This creamy and flavorful white sauce chicken pasta is a family favorite that can be on the table in minutes. Another bonus is that it uses basic kitchen ingredients every from scratch cook has!
When it comes to quick meals that are easy on the budget, pasta is at the top of my list.
This recipe uses staple ingredients and offers a creamy pasta sauce that coats the penne pasta in a tasty way.
Whether you have chicken, or not, it tastes great by itself. The chicken is simply an added bonus.
If you have a pasta loving family, be sure to check out my spaghetti meat sauce that feeds an entire family and can be made ahead and enjoyed later.
Let’s start with the pasta.
Why You’ll Love This White Sauce Chicken Pasta
- It’s quick. It’s simple. It’s easy on the budget. But most importantly, my creamy chicken pasta recipe turns a handful of ingredients into a meal that the whole family will love.
- My white sauce recipe is both simple and flavorful. Put the canned alfredo sauce back on the shelf – this sauce whips up in a snap and tastes delicious.
- Short on time? Cook the pasta, or the chicken, or the sauce ahead of time for a quick dinner on your busiest night of the week.
- The main flavors are familiar and comfortable to children – butter, garlic, salt, pepper. This is a great recipe that the entire family will eat without a fight!
- This basic creamy garlic penne pasta recipe is the perfect meal to slip vegetables into. A whole side of broccoli may be intimidating to a child, but adding florets to a meal that looks similar to chicken alfredo is a great way to get a daily serving of vegetables in.
Tell Me About This White Sauce Pasta
- Texture – The creamy texture of the white sauce combines with the slight bite of al dente pasta.
- Flavor – With only a few ingredients, each flavor stands on it’s own. The garlic and butter in the sauce creates a delicious dish.
- Ease – There are many ways to cook up this dinner with what you have on hand. Use any type of pasta, cook up chicken in whatever way you prefer, use pre-grated cheese rather than grated your own.
- Time – Each of the three main parts of this meal can be cooked up and set aside for later. If dinner needs to be a quick affair but you have ten minutes earlier in the day to cook the pasta or the chicken and set it aside, this recipe is the perfect candidate.
Ingredients For This Creamy White Sauce With Pasta
- Penne Pasta- I use penne pasta, but any kind of pasta would work. Gluten-free pasta and whole wheat pasta can turn this recipe into an easy meal for families with nutritional considerations.
- Cooked Chicken– An easy way to add protein to any meal.
- Butter– This is one of the key ingredients for the roux.
- Garlic– Fresh garlic makes for a delicious sauce, but feel free to use garlic powder if you need to.
- Flour– I use all purpose flour, but almond flour works as well!
- Chicken Stock– Any brand is fine, but it’s simple as can be to make your own and enjoy the extra collagen!
- Milk or Heavy Cream- For the densest nutrients, use either whole milk or heavy whipping cream.
- Fresh Parsley- It’s not just a garnish! It adds color, sure, but it also adds a lovely flavor.
- Grated Parmesan- You’ll add this to the sauce, and you can also shake more on top when it’s time to eat.
- Salt and Pepper– No recipe is complete without this duo.
How To Make Creamy Chicken Pasta
- Begin with the chicken. You have options here – roast a whole chicken and break it down, cook boneless skinless chicken breasts on the stove top, or buy a rotisserie chicken if time is tight. I enjoy lightly seasoning chicken breasts with salt and black pepper and cooking them using olive oil in a large skillet.
- Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Toss in a decent dash of salt, then add your pasta. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for about 8 minutes, until they reach an al dente firmness. Strain the pasta, then stir in some olive oil to keep them from sticking.
- The best part of pasta dishes is their sauce. I give the recipe for my creamy white bechamel sauce right below!
- You have the chicken, the pasta, and the sauce. It’s time to add them together! Add them all to a large skillet, give them a quick toss, and dinner is serve.
How To Make The White Bechamel Sauce
What bumps this meal to the next level is trading out a hum-drum alfredo sauce for an authentic bechamel sauce with a dash of cheese. Sure, it’s a fancier name, but this creamy sauce isn’t fussy to make. These easy steps will give you a beautifully flavorful sauce.
