This Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta recipe is a total crowd-pleaser! If you want to spice things up at your dinner table, you’ll win your whole family over with this comfort food. It has major flavor from chipotle peppers and Cajun seasoning – and a creamy, finger-licking good sauce!
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta:
Chicken breast – Go with boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders for ease! Boneless, skinless chicken thighs also work well.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – Chipotle peppers offer a smokey, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor to the dish while adobo adds a nice tanginess. You’ll find canned chipotle peppers in the Mexican food aisle of your local grocery store, in the section of other canned or jarred peppers and sauces.
HOW TO MAKE SPICY CHICKEN CHIPOTLE PASTA: STEP-BY-STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the printable recipe card below!
Steps 1 & 2: In a large pot of water, cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the chicken pieces and season with garlic salt, paprika, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning. Brown chicken on all sides and cook until no longer pink on the inside.
Remove the chicken and cover it with a piece of aluminum foil. To the same skillet, add chipotle peppers, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream. Simmer over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Break up chipotles with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Step 3: Transfer the cooked chicken and the released juices back to the skillet and stir into the spicy chipotle sauce. Add pasta to the pan and gently fold everything together until the pasta noodles are evenly coated with the creamy chipotle sauce.
Garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- Use a deep pan or pot to ensure it holds all the sauce, chicken, and pasta. You don’t want things spilling over the sides and you want plenty of room to stir everything well.
- Reduce heat to low when adding the peppers, cheese, and cream, and scrape off the bottom with a wooden spoon to lift off all the stuck-on chicken pieces. That will give a ton of flavor to the chipotle pepper sauce.
- Thin out the sauce with reserved pasta water if you find that it’s a little too thick.
- Tone down the spice level by reducing the amount of chipotle chilis or removing the seeds from the peppers when making the spicy chipotle cream sauce.
Casey’s Quick Tip
Double the recipe and transform it into a pasta bake by transferring the spicy pasta mixture into a casserole dish and top with extra cheese. Bake until bubbly and golden brown on top for a flavorful pasta dish that serves a crowd!
STORAGE & REHEATING
Storage: Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheating: Reheat individual servings in the microwave until heated through. Cover it loosely with a damp paper towel to avoid splatters and prevent it from drying out. You can also reheat a bigger portion on the stovetop in a pan with a splash of milk, chicken broth, or water to help break it down.
Freezing: Portion out leftovers into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat as usual.
ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS
- Fresh garlic – Add freshly minced garlic to the creamy sauce for extra savory flavor.
- Vegetables – Sauteed red bell pepper, diced yellow onion, mushrooms, or spinach are all super yummy in this dish!
- Zesty finish – Hit the pasta dish with a little fresh lemon or lime juice for a fresh finish!
- Half and half – If you’re out of heavy cream, swap in half and half or even whole milk to create that creamy consistency. You may need to simmer for a tad longer to help the sauce reduce, but it will still be delicious.
- Try another pasta – This easy pasta recipe will work with your favorite short pasta shapes like fusilli, rigatoni, or farfalle.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
On a scale of 1-10, this dish is about a 6 or 7. Remove the seeds from the chipotle chilis if you want the same amazing flavor, but less spice. Or you can also just use the chipotle adobo sauce without the actual peppers for a smoky flavor without the intense heat.
To help avoid pasta from sticking to each other, drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the drained pasta and toss it gently. But don’t overdo it as the parmesan cream sauce will also break up the pasta.
The combination of chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, smoked paprika, and Cajun seasoning contributes to the deep, rich, and subtly sweet smokiness.
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Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta
- 1 lb. penne pasta or your favorite pasta shape!
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1 lb. chicken breast, diced
- 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 4oz. cans chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or one 7oz. can
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- fresh basil or parsley for serving optional
- Prep: In a large pot of boiling water, add pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Cook Chicken: While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large, high-sided skillet or pot, over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the chicken pieces and season with garlic salt, paprika, onion powder, and Cajun seasoning. Allow chicken to cook for about 6-8 minutes until brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside (165°F). Transfer chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Set aside.
- Make Sauce: To the same pan you cooked the chicken, add chipotle peppers. Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream. Simmer over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Break up the chipotle chilis with a wooden spoon as the sauce cooks. Add the chicken and all of the yummy juices that are on the plate, to the sauce.
- Finish: Add pasta to the pan and gently fold everything together until the pasta noodles are evenly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with basil or parsley, if using, and serve.