This creamy lemon chicken pasta bake has so much tastiness going on from the tarragon lemon cream sauce that wraps together the pasta, chicken and spinach. Plus, you can serve it either straight up, while the sauce is creamier, or baked with added mozzarella for a cheesier bake. Either way, all delicious.
Pasta is a meal that everyone in our house enjoys. If we have a little more time, the kids love helping to make some fresh pasta, whether plain or with a twist like fresh spinach pasta or pumpkin pasta, or some ravioli like crab ravioli.
More often or not, we go simple by using store bought pasta, but at least with homemade arugula pesto. But sometimes I change things up like spaghetti alla carbonara with mushrooms or pasta puttanesca.
Recently, since I had some leftover tarragon from making baked tarragon chicken, I wondered if I could use some for a sauce beyond just chicken. After a little digging and thinking, I came up with this creamy lemon chicken pasta bake, and it was one delicious meal.
A tastier cream sauce
Now I know others may not agree but I have to say I’m not generally that big a fan of a basic cream sauce. At least not on it’s own. It’s naturally a great base for other dishes, but it needs some additions, in my mind.
The tarragon lemon cream sauce here has just the right amount of additions without being overly complicated, and they all work so well together. It uses a combination of garlic, wine, tarragon, cream and a little softened onion as the base.
A quick pasta sauce or pasta bake?
Since the sauce here has such great flavor, this dish definitely works to serve right after adding everything in to the sauce. And I have to say I have every intention of using this sauce in other dishes as well.
Before I made this, however, I had a pasta bake in mind, so I added some mozzarella, topped with parmesan and baked. The sauce dries a little, so it’s less “saucy” but the cheese gives a lovely additional flavor and stringy goodness.
Really, just go with your mood, as both ways are delicious!
How to make this creamy lemon chicken pasta bake
This dish might take a little longer than some pasta dishes, but it comes together easily and is worth the extra effort.
- Set the pasta to cook – drain once al dente.
- Cook the diced chicken in butter then set aside.
- Add a little more butter and soften the onion and garlic.
- Deglaze with the wine, add the lemon juice and zest, tarragon and cream. Warm but don’t boil the sauce.
- Wilt the spinach in the sauce and add back the chicken.
- Add the cooked pasta, mix through and remove from heat.
- You can serve at this point, or else add mozzarella, transfer to baking dish, top with parmesan and bake.
This creamy lemon chicken pasta bake is so comforting and packed with flavor. The tarragon lemon cream sauce goes so well with the pasta, chicken and spinach and if baked, the slight crunch on top and stringy mozzarella just add to the comfort factor. Don’t ever think pasta night needs to be boring again.
This creamy lemon chicken pasta bake can be served either as a bake with a cheesy crust or made as a quicker, creamy dish. Either way, it's filled with delicious comfort factor!
- 8 oz pasta 225g (I used penne but as you prefer)
- 8 oz chicken 225g (white or brown meat fine)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 onion finely diced
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 lemon zest (ie from 1/2 lemon)
- 2 tbsp tarragon chopped fresh
- 1/2 cup cream 120ml (suggest heavy/double but as you prefer)
- 2 oz spinach 55g (2 cups, fairly well packed), roughly chopped if larger leaves
- 4 oz mozzarella 112g, cut/broken into small pieces (omit if not baking)
- 1/4 cup parmesan 10g (approx, omit if not baking)
If you will be making into a bake, preheat oven to 400F/200C.
Set the pasta to cook according to packet instructions. Drain once al dente and set aside.
Meanwhile, dice the chicken into a small bite-sized dice. Melt half the butter in a medium skillet/frying pan and cook the chicken until just cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the rest of the butter to the skillet and soften the onion and garlic.
Deglaze the pan with the wine, add the lemon juice and zest, tarragon and cream. Warm but don't boil the sauce.
Wilt the spinach in the sauce and add back the chicken.
Add the cooked pasta, mix through and remove from heat.
You can serve at this point, or else to make as a bake, add the mozzarella, mix through and transfer to baking dish. Top with parmesan and bake for approx 20 minutes until lightly brown on top.
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