Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

$5.23 recipe / $1.31 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.68 from 106 votes
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Ever since I discovered how delicious pasta is when cooked in broth instead of water, I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of different ways to play up this simple trick. By simply changing up the add-ins, you can have an endless number of quick one pot or one skillet dinners for busy week nights. This Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is my latest quick skillet obsession.

Originally posted 10-19-2014, updated 5-28-17.

Top view of a skillet of Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

Bacon, spinach, and Parmesan are not exactly the least expensive ingredients on the planet, so you do have to be a bit careful with this one. I used a half package of bacon and froze the rest for later use. To save on spinach, I skipped the salad sized bags and got a jumbo bag of “cooking spinach”. The big one pound bag was only 20 cents more expensive than the smaller salad sized (9oz.) bags and almost twice as big. I’ll enjoy the extra spinach as salads and freeze some in smoothie packs.

Can I Use Frozen Spinach or Other Greens?

Frozen spinach can be used in a pinch, but make sure not to get “chopped” frozen spinach because it will be in a million tiny little pieces. You can use other greens, like collards, mustard, or kale, but because they’re quite a bit more sturdy, they’ll need to be sautéed down with the onion in the beginning. Parmesan really does top off this dish and make it grand, but you can lighten up on it if you’re strapped for cash. Parmesan is very flavorful, so a little goes a long way.

What Else Can I Add?

If you want to beef up this dish a bit, you can add a rinsed and drained can of white beans, or sauté some mushrooms with the onions. A few red pepper flakes would be nice in here, too, although I like red pepper flakes on just about anything!

Close up of a skillet oof Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

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Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

4.68 from 106 votes
Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner that only requires a few ingredients.
Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner that only requires a few ingredients. BudgetBytes.com
Servings 4
Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. bacon ($2.15)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.25)
  • 2 cups chicken broth ($0.28)
  • 1/2 lb. pasta ($0.50)
  • 1/4 lb. fresh spinach (about 4 cups) ($1.50)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan ($0.55)

Instructions 

  • Cut the bacon across the strips into one-inch pieces. Sauté the bacon in a large skillet until it is brown and crispy (no extra fat needed). Remove the browned bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Carefully pour the fat off into a separate bowl, leaving about one tablespoon in the skillet.
  • While the bacon cooks, dice the onion. Once the bacon is removed and the fat is drained from the skillet, add the diced onions and sauté until they are soft and transparent. Allow the moisture from the onions to dissolve some of the browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add two cups of chicken broth to the skillet and dissolve off any remaining browned bits of bacon drippings from the bottom of the skillet.
  • Finally, add the uncooked pasta to the skillet, place a lid on top, and let the skillet come to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir, turn the heat down to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes with the lid in place. Give the skillet a stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom every few minutes or so, replacing the lid quickly each time. After 10 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a little bit of thick, saucy broth remaining in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and stir until it has wilted into the pasta. Turn off the heat, add the cooked bacon back to the skillet, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, stir to combine, and then serve.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 428.43kcalCarbohydrates: 46.9gProtein: 17.1gFat: 19.05gSodium: 924.4mgFiber: 2.75g
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Top view of a bowl of Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan with a fork on the side

 

 How to Make Bacon and Spinach Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Sliced Bacon on red cutting board

Cut 6 oz. (1/2 of a 12oz. package) of bacon into one-inch strips. The second half will be frozen and used later. I love adding a little bacon to soups and other dishes because it adds a LOT of flavor. Or who knows, maybe I’ll just use the leftovers for an impromptu weekend brunch.

Browned and cooked bacon in skillet

Sauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s brown and crispy. I didn’t add any extra oil to the skillet because the bacon is fatty enough that it releases quite a bit of grease and does not stick. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon, and pour off the fat into a separate container, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet (for flavor, of course!). When the poured off fat is cool, save it in the refrigerator to add flavor to other dishes, or if you’re not the bacon grease type of person, scoop it into the garbage. Just DO NOT rinse it down your drain.

