Tuscan Chicken Pasta

5 from 7 votes
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For your next dinner, try this delicious Tuscan chicken pasta recipe featuring seared lean white meat in a creamy sauce with sweet tomatoes and fresh spinach.

Tuscan chicken pasta in a large pot.

Recipe Science

  • Browning the chicken in a pan kicks off the Maillard reaction, creating complex flavors that the pasta absorbs.
  • Slowly simmering the sauce allows proteins and starches to gradually break down, thickening and enhancing its ability to cling.
  • Cooking pasta until it’s ‘al dente’ ensures a slight chewiness, contrasting the sauce and chicken texture.

Why It Works

I created a family-style meal to celebrate the flavors of Tuscany while adding protein to make it heartier. Ripe cherry tomatoes cook until they burst, creating a luxurious garlic cream sauce to coat with the corkscrew-shaped pasta. Sun-dried tomatoes provide a concentrated sweetness to each bite.

Italians love using local, garden-fresh ingredients, so leafy spinach is wilted and stirred in. To finish, a s simple garnishing of salty parmesan cheese and fresh basil is all you need. Take a trip to Italy without leaving your kitchen! That’s Amore! If you love this recipe, you might want to try my stuffed Tuscan chicken.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients to make a tuscan-inspired recipe.
  • Pasta: I use short-cut, tubular, spiral-shaped pasta called cavatappi. The double elbow shape and linear grooves on the surface help the sauce cling on.
  • Chicken: Use lean, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Use chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat. Chicken stock adds a savory taste to the sauce.
  • Cream: Heavy whipping cream contains at least 36% milk fat, adding richness to the sauce without using a flour-based roux.
  • Vegetables: Fresh cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, and spinach flavor the sauce and add a vibrant color to the dish.
  • Seasoning: The pasta dish is seasoned with minced garlic, salt, pepper, dried Italian seasoning, and garnished with basil.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

It’s easy to switch up the flavors of this creamy Tuscan chicken pasta dish. Try these delicious options:

  • Pasta: You can use other types of pasta, like gemelli, rigatoni, or penne, as I do for my chicken spinach pasta
  • Chicken: This dish is great for using any leftover rotisserie chicken, grilled, or baked pieces. Shred or chop into cubes, and add at the end of cooking to warm up.
  • Seasoning: Flavor the meat with garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika. My cajun seasoning makes it spicy and savory.
  • Vegetables: Swap the spinach for Swiss chard or kale. Add in slices of zucchini, bell peppers, or mushrooms.
  • Cheese: If you prefer a variety made in Italy, look at other types of cheese like cow’s milk Parmigiano Reggiano or a more pungent Pecorino Romano made with sheep’s milk.

How to Make Tuscan Chicken Pasta

Step 1: Cook the Pasta

Cook the pasta in salted water to be well seasoned throughout. It should be al dente, with some slight resistance, as it will continue to cook when mixed with the hot cream sauce. Reserve some starchy water to help dilute and flavor the sauce later.

Step 2: Prepare the Chicken

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. The lean meat sears well and cooks quickly; the large chunks prevent it from drying out. Season the chicken with salt and pepper before cooking to enhance the savory taste.

Chunks of chicken breast cooking in a pan.

Step 3: Cook the Chicken

Cook the chicken in extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Don’t be tempted to move the pieces! Let them sit to create a golden brown crust for 1 to 2 minutes per side. The process is fast, so don’t overcook.

Step 4: Saute the Aromatics

You don’t need fancy ingredients to make a delicious fresh pasta sauce. Use the same pan used to sear the chicken breast. The fond on the bottom of the skillet adds an intense savory flavor. The minced garlic and dried Italian seasoning bloom in hot olive oil, releasing more fat-soluble flavors and robust aromas into the dish. 

Sauteing halved tomatoes in a pan.

Step 5: Cook the Tomatoes

Next, saute the halved cherry tomatoes until they soften. Their juice will begin to release. You don’t want to overcook them, as they will shrivel up, and all of the moisture will evaporate.

Pot of cream and tomatoes simmering on the stove.

Step 6: Reduce the Cream

Stir in the heavy cream and chicken stock. The goal is to reduce the sauce so it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pieces of sun-dried tomatoes and spinach leaves in a pot of cream sauce.

Step 7: Wilt the Spinach

Three cups of spinach might seem like a lot, but these leafy greens are over 90% water. They will wilt and release their moisture as they hit the hot sauce. The flavor is mild but pleasant. I also stir in sundried tomatoes to add a nice chewy texture and concentrated fruity sweetness.

