Creamy Marry Me Chicken Pasta
This marry me chicken pasta is creamy, dreamy, and lovely for a romantic date night at home or a cozy dinner party with friends! With seared chicken, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, and fresh basil, it’s an easy (almost) one-pot dinner that is lovely with a glass of wine.
Hello from the couch where I’m staring at my Christmas tree while writing a Valentine’s Day-ish recipe. I don’t know why I’m like this but it is what it is. Maybe I should just plaster paper hearts all over the tree and push it out for another month?
Also, while we’re on the subject of V-Day, can we just talk about this pasta recipe real quick? I mean, what’s more apropos for a Valentine’s Day recipe than one with ‘marry me’ in the name? Just like reverse sear filet mignon and braised pork ragù with gnocchi, this is a super simple but always elegant dinner that you can make for two or for a crowd!
And, of course, I should mention that this recipe isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. I mean, creamy, cozy, cheesy pasta is fitting for any time of the year after all. Let’s make it, shall we?
Why you’ll love this pasta
I honestly love the entire concept of marry me chicken. The idea that a recipe is so good it could result in a marriage proposal is so extra lol. But, if you are looking for an easy, and delicious, way to say “I love you”, this is a great place to start.
- The pasta comes together in about 30 minutes.
- It’s creamy, savory, garlicky, and super flavorful.
- This pasta is lovely for two or for a crowd.
- Make this recipe for dinner parties or date night at home!
The ingredient list
- Chicken – you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. I like thighs because they’re more flavorful, but I typically use whatever I have!
- Salt & pepper – you’ll want freshly-ground black pepper and Kosher salt. I like Morton’s Kosher salt.
- Olive oil – a bit of oil will help us sear the chicken without sticking to the pan.
- Butter – I like to use a combo of olive oil and butter because the oil is best for searing but the butter adds flavor and richness.
- Shallots – diced shallots will give the sauce a classic onion flavor but with a hint of sweetness.
- Garlic – every red sauce needs a bit of garlic to complement the rest of the spices!
- Tomato paste – the tomato paste gives the sauce a deeper umami flavor.
- White wine – look for a dry white wine so it doesn’t make the sauce overly fruity. I like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
- Tomato sauce – this isn’t a typical ingredient in marry me chicken recipes. But I like adding a bit to make this recipe more of a pasta sauce.
- Heavy cream – a splash of heavy cream will make the sauce extra rich and buttery.
- Chicken bouillon – instead of using chicken broth, which will make the sauce too thin, we’ll just use a bit of bouillon. My favorite is Better Than Bouillon!
- Parmesan – use freshly-grated parmesan for the best flavor and melt. The additives in store-bought parmesan will clump up in the sauce.
- Spices – a mix of red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and oregano will add extra flavor.
- Sun-dried tomatoes – you can use sun-dried tomatoes from a bag or jar.
- Pasta – my favorite is rigatoni so the sauce gets into all the nooks and crannies.
- Basil – fresh basil will add a hint of freshness to complement the rich tomato sauce.
- Protein – try seared shrimp or Italian sausage instead of chicken.
- Onions – feel free to use half a small brown onion instead of a shallot.
- Wine-free – you can leave out the wine if you don’t have some on hand.
- Vegetarian – leave out the chicken and use vegetarian bouillon instead.
- Gluten-free – replace the pasta with a gluten-free pasta.
- Veggies – you can also add other veggies like spinach or sautéed eggplant.
It’s important to use high-quality tomato paste and sauce in this recipe. I’ve tested this recipe with generic tomatoes and the sauce tasted acidic and tinny. High-quality tomatoes will make for a rich, sweet, and balanced sauce. I like Cento, Muir Glen, and Bianco Dinapoli tomatoes!
How to make this recipe
Sear the chicken
- First, cover a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken.
- Then, use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken until it’s about 1/4-inch thick.
- Season both sides of the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
- Next, heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet until it’s shimmering.
- Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side until it’s golden brown and cooked through.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and then dice or slice into strips.
Don’t skip tenderizing the meat! Pounding it into an even thickness makes the chicken more tender and helps it cook more consistently. Otherwise, the chicken could come out tough, dry, and chewy.
Boil the pasta
- Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Save about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water. Then, drain the rigatoni.
Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than al dente. The rigatoni will finish cooking in the sauce and you don’t want it to over-cook!
Make the sauce
- Melt the butter in the same skillet you cooked the chicken in. Add the shallots and sauté until softened.
- Then, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir the tomato paste into the pan and cook for 1 minute until dark red.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Simmer until the wine is mostly reduced.
- Next, add the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Stir until smooth.
- Add the chicken bouillon, parmesan, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and oregano.
- Stir the sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce.
Here’s a little trick I learned in culinary school for perfect cheese sauce! Let the parmesan sit on top of the sauce for 1 minute before stirring it together. The heat from the sauce will help the cheese slowly melt so it doesn’t turn out grainy.
Assemble the pasta
- Once the sauce is done, add the pasta, chicken, and basil.
