This healthy one pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta recipe is creamy, cheesy, and garlicky yet packed with Tuscan flavors! Plus, this healthy chicken pasta recipe can also be prepared gluten-free and is ready in under 30 minutes!
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 a healthy dinner.
Luckily, after spending some time in my kitchen, this Tuscan chicken pasta recipe is wonderfully creamy.
By cooking the Tuscan pasta in one pot, this recipe is 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 midweek pasta dish that the entire family will go for seconds.
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!
- 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!
- 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!
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 chicken like slow cooked chicken.
- 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, bell pepper, and 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.
- 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 my Italian seasoning recipe, salt, and pepper.
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.
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).
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.
Yes, just make sure to drain the oil from the tomatoes so you don’t add too much extra oil to the dish.
Yes. Frozen spinach can be used but thaw first and drain to remove excess water.
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.
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.
Yes, you can replace the spinach with broccolini, asparagus, zucchini, etc.
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 or spinach salad recipe.
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 Dishes
- Chicken lasagna roll ups
- Healthy pasta with broccoli
- Ground turkey and broccoli pasta
- Penne with broccoli
- Ground turkey pasta bake
- Chicken lemon pasta
- Cottage cheese pasta
- Zucchini ricotta pasta
You might also like this list of healthy pasta recipes!
Healthy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- 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
- 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.
- Add broth, pasta, bell pepper, Italian seasoning and remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Gently stir, cover and bring to a boil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Turn off heat and add sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, spinach and garlic. Cover for a few minutes to let flavors develop.
- In the meanwhile, slice chicken into thin pieces.
- 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.
- 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.
- Freeze: Pasta doesn’t freeze well.
- 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.