- You’ll begin by whipping up your roux. A roux not only serves as the thickening agent of your sauce, but it also allows you to easily give your flour a light toasting. First, soften minced garlic cloves into melted butter over medium heat, letting the garlic soften and the fragrance develop. After the garlic has cooked a minute or two, whisk in the flour. It’s important that you stir your roux continuously – you’re looking for a lightly toasted flour, not burnt flour. This takes about 3 minutes.
- Add the milk and add it slowly. When adding cold liquid to a hot roux, doing it too quickly will cause the roux to congeal into lumps, rather than thickening the milk! Once your milk is fully incorporated and warm, add the chicken broth. Keep stirring and cook at a rapid boil for a few minutes.
- Cream sauces are rather bland without seasoning, but it doesn’t take much seasoning to take them to the top! The next step is to add salt and pepper, to taste.
- We’re making a cheesy white sauce, so it’s time to add the cheese. You can add a variety of cheeses – like cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese – but Parmesan cheese is the key to this recipe. In a pinch, feel free to use preshredded or grated Parmesan cheese. However, I find that preshredded cheese don’t melt as well as cheese hand shredded directly from a block. A hard cheese like Parmesan takes next to no time to grate!
Tip for how to make pasta sauce thinner
If your pasta sauce is a bit on the thick side or if it sat too long and needs more movement, add some of the pasta water.
As you cook your noodles, reserve some pasta water.
The starch in the pasta creates a great starchy water that can thin out pasta sauces without making them watery.
Plus, the starch in the water helps bind the sauce with the pasta.
Always save some in case you need to thin out sauce later!
Add Ins For This Creamy Pasta Dish
Easy pasta recipes such as this are the perfect blank canvas for the home cook. Here are some seasonings and ingredients you might try:
- Vegetables – Broccoli, peas, and asparagus would each pair well and add a serving of vegetables.
- Shrimp – Is chicken too often your dinner time star? Swap for shrimp for a seafood flair.
- Nutmeg – Traditional bechamel sauce includes some fresh grated nutmeg. Why not give it a try?
- Red Pepper Flakes – Sometimes you just need a bit of a kick. Add some red chili flakes or cayenne pepper as you’re whipping up the cheesy sauce.
- Fresh Spinach – This adds a nice crunch to the dish.
- White Wine – When the sauce is boiling, add some wine for a change of flavor.
What Vegetables Go Good With A White Creamy Pasta Sauce?
One of the best things about this dinner recipe is that so many vegetables pair perfectly with it! You can mix them directly into the pasta and chicken. You can also serve them separately. This lets children choose whether or not they want to eat them plain or add them to the sauce. It’s remarkable how many vegetables children will try if they’re given a little more control over their plate!
- Bell peppers
How To Store Leftover Chicken Pasta
This recipe makes for particularly delicious leftovers. Simply place leftover pasta and chicken into an airtight container. It will stay fresh in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
How To Reheat White Sauce Chicken Pasta
Sometimes at work, a microwave is all you have access to. In that case, a minute or two is all you need to reheat your chicken pasta. However, if you have the option, it’s best to use either the oven or stovetop to reheat your leftovers
- Stovetop – Place your leftover pasta in a small, hot skillet and let it heat through for a few minutes.
- Oven – Make sure your chicken penne pasta is in any oven safe dish, and cook it for 5 to 10 minutes at 325°. For an added touch, consider sprinkling some breadcrumbs over the top. It will give you a nice, crusty top similar to a pasta bake when finished.
White Sauce Chicken Pasta Recipe
White Sauce Creamy Chicken Pasta
- 1 medium saucepan
- 1 pound chicken breast, cooked and cubed
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk, or heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Cook pasta in a large pot according to package instructions.
- Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add garlic, cooking 1 minute or until garlic is soft and fragrant.
- Add flour and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly so the flour doesn't burn.
- Add milk and broth slowly, stirring constantly. Cook until sauce bubbles and begins to thicken.
- Add parsley and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring until cheese has melted.
- Mix the chicken, sauce and pasta. Serve immediately.