White Sauce Chicken Pasta Recipe
This is the simplest Garlic Parmesan White Sauce Chicken Pasta recipe that you will see! Made on the stove top in 30 minutes, it’s a perfect weeknight dinner and soon-to-be your family favorite.
You will not believe how delicious this super easy dinner recipe is! It’s my Parmesan and Garlic White Sauce Chicken Pasta Recipe. It’s a thick, rich, flavorful, and creamy sauce that the whole family will love. The chicken is seared in a pan and then the same pan is used to make the creamy white sauce. Then it all gets mixed with the cooked pasta. The result is a creamy chicken pasta that is great for any night of the week!
This is one of my go-to easy pasta recipes. Most traditional sauces, such as bechamel sauce, start with a roux. A roux is made by mixing all purpose flour with a liquid fat, such as oil or butter. For seasoned cooks, this can be quite easy. For a new or home cook, it can be tricky.
You need to melt butter and then mix in the flour just right so that they combine together and don’t form a hard ball. Then you need to whisk in the liquid (warm milk or stock typically) at just the right moment in just the right speed so that it combines with the roux smoothly and you don’t get lumps.
In my homemade white sauce recipe, I use a cornstarch slurry. That means simply mixing cornstarch into cold liquid (in this case milk) until it dissolves. Then you whisk that slurry into the sauce with the other liquid and stir until it thickens. It’s a great way to thicken a sauce fast and easily!
Simple Ingredients and Substitutes
- Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless – I always have raw chicken breasts in the freezer as they can last up to 12 months if in an airtight container or packaging. Check out all of my tips on Prepping and Storing Chicken for Easier Dinners. You can substitute in chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, leftover chicken breasts, or rotisserie chicken as well.
- Fresh Garlic cloves, minced – Fresh is best when it comes to garlic, but you can buy pre-minced garlic to save time or mince it in bulk and freeze it for use when you need it! If you do not have fresh garlic, you can substitute dried garlic flakes or garlic powder.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – You can substitute with any neutral oil, such as vegetable oil, avocado oil, or even coconut oil.
- Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise adds a deep, rich salty and creamy flavor and helps to create a smooth sauce. It’s not required, but definitely adds unexpected flavor. You can leave it out or substitute with sour cream, greek yogurt, or even softened cream cheese.
- Parmesan Cheese, grated – As the parmesan imparts much of the amazing flavor, please be sure to buy good parmesan from the cheese section of the store vs. the shelf-stable jar. You can either grate your own, or buy it pre-grated.
- 1% milk – The milk replaces the heavy cream or heavy whipping cream in traditional cream sauces. You can also use skim milk, 2% milk, or full fat whole milk.
- Cornstarch – This is the thickener in the sauce and is great because it can be mixed into cold liquid to dissolve and create a slurry. That means that you don’t need to mix flour with butter to make a roux. It’s not only a low-fat thickener, it saves lots of time and fuss!
- Fresh Parsley – You can leave this out if you don’t have any on hand. But fresh parsley really does add a nice freshness and brightness.
- Chicken stock or chicken broth – You can substitute with vegetable stock or broth or even beef stock or broth. You can also use water mixed with a chicken bouillon cube or chicken base.
- Salt – I used kosher salt, but any salt will work.
- Ground Black Pepper – You can use fine or coarse ground black pepper. I like fresh ground, but pre-ground is fine too.
- Pasta, dry uncooked – You can use any type of pasta you have on hand or love. I used a gluten-free penne pasta this time around. However, short or long cuts both work. Fresh pasta can also be used, but be careful not to cook it too early or overcook it, as it is very delicate.
Equipment for White Sauce Chicken and Pasta Recipe
For the chicken and the sauce, you will need a large skillet or frying pan or a dutch oven or other wide-bottom pot. for making the veggies and curry sauce. I use my absolute favorite 12″ Ceramic Pan, which is great because food really does slide right off with minimal oil and I don’t have to worry about food sticking and burning.
Mincing garlic is made super easy with a Garlic Press.
Time Saving Prep-Ahead Steps for this Recipe
We are all extremely busy and making dinner during the week can be overwhelming. Here are the easy steps you can prepare ahead to save time on busy nights! (See the full recipe below)
Cut the chicken into thin strips about 2 inches long. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper.
Chop the parsley. Peel and mince or grate the garlic.
Into a medium mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and the cold milk. Stir to combine and then whisk in the cornstarch. Finally add the stock and most of the parsley (save some for garnish).
PRO TIP: When adding parmesan to a hot sauce, the cheese melts in clumps, so mixing it into the other ingredients first helps it to melt into the creamy pasta sauce evenly.
