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Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal. The decadent cream sauce is flavored with lemon zest, garlic, white wine, and Parmesan. It’s all topped with crispy, juicy chicken breasts encrusted with breadcrumbs, Italian Seasoning, and Parmesan.

lemon chicken pasta in a pan with fresh lemons, spinach, and broccoli

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fettuccine, fresh lemon, white wine, heavy cream, and Parmesan in separate bowls

What Type of Pasta to Use

I love to use fettuccine because it’s wider than most pasta types and more hearty. It’s made for thicker sauces like alfredo and Bolognese, thinner pasta struggles to hold the sauce. But, if you are looking to make this pasta for leftovers and like a creamy sauce within your reheated pasta, fettuccine may not be the best option for you.

Because fettuccini is thick it literally drinks up the sauce. The sauce penetrates into the pasta, which is actually what I like about it. You can taste the flavor of the sauce in the pasta. But when you go to reheat the pasta, it may appear drier than when you first made it.

If you’ve ever gotten fettuccini alfredo for take-out or brought home leftovers from a restaurant you probably know what I mean. When you reheat the pasta it isn’t as creamy as it was originally and it’s a little oily (from the butter or oil used in the cream sauce), but all of the flavor is still there! So this is something to consider.

Feel free to use what you wish. If you’re looking to make this for leftovers spaghetti, linguine, and penne are my favorites to use.

Here’s a general list of pasta options:

  • Fettuccine
  • Penne
  • Linguine
  • Spaghetti
  • Farfalle
  • Rotini
  • Rigatoni
  • Campanelle
cooked fettuccine in a colander
raw chicken breasts, breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning in separate bowls

What Type of Chicken to Use

I prefer to use chicken breasts, but you can also use boneless chicken thighs with no modifications to the recipe. For added flavor, I like to serve the chicken crisp with a crust using breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Feel free to sear your chicken in a pan without the breadcrumbs and crust if you prefer.

I use a pound of chicken breasts, which is typically 2 large size breasts. I like thick strips of chicken so I leave the breasts intact. If you like thin strips of chicken, slice your chicken breasts in half (horizontally) to create 4 cutlets. When cooked, slice your chicken into strips.

parmesan crusted chicken in air fryer
parmesan crusted chicken in air fryer
parmesan breaded chicken sliced on a cutting board

How to Make the Cream Sauce

You will need butter, heavy whipping cream (you can substitute any milk, but the texture won’t be the same), dry white wine (optional for flavor), a lemon, and Parmesan Reggiano cheese. I buy a fresh block of authentic Parmesan Reggiano cheese and grate it myself. It truly makes a difference and adds so much flavor to the dish.

Lemon Flavor

I use fresh lemons for the lemon flavor. Decide what level of lemony flavor you want. If you want a hint of lemon flavor (and not much), start with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice and no zest.

If you want lemon flavor, but not a ton, start with 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.

For immense lemon flavor, I recommend 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. You can add more of either of these if you really want even more lemon flavor.

Lemon juice alone won’t provide much flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the zest. Whenever you are making a recipe for the first time, your focus should be on making it to suit your taste. Start with a little lemon juice and a little lemon zest, taste repeatedly, and build from there. Once you add something you can’t take it back, but you can always add more if necessary.

creamy lemon garlic chicken cream sauce in a pan
creamy lemon garlic chicken cream sauce in a pan

How to Zest a Lemon

I use this lemon zester from Amazon. You can also use a box/cheese grater. If using the zester hold it one hand and the lemon in the other. Graze the lemon over it, away from you and back and forth. You can read more about How to Zest a Lemon here.

Can You Add Veggies?

Absolutely! In fact, I often hear from readers that they prefer pasta recipes because it’s so easy to add veggies. Here are some options.

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Red Peppers
  • Green Peppers
  • Asparagus
fresh spinach, steamed broccoli, butter, and garlic in separate bowls

How to Make Lemon Chicken Pasta

Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Cook the pasta in accordance with the instructions on the package.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken breasts. Stir to combine.
  3. Place an egg in a bowl large enough to dip the chicken. Beat the egg.
  4. Dip the chicken in the egg and then the breadcrumbs mixture.
  5. Sear or air fry the chicken.
  6. Place a skillet or pot on medium heat and add butter. When melted, add garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
  7. Pour in heavy cream, white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and Parmesan and stir until combined.
  8. Add veggies and cooked pasta.
lemon chicken pasta in a pan

What Type of Pot or Pan to Use

You can make this a one-pot recipe (plus air fryer if you are air frying your chicken). I recommend this 7-quart Dutch oven. It’s large enough to cook the pasta in and it can withhold the higher heat necessary for the recipe. If you want to make this using one pot, grab one that’s large enough and retains heat well.

How to Store

You can store the pasta tightly sealed and covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.

