This easy Chicken Margherita Pasta has all the same delicious Italian flavors as a classic pizza – just in cheesy pasta form! Featuring tender chicken, ripe tomatoes, fresh garlic, complex parmesan cheese and plenty of aromatic Italian seasonings, this margarita chicken pasta is so easy to prepare and even easier to devour! You only need one pot, 9 simple ingredients and 25 minutes of hands on prep to make the best chicken tomato pasta right at home!
Featured recipe review (from Pinterest): The best flavor! I went back and forth on whether to use canned or Roma tomatoes, and I’m so glad I diced up the Romas! Really yummy” – Lucy!
Update: This post was originally published in July 2018. It’s been updated to include more information about Margherita pasta, as well as pro-tips for customizing this recipe! Plus, there’s now a recipe video showing you exactly how easy this chicken pasta is to make at home!
Hi there, friends! I hope you are hungry, because today I’m sharing a delicious two-for-one, culinary mash-up!
If you love the chicken margherita pasta from Olive Garden, or Chili’s margarita chicken, you need to keep reading, because this tomato and basil pasta recipe is especially for you!
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Chicken margherita pasta: recipe overview
Step aside classic pizza margherita, there’s a new dish in town – it’s your favorite pizza now in pasta form! This fresh tomato pasta is equally as flavorful and comforting as the original pizza pie, just with a luxurious linguine twist!
This recipe features silky noodles, tender pieces of bite-size chicken breast, juicy tomatoes, salty parmesan and sweet basil, along with aromatic Italian seasonings notes, fragrant garlic and spicy pepper flakes, tossed in a rich, creamy margherita sauce! The pasta gets finished with generous dollops of decadent ricotta cheese to create a dish that legitimately tastes like a Margherita pizza, minus the crust!
However, this chicken ricotta pasta isn’t just fantastic flavorful, it’s also an absolute breeze to prepare! This easy recipe all comes together in just one pot with only a handful of simple ingredients. Plus, this recipe can be prepared, cooked and on the table in 40 minutes or less! Hello winning!
Why this recipe works
- Delicious taste! If you love the restaurant pizza, you will love this chicken margherita recipe! It’s totally crave-worthy – creamy, cheesy, rich and bursting with robust Italian flavors!
- Simple to prepare! If you can boil water and toss some stuff around in a skillet then you can make this fresh tomato pasta!
- 40 minute or less recipe! This cheesy Margherita chicken with pasta requires minimal hands on preparation!
- 9 ingredients! You only need 9 easy-to find fresh ingredients, plus a couple pantry staples to prepare this Italian meal!
- Anytime Meal! This one pot margarita pasta is easy enough for busy weeknight family dinners and delicious enough for weekend entertaining and serving company!
- Totally customizable! You can completely customize this flexible recipe! Try adding anchovies, drizzling it with balsamic or swapping the ricotta for burrata! If you are vegetarian, omit the chicken and swap the noodles to make spaghetti margherita! The sky is the limit – create the perfect restaurant-style pasta for you!
What is margherita pasta?
Margherita pasta is simply pasta with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, parmesan and often, chicken. Essentially, it’s a spin on the classic Pizza Margherita. This Italian pasta dish uses all same the ingredients from the classic Italian pizza – tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic and basil – and transforms them into a comforting, flavorful Italian pasta dish!
Margherita pizza vs. pasta
In case you are unfamiliar with pizza Margherita, there is a widespread belief that it was invented in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Pizza Margherita is a typical Neapolitan pizza and is adorned in the colors of the Italian flag – red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella) and green (basil).
This Italian pasta recipe takes the same tomatoes and basil, but nixes the mozzarella in favor of creamy, rich ricotta and amps up the flavors with the addition of Italian seasoning, garlic, parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes! Plus, there is the addition of chicken to make this dish a more balanced, substantial meal!
If you love pizza Margherita, you are going to fall head over heels for this ricotta and chicken pasta version of the famous pizza!
Pasta Margerita ingredients
You’ll need nine simple ingredients, plus a few pantry staples to make creamy tomato chicken pasta!
