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.
Why it's so good
This 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 so much sauce here, you guys.
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.
Ingredients 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 bold homemade spice rub for the chicken
- Olive oil - for frying the chicken
- 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
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. Using your hands, rub the spices onto the chicken so it's evenly coated.
- In a skillet, cook the chicken until it gets a nice sear and is cooked through. Transfer chicken 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. Finish by stirring in the spinach and basil and then adding the cooked pasta and tossing together. Top with the cooked chicken, and add freshly grated parmesan!
Tips for success
- 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.
- As always, I recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to ensure chicken is properly cooked to 165F.
- 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.
Leftovers and storage
- They will keep in the fridge for a few 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.
Questions about this spicy chicken pasta? Let me know in the comments below!
Spicy Chicken Pasta
- 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
- 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.
- You can leave the spinach and basil out if you need to.
- 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.