This chicken penne pasta recipe is easy to make and loaded with bacon, tender chicken breasts, and an amazing fresh tomato garlic parmesan cream sauce. It's ready in about 30 minutes!
I'm extra excited about this recipe! It uses a handful of everyday ingredients and tastes like it came from a restaurant. I love how cooking the chicken in the leftover bacon fat makes it super flavorful. Chicken breasts can often end up tasteless and overcooked, but the chicken really melts in your mouth in this recipe. I coat the chicken in flour to help it get that nice golden sear, and the flour also helps thicken the sauce up quickly (the chicken will stay nice and moist because the sauce won't be reducing for too long).
I love adding fresh tomatoes to cream sauces. It's a great way to brighten the sauce up a bit since this one has cream and bacon. And that sauce coats the penne perfectly...
This creamy garlic penne with chicken is great because it's fast to whip up on a work/school night but fancy enough for company.
Recipe notes & tips:
- I don't recommend substituting the heavy cream for something else (the acid from the tomato is likely to curdle something like milk or half-and-half).
- If necessary, you can replace the fresh tomato with the equivalent ounces of canned tomatoes (try petite diced ones).
- In any recipe, I always prefer to grate my own parmesan. Here's the awesome cheese grater I use.
- You don't have to use penne for this recipe, but I do like the way the sauce clings so those little tubes.
More tasty chicken recipes to try:
- Creamy Chicken Spinach Pasta
- Easy Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Feta Spinach Pasta
- Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Recipe
Let me know if you've made this creamy chicken penne recipe! Tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see your creations.
Questions? Ask me in the comments below!
Chicken Penne Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 4 strips bacon cut into small pieces
- 2 large chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Flour for dredging
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 5 ounces tomatoes chopped small
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta. Cook it al dente according to package directions. Meanwhile, cut up the bacon (I use kitchen shears to make this job easy) and fry it in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Once it's done, remove it to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
- Meanwhile, prep your chicken. Cut it up and sprinkle it with the garlic powder and salt & pepper. Coat each piece in flour.
- Cook the chicken over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes/side or until golden. You may need to work in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Turn the heat down a little if needed (like if it's splattering a lot). Take the chicken out of the pan and set it aside.
- Stir in the garlic and chicken broth. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let it cook for about a minute or so.
- Add the cream and tomatoes to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until the tomatoes start to lose their shape.
- Add the chicken and bacon back into the pan and let it warm through for a few minutes (let the sauce thicken a bit). Be careful not to overcook the chicken. Stir in the parmesan and toss with the drained pasta. Season with extra salt & pepper if needed.
- I used half of a 10 ounce container of little tomatoes (NatureSweet Cherubs) and cut them into quarters. You can use any tomato that looks good and just cut it up small (5 ounces is about the size of a medium tomato).
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for anything else because the acid from the tomato is likely to curdle something like milk or half-and-half.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
Easy and awesome!! Loved the flavors. Definitely a keeper!!
I'm thrilled to hear that, Janine!!
Has anyone made this ahead of time and then warmed in the oven? I need something I can prep ahead of time.
Nicole Rowe says
Very good recipe. I tweaked it to my little extras. I used sun dried tomatoes instead and added some crushed red peppers. Love the crunch from the bacon.
Glad you enjoyed it!! 🙂
Theresa Braley says
I made this tonight and for some reason it tasted a little bland. I added about a tsp of Italian seasoning and about 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. I also added a 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes instead of only 5 to make it a little saucier. My husband loved it!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Hi Theresa! So happy your husband liked it! Maybe next time add a touch more salt to yours. 🙂
Debra Rogan says
Ok, so...I'm not a great follower of recipes plus I'm a celiac--so I have to maneuver. I liked the idea and so... followed most (may have added too much bacon, pasta & chicken...) of the instructions. Didn't like the idea of frying chicken cubes after dredging in flour (which would have to be GF flour), (so I made a roux first--adding later) and sauteed the chicken w/o the flour. I added too much roux & ended up adding SOOO much more heavy cream/milk to get it to DEthicken (is that a word?) AND it really did work out in the end... My point is, I like this recipe b/c they are not having you cheat on the tomato cream sauce. Other recipes suggest to add spaghetti sauce (NO!). This base recipe is great...modify as you need to. Thank you!! Enjoy!!
I was searching for a Chicken and Pasta recipe where I had all the ingredients. I came across this one and immediately looked to see if I had everything. The only thing I did not have was tomatoes so I substituted with a can of stewed tomatoes. I just drained the juice and cut them up some. This recipe was delicious and my husband loved it! It's a keeper and I will make this again.
