Chicken Penne Pasta

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This creamy Chicken Penne Pasta features mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. It’s an easy meal that you can whip up in just 30 minutes!

Looking for more delicious pasta dishes? Try this Tuscan Chicken PastaChicken Pasta, or this Chicken Parmesan Pasta.

A pot of warm chicken penne pasta features melted cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh spinach, ready to be served.

Chicken Penne Pasta

Throughout the seven years I worked in an upscale restaurant, their creamy penne pasta dish never left the menu, no matter how many new dishes the chef introduced when it was time to refresh the menu.

Why did it stick around? The answer is simple: People couldn’t get enough of it. It’s creamy, heartwarming, and each bite is downright delicious. This recipe today is a spin on that all-time favorite, but it’s made with a few lighter swaps. Instead of using loads of heavy cream and butter, we’re creating a lighter cream sauce with equal parts broth and milk. There’s no cream in this dish.

But what won’t you miss? Flavor! I’ve experimented and tweaked this cream sauce until it has that irresistible, gotta-have-it taste. It’s nothing complicated–just delicious! So, let’s jump into a no-fuss dish that’s stood the test of time!

QUICK TIP

“Penne” pasta is called that because of its shape. The word “penne” comes from the Italian word for “pen,” and specifically refers to a quill pen or fountain pen.

Ingredients for Chicken Penne Pasta, including measured portions of chicken, penne, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach, are neatly laid out.

Ingredients In Chicken Penne Pasta

Pasta dish:

  • Penne pasta: FIt wouldn’t be a pasta dish without some pasta, and penne forms the satisfying, hearty base of the dish.
  • Sundried tomatoes in oil: They provide a burst of tangy flavor; we’ll also use the oil from the jar during the sautéing process.
  • Mushrooms: Add these to give an earthy flavor and a satisfying, meaty texture.
  • Prepared rotisserie or grilled chicken: Adds savory depth and substance–rotisserie chicken is a great time saver!
  • Baby spinach: Spinach contributes a fresh, nutritious element and vibrant color.

Parmesan cream sauce:

  • Unsalted butter: Butter is the foundation of the sauce, adding richness and a creamy texture.
  • Minced garlic: Infuse the sauce with garlic for a delicious, flavorful kick.
  • White flour: Flour provides the key thickening agent, ensuring a creamy, consistent sauce.
  • Chicken stock or broth: Enhance the sauce with a savory, hearty flavor.
  • Milk: Milk creates creaminess and a smooth consistency in the sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese: Add plenty of parm for a nutty, cheesy richness that helps thicken the sauce further.
  • Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper: These essential seasonings round out and enhance the sauce’s flavors.
  • Optional: Fresh thyme: Thyme can be used as a garnish, adding an herbal flavor to the finished dish.

Mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes being sautéed in a pan over heat, turning golden brown.

How To Make Chicken Penne Pasta

  1. Pasta: Cook penne in salted water following the package’s instructions–but stop 1 minute early. Drain; set aside.
  2. Mushrooms and tomatoes: Sauté mushrooms in sun-dried tomato oil. Add tomatoes; cook a bit more. Remove from pan; set aside.
  3. Start the sauce: In the same pan, heat oil and melt butter. Add garlic; cook briefly. Whisk in flour.
  4. Finish the sauce: Gradually whisk in broth, then milk. Boil, then simmer until thick. Stir in seasonings and cheese.
  5. Combine: Mix the sauce with pasta, veggies, chicken, and spinach. Cook until hot. Stir in extra cheese.
  6. Serve: Enjoy hot–pasta dishes are best served the minute they come off the heat!

Butter melting in a hot pan, with garlic and flour added, being sautéed until fragrant and golden.

Make It In One Pot

Technically, this dish can be prepared using just ONE pot, but the one-pot method takes a bit longer.

For the one-pot version, you start by cooking the pasta in the pot and then draining it. In the same pot, you’ll sauté the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, set them aside, and then make the cream sauce. Once the sauce is ready, everything is combined, and it’s ready to be devoured. 

Cheese and seasonings stirred into a creamy mixture, with pasta, vegetables, and chicken added, all stirred together and ready to serve.

