This Creamy Italian Pasta (with cream cheese) is a hearty dinner that includes juicy chicken breasts and a creamy flavorful sauce! The chicken in this pasta dish is delicious on it’s own but the pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach is the perfect pairing!
How to make Creamy Italian Pasta with Cream Cheese:
This Italian inspired pasta dish is a whole meal in one and it’s easy and quick enough for a weeknight. It even sneaks in a few veggies! Here’s how to make it…
The first step is to season the chicken. This seasoning mixture is bursting with flavor and the chicken turns out so juicy! You want to make sure you coat both sides of the chicken breast and use every bit of seasoning.
You’ll want to choose a skillet that has higher sides and is large enough to hold the pasta, sauce, and chicken. Once you’ve heated it up, you can add in your oil and the chicken. Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, you’ll want to cook them for about 5-6 minutes per side.
TIP: if you have giant chicken breasts like mine were here, they will take quite some time to cook through. Here are some options for you if you want to speed things up.
- Cook for about 4 minutes per side then place them in a pre-heated 350° oven for another 10 minutes while finishing the sauce. (temp should reach 165)
- You can butterfly (slice in half) the breasts before cooking to speed up cooking time.
- You can cut them into bite-sized pieces before cooking.
After cooking your chicken, set it aside on a plate and cover with foil so it stays warm and juicy. This is also the point where I like to start heating a pot of water on the stove for the pasta
Now, back to the same skillet…you want to add in some of the chicken broth, tomato paste, and garlic. Then you’re going to pump up the flavor of this little mixture by reducing it down by half. This sauce won’t get “thick” but it will get thicker than where you started. You can see in the photo below that you should be able pull your spatula through it and see the bottom for a second.
What’s reducing in cooking you might ask?
It’s simply allowing the liquid to simmer so the steam or water burns off leaving a thicker and intensified sauce behind…it’s basically tasty magic!
The rest of the recipe is super simple! Add in the remaining broth, heavy cream, some salt, and some more Italian seasoning and stir everything together and let that simmer for 5 minutes. You can just see how much flavor is in the sauce!
Next comes (in my opinion!) the best part – the cream cheese! You want to make sure you’re adding in softened cream cheese and not cold cream cheese. It just won’t melt properly into the sauce. You can just pop the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds and it should be good to go! And don’t forget those drained sun-dried tomatoes! If you want, you can chop those into smaller pieces but I bought the sliced ones so they were ok for us.
The parmesan cheese and spinach come next! I like to use fresh spinach and just do a few quick chops to break them up into smaller pieces but you can also leave them whole if you prefer. You can also use frozen spinach if you have some on hand. This is a great way to get some extra vegetables in a meal!
And that’s it! Your sauce is done! All you have to add is your pasta and the cooked chicken back in and serve! Just remember that this recipe makes enough for half a pound of pasta so if you use the whole box, you won’t have enough sauce.
I can’t wait for you all to try this Creamy Italian Pasta (with cream cheese)!! It’s one of the few meals that all 4 of us in my family agree on and devour!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Pan Fried Cod with Creamy Lemon Pasta
- Creamy Chicken and Pesto Pasta
- Easy Rosemary Focaccia Bread
- Blackened Chicken Tenders
Creamy Italian Pasta (with cream cheese)
- 2 large chicken breasts
- ½ teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and Italian seasoning
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (you can also sub canola if it's what you have)
- ½ pound penne pasta (usually half a box)
- 1 and ½ cups chicken broth (divided)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese
- ¾ cup drained sun-dried tomatoes
- ¾ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 handfuls of fresh spinach or about 1/2 cup frozen spinach
- parsley to garnish (optional)
- Mix together the seasonings for the chicken and sprinkle over each chicken breast to fully coat.
- Heat a large skillet with high sides over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Sauté the chicken breasts for about 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked throughout. (see notes below)
- Set the chicken aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest and stay warm.
- Add water to a large pot and start heating it for the pasta while you make the sauce. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to your pasta water. Once boiling, cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- In the same skillet where you cooked the chicken, (still on medium heat) add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes and allow to bubble until the sauce is reduced by half.
- Add the remaining chicken broth (1 cup), Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and heavy cream and stir to combine. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the softened cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and parmesan cheese and stir until both cheeses are melted.
- Turn off the heat and add in the spinach. Stir until the spinach has wilted. (about 2 minutes.)
- Add in the cooked pasta and stir into the sauce.
- Top with the cooked chicken (and any juices from the plate) and parsley to garnish and serve.
- Cook for about 4 minutes per side then place them in a pre-heated 350° oven for another 10 minutes while making the sauce. (internal temp of the chicken should reach 165)
- You can butterfly (slice in half so you have 4 thin breasts) the chicken before cooking to speed up cooking time.
- You can cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces before cooking.