Sautéed Onions in skillet

While the bacon is cooking, dice one small onion. Add the onion to the skillet and sauté until it is soft and transparent. The juices from the onion will begin to dissolve the browned bacon bits from the bottom of the skillet. 

Chicken broth added to skillet with onions

Add two cups of chicken broth to the skillet. Stir well to dissolve the last of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Uncooked pasta added to skillet with onions and chicken broth

Add the dry pasta to the skillet and place a lid on top (it’s OKAY if the broth doesn’t completely cover the pasta). Turn the heat up to high and let the skillet come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, give it a quick stir, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Every few minutes, give the skillet a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom and replace the lid quickly each time so that the broth continues to simmer. Make sure the broth continues to simmer the entire time, turning the heat up just slightly if needed to maintain a simmer.

Cooked pasta in skillet, broth absorbed

After about 15 minutes, the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a bit of saucy broth left in the bottom of the skillet.

Spinach added to skillet with cooked pasta

Once the pasta is cooked, add about 1/4 pound (or 3-4 cups) of fresh spinach to the skillet. Add a handful of the spinach at a time and stir it into the pasta until it wilts.

Bacon and parmesan cheese added to skillet with the rest of the ingredients

Turn the heat off, add the cooked bacon back to the skillet, and sprinkle the Parmesan over top. Give it a quick stir to combine and then serve!

Finished Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan in a skillet, spinach and dry noodles on the side for staging

And then it will look like this! Like I said, I probably should have sprinkled a little red pepper or even freshly cracked black pepper over the top just to take it up a notch, but honestly, it’s bacon… I was already dazzled!

Close up of a bowl of Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan with a fork

BACON.

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Comments

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    1. As gluten-free pasta cooking times can vary wildly depending on the brand and the type of flour used, it would be impossible for me to do that. Just follow the cooking time on the box. To avoid the mushy, gummy results gluten-free pasta is known for, stop the cook a few minutes before the box says, and then stir in your spinach. XOXO -Monti

  1. Made this last night, and I’m instantly in love. Super good, and it will definitely go on frequent rotation. I may add frozen peas in the future, too.

  2. I have made this a few times and always so good and my entire family raves about it. I have added one drained can of garbanzo beans/chickpeas and it is so good!

  3. Made this dish tonight! It was delicious! I added cherry tomatoes,garlic, & sauteed them with my onions. Instead of noodles I used tortellini! Yum! Next time I’m going to use mushrooms!

  4. While it didn’t taste bad, it left much to be desired for a mature adult. This seemed more like something to feed either a young child or a very picky adult. Lets face it, it was pasta with cheese and bacon on it. And a dash of spinach to add some greenery.
    Not for me.

  5. Added cherry tomatoes a can of sliced tomatoes mushrooms with onions garlic and spinach simmered simmered than added bow ties and parm Grest additions

  6. I made this tonight and it was pretty good.
    The sauce can use some more liquid and sweetness next time.
    Thinking of adding some more broth or olive oil after the pasta cooked and toss in some tomatoes like some others did.

  7. Amazing. Added cherry tomatoes and corn because I wanted more veg and more colour. This will be a weekly meal!

  8. I’ll confess; I didn’t actually think this would be all that good—I was just looking for something NEW after a year of mostly cooking at home due to the pandemic. As it turned out, though, ALL FOUR OF US liked it! That’s incredibly rare; usually there’s at least one of us who’s merely tolerating a given meal. :-D I used cavatappi and omitted the onion (to keep my elder kid from freaking out) and added onion powder instead, but otherwise followed the recipe (which I doubled). I’d be lying if I said both kids cleaned their plates, because SPINACH, but what the heck, they ate it, liked it, and went back for seconds! Hooray!

  9. I make this often! I had in about a 1/2 tablespoon of red chili flakes + three cloves of garlic once my onion is done cooking, before I add in chicken broth. If you like a more soup like dish in the winter time, you can also use 4 cups of chicken broth rather than 2.
    Because of the chili flakes – this is called “Spicy Pasta” in my house…. my boyfriend is obsessed with it

  10. Wow! This is a winner. I added some sun dried tomatoes and red pepper flakes too. Thanks Beth for another great recipe!