I'm so glad you found the recipe and enjoyed it, Sandy!! Thanks for taking the time to write me a review.
Michele Hillrichs says
This looks amazing I’m going to try this tomorrow
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Thank you! Let us know how it goes!!
i see that the serving size is for 4, if i needed to make it for more people, could i just double the the amounts of everything and it could be for 8 ?
Yes, that's what I would do. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the recipe!
This was so delicious! Even my 4 year old cleaned his plate. Glad it wasn’t too heavy. Made it with protein penne to make it a little healthier. Thanks for sharing it 🙂
You're very welcome!! 😀
what can you substitute for the parmesan cheese?
So, there isn't really anything that tastes the same as parmesan. Grana Padano would work but I'm assuming you just don't have any parmesan in your fridge so you probably don't have that either. I'd probably just leave it out if you have to, but it won't taste quite the same. You could of course try experimenting and subbing different cheeses if you want.
Our new favourite pasta😍 made it last week and I'm making it again today!
Fantastic!! 😀 Thanks for letting me know!
Could you do this in the crockpot?
Hi! I'm not really sure how... like searing the chicken adds lots of flavor, and it's a really quick cream sauce with fresh tomatoes... I feel the slow cooking would just destroy it.
Thanks for answering!!
You are welcome!
Rebekah Scroggy says
This is SO good! Thank you so much for this recipe! We added some mushrooms and basil because we had it but I loved the tip of hand grated Parmesan. I think it added such a nice touch!
You're very welcome!! 🙂
ALWAYS hand grated parm in cooking!!!
Very good. After reading comments and considering my own dietary concerns. After cooking the bacon. I dumped the bacon grease to cook the chicken in a bit of garlic flavored olive oil. I also browned sliced baby Bella mushrooms. I added some chopped sun dried tomatoes with the sliced cherry tomatoes and chopped parsley and basil. I’ll definitely make this again.
I'm glad you were able to adapt it, Liz! 🙂
My whole family loved loved loved this recipe. Super easy to make. I added a bit more cheese (because we love cheese!) I highly recommend trying this recipe.
That's great to hear. Thanks so much, Lucy! 😀
Debbie Crumby says
Can I fry chicken in bacon grease ? It makes the sauce dark , but taste fine
I'm not really sure what you're asking. The recipe says to fry the chicken in the bacon grease (you fry the bacon, take it out of the pan, leave the grease in the pan, and then cook the chicken in it).
This chicken bacon pasta had no flavor. I would have used spaghetti sauce if I had it. More than enough for a family of 4 adults.
Did you add enough salt? Cream sauces will always end up bland if you don't. This recipe has quite a few great reviews, and I didn't find it bland either.
This is my favorite dish of all time. Ive made it over a dozen times now and my husband loves it too. I could eat it every day. (Also in case anyone is wondering, have been successful in substituting the cream for half and half every time with no curdling)
That makes me so happy!! 🙂
Amy Benson says
This was delicious!! My new favourite pasta dish! Thank you thank you thank you 🙂
Wonderful! You're welcome!
Would this work with fat free sour cream instead of heavy cream? Too much fat for our family.
Hi! Honestly, I don't recommend it. It'll turn it into a different recipe, and there's a good chance the sour cream will curdle. If you're confident at altering sauces and have done similar before, then you could give it a try, but I'm not sure how well it'll work.
Made this tonight. OMGoodness! It’s so good!!
Julie Gerbrandt says
Wow!!! Fantastic recipe. Quick and easy to prepare and soooo delicious. Every single member of my family of 5 LOVED it. Next time I will have to double it. Thank you for keeper.
That's great to hear!! 🙂 You're welcome!
This was delicious
So happy to hear that!
I substituted the chicken with super-lean ground beef and the chicken broth with beef broth, it came out delicious. HOWEVER, this would have tasted way better had I stuck to the actual recipe with the chicken.
Great! I'm glad you were able to make it work with what you had on hand, at least.
This recipe was amazing! I felt like I was eating at some fancy Italian restaurant! I’m a pretty good cook and there was a little more prep and multi tasking than I’m used to. I had my husband help me a bit. But the end product was so hearty and decadent. Seriously so good!!
Aww I'm so happy you enjoyed it!
Thank you so much for this delicious recipe! My whole family loved it.
You're welcome! Glad you all enjoyed it! 🙂
This was delicious! Love all of your recipes. They are simple to follow but have such amazing flavour!!
