Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

$6.85 recipe / $1.71 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.78 from 18 votes
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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 (and delicious) as it gets.

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

Close up overhead shot of Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce garnished with lemon zest

Simple but AH-MAZ-ING.

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 make this lemon cream sauce, you might find yourself making it for everything. …But be careful, because you must use heavy cream for this sauce. If you use a lower fat dairy product it will curdle. 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. ;)

What Type of Pasta Should I Use for My Chicken and Broccoli Pasta?

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.

Buy More to Save More on Heavy Cream

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.

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Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

4.78 from 18 votes
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.
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
Servings 4
Prep 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets ($0.85)
  • 1/2 lb. rotini pasta ($1.30)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2/3 lb. total) ($1.97)
  • 1 pinch salt and peppers ($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 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

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

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 573.93kcalCarbohydrates: 49.6gProtein: 23.9gFat: 32.65gSodium: 346.6mgFiber: 4.15g
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Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated!

Side view of Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce in the skillet with a wooden spoon

Front close up of a bowl of Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce

Step by Step Photos

Chopped Frozen 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.

Chicken Thighs seasoned with salt and pepper

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 in the skillet

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, zest in the bowl, microplane next to the bowl

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 in skillet with browned bits of chicken

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 to the chicken broth in the skillet

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 in the skillet, on a wooden spoon

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 Cooked Chicken Thighs

Chop the cooked chicken into smaller pieces…

Add Pasta Broccoli and Chicken to skillet with the cream sauce

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

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta stirred together with Lemon Cream Sauce in the skillet

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

Finished Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce in the skillet with a wooden spoon

Close up of a bowl of Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce NOM!

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Comments

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  1. Made this last night and it was not bad. My kids thought it was good – I had to use whole milk with butter because I didn’t have heavy cream. And our frozen broccoli (that had been thawed completely) didn’t soften up very much during the short time it had in the pan per the recipe. Next time, I might let the broccoli simmer in the sauce a bit to see if it would soften up before adding the chicken and pasta to “warm through.” All in all it was a good dinner that didn’t take a ton of time or effort to make. Will make again.

  2. This is such an easy and delicious dish. My family are super picky eaters and to find something we all enjoy is like pulling teeth but not with this recipe. One thing I will do is add a touch more lemon as it a as really subtle. Making it again tonight…i do like how one user stated they added parm to top it off….i don’t have any but that i believe would be a lovely addition!

  3. I think this is my favorite recipe on this site!! I’ve made it numerous times and it is always super delicious. The combination of lemon with cream in the sauce is perfect and compliments the chicken and broccoli so well. Thank you for this recipe!

  4. Made this tonight. So yummy! I used fresh broccoli and cooked it in the half cup of chicken broth for about 5 min with the cover on. Then took it out and added about. Quarter cup more water. Then added cream, lemon stuff until thickened.  Then added everything. We wilted some spinach at the d end and served with grated Parmesan cheese. Easy and delicious. A yummy summer meal. 

  5. Delicious! I’m so happy that this uses ingredients you can easily get in Japan to make a meal that tastes like something you’d get at an American restaurant. And so easy! A++!

  6. Made it for the first time today. Definitely adding this one to the dinner rotation — easy enough to make and uses ingredients that I keep handy almost all the time anyway. Plus it’s incredibly tasty. Thanks!!

  7. Substituted with pulled rotisserie chicken meat. I still cooked pulled chicken meat in skillet to heat up a bit, but it added lots of flavor and reduced cooking time. I buy pre-pulled rotisserie chicken packs, which makes things even easier.