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lemon basil chicken pasta recipe

Lemon Basil Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Italian


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


  1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the rest. Do not rinse the pasta.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Stir in the pesto, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a simmer. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper.
  6. 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