by Olena

Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)

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Olena Osipov

This healthy one-pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta recipe is creamy, cheesy, and garlicky yet packed with Tuscan flavors with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and chicken! Plus, this healthy chicken pasta recipe can also be prepared gluten-free and/or dairy-free and is ready in under 30 minutes!

This chicken pasta is just one option on my weekly rotation, along with chicken healthy alfredo recipe (or Instant Pot alfredo), chicken lasagna roll-ups, chicken parmesan with spaghetti, and healthy chicken whole wheat spaghetti!

Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta in pot with serving spoon

Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta

Would you believe me if I said you could make a restaurant-quality, healthy Tuscan chicken pasta recipe at home using one pot and in under 30 minutes?! Because that’s what I’m sharing with you today! Unfortunately, while the Tuscan pasta at Olive Garden and White Spot might taste delicious, they’re not exactly healthy. Luckily, after spending some time in my kitchen, this Tuscan chicken pasta recipe is wonderfully creamy- you’d never even guess that it’s healthy!

I’ve made it my kitchen mission to re-create healthier (tastier too!) versions of my restaurant and takeaway classics at home, including healthy chicken parmesanThai chicken curry, and now this Tuscan chicken pasta. And, yes, it really does taste as good as it looks!

By cooking the Tuscan pasta in one pot, this recipe is no-muss no-fuss, the sauce soaks up all the flavor from the chicken and herbs, and the chicken becomes wonderfully tender and juicy. The result is a mid-week pasta dish that the entire family will clamor for seconds- you’ll want to lick your plate clean (and I do, just like with my easy pasta with zucchini recipe)!

Cooking dinner in one pot is my next favorite thing to using my Instant Pot. I already have several one-pot/one-pan chicken dishes, including one-pot chicken quinoaone pan Mexican chicken and rice, chicken and potatoes, or chicken and vegetables, on a sheet pan. In the summer, one pot pasta salad like healthy pasta salad or pasta salad with tomatoes accompany our BBQs.

It has been a few years since I started making one-pot pasta dinners, too (like this Instant pot lasagna, crockpot chicken spaghetti, and parmesan chicken pasta). However, in that time, I’ve realized that not only are they low-effort, but they can be made relatively healthily, and my kids love them – this creamy, cheesy healthy Tuscan chicken pasta recipe included!

Why This Healthy Chicken Pasta Recipe Works?

  • This healthy Tuscan chicken pasta recipe requires just 8 simple ingredients and can be made dairy-free and gluten-free!
  •  By cooking this Tuscan pasta in one pot, the pasta soaks up all the flavor from the chicken for mouth-watering results!
  • With a combination of spinach (or kale), bell pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes, you can enjoy this healthy chicken pasta recipe year-round with delicious results!
  • Use just enough cheese for an injection of flavor without becoming heavy!
  • Plus, all the ingredients yield a creamy Tuscan chicken pasta that’s savory, salty, creamy, and delicious!
  • It’s ready in under 30 minutes for a quick, low-effort, mid-week meal!
  • Easily cut this recipe in half if you’re feeding just 1 or 2 people!
Tuscan Chicken Pasta on a spoon

Ingredients for Tuscan Pasta

This healthy Tuscan chicken pasta recipe requires just 11 simple ingredients – most of which are likely already in your kitchen, including:

  • Chicken: You can use raw or even leftover boneless baked chicken breast or thighs.
  • Pasta: Use any pasta that can hold sauce; penne, fusilli, bow ties, etc. Spaghetti would also work, though. Use gluten-free or grain-free options if preferred (and adjust the cooking time accordingly).
  • Broth: Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth.
  • Oil: Any neutral cooking oil like olive oil, avocado oil, etc.
  • Vegetables: This Tuscan chicken pasta recipe uses a combination of sun-dried tomatoes (or fresh chopped tomatoes when they’re in season), bell pepper (red, though orange would work), and kale or spinach.
  • Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the creamiest results, though 2% will also work. I don’t recommend skimmed or 1% milk as the sauce will be ‘flat’. Check FAQs for substitutions.
  • Cornstarch: Is needed to thicken the sauce. You could alternatively use tapioca starch or potentially flour as a thickener – though the amount and texture may vary.
  • Garlic: Because is it even a recipe on my blog without fresh garlic – yum! Adjust the amount to personal preference. You can use garlic powder if you don’t have fresh.
  • Parmesan cheese: Or another sharp cheese like mature cheddar. Use freshly grated, so it melts properly.
  • Spices: I used a combination of Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on Tuscan pasta add-ins and seasoning variations!

How to Make Healthy Tuscan Chicken with Pasta

  • Sear chicken breasts: First, preheat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat with a little oil. Then add the chicken, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (1/4 tsp) on each side, and sear for 3-4 minutes. They don’t have to be cooked through.
  • Cook the pasta: Add the pasta, broth, finely diced bell pepper, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt and stir, bringing to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes.

Keep in mind that the pasta you use will impact the cooking time. For example, gluten-free pasta will take less time than regular wheat flour. You’re aiming for pasta that’s al dente, so it’s not too mushy. Also, make sure to stir it every few minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

  • Prepare the creamy sauce: First, remove the chicken from the pan (so it doesn’t overcook – roughly chop this into pieces now too). Then, mix the milk and cornstarch and pour it over the pasta. Stir, bringing the mixture to a boil, and then simmer for a minute or so until the sauce thickens.

To avoid lumps from the cornstarch, I recommend mixing it with just a few spoonfuls of the milk before transferring it to the pan.

  • Turn off heat: Then add the remaining ingredients; sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, spinach, garlic, and the cooked chicken. Stir and serve!

