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
Made it! It is delish! Went to the store Ann’s bought the chicken stock.. did not want to ruin it. Will be making this again. Also it’s heavy cream, it’s what I had.. perfect!
Love this idea, just have to figure out how to replace the chicken stock. I am out at the moment! And without going to the store. Water?
Hi Elizabeth. There are ways to use water as a sub for chicken broth but you’d definitely want to add a little something to boost the flavor. Don’t go too crazy though, just a little butter, wine, seasonings, or a combination of all of them. Here’s some more information for you. Good luck! https://www.thespruceeats.com/quick-and-simple-broth-substitutes-4155705
Thank you so much! I it turned out wonderful!
I made this dish tonight. It was excellent and I think it’s going to be one of my favorites. Thanks so much!
I’m so glad it worked out for you! Thanks for your comment 🙂
Made this last night – so delicious. In these days of using items in the pantry I had to made a few substitutions – used a regular can of tomatoes and substituted sour cream for the half and half. Also had a box of open elbow noodles to use up so those went in instead of penne. My husband, who is a notoriously picky eater, had two full plates and ate it again today for lunch! Thanks for a great recipe, Valerie.
This dish was AWESOME! I used Asiago parm and increase 1/2 tsp of red crush pepper and really gave a nice kick to it if you like the heat. Otherwise, if you do not like a lot of heat then stay with only 1/2 tsp. Loved ALL the ingredients it called for but I do love mushrooms and probably would add in next time. GREAT recipe , Thank you so much
This made our rotation I used butter & heavy cream instead of half & half. Subbed 7 pepper seasoning for crushed red pepper & used an Asiago parm & mozzarella mix
Thank you for posting this recipe as it helped me find what to do with a limited number of ingredients that I had on hand due to the self-isolation period I am in. I substituted prepared pasta sauce for the chicken broth and canned tomatoes but otherwise had everything else. Delicious and easy!
Very easy to make and tasted amazing!
I have now made this dish twice, the first time I made it using spinach like the recipe says and my husband and I loved it. This mos recent time I made it with broccoli, it was a HUGE hit with the whole family!
I tried making this with gluten free chick pea pasta (Banza) and it came out great!! I did need to add 1 tbsp of arrowroot starch to help thicken up the sauce after the pasta cooked (before adding spinach) because GF cooks much quicker than normal pasta (about 9 min.)
Thank you for the comment w/ GF pasta.. This is what’s for dinner tonight!
I’m a terrible cook. It took me a bit longer than 30 minutes to make. And, I don’t have a skillet with a lid. So, I had to improvise with a sheet of foil over a cast iron skillet. Despite all that this dish had working against it, this was awesome. I might even try making this for guests instead of having delivery.
Way to go, Michael! You’re doing great – keep cooking. 🙂
Hi Valerie! I have been in search for a time-friendly pasta recipe such as this one and I am SO excited to try it! Although it looks delicious, I am also thinking about chopping up some bacon into pieces and adding some cayenne pepper — you have inspired me!
I’m so glad you were inspired! Thanks, Darian. Hope you love it. 🙂