Chicken Penne Pasta Tips For Success

  • Pasta perfection: Avoid overcooking the pasta. Cook it al dente so it has a slight bite, which means it should be removed from the boiling water a minute or two before the package’s recommended time. It will continue to cook when you mix it with the hot sauce. Read more here to understand what it means for your pasta to be al dente.
  • Flavorful pasta: Cook your pasta in well-salted water. This step is critical for the pasta’s flavor. As a guideline, the water should be almost as salty as sea water.
  • Quality ingredients: Use high-quality cheese, since it’s a primary flavor agent in your sauce. Freshly grated Parmesan will typically offer a more robust flavor than pre-packaged varieties.
  • Garnish game: Don’t underestimate the power of a garnish. A sprinkle of fresh herbs, extra grated cheese, or even a dash of red pepper flakes can add both visual appeal and flavor.

A bowl of delicious Chicken Penne Pasta, perfectly cooked and served warm.

What To Serve With Chicken Penne Pasta 

More Delicious Pasta Dishes

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Chicken Penne Pasta

4.80 from 29 votes
This creamy Chicken Penne Pasta features mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. It's an easy meal that you can whip up in just 30 minutes!
Print Recipe

Chicken Penne Pasta

4.80 from 29 votes
This creamy Chicken Penne Pasta features mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. It's an easy meal that you can whip up in just 30 minutes!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword chicken penne pasta, penne pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 548kcal
Cost $6.21

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces penne pasta (2½ cups)
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped (plus oil from jar)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken pieces prepared/leftover rotisserie or grilled, diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach packed
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 cup milk (we use whole)
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: fresh thyme

Instructions

  • PASTA: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (use 1 tbsp salt for 12 cups of water). Add the penne pasta and cook according to package instructions, but reduce the lowest indicated cooking time by 1 minute. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  • MUSHROOMS and TOMATOES: Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil from the sundried tomatoes. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes to the pan and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Remove the contents from the pan and set aside on a plate.
    Mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes being sautéed in a pan over heat, turning golden brown.
  • CREAM SAUCE: Using the same pan, increase the heat to medium-high. Add another tbsp of sundried tomato oil and the unsalted butter. When the butter is melted, add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Sprinkle the flour over the mixture. Whisk constantly for one minute to prevent lumps from forming.
    Butter melting in a hot pan, with garlic and flour added, being sautéed until fragrant and golden.
  • CREAM SAUCE, CONT.: Gradually pour in the chicken broth, continuing to whisk, followed by the milk. Keep whisking to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Once thickened, reduce the heat to low and stir in the Italian seasoning and 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper).
    Cheese and seasonings stirred into a creamy mixture, with pasta, vegetables, and chicken added, all stirred together and ready to serve.
  • FINISH: Once the cheese is melted and sauce is thickened, return the cooked pasta, mushrooms, chicken, and spinach to the pan. Toss to coat in sauce and allow spinach to wilt, about 1-3 minutes over medium heat. Stir the ingredients until combined. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle ½ cup Parmesan cheese over everything.
  • ENJOY: Give everything a final stir and serve immediately, garnished with fresh thyme if desired.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Parmesan cheese: Be sure to grab a block of Parmesan and grate it freshly. Use the small holes of a grater or a microplane to grate. Gently pack in a measuring cup for an accurate measurement.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 934mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2104IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 370mg | Iron: 9mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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ONE POT Creamy Chicken Penne Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. The cream sauce is secretly LIGHTENED-UP. So delicious and easy! I chelseasmessyapron.com #recipe #penne #pasta #easy #quick #one #pot #kidfriendly #delicious #dinner
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81 Comments

  1. This lightened up cream sauce sounds perfect to me! I often crave alfredo, but I don’t want all that cream…totally making this next time instead!

  2. I lovelovelove this pasta! Like seriously, this Parmesan cream sauce sounds like the bomb. I could eat pasta everyday and never get tired of it, so I totally need to make this. Pinning! 🙂

  3. What a great looking dish! I’ve been in the mood for a big ole’ bowl of some comforting pasta lately… could this be tonight’s dinner?!

  4. I was going to make a chicken broccoli alfredo tonight and this sauce looks so good, I am totally trying it! This looks perfect! Thanks so much!

  5. Just made this sauce tonight for a chicken, broccoli, mushroom pasta dish…amazing! I could have eaten it even without the cheese in it, it was THAT good! Definitely a new family favorite!

  6. 5 stars
    Came across this recipe yesterday and was skeptical the sauce could be creamy without some of the traditional ingredients. Let me say, this sauce was better than than the rest! Thanks for sharing such a gem! This will be a go-to from now on!

