This creamy chicken and white bean pasta may become your new favorite pantry dinner recipe. I love a recipe that is unfussy without too much chopping or dicing, and this one is so satisfyingly delicious. I think you’ll obsess over it as much as I did.
White beans make an amazing addition to pasta; they stretch the meal a little further, and they add an irresistible creaminess to the sauce if you mash them up a little.
How to make this creamy chicken and white bean pasta:
For this chicken and white bean pasta, you chop just one onion and a few garlic cloves, which makes it perfect for a quick weeknight meal when you’re busy or just tired. Making use of things like pre-chopped pancetta, canned beans, and pre-shredded mozzarella cheese reduces the amount of effort but still gives you a tasty, comforting dinner.
While you can use chopped chicken breasts or thighs, I think ground chicken makes this meal even easier. You can also use ground turkey or lean ground beef. You’ll cook the meat in the pancetta fat, so I would personally avoid fatty ground beef or ground pork.
How to make it
- Step 1: Fry up the pancetta. Remove it from the skillet and cook up the ground chicken with the rendered fat.
- Step 2: Cook up the pasta. Do this as you cook the pancetta and chicken.
- Step 3: Fry the aromatics. Cook the onion and garlic, and then add the beans. Throw in your cooked chicken and almost all the pancetta.
- Step 4: Make the sauce. Add the pasta cooking water and heavy cream. Boil it and then simmer until slightly thickened.
- Step 5: Bake it up! Add the pasta to the sauce and sprinkle mozzarella on top. Finish the reserved pancetta and then bake until browned and bubbly. You’re ready to dig in!
I hope you love this one as much as I did! If you make it, please leave a comment to let me know how it turned out.
Creamy Chicken and White Bean Pasta
- Ovenproof skillet
- Large pot
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 pound ground chicken; or use ground turkey or lean ground beef
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 14.5- ounce can of cannellini beans, drained
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ pound of dry tubular pasta, like penne or rigatoni
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, for serving
- Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the pancetta:
- Place the pancetta in a cold skillet or wide pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook, turning occasionally, for 5–6 minutes or until the fat renders completely and the pancetta is crispy.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer a heaping tablespoon to a small bowl and reserve for garnish. Transfer the remaining pancetta to a large bowl.
Cook the chicken:
- Return the heat on the skillet to medium. Add the ground chicken and cook it in the pancetta fat for 12–15 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Season with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to the large bowl with the pancetta.
Boil the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the pasta for 3 minutes under al dente. Remove ½ cup pasta cooking water from the pot before draining the pasta.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Prepare the sauce:
- In the same skillet used to cook the chicken, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for 5–7 minutes, turning often, until translucent and softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the beans and season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Add the cooked chicken and pancetta.
- Pour in the pasta cooking water and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
Finish the pasta:
- Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to coat. Spread into an even layer in the skillet. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and scatter the pancetta you reserved for garnish on top.
- Transfer to the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. If you like, turn on the broiler and broil for 2 minutes for extra browned bubbly spots on top.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh basil leaves on top if you like. Enjoy!