Using rotisserie or leftover chicken makes this easy creamy lemon chicken pasta recipe perfect for busy weeknights! It comes together quickly with no fancy ingredients.
Love lemony sauces? You may also like my Easy Creamy Lemon Pasta or Lemon Chicken Gnocchi.
Why you'll crave it
Another 30 minute pasta coming 'atcha that's simple enough for everyday but makes an elegant dish for company! In my opinion, lemon and chicken are the perfect match and one of those timeless combos that just always works. Add in some carbs in the form of pasta, and I'm one happy gal.
I'm a big fan of adding lemon to cream sauces to brighten them up like in this lemon chicken pasta recipe. Our kitchen can't resist the parmesan cream sauce, but if you prefer a similar recipe without cream, head on over to my Lemon Chicken Pasta instead. You really can't go wrong whichever one you choose.
Ingredients for it
- Pasta - I used spaghetti, but swap it with any shape of pasta that you've got in your pantry
- Butter and flour - to make a quick roux
- Garlic - if you're a garlic lover, feel free to add even more! This garlic press makes it effortless to mince. You don't even have to peel the cloves.
- Chicken broth - to make the sauce richer. Veggie broth works just fine as well.
- Lemon - we're using both fresh lemon juice and the zest for all-out bright flavor
- Heavy cream - for making the sauce luxurious
- Chicken - pick up a rotisserie chicken or use up any leftover Roast Chicken you may have on hand
- Parmesan cheese - I use my Microplane to grate the parm (and zest the lemon). I always keep a wedge of parmesan in my fridge since it tastes so much better when you grate it yourself and melts easier.
How to make creamy lemon chicken pasta
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Start by boiling a salted pot of water for the pasta. When it's about 10 minutes away from being done, add the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the flour once it's melted to make a quick roux.
- Stir in the garlic, followed by the chicken/veg broth (or use dry white wine), and the lemon juice and zest. Let it bubble for about a minute until it's reduced a fair bit.
- Add in the cream and cooked chicken, and let it simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce thickens. Stir in the parmesan, and season with salt & pepper as needed. Toss with the drained pasta, and give it an additional dusting of cheese if desired.
Substitutions and variations
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for a lower fat alternative (e.g. half-and-half of milk) because the acidity of the lemon juice may curdle it, and the sauce won't taste as good or have the right texture.
- Want to make this extra elegant? Use a dry white wine like pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or chardonnay in place of the chicken broth.
- Feel free to throw in some spinach or frozen peas towards the end of the cooking time if you'd like to sneak in some greens.
What to serve with this pasta
- It's great with a big slice of Homemade Garlic Bread, a dinner roll, or fresh crusty bread like a French baguette.
- I also enjoy pairing it with a side salad with my Easy Italian Dressing or Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Reheat any leftovers very slowly on a low heat in a small saucepan since cream sauces can easily separate. Give it a splash of extra cream to revive the sauce if needed.
- I don't recommend freezing leftovers of this chicken pasta. Creamy pasta sauces generally won't hold up after thawing.
Questions about this quick and easy chicken pasta? Talk to me in the comments below! Liked this recipe? Write me a review below or share it with a friend. 🙂
Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 tablespoon flour
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup chicken broth/veg broth or dry white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice + zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 2 cups cooked/rotisserie chicken shredded
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Garnish: fresh parsley & extra parm optional
- Boil a salted pot of water for the pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions.
- When the pasta is approx. 10 minutes away from being done, add the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it melts, sprinkle the flour in and cook for about a minute, stirring fairly often.
- Add in the garlic, followed by the broth (or wine) and lemon juice + zest. Let it bubble for one minute.
- Whisk in the cream, then stir in the chicken, and cook it for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened up to your liking.
- Stir in the parmesan cheese and take the skillet off the heat. Season with salt & pepper as needed (I am generous with both).
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss until coated (add a tablespoon or so of the pasta water to the sauce prior to draining it, especially if the sauce has become a little too thick). Serve immediately with more parmesan and a bit of chopped parsley if desired.
- I do NOT recommend subbing the heavy cream for anything with a lower fat content (e.g. half-and-half or milk) because the lemon in the sauce is very likely to curdle it, and you'll have to add more flour to thicken the sauce.
- 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.
Janet Ruiz says
One of my top 5 it was delicious. My family really enjoyed it. I will make this one again soon
Fantastic!! Thank you!
Absolutely delicious! So easy and we loved it!
I'm thrilled to hear that. Thank you!!
As the comments said this was a Super easy, fast, and flavorful! Kid approved! I added broccoli and will be making this one again!
Kellie Polak says
Delicious and quick with simple ingredients! This recipe pleased our whole family!
That's so nice to hear! 😀
I love this recipe, it has become a weekly staple in my house 🙂
That makes me happy! 😀
Loved this recipe! So quick and easy but packed with flavour. I added a head of broccoli in that needed using up and it worked really well. Will definitely make again 💛
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Thanks so much, Caroline! So glad you liked it!
Vicki P says
Thank you!! 🙂
Not sure what happened, if it’s cooking at high-altitude or on an electric stove top. The medium-high heat seemed to be too high for my sauce. Immediately it seemed to go bad, ended up being chunky and gritty. I used fresh parm grated myself and fresh heavy cream. The sauce ended up fully separating right before I put the pasta in it. I’m bummed, I was really excited to for this easy after work dinner.
Hi Nikkie! That's unfortunate 🙁 I'm sorry that happened! I think you could be right... the temperature may have been too high.
Awesome recipe! I almost never comment on a recipe but this one was so easy to make and so flavorful when finished. I used Penne (didn't have Rigatone) and, because I did not have a lemon, doubled up on the lemon juice. I also added a couple of dashes of parsley (for coloring) and Oregano (because I love it). I can now take this recipe anywhere -- to the oven topped with parmesan and mozzarella -- or as a stove-top meal with, for either option, the addition of fresh or frozen peas and a bit of chopped onion. It's lovely on it's own but can be changed so the family doesn't become bored after serving it once or twice. Thanks so much for this great, versatile, recipe idea!
I appreciate your detailed review, Sue!! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Ellen S says
This recipe is absolutely fantastic and very easy to make
I wanted to eat the entire pan
I did add more broth, lemon juice/zest, parm, onion powder and garlic powder
I'm so happy you liked it, Ellen! Thank you 😀