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Chicken Penne Pasta with a Lightened-up Parmesan Cream Sauce

A (Lighter) Creamy Penne Chicken Pasta Dish with mushrooms, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Easy, 30-minute dinner that can be made in ONE pot!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword penne pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 581kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $6.21


  • 12 ounces Penne Pasta (use Barilla Pronto for super quick prep!)
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (prepared/leftover) rotisserie or grilled chicken, shredded
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons white flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or chicken broth; stock has more flavor)
  • 1 cup milk (1%, 2%, or whole milk; 1% for the lightest version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Optional: fresh thyme


  • Cook the penne pasta according to package directions*. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pot, over medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of oil from the sundried tomatoes. Add in the mushrooms and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add in the coarsely chopped tomatoes and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Dump this mixture on top of the set aside Penne.
  • In the same pot again (return to the burners and put at medium-high heat), add 1 more tablespoon sundried tomato oil OR olive oil and the butter. Once the butter is melted, stir in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Slowly add in the flour, whisking constantly. Whisk for one minute.
  • Slowly add in the chicken broth while whisking and then slowly add in the milk while continuing to whisk. Increase the heat and allow the mixture to get to a boiling point and then reduce and allow to simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add in the Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Once the sauce is thickened, add back in the pasta + veggie mixture. Add in the leftover rotisserie chicken (or leftover grilled chicken) and spinach to warm through (get the spinach to wilt) for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir the ingredients until combined and add in the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Stir and enjoy immediately garnished with fresh thyme if desired.


*If you want this dish a little quicker and don't mind dirtying another pot, cook the pasta in one pot and as soon as that's going, start the mushrooms cooking in another pot.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 74.3g | Protein: 24.1g | Fat: 21.3g | Cholesterol: 40.1mg | Sodium: 546.9mg | Fiber: 4.4g | Sugar: 8.2g