So glad to hear that, Amy!! Thanks for taking the time to comment! XO
Chris N says
Hi! Thank you for posting this recipe. I had most of the stuff on hand and decided to whip it up. I used tomato sauce in place of tomatoes because that’s all I had, and did use whole milk. There wasn’t any curdling. I’ll definitely try it again with real tomatoes and heavy cream but my family loved it regardless! I think I’ll add in some tasty greens like spinach and some oregano too.
Even my kiddo who doesn’t like red sauce ate it so you know it must be good!
You're welcome!! I'm glad it worked out with the substitutions! 🙂
I made it tonight! I made a few minor adjustments. (ie.don't eat pork, so i used turkey bacon) But, the end result was very tasty!
Oh! I was thinking it might be good with some spinach tossed into it with the parm cheese.
David in Benicia says
We made this tonight. I felt it needed a bit more seasoning, maybe some fresh thyme and oregano with the garlic.
I like the idea about about the fire roasted tomatoes
Donna Disney says
Looks easy and very tasty
Is there a video, just curious
Hi Nora! Not for this recipe - sorry!
This was my first recipe I tried from your website. We just finished eating this for dinner. It was delicious and the first recipe that actually took the short time to cook that was stated on the recipe. I have a very picky family and they all cleared their bowls happily. I only had 3/4 cup of heavy cream left in my fridge so I added 2% milk to it. The sauce wasn’t as thick as if it was all heavy cream, but it wasn’t any less delicious or creamy. I used a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of fresh and the charred tomatoes were the perfect addition. I will definitely be making it again. Thank you for sharing.
Wonderful! I am so happy that it worked out, Kia!
Julie robbins says
I made it. Loved it. Can't wait to make again!!!
Awesome!! Thanks for letting me know, Julie! 🙂
Debbie Warnock says
What do you class as chicken broth? Is it a tin of chicken soup or something separate to make up before. Thanks debbie
Hi! It’s just a can or carton (I buy them in the big 32 oz size) labeled as “chicken broth”. It’s similar to chicken stock. You can use chicken stock instead if you prefer (or make a homemade version). They’re typically sold in the same aisle as the canned soups. Hope this helps!
Simon Knox says
Another great recipe Natasha the whole family left nothing at all. Thanks 🙏😋
Aww so happy to hear that, Simon! 🙂
Susan Grupe says
Breast halves, I assume? I don't want to blow it...
Looks so good and I finally have all the "stuff."
Hi Susan! Yes, technically they are chicken breast halves because the whole breast is split into 2 pieces. Generally what you see in the store is packaged as "chicken breasts", and so most recipes just refer to the halves as "chicken breasts" even though it's not technically correct. I hope that makes sense haha. Hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂
Often recipes will say one or the other. I wanted to check first. I spent several years cooking for a tv show, so I like to be sure. (The GM's wife let it be known if I wasn't properly specific.) Thank you for all your tasty sounding/looking recipes.
Yup makes sense ☺️
This was AMAZING! It is definitely a new favorite, and I will be making this again soon. It was so easy and delicious. I am pregnant and can't eat beef or marinara sauce (makes me sick). So I am very thankful to have found all of your different chicken and white sauce recipes! Thanks!
Yay! So glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting! So glad you found me. XO
Made this tonight because I had all the ingredients on hand, it was PHENOMENAL (how could it not be with bacon and heavy whipping cream) my husband had 3 helpings!
I'm so glad it was a hit!! 3 helpings... that's awesome! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂
just made this with canned diced tomatoes because the grocery store was all out of the fresh stuff. just had to cook a little bit longer in the cream sauce but it turned out perfect!
I'm so glad you were able to make it work, Coco! XO
I made this recipe yesterday for dinner. The leftovers are yummy and the fresh cooked meal is so good!
I didn't have heavy cream so made my own cream sauce from a roux (equal parts butter and flour) then added 2% gradually until I had enough sauce. Added cherry tomatoes and no curdling!
Thanks for the recipe!
I'm so glad it worked out with the roux!! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment! 🙂
Bart Schiavo says
Do you think this would come out ok without the bacon?
You'd have to replace the bacon fat with something like oil or butter. It really does add a lot of flavor but I think it could still be tasty. Let me know!
Bart Schiavo says
I made it tonight (without bacon) and used 2 tbsp of butter in lieu of the fat, it was absolutely delicious!!! Thanks 🙂
So happy it worked out for you! 🙂