Home Recipe Inspiration Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

by Ünal Güler

It’s no wonder that busy home cooks love this dish. It combines three perennial favorites—chicken, broccoli, and pasta—and brings them together with a bright, zesty sauce made with garlic, white wine, and lemon juice. It’s like making chicken picatta and serving it with broccoli and pasta, except that you only need one pan (and your pasta pot).

While some cooks who make this dish use the “hack” of cooking their broccoli directly in the pasta water (along with the noodles), I’ve found that it’s just as fast to cook both the chicken and broccoli separately—and it gives you a far better flavor, because you can brown the ingredients to get a little maillard reaction going (the chemical process that gives deeply browned foods their rich, savory flavor). 

Plus, since you can cook both of these ingredients in about the time it takes the pasta pot to boil, it won’t add any additional cooking time. Once the pasta is boiling, you can cook the garlic, white wine, and lemon juice in the same pot you cooked the meat and veg in, then add everything into the pot together. The finished dish will be on the table in just 40 minutes.

Unlike breasts, the thighs don’t dry out as they cook. In fact (as barbecue fanatics will tell you), they become more tender as they get hotter. This means you don’t have to worry about over-cooking them. Besides, darker meat naturally has more flavor, so the thighs will add more flavor to the overall dish. 

Types of Pasta to Use

You can really use any style of pasta you like for this recipe, but I find that shorter pastas work best here, because you can get a noodle (or two) on a fork along with a piece of chicken or broccoli. Tube-shaped pastas (or other shapes with nooks in them) also hold onto the sauce well, which will give you more flavor with each bite. I’ve used penne here, but other pastas of similar length, like rigatoni, ziti, or even fusilli or gemelli, also work well.

Don’t Ignore the Broccoli Stems

While florets get all the attention, broccoli stems are just as delicious—and sometimes more versatile, since they soften more slowly and don’t absorb liquid. (When my kid was first starting to eat solid foods, she hated the texture of broccoli florets but happily ate the smooth, tender stems.) In this recipe, I’ve used both the stems and the florets.

But the general form of this recipe will work well with a variety of other proteins and vegetables, if you pair them well. 

You could try it with shrimp and asparagus for another classic combination, or bacon and broccoli rabe for a slightly more sophisticated approach. Pork and zucchini also work well. 

Whatever combination you choose, you’ll want to be careful about how long you cook the vegetables; some (like the broccoli rabe) will need more steaming time, and some (like zucchini) can just be browned in the pan without any water. 

And if you want to add more vegetables, try throwing a handful of cherry tomatoes in with the broccoli, after it’s done steaming. The tomatoes will brown and burst, adding a bright, tangy flavor to the sauce once all of the ingredients are combined. 

Don’t Skip the White Wine

The one thing you don’t want to swap out is the white wine. While it might not seem like a key ingredient here, the wine forms the base of the sauce and gives it a rich but subtle flavor. Without it, the garlic and lemon will taste too acidic and sharp.

The key is to remove the water just before the pasta is done cooking; that’s when it has the most flavor. To do this, you can ladle some water into a bowl, but my favorite trick is to grab a liquid measuring cup (the kind made out of Pyrex, with a convenient handle) and dip that straight into the pot.

Why A Clever Cook Saves Pasta Water

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

More Weeknight Pastas

  • Easy Pasta With Winter Greens
  • Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta
  • Angel Hair With Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce
  • Creamy Mushroom Miso Pasta
  • Tuna Pasta With Tomato and Olives


  • 5 cups broccoli florets and stems (1 pound before trimming)

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 12 ounces penne pasta

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine

  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan


  1. Prepare the broccoli:

    Cut the broccoli into small florets, peel the stems, and cut the stems crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices; set aside.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

  2. Cut the chicken into strips:

    Cut the chicken thighs in half lengthwise, and then cut them crosswise into strips about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch long; set aside.

Add the broccoli, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1/4 cup of water, then cover the pot and let the broccoli steam in the liquid, stirring occasionally (then re-covering the pot) until thickest parts of the stems are just barely tender, about 4-8 minutes.

Simple Tip!

The time it takes your broccoli to steam will depend on the thickness of the stems, which vary from bunch to bunch.

Remove the lid, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and the chile flakes (if using), and cook the broccoli, stirring occasionally but letting it sit on the bottom and sides of the pot undisturbed for about 1 minute at a time, so that it browns nicely, until all of the pieces have browned a bit, another 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove the broccoli from the pot, and set it aside in a large bowl, covered. Rinse the pot.

Put the pot back on the stove over high heat. Add another 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, and let it heat for 30 seconds, then add the chicken, spreading it out in an even layer; season it with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Stir the chicken, and let it continue to cook until it is cooked through, for another 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and remove the chicken to the bowl with the broccoli, but do not rinse the pan. (The browned bits will help flavor the sauce.)

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Boil the pasta:

When the water comes to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and then boil the pasta until it is just barely al dente (about 8 minutes, for penne).

Make the sauce:

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce: Add the butter to the pot with the chicken drippings and let it melt over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until it no longer smells raw, about 1 minute. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and bring it to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat to high, and let the sauce boil for 1 minute, to reduce it slightly (and cook off the alcohol in the wine).

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Assemble the pasta:

When the pasta is done, scoop 1 cup of pasta water out of the pot and reserve. Drain the pasta, then add it to the pan along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Cook for 1 minute; the sauce should thicken slightly but there should still be plenty around the noodles. (Add a bit more of the pasta water if necessary). Add the broccoli and chicken to the pot, stir to coat them in the sauce, and cook until they’re just warmed through, about 30 seconds. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek


Divide the pasta into 4 bowls, and top each with 1 tablespoon of the grated parmesan. 

Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.

Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below!

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Nutrition Facts (per serving) 624 Calories 28g Fat 46g Carbs 39g Protein
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× Nutrition Facts Servings: 4 Amount per serving Calories 624 % Daily Value* Total Fat 28g 35% Saturated Fat 10g 52% Cholesterol 167mg 56% Sodium 1663mg 72% Total Carbohydrate 46g 17% Dietary Fiber 8g 29% Total Sugars 4g Protein 39g Vitamin C 131mg 657% Calcium 172mg 13% Iron 4mg 22% Potassium 1026mg 22% *The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.


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