One of my favorite staples in college was the cheap packets of “Pasta-Roni” or “Hamburger Helper”. Was it a healthy choice? Probably not. It was, however, comforting and tasty. I’ve been experimenting the last few weeks with a more wholesome version of the “chicken-flavored pasta” to reclaim an inexpensive family-friendly dinner. This is a great dish to pull out if you have leftover chicken cutlets, or you can sauté some chicken breasts to accompany the pasta dish on the side. It’s a one-pot meal and you’ll be cooking the pasta right in the sauce.

Chicken Pasta (Serves 2-3)

Feel free to substitute other vegetables you have on hand (peas, carrots, celery, even spinach), but I highly recommend making sure you have the bell pepper at least. It imparts a nice color and a stronger flavor.


  • pot
  • cutting board and knife


  • 1-2 lb. cooked chicken breast
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1.5 c. chicken broth (Try to use a good quality bone broth.)
  • 1/2 c. milk or half-and-half
  • 1.5 c. short pasta (rotini, macaroni, wagon wheels, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken broth, milk, and pasta. Bring to simmer.
  4. Simmer on medium heat about 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is finished. The liquid should be reduced as the pasta soaks it up. You want to see some thickening.
  5. Let the pasta stand off heat for about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Heat the cooked chicken (if you haven’t made it fresh) while the sauce thickens.
  7. Slice the chicken into thin strips.
  8. Place the pasta on plates, then top with the chicken strips. Add any salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve with a side salad.


  • If you want a saltier flavor, you can add 1 tbsp. chicken bouillon to the cooking liquid.
  • This recipe scales nicely for larger families and makes great leftovers.
  • If you choose to use or add peas to the dish, I recommend using fresh or frozen ones (not canned) and adding at the end when the pasta is just about finished cooking.
  • You can even use canned chicken if you’re needing a quick meal. I’ve also eaten this pasta with canned salmon or tuna.
  • The pasta shape does matter a bit. Really fat pastas like rigatoni take up a larger volume, so you’ll be using less pasta in the dish and end up with a soupier sauce. Stick with the smaller shapes.