- Then, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
- Stir everything together until the rigatoni is al dente. Top each serving with parmesan and basil. Enjoy!
This pasta is a meal on its own but I usually serve it with a salad and bread to round everything out, especially when I have guests over! These are some of my go-to sides. (Oh, and don’t forget a nice glass of wine, of course.)
- Appetizers – lemony marinated mozzarella balls or fried burrata
- Salad – green salad, Caprese salad, or Caesar salad
- Bread – garlic butter dinner rolls, garlic bread, or crusty sourdough
- Veggies – lemony green beans with pine nuts or charred broccoli with pecorino
- Dessert – coffee crème brûlée, mascarpone cheesecake with orange & amaretto, or a blueberry hazelnut galette
What kind of pasta should I use?
Rigatoni is my go-to for this creamy chicken sun-dried tomato pasta. But you can use all kinds of pasta! Some of my favorites are:
- Penne, ziti, or calamarata
- Fusilli, gemelli, or cavatappi
- Farfalle or pipe rigate
- Bucatini or fettucine
You can use whatever pasta you like, but I like a tube pasta like rigatoni or something with lots of nooks and crannies like farfalle. You want something that will soak up all of that creamy sauce!
Storing & reheating
To store leftover pasta, spoon it into an airtight container. Refrigerate the pasta for up to 5 days.
To reheat the pasta, you have a couple of options. You can always microwave small portions for 1-2 minutes until hot. But I recommend reheating the pasta on the stove! Just mix the leftover creamy garlic parmesan chicken pasta with a small splash of chicken broth in a pan. Then, heat it over medium, stirring often, until the pasta is hot.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing the pasta or making this recipe in advance. It definitely tastes best fresh!
Tips & tricks
- Tenderizing the meat is key for perfectly cooked chicken! Otherwise, the tip of the chicken breast will dry out before the rest of it is finished cooking.
- To perfectly sear the chicken, wait until the oil is very hot and starts to shimmer. Cook the chicken until it’s very browned, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Continue to flip the chicken every 30 seconds until it reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Make sure you’re using heavy whipping cream in the sauce. (Sometimes called double cream.) Milk and half-and-half is too thin and will make the sauce watery.
- Freshly grated parmesan is super important in this recipe! Pre-grated cheese has additives that will clump up the sauce and make it grainy.
What is marry me chicken?
This recipe is a Tuscan-style chicken that was originally created by Lindsay Funston, the previous editor of Delish. When her video producer tasted the dish they said, “I’d marry you for that chicken” and the name stuck. It also recently went viral on TikTok but it’s been around for a while lol.
The dish itself is made up of seared chicken topped with a cheesy, creamy, sun-dried tomato sauce. In this pasta version, I’ve added a few extra ingredients like white wine, shallots, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning to take it up a notch!
Is the sauce spicy?
The sauce has the tiniest bit of heat thanks to a pinch of red pepper flakes but I wouldn’t call it spicy. If you’re not a fan of spice, feel free to leave out the pepper flakes. If you love heat, add more!
Can I make this recipe without sun-dried tomatoes?
The sun-dried tomatoes are a staple ingredient in this recipe, but you don’t have to add them. Without the sun-dried tomatoes, this is still a super delicious creamy tomato chicken pasta recipe. Feel free to add other veggies like spinach, kale, or sautéed eggplant if you like!
How to I get glossy sauce?
The secret to silky sauce is a splash of starchy pasta water! The starch thins out the sauce a bit and helps it stick to the pasta better. It will also emulsify with the fat in the sauce to make it nice and glossy.
More romantic dinners
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Creamy Marry Me Chicken Pasta
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (454 grams)
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil (14 grams)
- 12 ounces rigatoni pasta (340 grams)
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (14 grams)
- 1/4 cup finely diced shallots (25 grams – 1 small shallot)
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (32 grams)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (60 grams)
- 15 ounces tomato sauce (425 grams)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (240 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 1/2 cup parmesan (32 grams), plus more for serving
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (56 grams), drained & finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (7 grams), plus more for serving
Cook the chicken
- Next, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it's very hot and shimmering. Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes per side until it's golden brown. Continue cooking, flipping every 30 seconds or so, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then, slice the chicken and set aside.
Boil the pasta
Make the sauce
- While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in the same cast iron skillet that you cooked the chicken in over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they're softened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir the tomato paste into the shallot mixture and cook until it's dark red, about 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Then, pour the tomato sauce and heavy whipping cream into the pan. Stir until smooth and bring the sauce to a very gentle simmer.
- Add the chicken bouillon, parmesan, a pinch of red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and oregano. Let the parmesan sit for 1 minute and then stir until the cheese is smooth. Stir the sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce.
- Pour the pasta, chicken, basil, and about 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) of the reserved pasta water into the sauce. Stir for 1 minute, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is glossy. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water, a small splash at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency.
- Serve the pasta with freshly-grated parmesan, chopped basil, and extra red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
xo Sara Lynn
Song of the day – Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups