This easy and elegant recipe for Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta is going to be a new favorite! Combining the classic flavor combo of lemon, garlic, and parsley, this easy bowtie pasta dish is great for guests, but simple enough for a weeknight dinner.
Updated on August 22, 2022
While we don’t eat a lot of pasta in my home, I do enjoy a delicious and hot pasta dish when I’m craving something comforting and somewhat special. We tend to stick to old fashioned classics, and really like our meat and potatoes, but my more sophisticated side finds herself craving pasta dishes pretty often.
So when I get the urge for something creamy, tender, and pasta-licious, I’m probably going to be making this easy and delicious Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta recipe. It’s made with farfalle, covered in a creamy lemon sauce, and features tender seasoned chicken breast. What more could a girl ask for? Other than garlic knots and a glass of wine on the side, of course!
Why Use Bowtie Pasta?
Bowtie pasta (farfalle) is one of my favorite pastas. Partially because of the novelty, and partially because the nooks and crannies serve as perfect little hidey holes of saucy goodness. Bowtie pasta has these little creases where the buttery lemon sauce settles in and makes a nice little home for itself. When assessing a pasta noodle for use, always look for a good “sauce trap”. You don’t want a smooth surface, you want something a little rumpled or ridged. That way the sauce clings to the noodle, rather than staying in the bowl.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s an elegant and flavorful dish that is perfect for serving to guests, but easy enough for a weeknight meal.
- It uses fresh, quality ingredients to give big flavor and a silky texture.
- Features the classic flavor combination of lemon, garlic and parsley.
- It’s simple skillet meal that comes together quicker than you would expect!
- Pasta: Bowtie pasta is used in this recipe. The particular ridges are perfect for a thinner sauce.
- Chicken Breasts: These are sliced and seared with plenty of seasoning for a well rounded flavor.
- Salted Butter: An essential element for the creamy lemon and garlic sauce. Yum! Unsalted butter is fine too if that’s what you have on hand, just add a little bit of additional salt.
- Heavy Cream: This adds the perfect creaminess, and thickens with simmering.
- Parmesan Cheese: For finishing and serving.
- Garlic: It has to be fresh here. Jar garlic would be a crime for which there would be no adequate punishment.
- Lemon: I highly recommend using fresh lemon, as the flavor is so much better compared to bottled juice.
- Fresh Parsley: You really really really want to go with the fresh stuff in this recipe. Dried parsley really is a poor replacement for fresh. You can buy a bunch for fairly cheap, and you can keep it fresh for a long time using this method.
- Oil: I like to use olive oil to compliment the flavors used in the dish, but you can use avocado oil if you prefer.
- Seasonings: Salt, pepper, paprika, and dried thyme are used in this recipe and provide some light seasoning to the chicken.
How to Make Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
To get started, bring a large pot of salty water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add your pasta and boil until al dente, or for about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the saucepan is hot, add in your olive oil and swirl it around.
Once the oil shimmers, add your sliced chicken breasts in a single layer.
Mix your salt, pepper, paprika, and thyme in a small dish. Sprinkle it over the cooking chicken.
Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, until each piece reaches 165ºF in its thickest part. I like to check each piece and remove them as they are cooked through.
Once the chicken is all cooked through, remove it to a plate and set aside.
Making the Creamy Lemon Sauce
Add the butter into the hot skillet, swirling it around with a wooden spoon until melted. Then, add in the minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant – about 1 minute.
As soon as the garlic is fragrant, pour in the heavy cream. Use the end of your wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of the bottom of the pan, and stir the butter and cream until they become a uniform sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce for 4-5 minutes, or until thickened.
Once the sauce is thickened, add in the lemon juice and stir well to combine. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes, then add in the fresh chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
Add the cooked chicken pieces back into the sauce. Toss to combine.
Once the pasta is done, drain it and add the drained pasta to a large bowl. Pour in the chicken and cream sauce, and toss well to combine.
Add in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and toss well to coat the chicken and pasta. Serve with the remaining shredded parmesan cheese and chopped parsley (if desired) on top of each portion.