How to Reheat

The best way to reheat the dish for leftovers is to keep the sauce separate from the pasta until you’re ready to eat it again. If you’ve already combined the pasta and the sauce, you can also add a little milk to your leftovers and reheat them in the microwave or on the stove to get a little bit of the creaminess back.

lemon pasta in a pan with spinach and broccoli
lemon pasta in a pan with spinach and broccoli

Freezer Tips

You can freeze the dish tightly covered and sealed up to 2 months. With pasta, the faster you eat it after freezing, the better the texture and consistency. Since this dish has dairy, when you reheat you will notice separation. This is normal. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Pair With These Recipes

Air Fryer Garlic Bread
Air Fryer Green Beans
Air Fryer Asparagus
Broccoli Salad

More Pasta Recipes

Southern Chicken Spaghetti
Seafood Stuffed Shells
Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Southern Soul Food Baked Mac and Cheese
Seafood Mac and Cheese
Lobster Mac and Cheese

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

a fork filled with lemon pasta
lemon chicken pasta in a pan with fresh lemons, spinach, and broccoli
Print Pin
4.67 from 3 votes

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

This Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal. The decadent cream sauce is flavored with lemon zest, garlic, white wine, and Parmesan. It's all topped with crispy, juicy chicken breasts encrusted with breadcrumbs, Italian Seasoning, and Parmesan.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword creamy lemon chicken pasta, lemon chicken pasta, lemon garlic chicken pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Calories 622kcal

Ingredients

  • 10 oz fettucini pasta See notes.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Saute your chicken in a pan without breadcrumbs and cheese if you don't want breaded chicken)

Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced.
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream See notes.
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine I used Pinot Grigio. Omit if you wish.
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest See notes.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 cups cooked broccoli florets
  • 2-3 cups fresh spinach

Instructions

Pasta

  • Cook the pasta in accordance with the instructions on the package.

Chicken Prep

  • Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl large enough to dredge the chicken breasts. Stir to combine.
  • Place the egg in a bowl large enough to dip the chicken. Beat the egg.
  • Dip the chicken in the egg and then the breadcrumbs mixture.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Pan Seared)

  • Place a skillet on medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add the breaded chicken breasts. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp. Ensure the chicken has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into strips or chunks for serving.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Air Fryer)

  • Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil spray.
  • Place in the breaded chicken breasts in the air fryer. Spray the top of the chicken with cooking oil.
  • Cook for 12-15 minutes on 370 degrees or until the chicken has crisped and reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer. I don't flip the chicken, but you can if you wish around 10 minutes.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into strips or chunks for serving.

Lemon Cream Sauce

  • Place a skillet or pot on medium heat and add the butter. When melted, add the garlic and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Pour in the heavy cream, white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and stir until combined.
  • Lower the heat to Low and add the Parmesan Reggiano, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir constantly and cook until the cheese melts. Taste the sauce repeatedly to ensure it meets your liking. Add additional salt or pepper as needed.
  • Add in the broccoli and spinach. Stir. Combine the sauce and cooked pasta.
  • Allow the sauce and pasta to cook together on Low for 5-10 minutes.

Serve

  • Serve the pasta alongside the chicken.

Video

Notes

  • Fettuccine is wider than most pasta types and more hearty. Because fettuccini is thick it literally drinks up the sauce. The sauce penetrates into the pasta, which is actually what I like about it. You can taste the flavor of the sauce in the pasta. But when you go to reheat the pasta, it may appear drier than when you first made it. 
  •  If you’re looking to make this for leftovers that are still saucy, spaghetti, linguine, and penne are my favorites to use.
  • Boil the water and pasta first and then start on the chicken so the chicken and pasta cook at the same time, which saves a lot of time in this recipe.
  • I like thick strips of chicken so I leave the breasts intact. If you like thin strips of chicken, slice your chicken breasts in half (horizontally) to create 4 cutlets. When cooked, slice your chicken into strips.
  • Cook time for the chicken will vary based on how thick your chicken is. Be sure to watch it closely. If you cut the chicken into thin cutlets, cook time is typically around 10 minutes.
  • You can use any type of breadcrumbs you wish for the chicken.
  • I used fresh spinach and frozen steamed broccoli for the veggies.
  • If you want a hint of lemon flavor (and not much), start with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice and no zest.
  • If you want lemon flavor, but not a ton, start with 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
  • For immense lemon flavor, I recommend 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. You can add more of either of these if you really want even more lemon flavor.
  • Lemon juice alone won’t provide much flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the zest. Whenever you are making a recipe for the first time, your focus should be on making it to suit your taste. Start with a little lemon juice and a little lemon zest, taste repeatedly, and build from there. Once you add something you can’t take it back, but you can always add more if necessary.
  • You can substitute any milk for heavy whipping cream. The texture will not be the same.
  • I don’t thicken the cream sauce because it seeps into the fettucini perfectly. If you want to thicken your sauce, combine 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Stir and add it to your sauce. Stir until the sauce thickens.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 622kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 28g
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Recipe Rating




Andreé

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Simple, easy to follow directions. Easy to modify if needed. This is delicious 😋

staysnatched

Saturday 20th of November 2021

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Tom

Monday 8th of November 2021

Thank you Brandi for a quick meal with lots of taste. This will be made from time to time due to having another way to have pasta other than a butter sauce or the traditional tomato sauce. Besides, who doesn't like chicken recipes! It really is a 4.5 but, since they don't have 1/2 points here.... What do you think....Shrimp too in place of chicken??

staysnatched

Saturday 13th of November 2021

Shrimp works great with this.

Caitlin

Saturday 6th of November 2021

I made just the sauce and served it over baked scallops. It was absolutely fantastic! Tasted great, very easy to make, and came together in about 5 minutes.

staysnatched

Saturday 6th of November 2021

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!