Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a minute since I posted a new recipe, but I went through a few days of creative block (I think the unusual below freezing temperatures in New Orleans also froze my brain!). After a couple recipe flops this weekend, I decided to go with something a little bit more simple. This Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce is just about as simple as it gets.

You really can’t go wrong with pasta, chicken, and broccoli, but what makes this dish spectacular is the lemon cream sauce. Lemon cream sauce is another one of those, “Woah! How do so few ingredients make something that tastes SO good?” recipes. Once you learn how to do it, you might find yourself making it for everything. …But be careful, because you must use heavy cream for this sauce or else it will curdle and heavy cream probably isn’t t he type of thing you want to eat every day (I mean for health reasons, not flavor reasons). So just make it once in a while and enjoy every delicious drop when you do. ;)

I used whole wheat pasta for this so I could feel a little better about the heavy cream business, but regular pasta would work just as well. I like rotini because the spirals do an awesome job of catching all the delicious cream sauce, but I think bowties would also be pretty good. And lastly, heavy cream can be quite a bit more expensive in pint-sized containers than it is in quart-sized containers, so consider buying more and freezing your extra cream. Yep, it freezes great! And make sure to use some of it to make a batch of 5 Ingredient Freezer Biscuits. You won’t be sorry.

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.com

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.com
5 from 9 votes
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Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients.

Total Cost $6.85 recipe / $1.71 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb frozen broccoli florets $0.85
  • 1/2 lb rotini pasta $1.30 $1.30
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2/3 lb. total) $1.97
  • Salt and Pepper $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 fresh lemon $0.59
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth $0.07
  • 1 cup heavy cream* $1.80

Instructions

  1. Take the broccoli florets out of the freezer and allow them to thaw. When they are soft enough to cut, chop them into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Set the broccoli aside to fully thaw until you are ready to use them.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  3. While the water for the pasta is heating, season both sides of the chicken thighs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a deep skillet over medium flame, then add the olive oil. Tilt the skillet to coat the surface in oil, then add the chicken thighs. Cook the thighs on both sides until golden brown and cooked through (about 5 minutes each side). Remove the thighs to a cutting board and let rest.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, zest the lemon using a zester or small-holed cheese grater and mince the garlic. Once the chicken has been removed from the skillet, turn the heat down to medium-low, and add the garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1-2 minutes, or just until it is soft and fragrant.
  5. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Add the heavy cream, about 1 tsp of the lemon zest, and 2 Tbsp of the lemon's juice. Stir to combine, and allow the cream to come up to a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce for a few minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt, pepper, or lemon if needed. Season the sauce liberally so the flavors are not diluted once combined with the pasta, broccoli, and chicken.
  6. Chop the cooked chicken into small pieces, then add it to the cream sauce in the skillet along with the drained pasta and chopped broccoli florets. Stir to combine and coat everything in sauce. Allow the chicken, broccoli, and pasta to heat through, then serve.

Recipe Notes

*You MUST use heavy cream for this recipe, not half and half, not milk, or else the lemon will cause it to curdle.

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.com

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.com

Step by Step Photos

Chopped Broccoli Florets

Start by taking 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets out of the freezer to thaw. Once they’ve softened a bit, chop them into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set them aside to fully thaw. Also bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook 1/2 lb. of pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender. Drain the pasta in a colander.

Seasoned Chicken Thighs

While the pasta water is heating, start on the chicken thighs. Season both sides of two boneless, skinless chicken thighs with salt and pepper (this is about 2/3 lb. total).

Browned Chicken Thighs

Heat a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and tilt the skillet to coat the surface. Add the chicken thighs and cook on both sides until golden brown and cooked through (about 5 minutes each side). Make sure to let the chicken brown, as the browned bits help flavor the sauce. Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet to a cutting board. Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium-low.

Zested Lemon

While the chicken is cooking, zest the lemon so it’s ready to go when you need it. Also mince two cloves of garlic.

Soften Garlic

After removing the chicken from the skillet and turning the heat down to medium-low, add the minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant.

Deglaze Skillet with Chicken Broth

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to the skillet and stir to dissolve all the browned bits off the surface.

Add Heavy Cream

Add one cup heavy cream to the skillet, along with about 1 tsp of the lemon zest and 2 Tbsp of the lemon’s juice.

Thickened Sauce

Let the sauce come up to a gentle simmer and let it simmer for a few minutes, or until it thickens slightly. Season the sauce liberally with salt, pepper, and more lemon, if needed. 

Chopped Chicken

Chop the cooked chicken into smaller pieces…

Add Pasta Broccoli and Chicken

Then add the pasta, chicken, and broccoli to the skillet with the lemon cream sauce.

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

Stir until everything is combined and coated in sauce. Let the pasta, broccoli, and chicken heat through, then serve.

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.com

This super luscious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner and uses only a few simple ingredients. BudgetBytes.comNOM!