This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta pairs spaghetti and chicken with a garlicky lemon cream sauce and Parmesan for a winning weeknight dinner!
If you have a box of spaghetti in the pantry, your first thought might be to put spaghetti and meatballs on the menu next week, but I have an even better idea! This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta recipe mixes things up by swapping the tomato-based sauce and meatballs with a flavor-packed cream sauce and pan-fried chicken. It is so good!
(For a spicy creamy pasta, try my Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta too!)
Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
A lot of creamy pasta dishes are super heavy and the flavor is a little one-note. That’s not the case for this Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta! The lemon balances out the heavy cream, cutting its richness, while the garlic and black pepper really amp up the flavor. You might think you’re eating dinner at a restaurant when you dig into this!
If you have another variety of pasta on hand, there’s no reason you can’t use that instead. Angel hair pasta or fettuccine would both work, or choose rotini, bow-ties, or another pasta that pairs well with cream sauce.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts – Pound the chicken breasts to ¼-inch thick.
- Black pepper – Use freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
- Thin spaghetti
- Garlic – If you love garlic, you can add more for extra garlicky Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta!
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – The number of lemons you need will depend on their size, but I used about 4 small lemons.
- Lemon – You’ll need an additional lemon to cut into wedges.
- Lemon zest – Take this from one of the lemons before you juice it.
- Crushed red pepper flakes – Omit this if you prefer a milder dish.
- Chopped parsley
- Heavy Cream
How to Make Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
1. Cook the Chicken
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until it’s no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
2. Make the Pasta
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the spaghetti until it’s al dente, according to the package directions. Reserve a cup of pasta water, then drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in the skillet, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is light brown, then add the lemon juice, zest, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pour in 1/4 cup of the reserved water, scraping all the bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken, spaghetti, and heavy cream; toss to coat, then top with the Parmesan. Serve with a lemon wedge and garnish with parsley.
How to Store Leftover Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
If you have leftovers, place it in an airtight storage container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. You can reheat it in a skillet with a splash of cream or in the microwave. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
What goes well with Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta?
Can I substitute the heavy cream in this recipe?
If you want to make this Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta lighter, you can use half-and-half instead of heavy cream, but heavy cream is best!
Should I rinse the spaghetti after it’s done cooking?
No, don’t rinse the spaghetti! The starch on the noodles will help the sauce stick better.
More Reader Favorite Pasta Recipes
- One Skillet Pasta Primavera with Meatballs
- Easy Chicken Tetrazzini
- Creamy Tomato and Basil Penne Pasta
- Baked Ziti
Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts – pounded to ¼ inch thick
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 12 oz thin spagetti
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from 4 lemons
- 1 lemon thinly sliced into wedges
- zest of 1 lemon
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup Parmesan
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- chopped parsley
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, 5 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water, and set aside.
- Transfer chicken to a plate and add butter to skillet. Let melt, then add garlic.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until light brown, then add lemon juice and zest. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes. Pour in 1/4 cup reserved water – scraping all the bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces and return to skillet and gently.
- Add spaghetti and heavy cream – toss until combined.
- Top with with parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately with a lemon wedge and a sprinkle of parsley.