Use fresh or frozen vegetables to make this delicate, slurp-able angel hair pasta with chicken dinner. Angel hair pasta truly shines in this recipe, tangling around the chicken and vegetables for easy, satisfying bites.
This is an easy, customizable, pasta recipe perfect for beginner home cooks, busy college students, and it makes great leftovers, too.
The flavors in this angel hair pasta with chicken recipe come mostly from the chicken and vegetables. They get a bit of help thanks to the addition of dried basil and a quarter cup of parmesan cheese which thickens to create a light, cheesy sauce that coats the noodles.
About This Recipe // Why I Like It
One day, about two decades ago, a plastic-wrapped stack of simple recipe cards arrived the mail. I don't know who sent them. Probably some brand hoping to sell its particular brand of pasta or cheese. I pulled out ones that I wanted my mom to make.
This simple angel hair pasta with chicken and vegetables recipe is the only one that we all liked.
We liked it so much that when my mom put together a binder of family recipes for me to bring to college, this recipe made the cut... twice. (It's in the chicken section and in the pasta section — just in case!)
I didn't cook often in college. But when I knew I was about to be pulling a weekend of all-nighters and needed to be able to quickly grab leftovers from the fridge, this is one of the recipes I'd turn to. Divided up into containers, it was the perfect grab-n-go meal.
Given my fairly limited cooking skills back then, I liked (and still like!) the ease and steady pacing of the recipe. You'll never feel rushed while making it. And I liked that I could skip or add veggies based on what I had in the fridge, and even use frozen vegetables if I wanted.
Angel hair pasta cooks quickly, in just about the amount of time you need to let the chicken and vegetables simmer once you add the chicken back into the pan. So you'll never end up in that awkward bit of kitchen downtime waiting for pasta to finish cooking while hoping the stuff in your skillet doesn't overcook.
It might not be a true one-skillet dinner, but it does end up all back in one pan. No need to strain the angel hair over the sink, just transfer the pasta straight from the boiling water into the skillet with the chicken and veggies.
Here's what you'll need to make this super easy angel hair pasta and chicken recipe. You can definitely sub in or add other veggies, or even use frozen veggies! See recipe card at the end of the post for quantities.
- Angel Hair Pasta - Angel hair might be a divisive pasta shape, but I like the way it wraps and tangles around the veggies, making them easy to scoop, slurp, and twist on to your fork. I've tried this with thicker pasta noodles and it's just not the same.
- Chicken - Chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. You could even use a greek seasoning blend or a bit of dried basil and oregano for even more flavor.
- Chicken Broth - For deglazing the pan and softening the veggies. Use a low-sodium or salt free chicken broth so you can adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Vegetables - The three vegetables I always use are broccoli, carrots, and peas. If you prefer, you can also use those frozen bags of mixed vegetables green beans, carrots, corn, cauliflower, etc.
- Parmesan Cheese - Growing up I made this with the powdered parmesan and while it tasted ok, it tended to get clumpy as it melted. Use freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese for the best silky smooth sauce with no lumps!
- Dried Basil - If you want to dress things up a little, you can sub the dried basil for my dried basil pantry pesto seasoning blend.
- Garlic - Minced or zested. You can use the jarred stuff, but I always thinks it tastes a little funny so I use fresh garlic cloves. But you do you here.
- Salt & Pepper - Not pictured. But no dish is complete without them!
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term which literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need for this recipe:
- Cube the chicken: Cut two chicken breasts into roughly 1" cubes, then season with salt and pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the broccoli: Big broccoli florets tend to have trouble twisting up with the angel hair, so cut the broccoli into small pieces. First cut the crown into florets, then cut each floret smaller and smaller by cutting off the stems close to the blossoms so they separate.
- Cut the carrot: Peel the carrot and slice thinly. If using shredded carrots, measure out about half a cup.
- Mince the garlic: Use your knife, a microplane, or a garlic press to mince two cloves of garlic.
- Measure the chicken broth: Make sure you have enough chicken broth ready to go.
- Grate the cheese: Grating cheese always takes me slightly longer than I think it will. Better to do it before you start cooking!
How to Make Chicken with Angel Hair Pasta
Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil. You don't need to add the pasta to it yet, you just want to make sure the water is boiling when you're ready. Add salt once it starts bubbling, then reduce the heat to maintain an active simmer.
In a separate pan, heat oil over medium heat.
