Filed Under: Italian | Main Dish | Pasta | Weeknight

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne

Recipe By Tessa Arias
September 8th, 2011

Sometimes despite how hard we work at something, it just doesn’t work out the way we intended. When there’s a problem in my life, I will work at it almost incessantly until I solve it. I’ve come to realize, though, that some problems can’t be solved. The problem isn’t in your control. You either have to wait it out, hope someone else with the control will fix it, or get over it. Those things aren’t easy for me.

You might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about but I won’t bore you with the details of my pathetic problems. But there is one thing I feel I ought to share as it relates to this blog. As many of you may know, for the past year I’ve been attending culinary school along with taking (many) regular general education classes. The culinary arts program I’m in is experiencing massive growing pains and was planned to be in a new facility this semester. But less than a week before classes begun I discovered things had fallen through and we wouldn’t be in our new facility but in a temporary facility. Classes would only be offered at the same times on the same days, preventing me from taking a full coarse-load of culinary classes.

That means that until we have a new facility, which there is no guarantee will happen even within the next year, I’m limited to taking a part-time coarse load. It will take me much longer to graduate from culinary school than I ever planned for. And I don’t like to waste time. I like to feel productive. 

So I did some research on my options and discovered that I could transfer in Spring 2012 to an Arizona university and *hopefully* graduate with my bachelor’s degree by the end of Fall 2012. By that time I’m hoping the culinary program will be in a new, big, bad facility. Then I’ll have both a bachelor’s and a culinary degree. We’ll see what happens.

Now, enough about my school problems and more about this pasta. It’s indulgent, yes. But it’s also fresh and surprisingly easy. You can have a restaurant-quality dish at home in less than 45 minutes, if it even takes you that long. Doesn’t get better than that!

Recipe Rundown
Taste: Oh so fresh, rich, and simple. 

Texture: The sauce is creamy without being cloying and the chunks of chicken are moist and meaty.
Ease: Very easy, would make a beautiful weeknight meal.
Appearance: Looks pretty tasty to me.
Pros: Easy and perfect for both a weeknight meal and an elegant dinner party.
Cons: Not exactly light!
Would I make this again? Yes.

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne
Serves 4-6
From Everyday Pasta

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
  • pinch of salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cubed chicken breast with the herbes de Provence and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve.

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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  1. #
    Blog New Blacxk — September 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Although you say this isn't exactly light, the pic made me think otherwise! Sounds delicious, nonetheless. Sorry to hear about your predicatment. Hope it all works out!

  2. #
    Erin @Dinners Dish.. — September 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    I have some heavy cream in my fridge I need to use up, this looks so good, I might have to use it for this!

  3. #
    myFudo — September 9, 2011 at 7:35 am

    What a way to do chicken,definitely delicious!
    feel free to check out my site for a free giveaway 🙂

  4. #
    Produse Bucatarie — September 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Oki – I am at work and I am extremely hungry..Seeing your pasta receipe makes me droll just like Homer Simpson when he thinks of meat. Pasta is one of my favorite foods – I usually invent receipes, and this receipe seems to be what I would invent 😀 Can't wait to get home and make myself some pasta – thank you!

  5. #
    Rebecca — September 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I'm sure using 1/2 and 1/2 could lighten it up a bit! Looks delish and I bookmarked it!

  6. #
    Louisa [Living Lou] — September 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Sorry to hear about the turmoil with your schooling, I know exactly what it's like when things don't go quite as you planned. Best of luck with the new college, I really hope it works out!

  7. #
    Tracey — September 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    What a bummer about your school situation, but it sounds like you've come up with a good solution! Love this pasta dish, I already know it would be a huge hit for dinner here.

  8. #
    amy — September 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

    A+ 5 stars. Was delicious!!! And it does taste very light, in terms of taste. But the creme and noodles fill you up nicely.

    • #
      handleheat — September 14, 2011 at 5:04 am

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  9. #
    Bryn — September 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    I see in the directions that you use lemon zest, but I didn't see it in the ingredients. How much do you use?

    • #
      handleheat — September 14, 2011 at 5:05 am

      Bryn – thanks for pointing out that error, I fixed the ingredients list. Just the zest of 1 lemon.

  10. #
    Amanda — September 17, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    WOW! looks delicious… lemon… cream.. penne… can taste it right now!

    ~another young food blogger

  11. #
    ChellBellz — September 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    I just saw this on Tumblr….OMG I can't wait to try this! I love my pasta. I can't wait to try this for my family! I love cooking with cream sauces, but my family is into processed canned versions and that makes me so sick. I'm going to lighten it up for my family though with whole wheat pasta, and probably do half and half with the cream! So glad i found your blog!

  12. #
    heyhusband — October 11, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I tried this tonight, and it was great! I put it together with pesto roasted tomatoes, which hopefully isn't an affront to more refined taste buds. Thanks for sharing! And I hope things with school are working out.

  13. #
    mpotter — October 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    So, i'm fairly new at this “cooking thing”. but i'm really enjoying finding new recipes, and i couldn't WAIT to try this. it looked like a perfect seasoned chicken pasta dish.
    I made it last night.
    and now….. i need to know what i was missing!
    your picture is fantastic…. and looks yummy.
    though our dinner was good, and i would make it again, i have to know why nothing thickened at all.
    it basically looked like i threw the chicken and pasta together then dumped cream on top.
    i used 2 breasts, but otherwise cut the rest of the recipe in half.
    when i simmered for 10mins, it didn't appear to change at all.

    it was good. but did i miss a step to make it less soupy???

    thanks for your help!

    • #
      handleheat — October 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      Hi! It's hard for me to tell what might have gone wrong without having been next to you in the kitchen while you made it. Next time you might try to make the full recipe as written instead of cutting in half. Also, make sure your cream sauce is simmering and not boiling. Another thing to note is that this recipe's sauce itself isn't as thick as something like an Alfredo sauce might be, it's a little thinner.

  14. #
    Willy — October 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Awesome!! This was the best! I made it over the weekend and it definitely tasted fresh and light, but it was pretty filling at the same time. I loved the ingredient list, so I knew I would like this, but I didn't know how much!! I found the recipe quite easy to follow, but I do tend to do a lot of cooking, which is why I am always looking for new recipes! Thanks for posting it!

  15. #
    Marisa — November 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Hi! If I used a lighter cream would that ruin the recipe??

    • #
      handleheat — November 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      I think it would be fine – the consistency might be a little thinner but the dish will still taste great!

  16. #
    Marisa — November 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Just made this last night and it was delicious!!!! I will definitely make this again 🙂

  17. #
    pixie — August 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    amazinnnnnnng and Light! love itttt! thank you again for one of your super awesome recipes. none of your recipes ever fail me!

    • #
      tessa — August 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Glad to hear that!! 🙂

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