Pasta lovers unite! Bacon lovers unite! Chicken lovers unite! I've got a really great pasta dish I'm sharing today and it's very easy to make with only a handful of ingredients. The best part about this pasta is there is no butter or cream, yet it packs a punch of flavor with a delicious coating all over the spaghetti. So let's make this creamy chicken bacon pasta!
The Origin of My Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta
When I think of delicious pasta I've eaten over the years, a few places stand out in my mind. I'm from the east coast so obviously North End in Boston is a pasta lovers dream. I've been to Little Italy in New York City - also delicious. Federal Hill in Providence, in my opinion, has better Italian food than Boston or New York. I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying that. However, the absolute BEST pasta I ever had in my life was in Taiwan. This was a very unexpected place to find amazing pasta.
I was teaching in Taipei some years ago, and right near my school was a hole-in-the-wall pasta place. In general, when you are traveling there are always a certain number of places that cater to Western travelers and offer foods like pizza, burgers, french fries and so on. You would think a place like Thailand, which has a huge draw of tourists every year, might have the best Western options. No. Taiwan, a country that does not see a ton of tourism has the absolute best Western cuisine I've tasted yet.
The Secret Sauce Revealed: How is There a Creamy Coating Without Butter or Cream?
The first time I went to the pasta place in Taipei, I ordered the pasta with bacon, but soon learned I could add chicken to it for a little extra cost. I don't know what to say except that it was one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. The portions were huge. I could eat half for lunch and half for dinner and it was so cheap. Just a few dollars and enough for two meals. Their chicken pesto pasta was also incredible, but one recipe at time.
I played with this recipe for a while to recreate the flavor. I knew the owner didn't use butter or cream so there's really only one other way to make the pasta a little saucy, but more like a coating than swimming in sauce. PASTA WATER. If you haven't used this method for a tasty sauce to coat your pasta, you haven't lived. Between the pasta water which is starchy and salty and the cheese: it's the creamy pasta coating you've always dreamed of. It is also very easy to do!
Super Easy Steps for Chicken Bacon Pasta
Need More Pasta/Noodley Things to Feed Your Cravings? I Gotcha Covered:
- Chicken Broccoli Penne Pasta w/Garlic White Wine Sauce
- The Ultimate Spaghetti Lasagna
- Pan Seared Sea Scallops w/Basil Brown Butter & Asparagus
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Cute, Little Mac & Cheese Mini Muffins
- Mie Goreng: Indonesian Fried Noodles w/Chicken
- The Best Crispy Chicken Parmesan w/Homemade Sauce
- Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Bacon (cuz it's chicken and bacon)
Cooking with Leftovers in Mind: Best Way to Reheat This One
I hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe as much as I do. Chicken and bacon together is one of the great culinary affairs. This recipe is very easy and I suspect you will have many of these ingredients on hand already. It makes six portions so if you're cooking for a larger family you are all set. This is a great Sunday night dinner option for sure. If you are not cooking for a crowd, you've got fantastic built-in lunches covered for a couple of days.
BEST WAY YO REHEAT THIS ONE: Put your portion on a plate or in a bowl and add a splash of water. I usually just put my bowl under the faucet and add that splash which may be around 2-3 tablespoons of water at the most. Typically, I cover my bowl with plastic wrap and microwave it for a couple of minutes. The water and steam help loosen up the pasta and reinvigorate the sauce. Once it's heated, remove the plastic wrap and give it a mix with your fork. Works every time! Enjoy!Print
Creamy Chicken Bacon Pasta (No Butter, No Cream)
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 portions 1x
This creamy chicken bacon pasta is a Sunday night dinner dream with built-in leftovers for lunch. No butter. No cream. Totally awesome flavor.
- 2 ½ pounds of boneless chicken breast (I used thin cutlets)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking, more if needed
- 1 pound box of thin spaghetti (or whatever kind of pasta you want)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt for water (don't skip this)
- Follow box instructions
- 1 ½ pounds bacon (cooked and chopped)
- 3 tablespoons of garlic, finely diced (6-8 medium cloves)
- ½ cup onion, finely diced (½ of a medium-to-large onion)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (mix with spaghetti during assembly)
- 1 cup shaker parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ regular hot tap water
- More olive oil as needed
- ¼ to ½ cup freshly grated parmesan, optional garnish
- Red pepper flakes, optional garnish
- Lemon wedges, optional garnish
- The bacon. You can cook the day before and refrigerate if you want to save a little time. Or cook it at the beginning of the process and set aside to cool before chopping.
