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This spicy chicken pasta has tender pan-fried chicken and a tomato sauce with a kick! It’s ready in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight option or even a date night meal.

Love spicy dishes? Try my Easy Pasta Arrabiata or this Cajun Chicken Pasta.

spicy chicken pasta in two shallow bowls

Why you’ll love it

This spicy chicken pasta might actually be one of my favorite quick pasta recipes to make with very little effort. The spicy tomato sauce is one I keep coming back to. A little heat paired with chicken and pasta makes up a dream team! And there’s plenty of sauce here.

It’s one of those recipes that wins on all fronts since it’s fairly healthy, hassle-free to make, and it’s elegant enough for company or a special occasion! I love to pile it high with parmesan. You can also customize the spice level to your tastes.

What you’ll need

  • Pasta – I chose penne because it’s a wonderful variety for really saucy sauces, but any shape will do
  • Chicken – we’re using chicken breasts that you pan-fry until golden
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper – our homemade spice rub for the chicken
  • Olive oil – for pan frying
  • Garlic – use as much as your heart tells you to! I used two cloves.
  • White wine – use a dry white wine like sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or even chardonnay. Red wine would work too if you prefer that! You can sub chicken broth if you need to.
  • Tomatoes – I find crushed tomatoes have a great texture for this sauce
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – they bring the heat to the sauce
  • Sugar – it’s optional, but it’s a well-known cooking trick to balance the acidity of the tomatoes
  • Fresh spinach and basil – this duo brings an extra pop of freshness and complements the tomatoes
spicy chicken penne pasta photo collage

How to make spicy chicken pasta

This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

  • Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner cutlets. Add the spices into a small bowl and mix together. Rub the spices onto the chicken so it’s evenly coated.
  • In a skillet, cook the chicken until it gets a nice sear. Transfer to a plate, and then in the same skillet, add the garlic and white wine (or chicken broth). Let it bubble, then add in the crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes.
  • Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, and slice up the chicken while it’s cooking. Stir in the spinach and basil and then add the cooked pasta and toss together. Top with the cooked chicken, and add freshly grated parmesan!

Substitutions and variations

  • I didn’t make the sauce too spicy, so you can definitely add more cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes than I list.
  • Some brands of crushed tomatoes are thicker than others, so if the sauce is a bit thin, cook it down for a bit longer. If it ends up a bit thick, add a splash of the hot pasta water to it prior to draining the pasta.
  • You could definitely add a half cup or so of heavy cream to the sauce. Making this a spicy and creamy tomato sauce would be next level delicious! Just make sure to use full-fat or the sauce may curdle.
close-up of spicy chicken pasta in a skillet

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

What to serve with spicy chicken pasta

Leftovers and storage

  • This pasta will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in a covered container.
  • Reheat over a low heat in a saucepan, or microwave in short increments until warmed through.
  • I don’t recommend freezing pasta after it’s been cooked. The texture can get a little soft.
close-up of spicy chicken pasta with penne in a shallow bowl

Questions about this spicy chicken pasta, or did you make it? Let me know in the comments below! Find me on Instagram as well.

spicy chicken pasta in two shallow bowls
4.41 from 5 votes

Spicy Chicken Pasta

This spicy chicken pasta has tender pan-fried chicken and a tomato sauce with a kick! It's ready in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight option or even a date night meal.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more, to taste
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 (14 fluid ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or more, to taste
  • 1 pinch of sugar optional, to taste
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil torn/chopped
  • For serving: freshly grated parmesan cheese optional

Instructions 

  • Boil a salted pot of water and cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.
  • This pasta is not super spicy, so if you are a big spice fan, I recommend adding a bit more cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes than suggested.
    Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise so you have 4 thinner pieces. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and some salt & pepper to a small bowl and stir together. Rub the spice mixture onto both sides of each piece of chicken.
  • Add the olive oil to a skillet and let it heat up for a few minutes over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes/side or until it's golden and cooked through (165F). Transfer it to a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. To the same skillet, add the garlic and wine. Let it bubble for 30 seconds or so, and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Let the sauce cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring it occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, slice the chicken into strips.
  • Give the sauce a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. If tastes a bit acidic, add a pinch or two of sugar.
  • Stir the spinach and basil into the sauce, and then add the drained pasta and toss (you can also add a few tablespoons of the hot pasta water prior to draining it… especially if the sauce becomes a bit thick).
  • Serve with the cooked chicken on top (or stir it in) and serve immediately with some freshly grated parmesan cheese if you like.

Notes

  • You can leave the spinach and basil out if you need to.

Nutrition

Calories: 472kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 285mg, Potassium: 982mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 2079IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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11 Comments

  1. Linda says:

    2 stars
    Just wasn’t a fan. The sauce just does not stick to the pasta. The only part that was good to me was the chicken that had marinated in the spices.

  2. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    I made this one for dinner tonight and my husband and I both loved it! We both love spicy so I added some more cayenne and crushed red pepper flakes per the suggestion. I will definitely be making this one again.

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay!! So glad to hear it. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Looks good! Definitely want to try it!
    Could you add some cream to the sauce too?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! Absolutely. A splash would work just fine. Be sure to use heavy cream vs. something lower fat as the tomatoes will likely curdle it. Enjoy!

  4. Bruce McDonald says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight, very delicious. Everyone that had some really enjoyed it. Easy to make. Will definitely make this again soon. Thanks Natasha…

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful!! You’re welcome, Bruce! 😀

  5. Tiffany Ribeiro says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was so quick and easy to make. I paired it with a garlic bread and it was amazing. Super saucy which I love. I went a little easy on the spices because I am sensitive to spice. It was really good. Thank you!

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!! Thanks for letting me know, Tiffany!

      1. Annette Perry says:

        Just made this tonight and it’s so delish and easy! This would be a nice having friends over dinner bc the presentation and taste is parfait! Thanks for sharing this one!

        1. Natasha says:

          You’re very welcome!!