Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe with tender, juicy chicken breast, pasta and light, flavorful lemon garlic sauce. This elegant dish is an easy 30 minute meal perfect for any night of the week.
It is simply a variation of creamy garlic lemon chicken with pasta.
Al dente pasta is cooked in a rich garlic parmesan sauce with a dash of lemon and sliced tender chicken. This restaurant quality chicken lemon pasta makes the perfect summer meal or comforting winter pasta dish!
Ingredients and Notes
Using the best combination of your favorite ingredients, this lemon chicken pasta recipe is full of zesty flavor.
- Pasta: 12 ounces of your favorite pasta that can hold the sauce like penne, fusilli, bow ties, rigatoni etc. You can also use gluten-free pasta or whole wheat pasta options and adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Chicken breasts: I like thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts. They cook more quickly and evenly in the skillet. You can also use leftover chicken like slow cooker chicken.
- Onion: Sautéed onions build flavor as a base for the sauce, yellow onion is best but white onion can also be used.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves that are peeled and grated.
- Olive oil: I recommend extra-virgin olive oil, it is both healthy and popular in Italian recipes. You can use any oil of your choice.
- Chicken broth: Low sodium chicken broth or chicken stock create the best sauce.
- Milk: Whole milk adds to the rich creaminess of the pasta sauce.
- Heavy cream: Is optional but adds thickness and a luxurious quality to lemon chicken pasta.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese creates better flavor and texture, and melts down smoothly. Grated Asiago cheese also pairs well with lemon, you can use it instead or do half and half with the Parmesan.
- Spices: All you need is salt and ground black pepper. You can always add a bit of homemade Italian seasoning.
- Lemon juice and zest: Use fresh lemons if you can, this is the leading flavor in lemon sauce.
- Fresh herbs for garnish: Fresh parsley, fresh thyme, fresh oregano, or fresh basil are all delicious options.
How to Make Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
Here are step-by-step photos on how to make lemon chicken pasta recipe with easy prep, 6 simple steps, and minimal cleanup.
- Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil and set aside.
- Pan fry chicken: While the pasta cooks, preheat your skillet and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper and pan fry for about 6 minutes per side until golden brown. Place on a separate plate and set aside.
- Sauté onion and garlic: In the same skillet, add more olive oil then your onion, stir occasionally and cook until softened. Then add in garlic and sauté until fragrant, be careful not to burn.
- Finish the sauce: Stir in the chicken broth, milk, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Let it boil then reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes to thicken. Add lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, stir and remove from heat.
- Combine: Slice chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Using the pan or the large pot, combine chicken, pasta, and sauce. Toss creamy lemon chicken pasta gently until evenly coated.
- Thicken, garnish and serve: Let everything rest to allow the sauce to thicken. Stir once more, garnish with parsley, parmesan cheese, and optional lemon wedges. Serve hot and enjoy!
Variations of Lemon Chicken Pasta to Try
This lemon chicken with pasta recipe is sure to be a new family favorite, and it is easily customizable!
- Make it lighter: Omit the heavy cream and use a lighter milk for a lighter sauce.
- Make it gluten free: Use your favorite gluten free pasta, just be sure to adjust the cook time.
- Use chicken thighs: You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs. Trim any excess fat so this pasta dish is not greasy.
- Add vegetables: Add some vegetables in with the lemon chicken pasta. Baby spinach or frozen veggies can be added to the cooked pasta before mixing with the sauce. Broccoli florets, bell peppers, asparagus, or zucchini can be sautéed with the onions.
- Other additions and variations: Capers add a salty, savory flavor. You can make lemon pepper chicken and add this sauce and pasta for a lemony zing.
Tips for Best Results
Here are my tried and true tips for the best lemon chicken pasta recipe.
- Cook pasta al dente: Al dente pasta has a firm texture that’s tender, not hard or mushy. You will be tossing the pasta with the warm sauce and overcooked pasta will get soggy.
- Don’t overcook chicken breasts: Milk and lemon juice help tenderize the chicken, overcooked chicken breasts will be dry and rubbery.
- Pat dry chicken: If you washed your chicken breasts, use paper towel to remove extra moisture before seasoning. The chicken fries much nicer with a golden crispy exterior.
- Chicken is ready when: A meat thermometer is your best friend. The chicken is fully cooked when the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear.
What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Pasta?
This garlic lemon pasta with chicken is creamy, lemony, and protein-packed with a wonderful vibrant flavor everyone will enjoy!
How to Store and Reheat
Store: Place any lemon chicken pasta leftovers in an airtight container and set in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Reheating is simple, add leftovers to a pot with a splash of broth, milk or water and simmer on low while covered.
Freeze: I do not recommend freezing because pasta generally does not freeze well. Although it can be done, allow it to cool then transfer to a plastic or glass airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Use 8 ounces of pasta. Or add about 1/2 cup more milk and seasonings to the sauce to taste.
Yes. You can use more milk or chicken stock instead for a healthier, lighter sauce in this lemon chicken pasta recipe.
Add 1/4 cup of white wine after the onion and garlic are sautéed and fragrant. Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, all those brown bits are incredibly flavorful!
Two simple tips for a crispy golden crust are patting the chicken breasts dry to remove excess moisture. Secondly, make sure your skillet and oil are hot before adding the chicken. This helps them sear quickly for that perfect golden crust.
More Pasta Recipes to Try
- Shrimp spaghetti recipe
- Healthy chicken alfredo
- Instant Pot chicken pasta
- Slow cooker chicken and pasta
- Chicken and whole wheat spaghetti
Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
- 12 ounces any pasta
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3-4 large garlic cloves grated
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup chicken broth low sodium
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream optional
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated + more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 1 large lemon zest and juice of (3 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
- In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain, toss with a bit of olive oil and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat large skillet on medium heat and swirl 1 tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Season chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and pan fry until golden brown or for about 6 minutes per side. Transfer onto a plate and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds, stirring a few more times.
- Add chicken broth, milk, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until thickened a bit. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and give sauce another quick stir. Turn off heat.
- Slice chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the skillet along with previously cooked pasta. Give it a gentle toss until lemon chicken pasta is well mixed. If your skillet isn't large enough, mix everything in a pot you cooked pasta in.
- Let pasta stand for a few minutes for sauce to thicken and give another gentle toss. Garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese, and serve hot.