- Pasta: The recipe calls for linguine; however, you can use whatever pasta shape you love! (See below for margherita pasta shapes you can use!)
- Butter + Oil: I like to use a combination of butter and olive oil for a richer flavor!
- Onions: A small yellow onion adds just enough onion flavor!
- Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are a must here! They’re plum and firm with a sweet flavor. However, it’s their low water content that makes them perfect – they won’t add any excess moisture to your pasta!
- Garlic: Two cloves of fresh garlic provide a distinctive, punchy taste. Make sure you use fresh garlic, not the minced variety sold in a jar.
- Seasonings: A combination of Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper all add a ton of flavor!
- Flour: You will need two tablespoons of flour to thicken the sauce!
- Liquids: A combination of chicken broth and half-and-half (or heavy cream!) is the base for a luxurious Italian pasta sauce!
- Parmesan: A generous dusting of parmesan cheese adds the perfect pop of salty, complex flavor! Please grate the parmesan yourself for the best flavor (non of that green can stuff)!
- Herbs: Fresh herbs add a ton of bright, fresh flavor and really bring this Italian pasta to life! I typically use basil; but you can add or substitute chives, parsley, oregano or thyme if you like!
- Ricotta: While entirely optional, I like to finish this margherita pasta with dollops of ricotta cheese – it adds that authentic margarita pizza flavor!
- Noodles: You can use any variety of pasta you like, such as fettuccine or even penne pasta! However, you will need to adjust the cook time accordingly!
- Shallots: You can swap out the yellow onion for shallots if you prefer a milder onion flavor!
- Wine: To add a depth of complex flavor, substitute some of the broth for a dry white wine, such as Chardonnay!
- Arugula: For a touch of peppery flavor, try stirring some arugula into the pasta just before serving!
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Add in julienne sun-dried tomatoes for juicy pops of chewy texture and sweet flavor!
- Olives: Toss in some olives if you love a fresh, briny taste!
- Cheese: You can swap out the parmesan and use any freshly shredded cheese you love, such as asiago and mozzarella cheese! Or try swapping out the ricotta for decadent burrata!
- Breadcrumbs: Crispy breadcrumbs are a great way to add bit of crunchy texture!
- Balsamic: Drizzle this creamy tomato chicken pasta with balsamic reduction just before serving for a pop of sweet and tangy flavor!
How to make margherita pasta?
This chicken basil tomato pasta is so easy to make! Everything comes together in one pot with just a few simple ingredients and 25 minutes!
- Brown chicken. Melt the butter in a large skillet and cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 4-6 minutes, or until golden in color. Remove chicken to a plate.
- Cook vegetables. Add the onions to the empty skillet and sauté until translucent in color. Stir in half of the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Season with garlic, Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the liquids. Add the broth and half-and-half to the pan, whisking to combine.
- Add chicken and pasta. Return the chicken back to the pan, along with the pasta. Bring the contents to a slow boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is just al dente.
- Garnish and serve. Reduce heat under the pan to low and stir in the parmesan cheese. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the remaining tomatoes and basil. Dollop with ricotta and stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!
How to make chicken margherita step-by-step at home!
Below you will find a picture collage showing you exactly how to make this chicken ricotta pasta, step by step! You can find the full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Pro tips for the best chicken tomato pasta
- Chicken: If you prefer more flavor, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts! Please note, you will need to adjust (increase) the cooking time in step one of the recipe.
- Parmesan: I recommend freshly grating parmesan yourself for this (or any) recipe! That stuff in a green can may be convenient, but unfortunately it will not seamlessly melt into the pasta and form a smooth sauce! Pro-tip: For fast grating I use the food processor!
- Seasoning: I strongly recommend you continue to lightly season this chicken pasta with salt and pepper as you go. Meaning season the chicken, then season the onion, and so on. Creamy sauces require a good amount of salt to really make all the flavors sing!
- Sauce: The pasta sauce will continue thicken after you stir in the parmesan! Then, after you add in the ricotta it will transform into an incredibly rich and creamy sauce! So, please do not be alarmed if it seems a little bit thin as you are cooking it!