Cook the Chicken and White Pasta Sauce
Bring a large pot of water up to a rolling boil over high heat and add a tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta for 5-7 minutes until al dente. If using fresh pasta, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. If the pasta is done cooking before you are ready to add it to the sauce, save a cup of the pasta water, then strain the pasta and set it aside.
PRO TIP: wait to add the pasta to the boiling water until you have flipped the chicken. This will time it so that your pasta is ready when you are.
Preheat a large skillet or frying pan on high heat. Add the olive oil and then the chicken strips, separating them as much as possible into a single layer so that they all can get golden brown. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip the strips over to brown the other side. Reduce to medium heat and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked through (no longer pink in the center) turn down the heat to low heat and add the minced garlic to the pan. Then pour in the prepared sauce mixture. Continuously stir it in with the chicken as it will thicken pretty quick once it hits the hot pan.
At this point, you can mix the pasta into the pan or mix the chicken and sauce into the pot with the pasta (whichever option gives you more room to mix). Serve and enjoy!!
Slow Cooker Method
You will cook the chicken in the slow cooker first and cook the pasta separately. To the slow cooker insert pot, add the chicken strips, chicken stock or broth (you may need more than 2 cups as you want to cover the chicken), garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
During the last hour of the cooking, mix in the prepared cream sauce mixture. Cover and let finish cooking for the remaining time. Separately, cook the pasta to al dente. Mix the pasta in with the chicken and sauce when the slow cooker cooking time is done.
Can I use leftover or rotisserie chicken for this recipe?Yes, you can use leftover chicken or leftover turkey in this creamy white sauce recipe. You really don’t need to use the crockpot or slow cooker at all in this instance. Shred or cut the cooked chicken or turkey into cubes. Add it to a dutch oven or high sided skillet with the other ingredients in Cooking Step 1. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Follow the rest of the instructions for shredding the chicken, adding the cooked pasta, and the sauce.
Can I make this White Sauce Chicken Pasta recipe ahead?You can make the chicken and sauce ahead and mix with the pasta when you are ready to eat. Or you can make the entire dish including the pasta in advance. For anything cooked in advance, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat, you can place in a wide bottom pot or pan covered in the oven at 350 F degrees for 20-30 minutes until heated through. You can add a splash of milk if needed for moisture.
What vegetables would be good to add to this pasta?There are so many veggies that you can add to this creamy white sauce pasta. Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms to name a few. The key is to cook them in advance and them mix them in with the chicken and pasta and sauce. You can saute them in the same pan or skillet used for the chicken and the sauce. You you can roast, steam or blanch them.
What can I add to this recipe to spice it up?If you are looking for a bit of heat in this White Sauce Chicken Pasta recipe, then you can go a few different routes. You can add diced chile peppers, such as jalapeno, serano, or red chiles. You can also add red chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. Finally, a dash of hot sauce is always welcome!
ENJOY! 😍 Carrie
White Sauce Chicken Pasta Recipe
- 1 pound Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless
- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
- 1/2 cup Milk (I used 1%, but any will work)
- 1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped
- 2 cups Chicken stock or broth
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground Black pepper
- 10 ounces Pasta, dry uncooked (I used a gluten-free penne pasta, but any dry pasta will work)
Prep Ahead Steps
- Cut the chicken into thin strips about 2 inches long. Season with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Chop the parsley. Peel and mince or grate the garlic.
- Into a medium mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and the milk. Stir to combine and then whisk in the cornstarch. Finally add the stock and most of the parsley (save some for garnish).
- Bring a large pot of water up to a boil over high heat and add a tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta for 5-7 minutes until al dente. If using fresh pasta, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. If the pasta is done cooking before you are ready to add it to the sauce, save a cup of the pasta water, then strain the pasta and set it aside. (PRO TIP: wait to add the pasta to the boiling water until you have flipped the chicken. This will time it so that your pasta is ready when you are.)
- Preheat a large skillet or frying pan on high heat. Add the olive oil and then the chicken strips, separating them as much as possible into a single layer so that they all can get browned. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip the strips over to brown the other side. Reduce to medium heat and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked through (no longer pink in the center) turn down the heat to low heat and add the minced garlic to the pan. Then pour in the prepared sauce mixture. Continuously stir it in with the chicken as it will thicken pretty quick once it hits the hot pan.
- At this point, you can mix the pasta into the pan or mix the chicken and sauce into the pot with the pasta (whichever option gives you more room to mix). Serve and enjoy!!