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Easy Chicken Penne Pasta is a one pot meal that’s done in under 30 minutes! This easy skillet recipe is picky eater approved and perfect for those busy weeknights.


pasta mixed with herbs and sauce in a black pan

Guys, I decided to try Intermittent Fasting. Have you heard of that? It’s a way of eating where you fast for a certain amount of time and then eat during other times. There are lots of ways to do it but I’m (attempting) 16/8, which is 16 hours of fast and 8 hours of eating. I have been hearing about it for awhile and decided to give it a go. I’m on day 3 and so far so good. But…it’s only day 3.

There are lots of articles out there about IF and whether it’s good or bad for you, but I did a ton of research and decided to try. I feel like the basic principle of it is good for me: I need a start and cutoff time for eating otherwise I tend to eat right up to bedtime. I’m using the timing system to help me be conscious of when I eat and how much I eat and what I eat. Since I’m really hungry by 11am (my start time) I have been craving protein or filling things instead of carbs. And because I know I can’t eat after 7pm I’m starting to think about making sure I eat a good amount of the good stuff at dinner so I’m not hungry later.

After all my travel this spring – and all the desserts I share – I needed a reset and I hope this will help. I’m going to try really hard to stick to the plan for at least 14 days (hopefully 21 – so new habits can be formed). Now, a lot of people combine IF with Keto but I am not doing Keto; it’s not for me. Between my struggle with avoiding carbs and sugar I’d never reach ketosis! ANYWAY – be sure to read my weekly email and follow me on Instagram stories to see how it’s going for me. 

One of the things that comes with any new eating plan is cooking dinner and this easy Chicken Penne Pasta is going to be on the list over and over! It’s just so full of flavor and packed with protein.

Need an easy meal? Chicken Penne Pasta is a simple one pot skillet meal that your family will love!

pasta mixed with herbs and sauce in a black pan

This recipe is a variation of my Cheesy Penne Casserole that I make for almost every potluck, except I added chicken to the mix to make it a healthier meal.

Penne Pasta

Now, I know that pasta has carbs but I find that if I’m craving pasta I should just go ahead and eat some, otherwise I’ll just make up for it by scarfing other foods. There are a few ways to make this skillet dinner a healthier pasta dish:

  1.  Use whole wheat pasta. There are a few brands that sell whole wheat pasta in many shapes, including penne, and I really enjoy it. Once you get the hang of cooking it and pour sauce all over it, your family will never know it’s whole wheat.
  2. Use a pasta substitute. This was something I resisted for a long time but I’ve finally found a non-pasta pasta I like. It’s called Banza pasta (see above the recipe for link) and it’s sold in an orange box. It’s pasta made from chickpeas so it’s super high in fiber and protein and low in carbs. I was super skeptical about it the first time I bought it but I actually really like it. You’re going to taste the difference (taste and texture) if you eat it plain with butter but if you put sauce on it no one will know – PROMISE. (BTW, this is NOT sponsored, I just really love it!)

Penne pasta cooks fast and is perfect with red sauce because all the little grooves and the hollow center grabs up all the deliciousness.

One Pot Skillet Dinners are perfect for making 30 minute meals!

I love making dinner in one pot and so does my husband: he does the dishes!

You can make the entire recipe for this penne pasta in one large skillet by working in batches and it’s still done in under 30 minutes. First, boil the pasta in the skillet and while it drains you heat up the sauce. Stir it all together and dinner is done!

This recipe is Penne Chicken Pasta with Tomato Sauce and lots of cheese!

I love red sauce with penne pasta and like my baked penne, this one pot meal has lots of cheese. It’s full of mozzarella cheese, of course, but has a secret ingredient that packs even more protein: cottage cheese. It sounds weird but it works: trust me. The kids WILL eat it.

Use rotisserie chicken for a simple 30 minute meal!

This recipe is done in under 30 minutes because I started with already shredded chicken. You can use rotisserie chicken or use leftovers! I love making a big batch of my Instant Pot Chicken or Instant pot shredded chicken and using it all week in meals like this or my Enchilada Skillet.

unclose photo of pasta mixed with herbs and sauce

My Chicken Penne Pasta recipe is so versatile because you have options:

  1. Use my crockpot tomato sauce or use your favorite jarred. I always jazz up my jarred sauce with extra garlic and red pepper flakes too.
  2. Pick your pasta: regular, whole wheat, or low-carb.
  3. For the chicken, use rotisserie or precook some chicken like I do.
  4. The cottage cheese gives extra cheesy flavor and protein. It almost makes this into a creamy chicken penne pasta recipe!

More Chicken Recipes:

Tools for success:

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overhead shot of chicken penne pasta in skillet

Easy Chicken Penne Pasta

4.88 from 24 votes
Easy Chicken Penne Pasta is a one pot meal that’s done in under 30 minutes! This easy skillet recipe is picky eater approved!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 24 ounce jar pasta sauce use your favorite
  • 4 cloves garlic pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 2 cups cooked chicken diced or shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded


  • Boil water in pot or large skillet and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Add pasta sauce, pressed garlic, pepper flakes and cottage cheese to skillet and heat until bubbly and hot. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is heated through. Stir in the pasta and mozzarella cheese. Taste for seasoning, add salt and/or pepper as needed.
  • Serve hot with parmesan cheese.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Use homemade pasta sauce or a jar.
  • I am loving Banza Pasta, which is a chickpea pasta and low-carb. It’s in an orange box and tastes like regular pasta!
  • Use my meal prep chicken or instant pot chicken or shredded chicken, or you can use a rotisserie chicken.
  • To start with raw chicken: Cook pasta as directed in step 1. Then add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and season with salt and pepper. Cook until brown on all sides and almost cooked through, 8-10 minutes (depending on size of pieces). Add the sauce to the pan with the garlic and cook until chicken is fully cooked through. Stir in cottage cheese, pasta, and mozzarella.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 457kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 991mg | Potassium: 696mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 765IU | Vitamin C: 8.6mg | Calcium: 257mg | Iron: 2.7mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

Last Updated on August 4, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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Recipe Rating


  1. my mil has a version that takes 6 hours of prep time, I am so not into that….this will be terrific…will comment when tried.

  2. going to get the ingredients tomorrow, have some chicken to use up, and do not want it to go bad, but do not want to do my mils 6 hour prep. Totally too much wasted hours.
    This recipe is one I will definitely try.

  3. This was a very simple recipe. I loved it. Made it for my significant other who can be a picky eater, and he really liked it.

  4. Why would you mention starting with raw chicken outside of the recipe? I just lost all those ingredients because I tried to cook the chicken in the sauce…

    1. I mention it because not everyone has cooked chicken on hand or wants to take the time to cook the chicken first. We eat this as an easy leftover meal with leftover chicken, but you can start from raw, following the detailed instructions I left in the notes section of the recipe for how to do it.

  5. So delicious and easy! Thank you for this awesome recipe! I did only use Parmesan in place of the cottage cheese and mozzarella, but it turned out stretchy and yummy. Exactly what we were looking for when neither of us felt like cooking 🙂

  6. Made this for a picky eater that said he would never eat cottage cheese. Loved it and wanted seconds! I increased ingredient quantities by 1/4 and made the entire 16 ounce package of pasta. Used frozen processed grilled chicken that I had on hand, but I’m sure would be much better with real chicken. Also added a large tomato, some basil and half an onion. Just be very careful not to overcook the pasta like I did! My second attempt at this is sure to be awesome now that I’m familiar with cooking Penne! Thank you!

  7. Hi Dorothy! Delightful chicken dish! Please come over and share this with the Food on Friday crowd over at Carole’s Chatter. Cheers