta: It can be white, whole wheat or gluten free pasta. Use any short pasta like bow ties, fusilli etc.