This pasta does not reheat very well. Since the sauce is very rich, it tends to separate and does not maintain its consistency after reheating. For this reason, I recommend serving it fresh and hot. If you’re eating leftovers, in my opinion it’s best served cold!
Pasta Cooking Tips
- Cook to al dente: Start off by setting a timer for when your pasta is expected to be cooked through. Start to check your pasta at about 2 minutes before the timing is up, and check often to see when it becomes slightly tender with a little bit of bite to it. As soon as you like the texture, remove from the heat and drain the pasta over a colander.
- Heavily salt the water: Since this is the liquid that the pasta will cook in, it will be getting all of its flavor from the water. To ensure that it is adequately seasoned, Italians like to make their pasta water as “salty as the sea.”
- Keep it warm: If you’re still waiting for your sauce to thicken and the pasta is already finished cooking, drain it in a colander and set a plate over the top. This will keep it warm for a few minutes while you finish up the sauce.
Can I substitute bow tie pasta for another type of pasta?
I would recommend sticking with bowtie (farfalle) pasta when called for, or a pasta that is a very similar shape (like Mafalda). Pasta is not an easy food to convert because it has less to do with volume (cups) and more to do with weight. Even if you weigh your pasta to convert, you can have some difficulties because different pastas absorb different amounts of water and require different cooking times.
Since this is not a one pot pasta recipe (you will be draining the noodles) you could bend the rules a little and substitute a pasta of your choice. But bear in mind that the results may be significantly different than they will be if this is made with bowtie pasta. That is because your pasta may cook up to a larger volume (meaning less sauce to go around) or a lower volume (meaning much more sauce to go around). As long as you keep that in mind and temper your expectations, you should be fine to go ahead with your experiment.
What to Serve with Pasta:
- Garlic bread
- Tossed salad
- Caesar salad
- Garlic knots
- Soft breadsticks
- Steamed broccoli or asparagus
- Wine, of course!
More Pasta Dishes
- Baked Feta Gnocchi
- Pesto Chicken Gnocchi
- Homemade Hamburger Helper with Ground Beef
- Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Pasta – Half Baked Harvest
Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta
This elegant, yet simple recipe for Creamy Lemon Chicken with Pasta features bowtie pasta, lemon, garlic, and tender seasoned chicken.
- 12 oz Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
- Boiling salted water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced (approximately 2-3 breasts)
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
Creamy Lemon Sauce
- ½ cup butter
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Bring a large stockpot of salted to a boil.
- Add the olive oil and the bowtie pasta. Stir, and boil the pasta for 12 minutes, or according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta and cover with a plate to keep warm.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the chicken. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add in the olive oil and swirl to coat.
- Combine the thyme, paprika, ground black pepper, and salt in a small bowl.
- Add the sliced chicken in a single layer. Sprinkle the chicken with the seasonings.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Once the first side is browned, turn the chicken to brown on the other side.
- Cook the chicken until an internal temperature of 165F is reached in the thickest piece of chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and onto a plate. Set aside.
Creamy Lemon Sauce
- Add the butter to the hot skillet, swirling it around until it melts.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic to the melted butter. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Slowly add the heavy cream to the butter and garlic, whisking as you add the cream.
- Once all of the cream is added bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add in the lemon juice and whisk to combine. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh parsley.
- Add the chicken into the sauce and toss well to combine.
- Place the hot pasta in a large bowl, stirring to prevent clumping.
- Add the chicken and sauce to the bowl of cooked pasta and toss to combine. Then, add in 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan cheese and tossing it once again.
- Serve immediately with the remaining parmesan cheese and additional chopped parsley (if desired).
Storing: This pasta does not reheat very well. Since the sauce is very rich, it tends to separate and does not maintain its consistency after reheating. For this reason, I recommend serving it fresh and hot. If you're eating leftovers, in my opinion it's best served cold!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6 of Recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 504Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 597mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 29g
Nutrition information is an estimate only.
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You should never add olive oil to pasta water. It’s a cardinal sin! Olive oil stays on top of the water, makes the pasta slippery which the sauce doesn’t stick to it and then you can’t use it to add to the sauce to add as a bit of a thickening agent!