Dry pasta cooks up perfectly tender in a luscious sauce with chicken, spinach and tomatoes in this one pot wonder. This utterly delicious Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta is on the table in about 30 minutes!
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know I’m pretty crazy about fast and easy one-pot meals. It stems from the “life is complicated, dinner shouldn’t be” philosophy that I’ve adopted over the years. This is what raising four boys while working both in and out of the home does to a woman!
After serving many of these simple, delicious meals to my family, I’ve determined that complicated does not necessarily mean better.
Ever since the momentous day when I discovered you could throw dry pasta into a pot with a slew of other ingredients and end up with a delicious result, things have never quite been the same around here. It led me to experiment with all kinds of different pastas, proteins, and veggies and this Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta has risen to the top as one of my favorites. My family loves this easy meal! It’s been a regular on our menu around here for so many years.
The funny thing is, I could work for hours in the kitchen to create a special meal and the next night pull off this easy chicken pasta and the crowd goes crazy. Go figure!
- Chicken – You’ll need 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Spinach – Pick up a 5-ounce bag of fresh baby spinach. It will seem like too much but trust me, spinach has a way of almost disappearing as it wilts so you’ll need the entire bag.
- Chicken broth – I recommend using low sodium broth – always – and season with salt, to taste. I use reduced sodium Better Than Bouillon so that I can mix up exactly how much broth I need for each recipe.
- Fire roasted diced tomatoes – I prefer flavorful fire roasted tomatoes over regular diced tomatoes for this recipe. I just love that hint of smokiness.
- Penne – Uncooked, dry penne cooks up perfectly in this one pot pasta. You can substitute a different short pasta but I think penne is the best choice. While you can use a measuring cup, I highly recommend investing in an inexpensive kitchen scale with a bowl to ensure you are using the correct amount of pasta in recipes like this one.
- Onion – Diced yellow or white onion.
- Mozzarella and parmesan – A little shredded part-skim mozzarella adds a luscious layer but this is not an overly cheesy dish. Grated or shaved Parmesan is the finishing touch.
- Half and half – Combines with the diced tomatoes and mozzarella to create a light cream sauce.
- Oil – Extra virgin olive oil.
- Garlic – Minced garlic,
- Seasoning – The pasta is simply seasoned with a little Italian Seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. If you want a spicy pasta, add additional crushed red pepper.
How to Make Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta
- Heat the oil in deep 12-inch skillet and add the chicken. Season the chicken with Italian seasoning, a touch of salt, and pepper, and continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Add additional olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, pasta, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
- Stir in the cooked chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the skillet, and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in half and half and mozzarella and simmer for minute or two until warmed through and the cheese has melted.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the fresh spinach until it wilts from the heat of the pasta. Top with Parmesan and serve.
FAQs and Valerie’s Tips
I have found penne to be the best choice but you can substitute any type of short pasta you love. Bowtie, shells, or fusilli will all work.
I recommend using fresh baby spinach, when at all possible. Frozen spinach can be used in a pinch but be sure it is fully defrosted and wring out as much of the liquid as possible before adding it to the pasta.
Yep! Other readers have added mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and more with great success. I recommend reading the reader comments section to see what has worked for others.
More One Pot Pasta Recipes
- Shrimp and Spinach Pasta
- Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
- Skillet Sausage Pasta
- Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Meaty Tortellini Skillet
Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 8 ounces penne pasta (uncooked), approximately 2 ½ cups
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- ½ cup half and half
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (part skim or whole), shredded
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a deep 12-inch skillet or sauté pan and place it over MEDIUM heat. Add the chopped chicken and cook, stirring frequently. Season the chicken with Italian seasoning, a touch of salt, and black pepper, and continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and add the onions. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Add the broth, tomatoes, pasta, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Stir in the cooked chicken and bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW. Simmer until the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the half and half and mozzarella and simmer for minute or two until warmed through and the cheese has melted. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the fresh spinach until it wilts from the heat of the pasta. Top with Parmesan and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on October 23, 2014. It has been updated with new text and images.
Questions and Reviews
Noone but me likes tomatoes but knew they’d love the flavor of this, so used sun dried tomatoes. ( easy to pick out if necessary) Also threw in about 6 halved cherry tomatoes at the end ( same thought )
Told my son of the rave reviews and how someone said that this was ” restaurant quality “. He said “It IS restaurant quality”
It was NOT too runny. SOOOO good!!
I made this recipe exactly according to the directions and there was *so* much liquid. I’m surprised so few people in the comments had the same issue. We picked out all the goodies and there is still enough sauce for at least another 2 oz. of pasta. The fire-roasted tomatoes gave it some nice flavor, but with regular diced tomatoes, this would’ve been very bland. Sadly this one is not a keeper.
So sorry it didn’t work out for you, Louise! The starch from the pasta helps thicken up the liquid to create a really nice sauce and allowing the pasta to sit for a few minutes before serving will thicken it up even more. If you watch the video in the recipe card, you’ll see how much sauce there is in the bottom of the skillet, which is a very good thing! You can definitely use fire-roasted tomatoes but we find it plenty flavorful with regular tomatoes too.
One of the best skillet recipes I’ve tried in a long while! Easy, one pan, and delicious!
This is the 2nd time I’ve made this recipe. It was AWESOME!! This is now an every other week meal. I tweaked just a little but it’s still just as awesome as the 1st time. My whole family loves it. I just have to fry up the onions on the side n let my one son get his. Then I mix the onions in. Thank you Valerie
This was a hit and the kids even had seconds. My teen son asked me to make this more often.
This was a huge hit in my 5-adult family! I didn’t have roasted tomatoes so I subbed frozen tomatoes left from last season’s garden. I double most of the spices. I also made it dairy and gluten-free. Most of my family didn’t bother to add cheese to their plates and they thought I labored over the dish for hours…lol! I just basked in the glory! 🙂
This was delicious and super easy. It tasted like a restaurant style dish. I hope it tastes just as good tomorrow as leftovers.
I made this tonight substituted the mozzarella with cheddar and then made with gluten free penne and it was delicious my family gobbled it up! Thank you
This was absolutely tasty, loved the flavours and consistency. I did add some basil and celery seeds. The roasted red peppers give it three perfect spice touch. Will be making this one more often!
Really good recipe. There is one exception though. Why so much juice left? Was I supposed to drain tomatoes? We didn’t because didn’t say too. Daughter enjoyed making with me tonight. She had a recipe with the same name over at a friends house and was just dying to try one. So I found yours. We really enjoyed. Next time I’ll drain tomatoes and also I definitely needed to marinate the chicken. Everything was so good I guess the acidity from tomatoes took out all the flavor of the chicken after we cooked it. Not sure what we did wrong. We’re not giving up though.
Hello Fefe. I’ve never had anyone describe these issues before. There is no need to drain the tomatoes or marinate the chicken in advance. The dry pasta should absorb quite a bit of the liquid and the remaining liquid becomes a nice sauce at the end of the cooking time. I’m wondering if maybe you didn’t add enough pasta? You could try adding a bit more next time and see if that solves your issue. The seasoning should be plenty to add flavor to one pound of chicken but you can season to taste. Hope this helps.
Our family loves loves this recipe so much! It’s easy and delicious. Even my son has learned to make it. We have it at least once a week.
Love this! Thanks, Eileen. 🙂
Easy and most of the ingredients I already had!
Don’t you just love that? Thanks, Caren. 🙂