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
how do you think this will come out with by using ground chicken?
Very different. Let me know how it goes if you try it.
Can I use cheddar cheese. I’m out of mozzarella
Delicious! So quick and easy. I always use Rotel tomatoes because we like the zesty heat. Since I was using up my leftover rotisserie chicken ( one cup) I didn’t want any leftovers so I only used a half cup of mezze penne which was just enough for the two of us.
Delicious dish for this single dad and the kids loved it. Inused heavy cream and a knob of butter because I like a creamier sauce. Otherwise went by the recipe. I will make this again for sure. Thank you Valerie!
Delicious! My husband especially loved this dish. So I think this will be something frequently asked for in my house. Didn’t have half & half or milk tonight so I just added in 3 tbsp of butter and let it melt in before adding the spinach.
This was delicious! I’m lactose sensitive so used Fairlife lactose free, fat free milk and it still turned out beautifully. Thanks for the great dish!
This recipe was terrible…too much chicken broth…not enough seasoning….add more garlic (and even garlic salt) to the final mixture…very bland
So sorry it didn’t work out for you, Amy. You could absolutely add additional seasoning if you’d like but adding garlic salt would increase the sodium content in a big way. Just something to consider for anyone watching their sodium intake. If you ended up with too much broth at the end of the cooking process I suspect you may not have added enough pasta as it should absorb the liquid while it cooks.
OMG!!! I just finished making this recipe and my family absolutely love it!!! This is the easiest, most delicious, quick quarantine recipe you can make! I added you with a salad and some garlic knots and the rest is history! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe AS IS!!!
Made this today. Delicious and easy. I’m in the UK and never come across tinned fire roasted tomatoes. But I reckon the teaspoon of paprika I added gave a similar taste. This will be added to my favourites list 😆
I had no crushed red pepper . What could you use as a substitute ?
You could sub a touch of cayenne or just leave it out altogether. It will still be delicious!
I made this tonight and it delish! No leftovers! I substituted sun dried tomatoes for the canned fire-roasted tomatoes and I also found that I needed to add more liquid because it cooked off before the pasta was done cooking (I added some white wine and some water). This recipe will definitely go into the rotation.
Do you think I could use frozen spinach in this instead of fresh? This recipe looks great but I only have frozen spinach, not fresh..
I don’t think the result would be quite as good but we have to be flexible these days! I would thaw the spinach overnight in the fridge and squeeze out the excess water before adding it.
Great recipe! Side note; I highly recommend a “jump to recipe” button at the top of this page 🙂 It’s so helpful for when someone needs a quick reference and doesn’t want to waste time scrolling (esp. on their phone while cooking) 🙂
I’m working on that, Tasha! Thanks for your comment and so glad you liked the recipe 🙂