This ranch chicken pasta is simple to make, flavorful, and a lighter take on the many creamy versions out there. It's ready in about 30 minutes!
If you are looking for a creamy version, head on over to my Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta recipe.
Lighter chicken ranch pasta
You guys, I think you're really going to like this one! The flavors are incredible. The ranch seasoning in this pasta gives the dish a subtle herby flavor. It's definitely not in-your-face ranch, but it's one of my favorite ways to jazz up pasta sauces with very little effort!
This pasta has a juicy, vibrant, and fresh tomato-based sauce and plenty of spinach. Top it all off with freshly grated parmesan, and what more could you want in a 30 minute pasta recipe?
Everything you'll need
- Pasta - I used penne, but whichever shape you've got in your pantry that's pretty similar in size is good
- Chicken - we're pan frying it until it's golden and cutting it up into bite-sized strips
- Garlic powder - add this directly to the chicken before frying to infuse garlic flavor
- Ranch seasoning - I use Hidden Valley ranch seasoning for many of my recipes. These packets should be readily available at your grocery store.
- Olive oil and butter - a classic combo for browning chicken
- Flour - a thickening agent for the sauce
- Garlic cloves - yes, I do add garlic to everything! And it's wonderful. If your heart tells you to use more garlic than I've suggested, then go for it.
- Chicken broth - gives a deeper savory flavor to the sauce vs. using water
- Lemon juice - a little acidity gives the sauce some brightness
- Tomatoes - use what looks fresh and delicious at the store
- Spinach - fresh spinach pairs so well with the tomatoes in this sauce
- Parmesan - optional but takes this chicken dinner to the next level!
How to make it
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you have 4 thinner cutlets, then season them and fry them in a skillet until golden. Transfer to a plate. In the same skillet, melt the butter and then add the flour to make a quick roux. Stir in the garlic and then the chicken broth, lemon juice, and ranch seasoning. Whisk until smooth, then stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced.
Stir the spinach into the sauce and let it wilt. Cut the chicken into strips.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, and then toss with the sliced chicken!
Tips for success
- Store-bought ranch seasoning can be fairly salty, so if you need to watch your salt intake, you may want to make your own and/or use low sodium chicken broth. Here's a homemade ranch seasoning recipe you can try.
- The size of the tomatoes doesn't have to be exact, so that's why I suggest using 2 medium tomatoes. Or use one large one! It's pretty flexible.
- Use an instant read meat thermometer to ensure chicken is perfectly cooked every time (165F).
Leftovers and storage
- It's best eaten right away, but this chicken pasta will keep in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container.
- Reheat on your stove over a low heat and add more broth if necessary.
- This likely won't hold up well in the freezer.
Questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments below. If you've made one of my recipes, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see your creations!
Ranch Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta
- 2 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon ranch seasoning divided
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- For serving: freshly grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley optional, to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water for your pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you get 4 thinner pieces. Season them with the garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon ranch seasoning, and some pepper.
- Add the oil to a skillet and let it heat up for a few minutes. Cook the chicken about 5-6 minutes/side or until it's golden and cooked through (165F). Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add the butter to the skillet. Once it's melted, add the flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the garlic, followed by the chicken broth, lemon juice, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon of ranch seasoning (whisk until smooth).
- Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking the sauce until it's reduced a bit (3-5 minutes).
- Meanwhile, cut the cooked chicken up into bite-size strips.
- Add the spinach to the skillet and stir/toss and let it wilt for a minute or two, then add the chicken in along with the drained pasta and toss until coated.
- Serve with parmesan and parsley if desired, and enjoy immediately.
- 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.