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
This was really yummy but I made a lot of changes. I’m sure the original is great too. My changes were: 1 tsp each of basil and oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 2 tbs minced garlic, 4 cups of rotini, 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of Ro-tel with green chilis, mushrooms, 2 boxes of frozen chopped spinach (thawed with moisture squeezed out). I did not add any salt because the broth and Ro-tel are salty. In my 12 inch pan I think I could have skipped removing the chicken and added the onions and garlic before the chicken was fully cooked. Just great because we like more spice. This will feed 6 hungry adults.
This dish was simple and fast. Really enjoyed it no leftovers😋
Delicious blend of flavors. Easy to make. New favorite way to use chicken leftovers.
Used crushed tomatoes and coconut milk as substitutes. Delicious! Will definitely make it again.
My husband and I tried this recipe and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I didn’t have roasted tomatoes or the cheese So had to use what I had here and it was delicious. I liked the fact that I could change the ingredients according to how many people were being served when I printed it out. Definitely this will be put in my recipe book
I doubled the recipe and changed a few ingredients to make it Gluten-Free & Dairy Free. I used 16 oz. of Aldi’s gluten-free penne, substituted Dayia cheese and coconut milk; but followed the recipe as written otherwise. Great recipe! My kids even asked for seconds!
Substituted the broth with just water, added more garlic, and substituted the milk with Unsweetened Almond Milk. Very good combo and was delicious!!
Very good ! I also added mushrooms for extra veggies.
Enjoyed this!! Doubled this recipe. The only changes I made was to add 1 can diced petite tomatoes and 1 can fire roasted tomatoes. (Only had 1 can of the fire roasted tomatoes.). And the cheese I had on hand was mixed shredded Colby. Otherwise, I followed the recipe ……just doubling every ingredient. Cooking time was about five additional minutes of simmering. There was a little more sauce than I liked, but as it sat, it was absorbed by the pasta. My husband and I thought it was very good. My son thought it was just ok. I will definitely make it again following the exact recipe. This is a very forgiving recipe and can be adapted to your tastes. Thanks for sharing!
To avoid pasta, what would you suggest? Ideas appreciated. TIA
You can skip all the broth if not adding pasta.. I believe that is there to cook the pasta. Then you can choose to add in zucchini zoodles, or small chunks of zucchini. Mushrooms, sauteed in with the onions and garlic would work too. Just make it more of a stand alone casserole.Use just the amount of tomatoes that you need . I like diced tomatoes with basil, oregano snd garlic rather than fire roasted tomatoes. But that is just ny personal taste.
This dish was delicious. Definitely a family favorite!
Omg! Delicious! Just made it and loved it but I read some comments and tweaked the recipe adding more garlic, and chicken broth made with large knorrs cubes used 2 cubes just seasoned chicken with garlic powder, onion powder little bit of oregano either way it came out flavorful loved it