Lemon basil pasta with chicken and asparagus is an easy dinner you’ll want to make right away. It’s creamy, fresh, and so satisfying.
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Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta
It’s a spring kind of meal day. It involves a ton of spring flavors, like asparagus, lemon, homemade basil pesto, pasta, and of course chicken. You guys are going to love this easy one-pan meal!
I’ll be the first to admit, we’re not huge pasta lovers around here but once in a while, I get a craving for a big bowl of pasta, preferably in some kind of creamy sauce, with a side of fresh salad.
Well, this lemon asparagus chicken pasta is exactly that. It will surely fix your pasta craving right away.
Why You’ll Love this Lemon Basil Pasta:
- Made with simple ingredients (and nothing out of a can). Love that! You’ll need pasta, olive oil, chicken, asparagus, butter, garlic, half and half, cream cheese, pesto, Parmesan, and lemon.
Katya’s TIP: I highly recommend you skip the jarred pesto from the store and make your own. It will seriously transform your entire dish.
- Takes about 30 minutes to make. Start off with cooking the pasta and while that’s cooking, cook the chicken, asparagus, and make the sauce. It will come together in no time.
- Made entirely in one pan. Who doesn’t love less clean up?! For best results use a large heavy-duty sauté pan or skillet.
How to Make Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta
Cook the pasta: Start with cooking the pasta per the box instructions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining the rest. Set both aside. Do not rinse the pasta under the water.
Cook the chicken and asparagus: While the pasta is cooking, prep the chicken by slicing each breast in half lengthwise and then thinly slicing each half.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove to a bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1/4 cup tap water to the pan. It should immediately begin to simmer. Add the asparagus. Cover and cook the asparagus until tender-crisp. Remove to the same bowl as the chicken and cover to keep warm.
Make the sauce: Melt butter in the same pan. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add half and half and cream cheese. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and smooth.
Stir in pesto, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Bring it to a simmer. Taste for salt and pepper.
Combine together: Add pasta, chicken, and asparagus to the sauce. Toss with a wooden spoon to combine. Add pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. Do not add all of the water at once.
What to Serve with Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
Just about any type of fresh salad serves well with this chicken asparagus pasta. Here are a few favorites to try:
Craving more pasta recipes? Try these recipes for your next meal:
- Orecchiette with Baked Chicken Meatballs
- Chicken Mushroom Spinach Pasta
- 20-Minute Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake
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Lemon basil pasta with chicken and asparagus is an easy dinner with simple ingredients. It’s creamy, fresh, and so satisfying.
- 8 oz. dry pasta (see note)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest. Do not rinse the pasta.
- In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove to a bowl and keep warm.
- To the same pan, add 1/4 cup tap water, reduce heat to medium, and add asparagus. Cover and simmer until tender crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove to the same bowl as chicken.
- Next, add butter to the pan and when melted, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add half and half and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and smooth. I like to use a wooden spoon or a whisk for this step.
- Stir in the pesto, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a simmer. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper.
- Add pasta, chicken, and asparagus, and toss with sauce. Add reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce as needed. Do not add all of the water at once.
- Pasta – I’ve made this with variety of pastas such as penne, fusilli, elbow, spaghetti, angel hair, and fettuccine. Use what you like or have on hand.
- Chicken – When cooking the chicken, do not overcrowd the pan otherwise the chicken will release moisture and not brown. Cook the chicken in batches if need to.
- Leftovers – Leftover pasta will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days when stored properly in an airtight container. Reheat the leftovers over medium heat in a non-stick skillet with a splash of chicken broth, white wine, or little milk.
Keywords: easy, spring, family friendly, pesto pasta
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Recipe originally published March 2016, updated March 2020 with new photos, rewritten post, and additional information.