Tips for Best Results

  • The best pan to use: I like to use my Lodge Dutch oven for one-pot meals. However, you can also use a medium-heavy bottom stainless steel pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  • The healthiest pasta: Whole wheat or whole foods pasta is more nutritious than white. You can use any, though.  Just ensure that if using gluten-free pasta, cook for a few minutes less, as it cooks faster than wheat.
  • Avoid the pasta burning: Make sure to stir it every few minutes, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Swap out proteins: This Tuscan pasta will work well with shrimp or salmon/white fish too! Adjust the cooking process accordingly. For a vegetarian option, use legumes like chickpeas or tofu.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Heavy cream: For creamier Tuscan chicken pasta, you could swap out a few tbsp of the milk for heavy cream.
  • Cream cheese: Alternatively, instead of heavy cream, add a little light cream cheese to the sauce for additional creaminess.
  • Other vegetables: You can add these or substitute the spinach for asparagus, zucchini, or broccolini. Mushrooms would also work well in this healthy chicken pasta recipe.
  • Olives: Pairs wonderfully with the Mediterranean/Italian flavors. I recommend black or Kalamata olives.
  • Legumes: You can boost this dish with additional fiber and protein with the addition of chickpeas, butter beans, or white beans. Legumes also work well in turning this recipe vegetarian (use vegetable broth, too).
  • Another protein: This creamy Tuscan pasta works well with shrimp or salmon, too! Use legumes or tofu for a vegetarian option (plus vegetable stock).

FAQs

Can I use dairy-free milk?


Yes, you can use the milk of your choice- almond milk, oat milk, or even Silk non-dairy half & half, etc. Just note that different milk options will change how ‘creamy’ the Tuscan chicken sauce is.

Can I use sun-dried tomatoes in oil?

Yes, just make sure to drain the oil from the tomatoes so you don’t add too much extra oil to the dish.

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes – frozen spinach can be used but thaw first and drain to remove excess water.

What can I use if I don’t have Italian seasoning?

You can use the individual dried herbs – basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram. Or even just 2-3 of them- I usually use oregano and thyme.

Could I bake this pasta dish?

I haven’t tried, so I can’t guarantee results. Though, it may be possible. I’d recommend par-cooking the chicken and pasta first before transferring all of the ingredients to a large baking dish and baking until bubbly and fully cooked.

Can I use other veggies instead of spinach?

Yes, you can replace the spinach with broccolini, asparagus, zucchini, etc.

Tuscan Chicken Pasta in a pot

Serving Recommendations

Thanks to the hearty addition of chicken breast, you can enjoy this healthy chicken pasta recipe alone or with a simple side. I recommend garlic bread, focaccia, a leafy green salad, spinach salad or chopped salad.

You could also serve it alongside some crusty bread with a simple dipping olive oil.

Making Tuscan Chicken and Pasta in Advance

Storing: This Tuscan chicken pasta tastes best fresh, while the spinach isn’t too wilted and it’s most ‘saucy’ (before the pasta absorbs it). I recommend eating as much as possible immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day (don’t freeze).  

Reheat: Add an extra splash of milk and reheat the healthy Tuscan chicken pasta on the stovetop until warmed through.

More Healthy Pasta and Chicken Dishes

You might also like this list of 65 healthy chicken recipes!

Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)

Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta {One Pot}

One-pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta recipe is creamy, cheesy, and garlicky yet packed with Tuscan flavors with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and chicken! Plus, this healthy chicken pasta recipe can also be prepared gluten-free and/or dairy-free and is ready in under 30 minutes!
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 549kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless & skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth low sodium
  • 3 cups short pasta like penne fusilli or bow ties
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 large garlic clove grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot on medium heat and swirl oil to coat.
  • Add chicken and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and ground black pepper. Sear for 3-4 minutes per side.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • Add broth, pasta, bell pepper, Italian seasoning and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Gently stir, cover and bring to a boil.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once after 2 minutes to prevent pasta from sticking. Keep in mind gluten free pasta cooks faster than wheat. Pasta should be al dente (not too soft, so it doesn’t become a mush).
  • Remove chicken onto a plate or cutting board.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • In a large measuring cup whisk cold milk with cornstarch and pour over pasta. Stir gently, bring to a boil and simmer for a minute until sauce thickens a bit.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • Turn off heat and add sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, spinach and garlic. Cover for a few minutes to let flavors develop.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • In the meanwhile, slice chicken into thin pieces.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)
  • Add chicken to the pot, stir gently and serve immediately. Tuscan chicken pasta is one of those dishes that tastes best right after cooking. That’s when it’s most saucy, spinach is not too wilted and it’s just fresh.
    Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta (One Pot)

Store: Refrigerate for up to 1 day and do not freeze. If you are serving later, add a splash of milk and simmer for a few minutes to rehydrate the dish.

    Notes

    • I like to use my Lodge Dutch oven for one pot meals. You can also use medium heavy bottom stainless steel pot with a tight fitting lid.
    • Whole wheat or whole foods pasta is more nutritious than white. You can use any though. Good shape pasta to use is short with some cavities to hold the sauce.
    • If using gluten free pasta, cook by a few minutes less as it cooks faster than wheat one.
    • It is important to stir pasta after a few minutes to prevent it from sticking.
    • 3.25% homo milk will make more creamy sauce but 2% will work as well. Do not use skim or 1% milk as sauce will be flat.
    • Instead of Italian seasoning, I always use a ratio of dried oregano and thyme.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 1393mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 2781IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 342mg | Iron: 4mg
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    olena osipov in the studio

    Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

    My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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