My husband loves lemon desserts so I always try to make something lemony for his birthday like lemon chess pie or lemon chiffon pie. However this year I made a lemon chicken pasta entree to go with his lemon dessert.
The lemon flavor in this dish comes from the sauce, not the chicken. I thought it might be too lemony but it wasn’t and adding a squeeze of lemon juice at the end brightens it up.
I prefer more chicken and less pasta but if you need to make this go farther, just add more pasta, the sauce is so good enough you could leave out the chicken and make this vegetarian.
If you’re a pasta lover, but want something not as heavy as an Alfredo sauce or tomato sauce then this is your dish. While it has a cream sauce it does not feel heavy. It’s a great Spring time dinner.
To make life easier, I bake up a bunch of chicken breasts at one time and freeze them to use in dishes like. Then on those nights when you want to cook out of your pantry, you can grab some frozen chicken and make ranch chicken on one pot Southwest chicken and rice.
Roasting chicken breasts, takes about 2 minutes of effort. All you need to do is cover with olive oil and salt and pepper and throw them in the oven. I’ve put together some tips and step by step directions for making perfectly tender and juicy chicken breasts.
While you’ll love it
- You can use rotisserie chicken for a quick weeknight dinner.
- The sauce is light but creamy.
- It’s simple to make but surprising with so much flavor.
What is herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence are a combination of herbs found in the Provence region of France. There are many combinations but most contain thyme, rosemary and oregano along with tarragon, basil, parsley, fennel seeds and sometimes lavender. You can make your own or substitute Italian seasoning in this recipe.
What you’ll need
- Chicken breasts – you could also use thighs or if you’re in a rush, use a rotisserie chicken.
- Pasta – use a type that that the sauce can cling to like penne, or spiral shaped.
- Cream – you can substitute half-and-half, but anything less will not give you a thick and creamy sauce.
- Herbs de Provence – You can find this in the spice section at the grocery or make your own.
- Lemons– you’ll use the zest and juice from a lemon and then use a second lemon to squeeze over each serving.
- Pantry staples – chicken broth, cayenne and parsley
How do you make this Lemon Chicken Penne Recipe
Boil the pasta, but just until it’s slightly firm.
Cook the cubes of chicken in a skillet with the herbs and remove to a plate. Or if you plan ahead you can roast the chicken, cut it into cubes and toss with the dried herbs.
In the same skillet, make the sauce with chicken broth, lemon juice and cream. It will thicken a little but not wont’ be thick.
Add the chicken to the sauce with the pasta and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
If you already have cooked chicken, then just toss it with the herbs before adding to the pasta.
What are good side dishes to serve with pasta
Are you looking for more pasta dishes?
- Baked pasta alla vodka is great when you are feeding a crowd
- We love carbonara with shrimp and corn
- If you are looking for something super simple, then try Taco Spaghetti, made in one pot
- Need some comfort food, make Sunday Sauce
Love lemons, try some of these favorites
FAQs and tips
Dried herbs will keep their flavor for 1-3 years.
Yes you can freeze pasta, but try to cook it al dente or it can get mushy when it is reheated.
Since this pasta has a sauce, you can cover it and warm it in the oven, or microwave it. To keep from over cooking it, let it come to room temperature before reheating.
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Lemon Chicken Pasta
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into cubes
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups cream
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until tender but still a little firm, about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
- While cooking, heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken breast with the herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the pasta, chicken, salt and pepper, parsley and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can use cooked chicken, just cut it into bite size pieces and toss with the dried herbs.
- You can substitute Italian herbs for herbs de Provence.
- You can substitute half-and-half for the cream.
- Squeeze a little lemon over each plate before serving.