This super easy Chicken Alfredo is ultra creamy, rich, decadent and just may be the best pasta recipe ever!
A good pasta recipe is an essential for every family cook.
A warm, hearty pasta and chicken dish lovingly draped with rich, creamy sauce – red or white – is just about as good as authentic homemade food gets. I still remember sitting down to a plateful of my mother’s spaghetti when I was a kid.
As an adult, I have tried a good number of pasta recipes. I have literally sampled dozens of different sauces: pesto, red sauce, and my personal favorite… Alfredo. This recipe is the best chicken Alfredo recipe I have ever had.
Imagine, if you will, an Alfredo sauce that is thick, rich, and creamy – flavorful and velvety, totally unlike the mediocre stuff you get out of a jar.
The best part? You don’t have to go to a restaurant to get it. You can make that wonderful sauce in your own kitchen.
Toss in that sauce penne pasta and some well-seasoned chunks of chicken and you have a fantastic dish that is sure to become a family favorite.
I love so many things about this recipe, but one of my favorite things is how easy it is. Typically, easy chicken Alfredo recipes turn out thin and they often don’t have much flavor. But that’s not the case at all with this dish – and there’s a couple reasons for that.
The main reason is that, as with any chicken Alfredo, ingredients matter. This recipe uses three kinds of cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese). Those cheese flavors blend together to create a complex flavor combination that you just cannot achieve with only one kind of cheese.
The recipe also uses both milk and half-and-half (along with the cream cheese) to create that beautiful creamy texture you want in a chicken Alfredo sauce.
Because the recipe is a little indulgent in using all of these ingredients, I generally reserve this recipe for special occasions.
Whenever we celebrate a birthday, or Father’s Day, or an anniversary, or good report cards – really, any special occasion at all – this is the first dish that everyone asks for. (Of course, when I say, “asks for,” I am merely being polite. Honestly, it is more like a loud and ardent demand.)
When you think of chicken Alfredo, “broccoli” is a typical ingredient. But I don’t bother with it. While Alfredo is one of the rare things that can make broccoli tasty, the broccoli does not have anything to offer back.
Instead, I like including mushrooms and tomatoes in the sauce. The additional flavors that these veggies bring to this dish are fantastic. They really do a lot to help round out the flavor profile of the dish and help balance the richness of the Alfredo sauce. Plus, that little extra crunch adds some great texture to the creamy sauce and pasta.
I love dishes that you can make ahead of time – they are some of my favorite recipes to make. But this chicken Alfredo isn’t one of them.
It is a really fantastic recipe, and best served hot and steamy from the stove – right after it is made.
There are some great baked chicken Alfredo recipes that work better if you need to make ahead. But honestly, I haven’t found one yet, that I love as much as this recipe.
So, the next time you need a sure-fire, super delicious new recipe to try, this recipe for chicken Alfredo is just the one for you. With this chicken Alfredo, Olive Garden can’t hope to compete!
Pasta: When making chicken Alfredo, penne might not be the pasta that you immediately reach for. But I think you should give it a shot. The penne really works because each noodle is about the size of a chunk of chicken, which means every bite can have a perfect balance of noodle and chicken. Long, stringy noodles (like spaghetti or fettucine) work really well when they are the only thing in the sauce. But it is especially hard to get anything but a TON of noodle and only a little bit of chicken on your fork when serving them together. If you want to use a different kind of pasta, try other shorter pieces of pasta – like tube pasta or gemelli.
I think it’s important to use a really good quality pasta with this dish. I like using DeCecco and Barilla. You should be able to find both of these pastas at most supermarkets.
Salting the Pasta Water: Why is it important to salt the water that you’re boiling the pasta in? A lot of folks think that it has to do with lowering the boiling point of the water – but that’s a myth. Instead, salting the water has to do with the flavor of the pasta.
Pasta absorbs the water as it cooks, so if the water is salted the pasta will absorb some of the salt in the water as well. That means that your pasta is literally absorbing flavor. My rule of thumb for perfectly flavored pasta is about ¾ teaspoon of salt per quart of water.
Chicken: One of the great things about this recipe is that the chicken gets coated with delicious spices before it’s cooked in the skillet. That adds a whole lot of flavor to your final dish. BUT, if you’re in a pinch for time, you could substitute already-cooked rotisserie chicken into the dish. It’s a great substitute, and has a lot of flavor in it. I would recommend you go ahead and add the Italian seasoning called for in the chicken to the sauce.
Rotisserie chicken comes with salt and pepper on it, so you may want to adjust the salt and pepper back a little bit from the rest of the dish.
Mushrooms: Cremini mushrooms are my absolute favorite kind of mushrooms for this dish. Hands down. They have a really deep, complex flavor – much more so than white button mushrooms. Either mushroom will work if need be. The good news is that both kinds of mushrooms are readily available at most supermarkets (and come pre-sliced!!)
Tomatoes: In an ideal world, you would peel each and every tomato before adding it to the dish. But in an ideal world, we would all have unlimited free time to bake and cook and go on vacation. The real world is a little messier, and I almost never peel the tomatoes. It’s not really that much extra work to peel the tomatoes but, I don’t know, the little bits of peel that get loose in the dish just do not bother me that much. You can decide if remove the peel bits from the final dish is important enough to you to do the work of peeling the tomatoes. If it is, peel away!
I do always core and seed the tomatoes before adding.
- Yield: Serves 6
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chicken Alfredo Recipe
- Boneless Chicken Breast - 1 1/2 Pounds
- Salt-Divided - 3 Teaspoon
- Black Pepper-Divided - 1 1/2 Teaspoon
- Italian Seasoning - 1 Tablespoon
- Vegetable Oil - 2 Tablespoons
- Penne - 1- (16 Ounce) Box
- Butter - 4 Tablespoons
- Onion, Minced - 1 Cup
- Garlic, Minced - 4 Cloves
- Mushrooms, Sliced - 8 Ounces
- All Purpose Flour - 1/3 Cup
- Milk - 3 Cups
- Half and Half - 1 Cup
- Parmesan Cheese - 3/4 Cup
- Cream Cheese at Room Temperature - 4 ounces
- Mozzrella Cheese - 8 Ounces
- Roma Tomatoes, Seeded and Diced - 3
- Cut the chicken tenderloins into 1 inch cubes. Toss chicken with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and Italian seasoning and coat evenly.
- In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook without stirring, until one side is browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta well.
- Meanwhile, while pasta is cooking, begin the sauce; Melt the butter in the skillet. Add onion, garlic and mushroom and sautee until veggies are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and half and half and stir constantly, until smooth. Stir in Parmesan, Mozzarella and cream cheese and cook gently until cheeses are melted. Add reserved cooked chicken and tomatoes. Serve over cooked pasta.