Parmesan cheese added to a pot of cream sauce.

Step 8: Add the Cheese

Parmesan is a hard-grating cheese. When the heat is turned off, it’s best to melt it into the sauce to dissolve the salt.

Close up of tuscan pasta sauce with spinach and tomatoes.

After adding the cheese, it’s a good time to stir in some reserved starchy pasta water. I recommend adding about 1 tablespoon at a time, tasting the cream sauce, and adjusting the consistency as desired.

Tuscan chicken pasta with cavatappi noodles.

Step 9: Toss with Pasta and Chicken

Right before serving, add the chicken and cavatappi pasta to the pan. Mix it all, reheating it if needed.

Step 10: Garnish and Serve

I like to garnish the chicken pasta with fresh basil. It’s fragrant and robustly herbaceous. Chopped oregano or parsley would be lovely additions to add a pop of green to the dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Tuscan sauce made of?

It’s made from minced garlic, Italian seasonings, or fresh herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and fresh tomatoes. The ingredients are sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil until the tomatoes are tender and burst into a sauce. Heavy cream adds a rich consistency.

Can I use other types of fresh tomatoes?

Yes! You can dice other tomato varieties like Roma into smaller pieces, about ½-inch in size. The key is to use very ripe tomatoes so that the sauce has a balanced sweet, acidic, and fruit flavor.

How do I make a lighter sauce?

Use whipping cream instead of heavy whipping cream. It’s lower in fat, about 30 to 36% milk fat. You can also increase the chicken broth or stock to 1 cup. Reduce the heavy cream to 1 cup. It will take longer to reduce the sauce, but the consistency will not be as rich.

Can I use canned tomatoes for the sauce?

Canned tomatoes are a convenient shelf product for making the cream sauce. To preserve some fresh chunks of tomato, use whole peeled or diced. You can break down whole tomatoes to the desired size. The only downside is that producers use calcium chloride to retain and keep their shape firm. This is not an issue if you like more significant pieces of tomato in the sauce. Use the same amount of canned product as fresh, but drain the juices or sauce from the can.

What can I serve this with?

Pairing Tuscan chicken pasta with garlic bread or rosemary focaccia enriches the meal by complementing the creamy sauce, while a Caesar salad adds a crisp, fresh contrast. Tiramisu, with its layers of espresso and mascarpone, offers a decadent finish, perfectly rounding off the Italian feast.

More Chicken Pastas

If you tried this Tuscan Chicken Pasta recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Tuscan Chicken Pasta

I absolutely love preparing Tuscan chicken pasta because it's a comforting and flavorful Italian dish that bursts with vibrant colors and hearty flavors.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 8 ounces dried cavatappi
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup unsalted chicken stock, or broth
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups baby spinach, packed
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sliced basil


  • Cook the Pasta – In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 ½ teaspoon salt, and stir to dissolve. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the manufacturer's directions. Use a colander to drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy water to make the cream sauce.
  • Prepare the Chicken – Cut the chicken breast into about 1-inch cubes, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken in a single layer, and cook without moving until the surface is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Saute the Garlic – Heat the same skillet used to cook the chicken over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Cook the tomatoes – Add the cherry tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Turn the heat to medium, stir and cook, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until the tomatoes soften and start to release their juices, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the Cream – Stir in the heavy cream and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Frequently scrape the pan's sides and bottom to ensure the cream does not curdle. Reduce until it lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Cook the Spinach – Stir in the spinach and sundried tomatoes. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
  • Finish the Sauce – Turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency—season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toss to Combine – Add the pasta and chicken to the sauce, gently stirring to combine.
  • To Serve – Serve garnished with sliced basil.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Recipe Yield: About 10 cups
  • Serving Size: About 1 ¼ cups
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Reheat in a microwave on the high setting in 30-second increments until hot, stirring in between.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free pasta.
  • Using Frozen Spinach: Defrost 3 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, about ⅓ cup, and drain well. Stir in the sauce with the sundried tomatoes.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 430kcal (22%)Carbohydrates 28g (9%)Protein 20g (40%)Fat 27g (42%)Saturated Fat 13g (65%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 92mg (31%)Sodium 658mg (27%)Potassium 610mg (17%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 2000IU (40%)Vitamin C 14mg (17%)Calcium 127mg (13%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Nicole M. says

    So good! I added way more garlic and subbed half & half for the heavy cream. I also mixed a spoonful of cornstarch with a splash of half & half to make the sauce thicker while shortening the reduction time. The sauce still tasted very rich and decadent! Leftovers reheated wonderfully the next day too. 🙂