Add the chicken pieces to the skillet in an even layer. They might stick to the bottom of the skillet at first, but that's okay — they'll release when they're ready. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Add more oil to the same pan and cook the carrots on their own for a few minutes. They need longer than the other vegetables to become tender, so you're basically just giving them a head start.
The chicken will continue cooking as it rests, and will be added back to the skillet later, so if you overcook the chicken pieces in the first step... they'll be really overcooked by time you're done. Better to pull them out a bit sooner!
You can also remove any smaller chicken pieces from the skillet early and let the bigger ones keep cooking if you need to.
If you're using shredded carrots or frozen cubed carrots, you don't need to give them a head start in the pan. The head start is mostly for thicker or larger carrot pieces.
Add the broccoli, peas, garlic, and basil and stir. Do this on a low-medium heat so the peas defrost but the garlic doesn't burn. Now start cooking the pasta (see below**).
While the angel hair cooks, add the chicken broth to the vegetables and use a spatula to scrape up any browned bits (fond) on the bottom of the pan. They add lots of flavor!
**The perfect time to start cooking the pasta is right after you add the rest of the vegetables to the pan but before you add the chicken broth. This gives you about 4 minutes to deglaze the pan and reduce the chicken broth.
To cook the pasta: Drop the angel hair pasta into the already boiling water and set the timer for the "al dente" cooking instructions on the box. Stir it a few times as it cooks so it doesn't stick together.
If the pasta finishes cooking before you're ready to add it to the skillet, don't worry. Just strain the pasta in a colander under cool running water and set it aside. Angel hair is very delicate, you don't want to overcook it.
Add the chicken back to the skillet. Reduce heat and let simmer until the pasta is done cooking. During the last minute of simmering before the pasta is done, add the grated parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir to melt.
When the pasta is done, transfer it directly from the pot of water to the skillet. Remove from heat and add more parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, or basil to taste. Stir everything well to combine.
Don't worry about draining the noodles or accidentally getting pasta water in the skillet. The starchy pasta water will combine with the chicken broth and parmesan in the skillet to coat the noodles and turn into a sauce.
Use a pair of tongs to twist and twirl the pasta and mix it up with all the veggies and chicken. Serve in bowls topped with additional parmesan and basil, if desired.
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- Store angel hair pasta with chicken leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave in 45-60 second bursts until warmed throughout, stirring in between.
- Don't have dried basil? Try dried oregano or even a Greek seasoning blend.
- If you make your own chicken stock, freeze it in ⅓ or ½ cup portions so it's easy to defrost quickly to use in recipes like this.
- Frozen peas are really fun to snack on right out of the freezer. If you've never tried them before, now's as good a time as any!
Of course you can. But angel hair really does work best for this recipe. The delicate strands tangle around the vegetables and chicken in ways that thicker pasta shapes just don't.
Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken
- Large pot
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1" cubes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 12 oz angel hair pasta
- 1 broccoli crown (cut into small florets)
- 1 large carrot (thinly sliced)
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1⅓ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Bring a pot of generously salted water to boil.
- Season the cubed chicken breast with salt and pepper and toss it with your fingers to coat.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shiny and ripples easily in the pan, add the chicken pieces in a single layer. They might stick slightly, that's okay. They'll release when they're ready to turn.
- Cook, stirring and turning chicken pieces until just cooked through, about 6-7 minutes. When chicken is done cooking, transfer from the skillet to a paper towel on a plate and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same pan over medium low Add carrots and cook until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables, basil, and garlic. Stir to combine.
- Drop angel hair pasta into the boiling water, and set a timer according to al dente package directions (usually about 4 minutes).
- While pasta is cooking, add chicken broth to vegetables. Stir to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, then reduce to a simmer and add the parmesan cheese. Stir until melted, then add the chicken back to the skillet.
- When pasta is done, use a pasta fork or kitchen tongs to transfer it directly from the boiling water to the skillet. Use tongs to twist and twirl the pasta to evenly distribute the veggies and so that the sauce coats the noodles. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve topped with additional parmesan cheese.
- Instead of fresh veggies, 1½ cups of frozen mixed veggies will work.
- For picky eaters: Instead of adding the pasta to the skillet with the veggies, add ¼ cup pasta water to the veggies while they simmer, drain the noodles when they’re done, and serve the chicken and veggies overtop the plain noodles.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Reheat in microwave.
6/21/2022 - This post was updated with new photos, even more detailed cooking information, and a streamlined, easier to follow recipe!