    1. Yay!! I’m so happy to hear this was better than a heavy cream sauce 🙂 Thank you so much for the comment! I appreciate your review 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I made this for family tonight exactly as written (used whole milk) with the only change being I used spaghetti noodles since I was out of penne (darn it!). It was faaaaaaabulous! I will say that with spaghetti noodles it wants to clump up so I will definitely use the recommended penne or my favorite, cavatappi next time. Really a great recipe – loved the idea of using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes!

    1. Yayyy!! I’m soo glad you enjoyed this! And bummer about the spaghetti but that’s a great tip! Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

  8. I made this last night. Didn’t have sun dried tomatoes, but honestly didn’t miss them…it was delicious!

  9. Great dish. I made it with almond milk, veggie broth and nutritional yeast. My son said it taste like restaurant quality. I’m wondering about the calorie count? Thank you.

  10. 5 stars
    Im asian so to cook this to my family and friends, I dont know if they gonna like it but I make a try to add up in my menu, after I cooked this they in love and requesting this all the time..

  11. This dish was AWESOME! I used white mushrooms since that was all I had and wheat penne and it was still GREAT! I might add more sun-dried tomatoes next time. I use them so rarely but they are great! Loved it!

  12. This recipe was so delicious. Perfect balance of flavors. No flavor overpowered the other. I made the recipe exactly as it called for.

  13. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe 2 times already. I’m actually making it tonight. My son loves it and has been asking me to make it again so here u am getting things ready. This is a healthy dish but doesn’t taste like like some boring watch your weight dish. It has a lot of good flavor and the sauce can’t be best. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. Everyone be safe and enjoy your day. Alicia Davis

  14. 5 stars
    We made this and it was amazing. I tend to stay away from cream sauces as I find them too heavy for my taste but this was perfect. We substituted vegetable broth for chicken and lamb left over from Christmas dinner for the chicken and it was incredible…a new favorite! I also used sun-dried tomatoes in a package rather than in oil and it was still packed with flavor.

  15. 5 stars
    This is delicious! The Italian seasoning really brought a depth of flavor I wasn’t expecting. This is definitely one I want to make again!

  16. 5 stars
    This was really good! I didn’t have parmesan so substituted with a mozzarella blend. Healthy and yummy. More recipes like these please!! I’ve been trying to recreate the Strozzapreti from North Italia. If you could help with that recipe I’d be grateful!

  17. 5 stars
    My family and I love this recipe! My husband isn’t a big Alfredo sauce person and this is nothing like that! It’s a perfect creamy/cheesy/buttery sauce that is very light tasting. We also subbed the sun-dried tomatoes with cherry tomatoes due to our preference and it was amazing! My extended family have all asked me about this and have shared with many!

  18. 4 stars
    If I was rating this dish on flavor and nutrition alone, it would get five stars. If I had this in a restaurant, I would never believe it was a lighter cream sauce. Plus, similar recipes easily have twice as much sodium. This is very sensible for a creamy pasta dish. However, I did have a few issues in prepping the dish. This claims to be a 30-minute one-pot dish, then later contradicts itself by admitting that it can either be a 30-minute dish or a one-pot dish. It cannot be both. I had to juggle three different containers because there wasn’t enough room in the large bowl for my sauteed mushrooms and sundried tomatoes with the pasta. That brings me to my next issue – 12 ounces of penne was way too much for this dish. I added about 2/3 of my cooked pasta back into the dish before I just couldn’t cram any more into it. Even if I could have, there wouldn’t have been enough sauce to coat it all and it would have been dry. I may make this again, but with no more than 8 ounces of penne, and allowing more time because this isn’t quite the simple one-pot recipe it claims to be.

    1. Melissa,
      Thank you so much for the
      head’s up! I’m making this recipe
      for the 1st time tomorrow, & will be limited on time. Also, it’ll just be for my boyfriend & I, and although we plan on leftovers, I
      agree that 8 oz of pasta is likely more
      appropriate.

  19. 5 stars
    This pasta dish was amazing! Love sneaking those veggies in, and none of my picky eaters could even notice with their mouth full of the yummy creamy sauce!

  20. Hi! I’m planning on making this recipe and have dried mushrooms on hand. Any suggestion as to how to use them in this recipe? Thanks!

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