- Seasoning: For the best flavor, ditch the store-bought seasoning and make your own Italian Seasoning!
If you are craving an easy, comforting dinner, grab the essentials and whip up this one pot pasta with chicken and tomatoes! It’s ultra-creamy, so comforting and guaranteed to become a family favorite!
Until next week friends, cheers!
More easy restaurant-quality chicken pastas to try!
- Lemon Chicken Pasta (a fan favorite!)
- Pesto Chicken Pasta (light and bright, yet rich in flavor!)
- Mediterranean Pasta with Chicken (easy and delicious!)
The best Chicken Tomato Pasta recipe with step-by-step video tutorial👇
Chicken Margherita Pasta (One Pot Recipe!)
- 1 Large, Straight-Sided Skillet (or Dutch Oven)
- 1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts - sliced into ¾’’ pieces (SEE NOTES)
- 2 TBS Unsalted Butter DIVIDED
- 1 TBS Olive Oil
- 1 small Yellow Onion - chopped
- 8 Roma Tomatoes - seeded, small dice & divided in ½
- 4-6 cloves Garlic - minced (SEE NOTES)
- 2 tsp Dried Italian Seasoning (SEE NOTES)
- ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes - plus more for garnishing
- 2 TBS All Purpose Flour
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 ½ Cups Half-and-Half
- 8 ounces Linguine - broken in half
- ¾ Cup Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper - to taste
- ¼ Cup Fresh Basil - thinly sliced
- 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
For Serving: Grated Parmesan, Crusty Artisan Bread
- Cook chicken: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large straight sided skillet, or Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, but not cooked through, about 4-6 minutes total. Remove chicken to a plate.
- Cook onions: Reduce heat to medium low and add in the oil and remaining butter. Once melted, increase heat to medium and add in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomatoes, then aromatics: Add in half of the tomatoes and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add in the garlic, Italian seasonings and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add flour: Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the liquids: Add in the chicken broth and half-and-half, whisking constantly to combine. Bring to a simmer.
- Add browned chicken + pasta. Add the chicken, along with the pasta, to the pan. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is just al dente - Uncover the pan and stir once or twice during cooking to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in the remaining tomatoes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- To serve: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh basil and dollop with the ricotta. Stir to combine. Garnish with more basil, parmesan and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve and Enjoy!
- Chicken: You can absolutely substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the breasts if desired. Just be sure to adjust (increase) the cooking time in step one by a couple minutes.
- Cooking chicken: Cook the chicken in two separate batches if necessary to not overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding the pan will cause the chicken to steam, instead of sear and your chicken won't get golden brown in color.
- Garlic: The amount of garlic depends on personal preference. If you like a lot of garlic flavor, use 6 cloves. If you are garlic averse, use 4 small cloves.
- Parmesan: I highly recommend using fresh grated parmesan for this (and any) recipe. That stuff in a green can not only tastes weird, but it also does not seamlessly melt into the pasta and become silky smooth like fresh grated parmesan does. Just make sure you use the smallest holes on your box grater for this.
- Salt and Pepper: I strongly recommend you continue to season this dish with salt and pepper as you go - just a pinch or two! Meaning: Season the chicken, then season the onion, the half-and-half mixture, etc. Pasta with creamy based sauces require a good amount of salt to really make all the flavors sing!!
- Ricotta: The sauce will continue thicken after you stir in the parmesan, and after you add in the ricotta it will become incredibly rich and creamy, so do not be alarmed if it seems a little bit thin as you are cooking it!
- Customizing the recipe: I will always encourage you to make a recipe your own! Below are a few ideas to help inspire you!
- Pasta: Swap out the linguine for your favorite pasta, such as fettuccine or penne pasta! (You may need to adjust the cook time)
- Spicy: If you like your pasta with a lot of heat, use more crushed red pepper flakes!
- Herbaceous: If you like a ton of fresh basil, increase the basil to 1/3 or 1/2 of a cup.
- More flavor: For added depth of flavor, replace some of the broth with a dry white wine!
- Finishing: Drizzle the finished pasta with balsamic vinegar reduction or glaze for a touch of sharp sweetness!
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