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This chicken and spinach pasta is a quick and flavorful one-pot meal — perfect for your busiest weeknights! With crispy pancetta, juicy chicken, tender pasta, diced tomatoes, fresh greens, and plenty of garlic and Parmesan cheese in a savory broth, it’s an easy dinner that the whole family will love.

Overhead image of one pot chicken and spinach pasta in a bowl with a side of garlic bread.
Table of Contents
  1. The Best Chicken for this Chicken and Spinach Pasta
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Pasta with Spinach and Chicken
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Storage
  6. Chicken Spinach Pasta Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Spinach Chicken and Pasta Recipe
  8. One Pot Chicken and Spinach Pasta Recipe

Whether it’s a one-skillet meal like this one, or a dump-and-bake casserole, we all love a meal where the pasta cooks right in the same pan as the rest of the ingredients! Pancetta and chicken add so much flavor to this hearty pasta dinner, it’s ready in about 30 minutes, and you won’t have too many dishes to wash at the end. Winning all around!

Searing chicken cutlets in a skillet.

The Best Chicken for this Chicken and Spinach Pasta

This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breast that you cut in half horizontally before cooking. This gives you two thinner cutlets, which cook quickly — helping to get dinner on the table sooner! That said, you have some other options as well:

  • Instead of slicing chicken breast in half horizontally, you can purchase thin-sliced chicken cutlets to use in this recipe instead.
  • If you prefer dark meat, then substitute with boneless skinless chicken thighs (just cook them a bit longer in the skillet until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F).
  • Finally, leftover cooked chicken from a previous meal or store-bought rotisserie chicken will also work. Just wait to add the cooked chicken to the dish at the end.
Pouring water into a pan.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a flavorful pot of spinach chicken pasta. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to brown the meat.
  • Pancetta: an Italian specialty made from pork belly meat that is salt cured, but not smoked. See my notes below for possible substitutions.
  • Chicken: use a boneless skinless chicken breast that you slice in half horizontally, or purchase thin-sliced chicken cutlets.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Onion and garlic: for savory flavor.
  • Rosemary: adds a fresh, earthy note to the dish.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: for spicy kick! Decrease the amount that you use, or omit this ingredient altogether, for a mild recipe.
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock and water: the liquid that cooks the pasta and yields a rich, savory broth.
  • Petite diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano: add color and flavor to the dish. You can sub with regular diced tomatoes if you prefer.
  • Short pasta: I used mezzi rigatoni here, but you can sub with another short cut pasta shape of your choice. Just adjust the cooking time according to your noodles’ package instructions.
  • Fresh spinach: add these at the end and they’ll wilt almost instantly when they hit the hot broth.
  • Parmesan cheese: freshly grated from a wedge is always best!
Stirring spinach leaves into a cast iron skillet with pasta.

How to Make Pasta with Spinach and Chicken

This healthy chicken and spinach pasta (no cream!) is light and fresh in a savory broth, but also satisfying and delicious. Best of all, it’s easy to prepare in a single pot on the stovetop! I’ve included the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of the post, but here’s the quick version:

  1. Brown the pancetta in a large skillet or large pot.
  2. Sear the chicken in the same pan.
  3. Sweat the onion and garlic with the rosemary.
  4. Add the broth, water, and tomatoes.
  5. Cook the pasta in the boiling liquid.
  6. Stir in the pancetta, chicken, spinach, and Parmesan.
  7. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle extra Parmesan and chopped fresh herbs over top.
Square overhead shot of a bowl of one pot pasta with chicken and spinach.

Serving Suggestions

This cheesy pasta with chicken and spinach is really a complete meal on its own — no sides necessary! That said, if you’d like to round out your dinner with some additional options, here are a few easy ideas that go well with the chicken pasta dish:

Side shot of a bowl of chicken and spinach pasta.

Storage

Leftovers will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. I do not recommend freezing the pasta, since pasta tends to get mushy when thawed.

To reheat the pasta, place in a saucepan or skillet, cover, and warm over low heat just until the dish reaches the desired temperature. Add extra broth, if necessary. Be careful not to boil or reheat it for too long, or the pasta will get mushy. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave.

Hands dipping garlic bread into a bowl of one pot chicken and spinach pasta.

Chicken Spinach Pasta Recipe Variations

  • Instead of pancetta, substitute with bacon, Canadian bacon, salt pork, prosciutto, or smoked sausage.
  • I used mezzi rigatoni here, but any short cut pasta shape will work. Just adjust the cooking time according to your package directions for al dente. Good options include penne pasta, medium shells, orecchiette, or bow tie pasta. Gluten-free pasta should work fine, too.
  • Use a can of drained chickpeas, white beans, or other beans in place of the chicken.
  • Swap out the spinach and use kale, Swiss chard, collards, or other greens. The sturdier greens will need to be added to the pot sooner so that they have time to soften and cook down.
Side shot of chicken and spinach pasta on a dinner table with garlic bread.