- Start heating your pasta water at the beginning of the process. Fill a pot with water and add salt. Some of the pasta water will be used in the sauce and is a critical ingredient so don’t discard the pasta water.
- Trim the fat from around the edges of the boneless breast of chicken. Then cut the chicken in half lengthwise into pieces that are around the same size so they cook evenly.
- Lay out the chicken pieces on one or two sheet pans and season with salt, garlic powder and pepper. Seasoning on one side only – no need to turn and season the other side.
- Finely dice the garlic.
- Finely dice the onion.
- Finely chop the parsley. You’ll use some of this when assembling the pasta and some for garnish.
- Chop the cooked bacon into approximately ½ inch pieces.
- Pasta water should be boiling and you can add the whole box of spaghetti here and cook to package instructions. Put on back burner of your stovetop.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil each in two pans and let it get hot ---- then add chicken to both pans. You want it to sizzle when you add the chicken. Heat should be medium-to-high here. If you cook all the chicken in one pan and crowd the pan the chicken will steam which we don’t want.
- Lay chicken out flat in both pans and let cook on medium/high heat for three minutes. After three minutes the chicken should have a nice sear on the bottom. Stir chicken and cook the other side for about a minute. Have kitchen tongs ready to turn pieces individually as needed.
- Add diced onions to one of the chicken pans and mix together. I didn’t add oil here, but add a splash if needed. Cook for a couple of minutes until onions are soft and starting to brown a little.
- Clear a spot and add a splash more olive oil to the center of the pan. Add the garlic to the oil and stir. Let it cook in center of pan for 30 seconds or until it’s fragrant.
- Add the other pan of chicken into the chicken that has the garlic and onion. Stir until well combined.
- Add the bacon to the pan and mix thoroughly. We want the heat to render off a little of that bacon fat. Cook one minute or so here and now it’s done.
- Pasta should be cooked by now and make sure you remove some pasta water and set aside for sauce. This recipe calls for ¼ cup. Take at least ½ to one full cup in case you need more. You can discard what isn’t needed later.
- After you have taken the pasta water out of the pot, you can drain the spaghetti in a colander.
- PASTA ASSEMBLY. Add the drained spaghetti to a large mixing bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss the pasta. This really helps with making sure the pasta doesn’t stick together.
- Add the chicken bacon mixture to the pasta bowl along with the parmesan cheese, 2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley and the pasta water. Mix well to combine. (SEE NOTE 1)
- You will need more liquid to make the pasta sauce/coating creamier. Taste the pasta and add either more pasta water (careful – it’s salted) or plain hot tap water from your sink. (SEE NOTE 2) I felt the pasta had enough salt at that point so I added ¼ cup of hot tap water and it was perfect. You can add more if you want it creamier.
- After you add the final liquid, mix well and make sure ingredients are evenly distributed. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and lemon wedges if using. (SEE NOTE 3)
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- You can add ½ cup of the shaker parmesan cheese at a time if you prefer. This is how I did it in the video. Add a ½ cup and mix it – add the rest if you want to.
- Once you add the pasta water and mix everything together you will still need more liquid. You should taste it. You will either add more pasta water to get it nice and creamy (but be careful because the water is salty) OR you can simply add hot water from your tap. That’s what I did. I tasted the pasta and the salt was perfect the way it was – so if I added more pasta water the dish would have been over salted. I simply added hot tap water (¼ cup more worked for me, but if you want yours creamier you can add more).
- The shaker parmesan cheese works best for mixing with the pasta in my opinion. Fresh cheese may be harder to mix and the pasta could stick together. That is why I usually finish the pasta with fresh cheese as a topping. I shred/grate it with my microplane right over the top at the end. It’s delicious! It’s also pricey if you are not using it for anything else so that’s why it’s optional. This will still taste amazing even if you don’t use the fresh cheese at the end.
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