This Chicken and Sausage Pasta recipe features juicy chicken tenders, browned sausage, and al dente penne, all mixed together in a rich and creamy sauce. With added flavor from fresh basil and savory Parmesan, this is the ultimate comfort dish you’ve been waiting for!Jump to Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Ready in 25: All you need is 25 minutes from start to finish, making this dish perfect for busy weeknight dinners when you’re short on time.
- Rich yet light: Using half and half brings the creaminess everyone loves without the overly rich nature associated with heavy cream-based sauces.
- Nutrition packed: This meal isn’t just high in protein, it’s also packed with essential vitamins and minerals thanks to baby spinach and fresh herbs.
A comforting classic
Chicken and sausage pasta has long been a favorite in my household, and for good reason! It’s simple to make, high in protein, and so easy to customize.
This recipe is packed with rich, creamy textures from the sauce, layered with pieces of golden-brown chicken and crispy slices of sausage. The contrast of textures and flavors is met with wilted spinach and basil, providing essential nutrients and a fresh, herbaceous flavor.
Chicken and sausage pasta is great on its own, but I love to serve mine with veggie-forward sides like grilled zucchini and squash and roasted beet and burrata salad. Just don’t forget to finish it off with an extra sprinkle of fresh basil and cheese for the ultimate dinner!
Ingredients & substitutions
- Penne: My go-to pasta is penne for this recipe since it holds the sauce and complements the meat well. You could also use rigatoni or fusilli if you prefer.
- Chicken tenders: Add a mild meaty flavor and cook quickly. You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs for a juicier taste, but the cooking time will need to be adjusted.
- Avocado oil: The mild flavor of avocado oil doesn’t overpower the dish, but you can substitute it with olive oil or canola oil if you want.
- Sausage: Adds a hearty, robust flavor. Feel free to use your favorite type, whether it’s spicy Italian or milder versions.
- Garlic: Infuses the chicken and sausage pasta with savory, full-bodied notes. Garlic powder can be used in a pinch.
- Baby spinach: Adds a pop of color and a whole host of nutrients. If you don’t have access to spinach, try chard or kale as alternatives.
- Half and half: Creates a lusciously creamy sauce consistency that coats the pasta and meat beautifully. Full-fat milk or a mix of milk and cream can also be used.
- Basil: Imparts a refreshing aroma and flavor. Parsley will also work as an alternative.
- Parmesan cheese: Enhances richness and depth of flavor in the sauce. No Parmesan on hand? Try Asiago or Pecorino Romano as equally delicious replacements.
How to make chicken and sausage pasta
- Prep the pasta: Start by boiling your penne in a pot of salted water until al dente. Once it’s ready, drain it and set it aside.
- Cook the chicken: Get your pan hot, drizzle in some avocado oil, season the chicken, and give it a good sear. Once it’s done, let it cool before chopping it into smaller pieces.
- Cook the sausage: Using the same skillet, let the sausage rounds cook until they’re golden brown on the edges. Once you see their color turn, in goes the garlic.
- Wilt and whisk: Lower the heat, then toss in the spinach and let it wilt. Pour in the half and half, the cooked pasta and the cooked chicken, and mix until everything is well combined and thickened.
- Add the final touches: Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the fresh basil and Parmesan before serving!
This chicken and sausage pasta salad makes a hearty meal on its own, but it also pairs incredibly well with side dishes like these:
- Green salad: Add a spicy cucumber salad or shaved zucchini salad with feta to the side.
- Vegetables: Try Italian stuffed peppers or roasted cauliflower steaks to add some extra nutrients to the dish.
- Bread: Garlic bread or Spanish tomato bread makes a great side.
Frequently asked questions
The best sausage for this recipe really depends on your taste preferences. A spicy Italian sausage can add a kick, while a milder one lends a more subtle flavor.
To make this dish dairy-free, substitute the half-and-half with a plant-based creamer or coconut milk. For the Parmesan, opt for a dairy-free cheese alternative or nutritional yeast.
You can easily incorporate other veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, or cherry tomatoes for added color and nutrition. Sauté them with the sausage and garlic to meld the flavors.
Storage & reheating
Maximize the freshness of your chicken and sausage pasta with these storage tips:
- Fridge: Once cooled, keep the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: Although this recipe is best consumed fresh, it can be frozen for up to a month. Just make sure it’s stored in a freezer-safe container.
- Reheating: Warm leftovers on a stove over low heat, adding a splash of milk if needed.
- Spicy: Incorporate chili flakes or spicy sausage if you’re a spice lover.
- Pesto: Mix in a spoonful of basil pesto for added flavor.
- Seafood: Replace chicken with shrimp or clams for a seafood variation.
- Mushrooms: Add your favorite variety of mushrooms for an extra meaty element.
- Herbs: Instead of or in addition to basil, use rosemary, thyme, or oregano.
- Zoodles: Replace the pasta with zucchini noodles for a low-carb version.
- Don’t overcook the pasta: Stop cooking your pasta as soon as it reaches al dente since it continues to cook once it’s tossed in the sauce.
- Prevent curdling: Add the half and half on low heat to prevent it from curdling.
- Grate fresh cheese: Always grate fresh Parmesan cheese over using Parmesan from a bottle for the best flavor.
- Use a hot pan: Ensure your skillet is nice and hot to achieve perfectly crispy and browned sausage edges.
Looking for more pasta dishes?
If you enjoyed this chicken and sausage pasta recipe, be sure to check out some more of my favorite pasta dishes like these:
- Cream Orzo Pasta
- Creamy Sausage Orecchiette Pasta
- Creamy Sausage Pasta with Spinach
- Lemon Chicken with Orzo Pasta
If you try this Chicken and Sausage Pasta let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Hearty Chicken and Sausage Pasta
- 8 ounces penne pasta cooked and drained
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 pound sausage sliced into rounds
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups baby spinach
- ¾ cup half and half
- ¼ cup basil finely chopped plus more for serving
- ½ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated plus more for serving
- Cook the penne pasta in salted water according to instructions to al dente. Drain once cooked.
- Heat a deep pan to medium heat, add avocado oil.
- Season the chicken tenders with salt. Add the tenders to the pan and cook for 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting into bite size pieces.
- Heat the the same skillet back up and add the sausage, cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Lower the heat to low. Add the spinach and mix well until it has wilted.
- Pour in the half and half, and the drained pasta. Mix well to combine and let it cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Taste for salt and adjust to taste.
- Remove from heat, add the basil and parmesan cheese. Mix well to combine. Serve in bowls, add additional parmesan cheese and basil.