Tips for the Best Spinach Chicken and Pasta Recipe

  • Use a very large skillet (like my 14-inch cast iron pan) or a Dutch oven so that you have plenty of room to toss all of the ingredients.
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano is best for flavor and texture. In a pinch, a can of the pre-grated stuff will work, though!
  • Add a squeeze of lemon juice or freshly grated lemon zest for a bright, acidic note. A dollop of pesto, or chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or fresh basil, are also great garnishes for this chicken pasta recipe!
  • To feed a larger family, double all of the ingredients. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
Overhead shot of hands eating a bowl of chicken and spinach pasta.

More Chicken and Spinach Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of a bowl of one pot pasta with chicken and spinach.

One Pot Chicken and Spinach Pasta

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 527 kcal
This chicken and spinach pasta is a quick, healthy, and flavorful one-pot meal!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ lb. pancetta, diced
  • ½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced in half horizontally
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced (about 1 tablespoon total)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (decrease or omit for a mild dish)
  • 2 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, not drained
  • 8 ounces uncooked mezzi rigatoni pasta (or other short pasta shape such as penne, bowties, or medium shells)
  • 4-5 handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley or other herbs

Instructions

  • In a deep (12-14 inch) skillet or a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is browned and crisp and the fat renders, about 7-8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving the drippings in the pan.
    Plate of crispy diced pancetta.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the chicken in the pancetta drippings for about 2 minutes per side, or until cooked through and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove to a cutting board.
    Searing chicken cutlets in a skillet.
  • To the same skillet, add the onion, garlic, rosemary, salt to taste, and red pepper flakes. Cover and sweat for about 2 minutes.
    Adding onions garlic and seasoning to a skillet.
  • Add the broth, water, and tomatoes (with their juices); bring to a boil.
    Pouring water into a pan.
  • Reduce the heat so that the liquid is at a gentle boil, stir in the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick.
    Bowl of uncooked mezzi rigatoni.
  • Slice the chicken into thin strips or into bite-size pieces.
  • Reduce the heat to low; stir in the cooked pancetta, the sliced chicken, and the spinach. Toss until the spinach leaves wilt.
    Stirring spinach leaves into a cast iron skillet with pasta.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese; stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
    Adding Parmesan cheese to a skillet.
  • Spoon or ladle into bowls. Top individual servings with additional cheese and garnish with chopped fresh herbs, if desired.
    Overhead image of one pot chicken and spinach pasta in a bowl with a side of garlic bread.

Notes

    • Instead of pancetta, substitute with bacon, Canadian bacon, salt pork, prosciutto, or smoked sausage.
    • I used mezzi rigatoni here, but any short cut pasta shape will work. Just adjust the cooking time according to your package directions for al dente. Good options include penne pasta, medium shells, orecchiette, or bow tie pasta. Gluten-free pasta should work fine, too.
    • Use a can of drained chickpeas, white beans, or other beans in place of the chicken.
    • Swap out the spinach and use kale, Swiss chard, collards, or other greens. The sturdier greens will need to be added to the pot sooner so that they have time to soften and cook down
    • Use a very large skillet (like my 14-inch cast iron pan) or a Dutch oven so that you have plenty of room to toss all of the ingredients.
      To feed a larger family, double all of the ingredients. The rest of the cooking instructions remain the same.
    • Add a squeeze of lemon juice or freshly grated lemon zest for a bright, acidic note. A dollop of pesto, or chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or fresh basil, are also great garnishes for this chicken pasta recipe!
    • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano is best for flavor and texture. In a pinch, a can of the pre-grated stuff will work, though!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 527kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 28gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 975mgPotassium: 841mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3116IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 174mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: chicken and spinach pasta, chicken and spinach pasta no cream, healthy chicken and spinach pasta, one pot pasta, spinach chicken and pasta
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Renee says:

    Hi Blair, this looks fabulous, & I’m going to make this tonight or tomorrow. Question about the chicken: after cooking 2-min per side-do you remove the chicken from the pan, and then sweat the onions? And do you stir the onions during their cooking time, so they don’t get too brown in one side? Thx.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Renee! Yes, that’s right. In step 2, the last sentence says “Remove to a cutting board.” So just let the chicken rest while you move on with the onions, garlic, etc. I usually stir the onions once or so while they’re sweating. Hope you enjoy!