This easy Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta recipe is perfect for a weekend dinner or for a quick lunch. The result is extremely tasty, and creamy and will quickly turn into your favourite pasta dish. The chicken is juicy, the sauce delicious and so extra creamy and cheesy.
How to make Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
For this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, we begin with the chicken. We cook the chicken thoroughly in a pan with olive oil, getting it golden. Then, we remove the chicken from the pan and cook the onion and garlic in there to take advantage of the golden bits left behind by the chicken. The sauce is thickened by a roux, which is a mix of butter and flour. To make the sauce creamy yet tasty, we use a bit of chicken stock and cream. To finish, add the pasta to the sauce along with a bit of cooking water as well as the chicken. The result is this rich sauce with a satisfying golden colour and deliciously tasty chicken.
How to get a juicy and tasty chicken
The chicken breast is cut horizontally into two cutlets for even cooking in the pan. We marinate the chicken in lemon, oregano, salt and pepper. For how long? Well, until you lose patience or a maximum of 2 hours. Ideally, at least give the marination process 5 minutes. You can marinate it as you chop the onion, grate the garlic and get all your ingredients sorted. To get it nice and golden, you want to preheat your pan to medium-high heat before adding it in. Since the chicken is thin, it doesn’t have much time to become golden to prevent it from drying out. You need to cook it for approximately 3 minutes per side and that should be enough. Be mindful to not move the chicken around and let it get that lovely golden colour against the pan. Then, you will remove it from the pan and slice it. You will add it at the very end of the process for this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta recipe.
Tips for making the best Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
This Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta is really easy to make, but there are a few hotspots you need to nail to get the best result possible:
- Golden chicken: Getting your chicken golden and juicy is key. Refer to the tips I gave you previously. I cannot stress enough that preheating your pan is essential. The golden colour from the chicken adds flavour to the chicken but also leaves behind flavour in the pan that we take advantage of for the sauce.
- Season pasta water: Always season your pasta water generously. This adds flavour to the pasta and also helps it cook properly.
- Cook pasta al dente: Bear in mind that the pasta, after cooking it in water, will be added to the pan with the Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta sauce where it will get a couple more minutes of cooking as you stir it in and adjust the texture. Therefore, remove the pasta from the water a couple of minutes before the recommended time in the package and taste it to see that it still has a bit of bite to it.
- Good parmesan cheese: Parmesan cheese helps to bring together the sauce, but it also adds flavour. Using a nice quality parmesan cheese, or even better, Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano will take your dish to a whole new level.
- Use chicken stock: You can use chicken stock or plain water to make the sauce. Now, on a regular day, water is fine. However, if you have some chicken stock laying around doing nothing, put it to work in this recipe.
Turning Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta into a pasta bake
This delicious dish of Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta can easily be turned into a pasta bake. The thing you need to consider when baking pasta is that it will lose moisture in the process. Thus, you need to have a runner sauce than you want for the final result. You can achieve this by using more chicken stock or adding more pasta water at the end of the cooking process. Pour the pasta into a baking dish and cover generously with mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese or a mix of both. Bake it at 200C/400F for 10-15 minutes or until it’s crispy and golden on top, serving immediately. For an even golden top, I love to use a Microplane fine grater. You can find it on my Amazon Storefront.
Cook ahead and store
This Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta recipe really invites us to make it for an easy lunch or dinner. And if you’re like me, you love an opportunity like this to make some extra portions for another day later in the week. For the part you’re refrigerating for another day, you want to add extra water or stock. This is because as it cools, it will thicken more. With the extra liquid, you will have a sauce that’s more runny but will reheat much better when the time comes. You can keep this recipe refrigerated for a maximum of 5 days.
Get the maximum flavour
There are key points where the flavour base is developed in this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta recipe and it’s there that you need to be careful to achieve the desired result.
- Marinating the chicken: We use a marination process to add depth of flavour to the chicken. Here it’s a very simple one with lemon and oregano, but don’t skip it as it helps to caramelize the chicken in the pan as it cooks. Remember that whatever bits of golden are left in the pan we will then take advantage of them while making the sauce.
- Searing the chicken: Preheating the pan before adding the chicken and then leaving it alone until it’s time to flip is key to getting it golden. Now, of course, you don’t want to dry out the chicken either. I usually cook it 3/4 of the way (you will notice because the meat turns white as it cooks) and then flip it to finish cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
- Sautéing the onion: Under-sautéing onion is a criminal offence in my book. Once you add liquid to the pan, the onion will stop cooking anymore and will keep its strong, raw flavour. The onion is a background flavour in this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta and you should not shine through in the final product. Make sure to get it nice and golden and the smell coming out of it should be sweet and not pungent at all.
- Finishing the texture of the sauce: Once everything is in the pan, you will assess the texture of the sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add more pasta cooking water. If it’s too thin, you can let it simmer for a bit. Always consider that the sauce will always thicken a bit more when you serve it.
More pasta sauces to try
If you’re a pasta lover like me and love to experiment with different sauces, here are a few easy ones that you can try after making this Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta:
Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta Recipe
For the chicken
- 1 chicken breast cut horizontally into 2 cutlets
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the pasta
- ½ yellow onion finely diced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced or grated
- 30 g butter
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 150 ml chicken stock or water
- 150 ml whipping cream
- 50 g parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 200 g short pasta
- Cooking water from the pasta
- Fresh oregano for serving
For the chicken
- Marinade the chicken in lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper for 1h or at least 5 minutes if you're low on time.
- Preheat a pan to medium-high heat, add olive oil and the chicken cutlets. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side and remove from the pan. Reserve.
For the pasta
- In the same pan, lower the heat to medium, add more oil if needed as well as the onion and oregano. Sauté until the onion smells sweet and is slightly golden.
- Add the garlic and sauté it, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds-1 minute. Don't let it burn.
- Add the butter and flour and mix.
- Turn off the heat and add the stock or water little by little, stirring in between. At first, you will form a thick paste, thinning as you add more. Make sure to use the liquid to scrape the golden bits stuck to the pan.
- Turn the heat back on to medium, add the cream and parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.
- Let the mixture come to a boil and correct the level of salt and pepper.
- Cut the chicken into strips and add it to the sauce, along with the cooked pasta and a bit of pasta water to bring it all together and to adjust the texture as needed.
- Serve with fresh oregano leaves.